Talking the talk, walking the walk and blazing the trail

Young and old recreation lovers have been blazing the trail recently while embracing a charitable cause, taking part in competition and having fun in the process.

Young and old recreation lovers have been blazing the trail recently while embracing a charitable cause, taking part in competition and having fun in the process.

Trailwalk is a long-distance trekking event believed to have originated in Hong Kong as a training exercise for the army. In early 2000s, the concept came to the Chinese mainland with the name “Yixing,” meaning to walk with perseverance. 

The first recorded trailwalk event in Hangzhou may be traced back to 2002, when a group of BBS (bulletin board system) users at Zhejiang University organized a voluntary walk in the hills surrounding West Lake.

Since then, the event is held twice a year in spring and autumn for the university students and alumni. The route starts from the Yuquan campus of the university and ends at its Zhijiang campus by the Qiantang River. 

In 2011, the government launched its own trailwalk event, which is open to citywide participants including expats living in Hangzhou. It is also a part of the annual West Lake International Expo.

Last weekend, two trailwalk events were held in Hangzhou to highlight the city’s cozy autumn. Shanghai Daily brings you back to the venues to see why the sport is so popular among citizens.

People depart at the start point of the 2017 Hangzhou International Trailwalk Rally.

2017 Hangzhou International Trailwalk Rally

A total of 15,000 people participated in the 2017 Hangzhou International Trailwalk Rally on October 28. The slots were reserved on a first come first served basis and it was fully booked five hours after the registration opened online.

People can sign up for any of the 5-kilometer, 15km, 30km and 50km groups. Apart from the 15km trail, contestants must come in teams.

Francisco is an expat working for a multinational mechanical industry company based in Hangzhou. He was one of 260 foreigners from more than 17 countries who took part this year. He has participated in running events in Europe but this was his first 30-kilometer trailwalk.

“The event was well organized and the scenery was just awesome,” he told Shanghai Daily. “Next year I may try the 50 kilometers.”

The route of 30 kilometers is a circular one following the embankment of the Qiantang River, where you walk past several cross-river bridges, the splendid skyline of high-rise buildings at Qianjiang New Town and the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, which will be the main venue for the 2022 Asian Games.

Compared to the old town and West Lake, this part of the city was developed this century and represents a more ambitious future of the city.

Along the route there was a stop every 5 kilometers providing water and food for participants. The trail also provided 745 volunteers to help maintain order, guidance and just in case there were any emergencies. 

At the finish line, Wang Hejian, who just finished the 30-kilometer event, was doing some after-walk stretching exercises with his colleagues. They all came from the same Hangzhou running club. 

“Mild relaxing exercises after such a long distance is essential,” said Wang. “I’m so happy that everyone in our team walked up to the end, even if some do not have any experience before.”

People walk in the hills of West Lake at "Walk for Love" — 2017 Hangzhou Charity Trailwalk. 

‘Walk for Love’ — 2017 Hangzhou Charity Trailwalk 

Since the trailwalk in Hong Kong opened to civilians in the 1980s, charitable deeds have been closely linked with the event. On Sunday, a fund-raising trailwalk was held in the Yuhuang Hill scenic area in Hangzhou.

“One Foundation,” a charitable organization founded by Chinese actor Jet Li in 2007, initiates the annual event. It started in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in July earlier this year, followed by Beijing, Hangzhou and it ends in Changsha in Hunan Province.

“We chose Hangzhou because it is ideal for an outdoor trekking event like this and people are always enthusiastic to get involved,” said Tong Zhang, project manager of the event.

There were 2,100 people in more than 700 teams who joined in the 37-kilometer trekking along the hills and tea gardens south of West Lake. The fastest team took a little more than five hours to reach the end.

There are several ecological parks along the route. Jiangyangfan ecological park for example, is a wetland park at the south range of Yuhuang Hill, accommodating many wild animals and unknown species of plants.

The event is also an online fund-raising occasion, which encourages participants to share their walking live on social media to collect funds for One Foundation. The money will be used for improving the conditions of children living in underdeveloped areas of China.

“I think that trailwalk shares a lot of similarities with charity, in that you need to accomplish a target on your own,” Shen Min, vice secretary of One Foundation, told Shanghai Daily.

“We hope the event brings more positive energy not only to participants, but also people around them.”

Shi Jia

A participant holds a certificate and a medal at the 2017 Hangzhou International Trailwalk Rally.

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