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Endurance walk for Oxfam | South Sydney Herald South Sydney Herald

Feature

Endurance walk for Oxfam

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney kicks off August 23-25 and this year will mark 20 years since the event was first brought to Australia. Over its history it has grown into one of the world’s ultimate team endurance challenges.

Participants on the trail for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2018 100km. Photo: Patrick Moran/OxfamAUS.

Oxfam Trailwalker is a fundraising event where teams of four trek 100km through some of Australia’s most beautiful bushlands to raise money for Oxfam Australia’s work tackling poverty around the world. Each year it takes place in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Teams of four have 48 hours to complete the trek, and some events offer a half-trail option: 50km in 24 hours.

Every year, people of all ages and fitness levels take part. Participants say the mental challenge is the biggest obstacle, not the physical component. This is why 80-year-old walkers have out-performed younger, fitter gym junkies on many occasions.

The event has come a long way since 1981, when it was first devised as a training exercise in Hong Kong for the elite Queen’s Gurkha Signals Regiment.

David Lowes of Darling Point participated in the very first Oxfam Trailwalker event in Australia in 1999 and was involved in bringing the event over from Hong Kong. “I first participated in the event in Hong Kong in 1993 and did so again in 1996. My teammates and I found it a wonderful experience and thought it would work very well in Australia.”

In 1996 Mr Lowes approached Oxfam in Hong Kong and Oxfam in Melbourne (which was then known as Community Aid Abroad) to suggest bringing the event over to Australia. Eventually these discussions led to an established plan and in 1999 the inaugural Trailwalker event was held in Sydney.

Mr Lowes is returning to the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney trail again this month, along with two of his original 1999 teammates and one of his sons. Their team is called Millfield Wines 2019 and they’ll be tackling the 50km event, while his other son takes on the 100km trek.

Mr Lowes is fairly certain his team was the oldest team to take part in 1999. “So we must have a pretty good claim to that title 20 years later – our combined age will be 251 years.”

Each Oxfam Trailwalker team must raise a minimum of $1,400 to take part. David and his team have already surpassed their $5,000 fundraising target.

Anna Wemyss from Oxfam Australia said the event typically raises $6 million each year nationwide. “Since 1999 Oxfam Trailwalker has raised more than $100 million in Australia. We’re so grateful to our incredible teams who really go above and beyond each year with their fundraising efforts.”

Oxfam works to tackle poverty in communities around the world through a combination of long-term development programs, advocacy work and by responding to humanitarian disasters.

The 100km Sydney trail starts at Parsley Bay in Brooklyn and finishes up at Manly Park with sweeping views of the harbour.

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