More than a thousand people are set to take on an epic challenge of endurance while they raise funds to tackle poverty at Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne this weekend.
Walking 100km in teams of four, the event will kick off on Friday in the beautiful Endeavour Hills, winding its way through the densely forested Dandenong Ranges and along the picturesque Mullum Mullum and Yarra Trails, before finishing up in Heidelberg.
About 1,300 people will take part in the 48-hour endurance challenge, with a key component of participation fundraising.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said it was an exciting time for teams that had been training hard over the past few months, with some waiting two years since the event was first cancelled in 2020.
“The countless lockdowns and cancelled events have really taken a toll on Victorians over the past couple of years, so to finally see Trailwalker go ahead with so many keen participants is incredible. It’s a credit to the indomitable spirit of Victorians,” Ms Morgain said.
“It’s just brilliant to see teams and their supporters come together for Oxfam Trailwalker – some for the first time, and others who are seasoned Trailwalkers and participate every year. It’s always great to learn about the wide variety of motivations for the people taking part,” Ms Morgain said.
“Some decide to do Trailwalker as a personal challenge, while others choose to participate alongside their friends and families. But what unites them all is their amazing resolve to train hard and complete the trail to help tackle poverty and inequality.
“During the walk, they will need to dig deep to carry on through unique physical and mental challenges. What gets teams to the finish line is a lot of support from each other, the Oxfam Trailwalker community, and the knowledge they are helping to raise life-changing funds for people living in poverty.”
Ms Morgain said Melbourne teams had so far raised an incredible $650,000 to help people in poverty around the world.
Avid walker, Stefan Kakowiak, who lives in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges, will this year be participating in Oxfam Trailwalker for the fifth time.
After years of struggling with social anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, Stefan has found hiking and the Oxfam event to be his saviour, walking 10km per day plus a 60-70km walk each week ever since.
“Hiking has literally saved my life,” he said. “Over the years, Oxfam Trailwalker has helped me to build really strong connections within the community – it has given me purpose whilst keeping me in great physical and mental shape.
“My uncle who is now in his late 60s has completed Trailwalker six times – he was the first one to introduce me to it, and I plan on doing it every year for the rest of my life, I love it that much. I really hope one day when my newborn baby Leo is 18, he will be able to join me too.”
This year Stefan will be filming his participation in Trailwalker for a documentary he is making for his YouTube channel, Healing Hikes Australia.