On the 24th of November 2012 at 10:00am the 3rd Hong Kong 24-Hour ‘Running to Stop the Traffik’ Race kicked off! Students from 16 International Schools from all over Hong Kong competed with one goal in mind: to raise funds and awareness to fight the scourge of human trafficking in Nepal and East India.
The rules are simple, teams of 7 boys or 9 girls from each school run around a 3.2km loop in a relay style race over the course of 24 hours. Each team is only allowed one runner on the course at any time and they have to carry a team baton around with them. The team that runs the furthest combined distance in 24 hours wins. The race is held on Victoria Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island; it literally sprouts up from the center of the city.
The event was founded in 2010 by Christopher Schrader and the Youth Endurance Network (YEN) with the motto ‘Pushing Mental Boundaries/Breaking Physical Limits’. Chris envisioned a race that allowed people of all abilities to compete all that was needed was a willingness to push themselves to their max. He believes in philanthropy through endurance, i.e. people will give you more money if you do more extreme things. And running for 24 hours would be considered extreme by almost any highschooler! To give you an idea of how intense it is the winning boys team this year ran an average of 13 laps each, that makes out to be 42km, which is the equivilant of a marathon!
Over three years we’ve seen a lot; kids breaking down in tears, toes turned completely black and people limping over the line due to cramps. But what we’ve never seen is an argument. To me what makes this race so special is the spirit that everybody brings to the race. Teams come outiftted in matching attire, parents bring food up for their teams at all hours of the night, one school, Li Po Chung (United World College), even brings along their spirit squad who are tasked with cheering in each of their runners throughout the 24 hours!
Last year I competed as a runner for my school and I have to say that was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done. That is until I went on the Africa Expedition with Mike Horn! But the pain paided off, we came second overall. However this year I can only imagine how the runners must have felt because in addition to being up for 24 hours and physically exhausted the weather was terrible. It rained the whole time and during the night we were literally inside a cloud, even the inside of tents were soaked from the humidity! (Maybe you can ask Young Explorer Marius Wiggert who happened to be in Hong Kong during the race weekend and so took part with a team who were short of numbers, he’s currently on a trip around the world having an adventure of his own).
The race is completely student run, which makes it all the more outstanding. This year Oli and I were two of the seven main organizers of the event. This task involved many months of planning to pull off an extremely successful event. All the teams combined ran 8,340km in 24 hours! And whilst we’re still collecting the money in, last year we raised over $600,000 HKD ($77,500 USD), our goal for this year is $700,000 HKD.
The money raised has gone to the Ester Benjamin’s Trust (EBT) in previous years. This is a grass roots charity that aims to stop human trafficking of girls as young as five into Indian circuses. However they are in many ways of victim of their own success, in large part due to our donations and continued support, they have been able to shutdown trafficking into Indian Circuses completely. As a result Philip Holmes, the EBT founder, has now started a new charity called Freedom Matters. They still focus on trafficking in Nepal but in a broader context. With our funding from this years event we will be able to get this foundation going.
For future races we’re thinking about how to improve the race in many ways. In a world that is turning more and more green sustainability will be high on our agenda next year. We’re also looking to go global, this year UWC Singapore hosted a 12 Hour Race at the same time and are working to make it into a 24 hour event for next year.
Oli and I will be two of the organizers again for next years race so if you have any further questions about the race or want to get involved somewhere around the world email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or visit our website: http://24hourrace.org/cms/
If you want to get a better idea of what it was like and the atmosphere at the race check out a video Oli made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fcAJ1XTzYm4 It’s not quite a Moose Cut but it’s getting there.
YEPs involved: Sebastian Engelhart, Oliver Engelhart, Marius Wiggert
Date: 24th/25th november 2012
Location: Hong Kong