Teacher Mark is top of class again in 10km
Mark Ryan spends his working week chasing children around his Po Lam school, but yesterday the Canadian teacher set the pace to claim a second victory in the 10km event in three years.
With the majority of Hong Kong residents still fast asleep, Ryan was the first of a combined mass of almost 55,000 runners to cross the finish line in near darkness at Victoria Park shortly after 5.43am after darting along the Island East Corridor in 33 minutes and nine seconds to edge out Yeung Shiu-lun.
With only a small number of keen supporters for company over the final 500 metres, Yeung took the second step on the podium in 33:12 with Wong Tin-yau third in 33:38.
'It's amazing. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy myself. It was a bit tough at 9km, I had the other runner with me and I wasn't sure if I was going to pull it off, but the guy in front of me made a wrong turn so I was able to get past him' said Ryan, who has lived in Hong Kong for the past five years.
'It was awesome to be the first one to cross the line; I remembered what it was like in 2009. I love crossing that ribbon.'
The 28-year-old was still able to clock up 100kms per week during his preparation despite Kids PhD, a private English tutorial centre for children aged five to 12, taking up most of his time for the last six months.
And the win marked a complete turnaround for Ryan who endured a disastrous title defence last year with his 2011 time eclipsing his 2009 mark although falling short of a 31:45 personal best. 'I have so much pressure in my life so I just wanted to run.
'I won in 2009 and then last year people were asking me if I was going to win and break the Hong Kong record and I let that get into my head and when I ran the race last year I hated it, I did not want to run this race ever again, it was a disaster,' he added.
'I was in better shape last year and I was winning the race at 6km and I had my training partner with me and he came up to me and had so much energy and I stopped at the 6km water station and I took a break and if you take a break during a race you are never going to catch anyone. I had never stopped before in a race and I promised myself I would never do it again. This year I was more relaxed and I didn't worry about the other runners, if someone was going to beat me they were going to beat me. I was not stressed this time and I think that showed in my running.'