Monday, April 22, 2013

Completing Trailwalker - the first ever non-walking participant

The crew at the finishing line - from left to right Ben Hart,
David Ponsford, Masha, Scott Lever,team pilot Bruce Towers
Gary Porter, Megan Watson and David Southwick
In 2012 22,000 people around the world walked 2.2 million kilometers - sponsored to raise money for Oxfam. The Trailwalker event was first conducted in 1986. That is a lot of people.

This weekend in Melbourne, for the first time in that entire history, someone completed the challenge without actually walking. That someone was Bruce Towers and he was the rider in a TrailRider that was guided by 7 sherpas. A Trailwalker team must have four members and the two Parks Victoria teams, one rider and seven sherpas made up the eight.

The teams trained hard for the three months leading up to the event but that could not really approximate to the actual effort of covering 100 km. For the sherpas it was sore legs and blisters and for Bruce it was above all the cold, still on the track at midnight at the top of a mountain. Bruce, who at first was the "passenger" and came to be known as the "pilot", became a paraplegic after a helicopter crash and joined the venture highly qualified as someone who was brave, crazy and adventurous enough to take it on.

Parks Victoria finished 405th out of 756 teams taking 32 hrs 18 minutes to complete the course. Their involvement is a credit to son and foundation sherpa Ben Hart who had the original idea, John Kenwright at Parks Victorian who organised it all  and to MLA David Southwick who lead the teams. This of course is not to mention the five other sherpas from Parks Victoria and the star of the whole occasion. Bruce.

Photo and video by Ros Hart

Friday, April 19, 2013

Night is falling... the Dandenongs as the Parks Victoria team edges towards the halfway stage in their 100km challenge. They will continue into the darkness before they take a rest at John Kenwright's house and then be back on the track early tomorrow morning.

The current ETA at the finishing line in Wesburn Park is 3pm on Saturday 20th. It's cold outside!

The map shows their progress at 4:40pm

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Trailwalker publicity

The publicity machine at Oxfam is doing well 

- check out the State Minister's media release
- the Age article
- the ABC Melbourne interview with Ben Hart
- the Trailwalker website

Any others?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oxfam Trailwalker Challenge

In the woods. There are parts of the track that are a lot more
arduous than this!
This is the post I've been longing to make but the Oxfam media embargo has made me wait until today. 

For 100km and 48 hours Bruce Towers will be lugged, by a team of seven sherpas, in the first ever (worldwide!) Oxfam Trailwalker entry with a passenger.

Visit the Oxfam Tralwalker site to sponsor the team and see whether you can make it to the start or the end of the track. 

There are quite a number of reasons that I find all this particularly exciting.

  • I have not done anything! This was Ben's (son) idea and has been spearheaded, once again, by Parks Victoria. Ben is a sherpa along with a number of park rangers and a state politician, David Southwick.
  • The match between TrailRider and TrailWalker is a big thing for Oxfam which leads to them doing a lot of media work. The Age article is a good example.
  • Once again we have the great pleasure of working with Storyscape (who made Wild Places) and the 3 minute video is the beginning of a complete production.
Some of the sherpa team. Bruce Towers is the passenger who progresively  acquired the title of "pilot".

Friday, April 12, 2013

International recognition

Excerpt from the BCMOS website showing the Australlian
chairs and where to get them
This is the moment (one of them!) that I have been waiting for. The TrailRider is designed and built in Vancouver, Canada where, incidentally, we used to live. The organisation that looks after all that is the British Columbia Mobile Opportunity Society and their website now lists all the chairs down here (select TrailRider/Around the World).

This is great news for North American disabled tourists planning a trip down-under.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trentham - two new TrailRiders

For the first time in my life this morning I saw two TrailRiders in the same place at the same time. The occasion was the joint launch of the Daylesford and Bacchus Marsh chairs. Trentham is kind of in the middle so the Quarry Street Reserve is where Hepburn and Moorabool Shires chose to stage this event. 35 people enjoyed speeches, food and drink under cover because it was raining. Check out the Directory to get hold of one of these chairs - yours, for free, for up to seven days!
As observed two weeks ago (!!) Shires are likely to be where it's at with TrailRiders in the future as such chairs end up being closer to more people - both riders and sherpas. The seeming rush of new chairs is very warming but has a little bit to do with the imminent wind up of the state government Transport Connections program. If there's money left in the budget why not contribute towards a TrailRider?

One exciting thing is that a model is being developed of how to set up a Shire chair, Problems are solved that, to some extent, may not need to be solved again. Maybe a "How to setup a TrailRider" page on this blog?

Once again Parks Victoria (or more accurately John Kenwright) has been the one to bring it all together.