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Overcoming Hurdles on the Trail: Two Teachers' Triumphs and Tribulations at Translantau 2023

On the brisk morning of Saturday, Nov. 11, near Mui Wo Market, under a cloudy sky and a gentle breeze of 23C, over 780 runners were palpable and eagerly awaiting the start of the Translantau race. Cheers erupted as the starting gun echoed, capturing the moment of a challenging journey for Grace Law and Kam Wong.

In 2023, the fastest woman in the 35–39 age group, Eszter Csillag, completed the Translantau 100 km race in 13 hours and 50 minutes. Law hoped to finish within 20 hours and 30 minutes. 

Over 780 runners are waiting in line at the starting line.

Grace Law, 35, a secondary school English teacher, aims to complete her 100-kilometre race, while Kam Wong, 58, a secondary school PE teacher, aims to complete the 50-kilometre Translantau race in 12 hours without injuries.

Law and Wong dedicated significant time to preparing for the race, including researching energy gels for the last six months and developing customised food approaches, like Onigiri, a plant-based snack with a sour and sweet flavour resistant to spoilage.

Wong’s food preparation includes energy gel and salt pills.

Besides food preparation, Law has also divided the route and exercised several times in various conditions, including on the road down the mountain during an evening downpour. At the same time, Wong challenged herself by walking 27 kilometres on the road near her home,  more than she had ever walked before, making her doubt if she could finish the upcoming 50-kilometre race.

Undeterred by the challenges of the rocky terrain, Law walked through Kau Ling Chung, determined to reach her destination in Tai O. Even though she witnessed others vomiting along the way, Law stayed strong and continued on the race. "My psychological quality seems to be better," she said.

Law used ten minutes to eat all the food the support team prepared.
Wong stayed hydrated and powered through the race fueled by her secret weapon – orange, coke, and a McDonald's Sausage muffin with Egg.

Based on the GPS tracking runners ' progress, the organiser's live truck reported that Law was heading to Ngong Ping. Considering her previous checkpoint time, it was predicted that she would arrive an hour later than expected.

However, Law remained undeterred, navigated the steep and uneven stone steps of the 934-meter Lantau Peak, the second-highest mountain in Hong Kong, and immediately tackled Sunset Peak at 854 meters.

Having prepared extensively for this moment, she proceeded confidently uphill, opting not to rely on hiking poles.

"I've lost track of the time. As soon as I get to the level road, I feel like my body is smooth," Law said.

Arriving ten or fifteen minutes after the support crew, Law found them unprepared due to technical issues with the live truck setup. Left with no alternative, the crew offered her a meal from the organiser; she reluctantly consumed the unappetising meal. Knowing she needed energy for her mission, she settled for tea and an onigiri instead.

"I was most shocked by not getting what I wanted. I told myself not to get furious to save energy," Law said.

As Law digested her meal and tried to prepare for her mission mentally, the skies darkened, and raindrops started to fall, causing various difficulties for the participants.

This rain affected Wong badly, making it extremely difficult for her to maintain her footing on the slippery terrain.  Witnessing others slip and fall, Wong realised she needed to be extra careful.  Despite her efforts, she lost her grip, fell, descended the muddy slope, and landed awkwardly with her left foot folded underneath.

In discomfort, Wong attempted to stand, but her knee audibly gave out with a snap. Feeling embarrassed and helpless, she sat back down, contemplating her next move. "I don't know what to do," she thought when she observed fellow hikers passing by.

Still, Wong bent her knees at a sharp angle, resolved to complete the journey despite her trembling legs. Descending the mountain, she reached Discovery Bay, where her support staff awaited. After taking a much-needed break, she paused to catch her breath before pressing on with her 10-kilometer journey.

Meanwhile, Law had managed to recharge her energy at the Shui Hau checkpoint through a meal and was determined to maintain her physical and mental stamina.  

"This is a psychological war; I need to show everyone that I'm still in excellent shape so I can leave the checkpoint immediately," Law said. While Law was recharging her energy, Wong was approaching the end of her race with her knee injury. 

As they neared the end of the race, a participant beside her said, "Don't give up; you look fit. Let's push through to the finish line together." Despite her exhaustion, Wong felt encouraged and couldn't pick up her pace. But as she ran, sharp pains shot through her leg, causing her to wince.

"I know I'm fit, but my leg is killing me," she replied and laughed through gritted teeth.

Though Wong was near the end of her race, Law still had five kilometres to complete. With the thickening fog from the rain, there was limited visibility of just around ten meters. The law applied the "four minutes pacing" technique, keeping a consistent pace of four minutes per kilometre; she remained resolute, determined to conquer the final five kilometres.

Observing many others slowing down in response to the challenging conditions, Law refused to be discouraged. "When I was running down, I saw girls from my age range, and it got me thinking, will I get ranked in the top five of my age range?" said Law.

Law eventually completed her race, clocking in at 21 hours and 15 minutes with a W35-39 ranking in the top five without injury. She reflected on the challenging conditions. "It rained heavily in Mui Wo, and I rushed to the finish line. I was so moved that I wanted to shout," she said.

Meanwhile, Wong exhibited determination and perseverance as she proudly crossed the finish line, completing her race in 12 hours and 14 minutes despite a leg injury. She had aimed to finish the race in 12 hours before turning 60. 

"God may not give a good race, but he certainly provides a valuable experience for us,” Wong said. 

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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