From the late shift to the winner's list

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am


Every expert says it's vital to get a good night's rest before a big race - unfortunately for Christy Yiu Kit-ching, nurses' sleep patterns are generally dictated by the roster.

Despite only enjoying a few hours' shut-eye after a Saturday late-shift at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po, the 23-year-old still delivered a great tactical victory in the half-marathon, retaining her title and beating new rival Michelle Lowry for the first time since the American came to Hong Kong.

Yiu, who recently completed a four-year nursing degree at Chinese University, had asked for an early shift on the Saturday to prepare, before a late change threatened to upset her preparations.

It seemed to have little effect though, as she stretched ahead of Lowry early on then managed to fend her off for the whole race to finish in one hour, 21 minutes and 31 seconds, 39 seconds ahead.

'Originally, I had a morning shift, but I had to swap for somebody and work the evening shift. I think I got about three hours' sleep,' Yiu said. 'Because all my work is shifts, I can't sleep as soon as I go to bed. I'm very tired and I didn't want to go too fast at the start in case I ran out of energy.

'I'm very excited to win, because I had a very strong opponent in Michelle.'

Before yesterday, Lowry, 34, had won every race she entered in Hong Kong since arriving from the United States in August and beat Yiu in January. The Utah native went to Yokohama late last year in a bid to make the qualifying time for the US Olympic trials in the marathon and Yiu knew she was outmatched in terms of experience and endurance.

'She's the toughest opponent I've faced,' Yiu said. 'At the beginning I went off by myself in the first couple of kilometres to try to put some distance between us.

'I know her endurance is much better than me because she's run marathons before and I haven't been training for that distance. So I just had to use my speed to win and luckily I held her off.'

The event's third-place finisher, Fan Ching-yee was more than eight minutes behind the pair.

Yiu's time was a minute slower than last year and, though she thought the course was a little easier because of more benign weather conditions, she savoured the win all the more given the quality of her opponent - and boyfriend Chan Ka-ho won the men's 10 kilometre race to make it a double celebration.

'I wish I'd won, but other than that it was a good race,' said Lowry. 'It was very much us two. We were the race. I thought I'd be able to reel her in after we came out of the tunnel, but she was really strong at the end. It was pretty much a hard march right until the end.

'She put a bit of distance between us early and that worked - I should have got her between five and 10k because I felt really good, but I thought I needed to save it for the end. I should have made it more of a race. She was just so strong - she got me this time.'

It could be an intriguing local rivalry at the distance, with the score now 1-1, though Lowry has her sights set on the longer race next year.

A qualified accountant, since moving here with her husband - a professor at City University - in August, she has combined training with helping their three children - 11, 9 and 7 - settle into school.

'We're very happy to be here,' she said. 'I like the running scene. I run with the Italia Running Club and they've really helped me to acclimatise. Although I moved here in August and it was a heatwave and brutal, they helped me not to despair.

'I've run seven or eight marathons before and that's the plan, to do the full marathon next year.'