Trailwalker, an Event of Immense Potential

Trailwalker, an Event of Immense Potential

As Oxfam India prepares for its second trailwalker in January 2013, here are some excerpts from the key reflections of the debut trailwalker in India from John Sayer, Executive Director, Oxfam Hong Kong along with words of advice for future such events in India.

Trailwalker India is unique in that walkers are indeed walking past communities which contain people who are clearly very poor themselves. It was lovely to walk through so many villages. it was nice to see so many villagers, and smiling children, and to greet them with ‘Namaskara.’ (I remembered the term from 1976 when I lived on a farm outside Bangalore!) 

The applause from school children and scouts at some checkpoints was also very nice, although some of the children looked hot! It seems a small thing, but it is a memory which will stay with participants I am sure. The staff and volunteers at checkpoints were helpful and friendly, and tolerant of tired and emotional walkers who have been awake all night and will only want to talk about what is irritating them.

Safety remains of key importance, and heat is the key safety factor for Trailwalker in India. With much of the course on roads, there is a road safety issue. Trucks and busses do not slow for tired, wobbly walkers. I am sad to say some of the support vehicles also sped past walkers hooting and driving too fast. Let Trailwalker contribute to changing the road ethic which seems to be: ‘I am bigger than you, therefore more important than you’ at least with regard to support team vehicles. 

In the long term, I would advise Oxfam to consider a future route in a national park with fewer road sections. 

Oxfam India is pioneering fundraising through a sponsored endurance event which I think has great potential among India’s emerging middle class. Some of the teams of young professionals participating in the event told us they only learned about Trailwalker with a few week’s notice, so if publicity gets around earlier, and this year’s participants encourage more friends to join, I think there is good potential for many more teams with good fundraising capacity. 

Is there a way to leverage more income from national or international teams because of this reality? Perhaps one of the trekking companies associated with the event can actually offer an international holiday package to India to take part in Trailwalker. Certainly a unique holiday offer.  The Oxfam network could publicise this on their dozens of websites. 

A very decent first-time Trailwalker event, with lots of future promise. I carry away very positive memories.

Oxfam India will organise the next Trailwalker from January 25 to 27, 2013, on a radically altered trail from Pearl Valley to Eagleton. The new trail starts from Pearl Valley adjacent to Hosur Road and passes through long stretches of mud road  and scenic villages before ending at Eagleton. The route has been modified taking into account the feedback from the participants who wanted a complete mudroad to walk on rather than the long-stretch of pucca roads that the inaugural Trailwalker provided.


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