Mumbai gears up for 100km Oxfam Trailwalker

Oct 06, 2013, 08:37 IST | Dhiman Chattopadhyay and Tanmoy Mitra

This is the mother of all endurance tests: a 100 km race across hilly terrain to be covered by four-member teams in under 48 hours. The Oxfam Trailwalker -- perhaps one of the toughest events of its kind -- is debuting in Mumbai on November 15. Dhiman Chattopadhyay & Tanmoy Mitra find out more about the race and how participants can help India's underprivileged with money raised from the event

Linsey Simson from Thomson Reuters has taken part in several international trailwalkers. Rohan Abraham and his team are veterans too having completed two 100 km trails in the past two years. So is Bindu Subramanian.

This November they, along with nearly 200 other corporate executives of various ages, shapes and fitness levels but bound by a common passion for adventure, will be part of the Oxfam Trailwalker -- a race held in 16 cities across 11 nations since 1981, that is finally making its debut in Maximum City on November 15.

The Trailwalker is a race where each team, consisting of four members, will have to finish a 100km trail across the Western Ghats near Lonavala, in less than 48 hours

What is the Trailwalker all about though? In short it’s a race where each team, consisting of four members, will have to finish a 100km trail across the Western Ghats near Lonavala, in less than 48 hours. In India Oxfam has already organised two Trailwalker events in Bangalore in 2011 and 2012 but veteran trailwakers who have taken part in the Bangalore races say the Mumbai leg looks tougher because of the higher altitude terrain.

Participants during an earlier Trailwalk in Mumbai. Pic courtesy/Joel Rodrigues

But hang on. This is no ordinary race by any means. And not just because it is 100 km-long. The participants slog and sweat for two days, for a cause — to raise funds for the welfare of the poor in India. For instance, in the last edition in Bangalore 160 corporate teams took part, raising an incredible R2.5 crore in donations from their respective organisations, friends and relatives to provide food and education to thousands of their fellow Indians.

Get set, race
When it launched in Bangalore in February 2012, 80 teams signed up to take up the challenge and raised R1.2 crore from the run. The second edition in January 2013 was a runaway success with 164 teams in the fray raising a record R2.5 crore to support projects related to public health, education, urban poverty and livelihood for women.

Confident that the trailwalker had come of age in India, the Oxfam team has now brought the event to Mumbai. “We hope to get at least 150 corporate teams who will take part in the race between November 15-17 and raise money for projects to help fight poverty. Part of the funds raised will be utilised for upliftment of tribals and women in the Mumbai-Pune region, said Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India.

The Mumbai leg will begin from Garudmaachi campsite near Pune and the participants will have to tackle village mud roads, forest paths and uphill hikes through the Ghats to reach their final destination at Lonavala. Anyone above 18 with a desire to help the country do better, can participate.

Each team must raise a minimum sponsorship amount of Rs 50,000 to qualify for the Trailwalker. Participants should also organise a support team. The success of the trail walk is team effort and a good support crew is essential in order to successfully tackle the 100 km trail, which has several pit stops. The support crew provides the team with clothes for change, food, and medicines and even helps them relax at the checkpoints. Hundreds of Mumbaiites are gearing up to blaze a trail this November. Are you game?

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