2024 APAC Championship Medals & Trophies: Pioneering Local & Sustainable Innovation
March 15, 2024
Key Points:

Coming to an XTERRA event is more than an experience of races; it is a sincere exchange between people, between humans and nature. We sweat and laugh on the course, encounter vibrant flora and fauna, become witnesses to the rich ecology of the Hengchun Peninsula, and when leaving, we take only memories, leaving no trace behind.

XTERRA events worldwide showcase different natural landscapes and cultural atmospheres, serving as carriers for local culture, communities, ecology, and aesthetics. Over the years, the XTERRA Taiwan team has traversed the mountains of Kenting, exploring local communities from the perspective of travelers. They have visited mountain trails and town streets, discovering various local materials, aiming to deepen their understanding of Hengchun while reducing waste and carbon footprint each year.

Starting with the original intention of "learning from nature and embracing nature" we strive to become better versions of ourselves through off-road sports and outdoor experiences, creating a friendly environment and pursuing a beautiful vision of sustainable coexistence with the environment. By encouraging participants to use their own eco-friendly cups, partnering with local communities for finisher gifts, and crafting trophies from recycled materials, the initiative places a strong emphasis on minimizing waste, maximizing resource reuse, and sustainable practices.

The Hengchun Peninsula, bathed in sunlight, boasts diverse geographical landscapes, surrounded by the sea on three sides, and abundant ecological resources. Every scene holds the treasures of nature, including White Popinac, with its beautiful name, finding an excellent habitat here. Introduced to Taiwan in the 1960s as a papermaking material, White Popinac was abandoned in Taiwan's forests due to its profitability compared to imported pulp. It has since become a remnant in the mountains of the Hengchun Peninsula.

White Popinac (Leucaena leucocephala), also known as River Tamarind, took root in Taiwan, growing freely in the mountains, posing an ecological crisis. Its roots secrete allelopathic substances inhibiting the growth of other plants. Producing 10,000 to 20,000 seeds per plant annually, its aggressive nature, rapid expansion, and lack of natural enemies led to the formation of monoculture forests, greatly reducing biodiversity, turning it into a "green cancer" threatening mountain forests. White Popinac has also spread to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the world's top 100 invasive species posing a serious threat to ecosystems.

To maintain ecological balance, the government and local communities collaborated on removal and reforestation projects. Over 1,000 hectares of White Popinac have been removed, with ongoing efforts in Hengchun's Dehe community, a heavily affected area, where efforts to combat its invasive growth have been ongoing for over a decade. Removing White Popinac is one thing; how to utilize the discarded wood and give it new value is another challenge. Tsung-Hsun Yang (Tim), chairman of the Dehe Community Development Association in Hengchun Town, spent over a decade developing a “hydrothermal carbonization method”, turning White Popinac from harmful waste into a high quality material, leading the community towards revitalization and innovation.

Trophies and medals made from White Popinac are each unique. After cutting down the White Popinac, it needs to be processed quickly. After 48 hours of boiling, it is cut, polished, and crafted into different works. Looking at the finisher medals for the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, one medal takes about three working days to complete. Compared to the speed of White Popinac growth, this process is slow, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly. However, XTERRA and the Dehe community have resolutely chosen this challenging path on the journey of pursuing ecological balance and sustainable coexistence because partners are needed on this journey.

"We Play We Protect" is XTERRA's motto, promoting outdoor living worldwide, encouraging people to connect with nature responsibly and to safeguard off-road sporting environments. With the 2024 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship returning to Kenting, recycled White Popinac has been used to create medals and trophies. Locally sourced White Popinac wood will also be on display for venue decoration, and local community volunteers will showcase White Popinac handicrafts at the EXPO, explaining their crucial role in maintaining ecological balance to athletes from around the world.

Similar to the intense preparation of athletes, facing challenges with courage, relishing the experience, and commemorating successes, the production of XTERRA Taiwan’s annual trophies and medals is a detailed process filled with exploration, experimentation, and realization. We hope to offer trophies and medals sourced from the earth while giving back to the community. These awards not only carry the individual achievements and memories of the athletes, but also symbolize the gentle connection between participants, the event, and the community. The medals hung around each athlete's neck at the finish line and the trophies awarded on the podium symbolize gratitude to those who, similar to XTERRA, cherish nature..

Trophies and medals not only represent victory in a competition, or momentary glory on the podium; they are accolades for enduring training and evidence of a vibrant, active lifestyle. White Popinac trophies and medals celebrate resilience, determination, the bravery to confront challenges, and the joy found in navigating difficult paths.


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