Blisters for charity in Bangalore


By Rodney Joyce, Thomson Reuters

There were blisters, exhaustion and lots of greetings and curious questions from village children along the way, as 22 Thomson Reuters teams of four set out to walk 100 km (62 miles) each under the Indian sun, raising more than $26,000 for charity along the way.

Bangalore has become the 15th home of Trailwalker, a fundraising team challenge run by Oxfam, a British NGO, which enticed 88 Thomson Reuters staff to join the second year of the Indian event. It was run on a course that, on the map, looks like a broken smile a few miles south of the city, which is home to the company’s second-largest Operations Center.

That Thomson Reuters Bangalore and Trailwalker are intertwined is no surprise. Bangalore’s Site Head, Linsey Simpson, has made a habit of walking the Trailwalker; having participated multiple times, she reformed her “Pink Ladies” franchise for the Indian edition and raced home in a top-25 finish, out of more than 160 corporate and individual team entries.

Linsey has been a cheerleader for the daunting event, talking on radio shows and to corporate events to promote Trailwalker. Others in Bangalore also pitched in with their expertise. Manish Rajput and Anil Kumar Pappala helped build the Trailwalker website and donation gateway while Shashidhar Gurumurthy built an operational app to help track the positions of the participants during the course of the walk.

Walking 100 km within 48 hours is not something you do without preparation. While some other Trailwalker events around the world feature tougher terrain, Bangalore trail is daunting for its heat during the day and requires respect.

Under the tutelage of Sai Bhatt, a second time participant, dozens of participants spent many a weekend mornings in the lead up to the event on training walks of 25-30 km or more. Almost all our teams completed the event – a creditable achievement as a one-third dropout rate is not unusual for Trailwalker – despite interesting challenges such as elephant warnings near the halfway mark, blazing sun on the second day and a snake spotted on the trail near the end.

Children and villagers met along the way helped buoy the walkers. One little boy raced out of his house at night to shine his torch on the road as teams walked past. Elsewhere, villagers would call out and redirect  tired walkers who were all set to take a wrong turn.

The Pink Ladies made it home in a little over 29-1/2 hours. Other Thomson Reuters teams trickled in over the next day, with the two Editorial teams (extremely well provisioned and well watered) completing the event in just under 43 hours.

Why hurry when the support team is looking after you so well?