We Run HK: Mabel Chau

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 11:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 11:01am

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which started in 1997 with a humble 1,000 runners, has grown into a running festival for the city, with 73,000 racers expected to take part in this year's race this Sunday. To celebrate the city's passion for the sport, we've been featuring one inspirational local runner each week for the past 15 weeks. This is the final column.

At 71, Mabel Chau is not your typical sports junkie. Apart from being a masters swimming champion, she practises yoga, skis, sky dives, scuba dives and, as of a few months ago, runs.

Convinced that anything can be achieved at any age, Chau has taken up a new sport each decade since she turned 40. But running had eluded her, as her natural inclination was always to opt for water.

Last year she stumbled across 80-year-old marathon runner Kor Hong Fatt from Singapore in a Post article about age-defying athletes (in which Chau was also featured). So when she became a septuagenarian, Chau made a decision to lace up. It definitely wasn't too late.

"Being 71 doesn't mean you're over the hill," says Chau.

This weekend, she will be entering her first ever foot race: the Hong Kong Marathon 10-kilometre event. She will take her place at the start alongside students from Wah Yan College, raising funds for sports training.

I suffered many setbacks before I had the chance to start training. In July last year, I ripped off my big toenail while hiking, and in September I pulled my hamstring doing yoga. But because of these challenges, I learned to be more cautious. My philosophy in life is that for every negative there is a positive. It all depends on your outlook.

The first kilometre that I ran was gruelling. I was like a robot. It felt unnatural, which made me realise I needed a trainer to teach me to run. Of course, everyone can run, but with the help of my trainer Jerry Au, I've learned to be more efficient, and learned how to prevent injuries.

Only two months after I started running, I ran 10 kilometres on the Happy Valley Race Track. What a nice way to start 2014.

I still swim every day. But on Jerry's schedule, I do weights in the gym twice a week, and run four times a week, including intervals. I'm struggling to find the time to do yoga, but I'm still practising at least once a month.

I'm enjoying running, it creates endorphins. I still love my swimming, but through running, I've lost almost 4 kg. I can't believe it.

Exercise rejuvenates me. There's a Chinese saying - anything that you burn off you have to create again - so you create a stronger heart and lungs.

My target is just to finish. But I think I can do it in 90 minutes.

What's next? I'm thinking about an aquathlon to combine my swimming and running. But a half marathon? Let me finish the 10 kilometres first.

My first thought as I cross the finish line will be "I did it - nothing is impossible".