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Walking 100 km to bring water to Sahel

The third edition of the Intermon Oxfam Trailwalker has collected 620,000 euros to improve access to water in Sahel, Africa. The challenge consisted in walking 100 kilometres from the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava in less than 32 hours. 260 teams made up of six people participated, with the only previous requirement of bringing 1,500 euros each for the cause. 187 teams crossed the finish line and records were broken as the first team to arrive, “Kriter.net”, completed the challenge in 9 hours and 45 minutes, faster than any other team in all the Trailwalker events held in 12 different countries.

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22 April 2013 07:11 PM

by

Júlia Manresa

Olot - Sant Feliu de Guíxols (CNA).- The third edition of the Intermon Oxfam Trailwalker has collected 620,000 euros to improve access to water in Sahel, Africa. The challenge consisted in walking 100 kilometres from the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava in less than 32 hours. 260 teams made up of six people participated, with the only previous requirement of bringing 1,500 euros each for the cause. 187 teams crossed the finish line and records were broken as the first team to arrive, \u201CKriter.net\u201D, completed the challenge in 9 hours and 45 minutes, faster than any other team in all the Trailwalker events held in 12 different countries. This year\u2019s trailwalker event was also special because it was the first time a team competed with a handbike, a wheelchair adapted like a bike. The team, called \u2018Llop Gestió\u2019, completed the challenge in 25 hours.


At five o\u2019clock on Sunday afternoon, the last team of the third edition of the Intermon Oxfam Trailwalker, crossed the finish line after walking non-stop for 31 hours and 20 minutes for a distance of 100 kilometres from Olot, in the Pyrenees, to Sant Feliu de Guíxols, on the Costa Brava. Participants in this challenge did not have to be elite athletes. All that was required was the capacity to collect 1,500 euros and the strength to walk 100 kilometres in 32 hours. The 260 teams collected 620,000 euros in total with the aim of improving the quality of life and access to water in Sahel, the desert zone between Sahara and the Sudanese savannas. In Mali or Chad, for example, women must walk several kilometres to find water and then carry it all the way home. That explains why the teams had to carry eight large cans like the ones these women use in Sahel.  Luckily for them, the cans were only symbolic, so they were empty.

\u201CWe are a bit nervous but looking forward to starting the challenge and to getting ahead\u201D explained Javier Garriga, a member of the team \u2018Aguas de Barbastro\u2019 ten minutes before the beginning. At the end, their feelings hadn\u2019t changed. \u201CWe are really satisfied but exhausted\u201D, explained Javier after arriving at Sant Feliu de Guíxols at 9 o\u2019clock in the morning. They started to train in September when they decided to join this cause. At first, they didn\u2019t know how they were going to feel because, although they had trained using different routes, the longest one was about 50 kilometres. However, they finally reached their objective although \u201Cour legs feel like stone\u201D, said Javier.

To collect all the money they needed, \u2018Aguas de Barbastro\u2019 found sponsors and sold bracelets. All the teams organised a wide range of fundraising events. \u2018Wacky walkers\u2019, for example, a team from Blanes on the Costa Brava, organised some breakfasts and even a marketing course online. In fact, they surpassed the amount of 1,500 euros so they gave the extra money to other teams who did not get enough money. For Josep Calatayud, one of the support members of this team, what makes this challenge special is the fact that \u201Cyou will see how your effort over a few months reaches people who really need it\u201D. In total, this edition collected 620,000 euros, but this amount of money will surely increase because the deadline for donations is the 30th May.

While four members of each team had to walk non-stop, the other two waited for them at each control point. Some of the basic requirements for the challenge were to be a six-member team (four walkers and two supporters to provide them with all they needed) which would start and finish the distance together and under 32 hours.

Apart from the large cans they had to carry, as the route advanced, the walkers found different zones which simulated Sahel. For example, the control point in Girona pretended to be Burkina Faso, while the one in Bescanó, in the middle of the route, turned into the conflict area of Mali. To make all this possible, 500 volunteers from all ages were in charge of different tasks, from physiotherapists, to the ones providing drinks and food. Gisela Genebat, a volunteer from Intermon Oxfam, did not sleep either because they had to move and prepare everything at each point from the beginning. However, with just seven hours left to the end, she was really thrilled, \u201Cyou feel the teams\u2019 excitement during the challenge and they move you\u201D. She was also very satisfied with the local people in the towns through which the race passed. \u201CEverybody has worked to give us what they could, offering performances, breakfasts...\u201D she explained. For example, throughout Sunday dance and taekwondo performances and different workshops were held.

Although a Trailwalker was originally a military training exercise for the Regiment in Hong Kong, it became an Oxfam event in 1986. Since then, it has become one of the most important sporting challenges in the world. However, this time it was the cause but not the sport which brought nearly 2,000 people together to help other people at a distance much greater than 100 kilometres.

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  • The Aguas de Barbastro team (by J. Manresa)

  • The Intermon Oxfam trailwalker's kick off in Olot (by J. Manresa)

  • The Aguas de Barbastro team (by J. Manresa)
  • The Intermon Oxfam trailwalker's kick off in Olot (by J. Manresa)