Next week’s beer dash, a highlight in the Lantau calendar, marks two milestones.
Officially known as the Lantau International Beer Dash, it will be the tenth time the charity fundraiser has been held.
It will also be the last time that founder Melanie Potgieter will organise the event.
Mel (as everyone calls her) and her family are moving to Hong Kong Island for her daughters’ schooling.
They will be back in Lantau, but Mel has decided it is time to hand over the reins to someone else. Lantau News spoke to her this week.
Q: What gave you the idea with the idea for the beer dash?
In 2009 we had Typhoon Hagupit, which was quite devastating. We were then living at Upper Cheung Sha, and we were friendly with locals down on the beach.
Their whole house was flooded, so we sent out emails to the community to come help and they did. Everybody made donations and we were able to buy them a fridge and TV.
I was thinking that we are very lucky in Hong Kong. Most of us are financially well-off and it’s good to help those who are not.
I thought of doing a fun run like in DB, but one of my friends said: why don’t you do a beer dash? There had been a beer dash in DB some years before but they had stopped it.
Instead of it being a very competitive run we thought maybe we’d just have something fun.
Q: How did you choose the route, starting up by the prison?
Because we had alcohol involved we didn’t want to make the route too far.
I used to walk my dogs along the catchwater. It’s quite a nice flat route – and then goes downhill to the beach.
Q: What are your memories of the first beer dash?
It was quite a process because I’m not a charitable organisation. It was quite hard finding out how to get it going, with the correct procedure and the correct permits, and who to ask. There was a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through.
I think we had 120 runners that year.
A few local restaurants sponsored beers for the different stations. We decided to call it the ‘International Beer Dash,’ because we had a different type of beer at each station. There are five stations, so five different beers.
Q: After nine beer dashes, what are the highlights?
To me the best part of the whole day is how everyone gets on with each other. There must be a million photos taken. Everybody just mingles. It’s people from all over Hong Kong. There are locals, foreigners, tourists and they all just have fun.
The costumes and the amount of effort people put into their costume absolutely amazes me. And we have raised more than HK$600,000.
Q: Who are the beneficiaries?
I was friendly with Okka Scherer, who runs Villa Kunterbunt [a dog rescue organisation]. A lot of the dogs she gets have been left behind by foreigners. I see the dedication of people like her, so I have tried to do more for the animals.
We give money to PALS, Villa Kunterbunt, Lantau Buffalo Association, South Lantau Buffalo Society, Herdsup.
Q: This is your last Beer Dash. Do you have any special plans?
We have made it in memory of Mark Parlett, a board member of LIM, who passed away last year unexpectedly. He’s been at every dash and he’s always been an active supporter.
Q: You are moving away. Will you be coming back?
We’re moving away to Pok Fu Lam to be closer to our daughters’ school.
But definitely we will be back here. We are not going for good, we’re just going for a couple of years.
Q: Who’s going to take over the beer dash?
I have a few people who have contacted me. There’s nothing definite, although Lantau Base Camp have said they might be interested. They run a lot of events already.
Registrations are still open for the 2018 Lantau International Beer Dash. Click here to sign up.
Photo (top): Mel and Bighead Boy at feeding time