Sun, Mar 8/98
Marathon # 124 – Country # 8 – Continent # 6
The Sports Manager and I routed through Hong Kong on the way home from Africa so that I could complete my 6th continent in my quest to run all seven continents. Since we had visited HK before we weren’t interested in spending more than a few days to run the race.
I picked up my race packet on Sat, the day before the race, and spent a lot of time talking with race officials about the logistics of the race because I had a problem! There had been sparse info on the race and I had made a ‘potential’ error in my logistics planning. I had assumed that I could/would finish the race under 3:30 and if necessary could probably push myself to finish under 3:15? The race started at 8 am on Sun so I had booked a flight out of HK at 1 pm on Sun. In those days 1 ½ hours was plenty of time to check in, go through security and board a plane. It would be tight but I was Executive Platinum on AA and always received special and fast service when flying AA!
However I wasn’t expecting the marathon course to be on the northern outskirts of the city and I didn’t know that it was a tough and hilly course! Now I had to take a taxi to the start line and more importantly after the race I would have to grab a taxi immediately after crossing the finish line, rush to the airport and check in. Hopefully I would have time for a quick shower in the AA Executive Lounge – or my colleagues on the flight would not be happy! To help speed up the process we decided that Nicole would go to the airport early and check us both in - you could do that in those days! The local runners and race volunteers cautioned me that the course was very tough and I shouldn’t expect to finish under 4 hours! If I took 4 hours I would not make our flight!
The marathon course was a half-marathon loop in Sai Kung Country Park around the High Island Reservoir. It was scenic but indeed very hilly! I reached 10Km in 52:21 and a (5 K) split of 25:53. I was close to a 3:30 marathon pace. I could not slow down! I passed 20 Km in 1:44:24 and a (10K) split of 52:13. I was holding a consistent pace but it was not fast enough to finish under 3:30? I don’t know if the pressure/stress caused me to slow down (I think it was the 2nd loop of constant hills) but when I reached 35 Km in 3:07:49 and a (10K) split of 26:19 I knew I was NOT going to finish under 3:30 and that it would be tight to catch my flight! I crossed the finish line in 3:46:39 – grabbed a finisher’s medal and rushed to the entrance of the Park to catch a taxi. Luck was with me and I got a taxi right away and asked him to take me to the airport – FAST! When I arrived at the airport Nicole had already checked us in and had our boarding passes so we rushed through security. Heck – I even had time for a quick shower. We boarded the plane 10 minutes before departure time. Remember in those days - they didn’t close the aircraft doors until it was ready to depart.
Shortly after we settled into our roomy seats In Business Class my legs started to tighten up. In hindsight I now realize how foolish I was to do such nonsense! Run a tough race and then immediately jump on a plane for a 12 hour flight? I am amazed that I didn’t suffer DVT more often?
When I finished I was a wee bit disappointed in my performance and that I couldn’t break 3:30 until I discovered a few days later that I had won 1st place in my AG (Vets 50+) and beat the female winner of the race by 1 min. All the times were slow so my finish time of 3:46 was actually very good!
And more importantly I had finished Marathon # 124 – Country # 7 – Continent #6. Only one more continent to go!