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Kiwi athletes combine to take on Aussies

Monday 22 August, 2005

Top Kiwi athletes combine to take on Aussies in popular charity event

A dream team of top Kiwi ultramarathon and trail runners are aiming for a top-line finish in the Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker being held at the end of August (August 26-28, 2005). Competing against 1600 Aussies, the Kiwi athletes, Graeme Butcher, Al Cross, Dave Keen and Jack Koenen, will be facing stiff opposition from the winners of last year’s Hong Kong and Sydney Oxfam Trailwalkers. The team, a mix of mountain runners, multisport and ultramarathon athletes, is confident of completing the event in less than 10 hours.

Oxfam Trailwalker, which began as a military training exercise for the Nepali Gurkhas 25 years ago, is now Oxfam’s top fundraising challenge in Australia, Britain and China. The event has so far raised more than $45 million for Oxfam’s humanitarian, development and campaigning work.

Oxfam New Zealand will run the event for the first time in Taupo, on April 8-9, 2006 and people can reserve their team’s place online from next Monday (August 29, 2005): www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz.

A special guest team from the Queen’s Ghurka Signals Regiment will be participating in the New Zealand event and will set the standard for the superfit. They have completed the British course in less than 10 hours.

The charity ultramarathon team event is, however aimed at participants from all walks of life and levels of fitness. The challenge is for teams of four to complete 100 kms within 36 hours and to collectively raise at least $1500 to support Oxfam’s work. Most participants will complete the course at a much steadier pace – there’s a reason why the event is called Trailwalker.

People with all levels of ability take on the challenge of training and competing as well as fundraising. Oxfam Trailwalker has proved especially popular as a team-building opportunity within companies and community groups with many finding the event as the perfect focus for a fitness improvement programme. As one participant from the British event said: “When we crossed the finish line, we knew we had accomplished something quite extraordinary together.”

“In the 36 hours available to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge, 43,200 children will have died needlessly because of poverty,” said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. “That is the equivalent of every New Zealand child under three years of age suddenly dying from a preventable disease in a single weekend.

“This event provides the opportunity for New Zealanders to achieve a great personal challenge, share the experience with friends and work-mates whilst also helping others less fortunate than themselves.” All funds raised help Oxfam New Zealand respond to humanitarian emergencies like the recent tsunami, deliver long-term development and to effectively campaign for lasting improvements on human rights.


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