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100km Sydney run puts Kiwi team in fifth place

Friday, 26 August, 2005

Competitive finish to 100km Sydney run puts Kiwi team in fifth place

A team of Kiwi athletes faced stiff competition today (Friday 26 August), in a 100 km race through rugged bushland on the western and northern fringes of Sydney. The Oxfam Trailwalker New Zealand team led for almost half the race but the toughness of the terrain took its toll and they came in fifth, missing the race record by only 11 minutes.

“We had thought we could break the race record of 12 hours, 50 minutes, but we underestimated the ruggedness of the terrain,” said Masterton athlete Graeme Butcher who has previously completed 100 km road races in under nine hours. ”Those first 50 k’s were tough.”

First to cross the finish line was an Australian team from Canberra, who broke the race record with an 11 hour 59 minute finish. They were followed 18 minutes later by the favourites, a Hong Kong team that have run the Hong Kong equivalent several times and won it. Race organisers were taken by surprise by the speed of the top teams. The last of the 430 teams entered are expected to finish sometime on Sunday morning (August 28).

The Kiwi team, made up of Graeme Butcher (from Masterton), Jack Koenen, (Auckland), Al Cross (Wellington) and David Keen (Christchurch) were managed by the legendary endurance runner, Sandy Barwick, and were sponsored by Oxfam New Zealand to participate. The team was formed only four weeks ago and met for the first time the day before the event. They completed the 100 kms in one minute over 13 hours.

“The run was awesome!” said Al Cross, an experienced mountain runner. “I have done a number of endurance events but this one was special, not only for encouraging teamwork, but also for encouraging people to give something to such a worthy cause. We had a blast.”

Oxfam Trailwalker is a challenging endurance fundraising event in which teams of four complete a 100 km trail. The event originated in Hong Kong in 1981 as a military exercise for the Queen’s Gurkha Signals Regiment.

In just over 21 years, Oxfam Trailwalker has become a major international event held in Hong Kong, the UK, in both Sydney and Melbourne, and, for the first time next year, in Taupo. Registration for the New Zealand event can now be made online at www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz . Internationally, the event has raised more than $45 million. This is used to help those most in need help themselves.


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