Runners aim to be fastest Hong Kong team in Oxfam Trailwalker
Hongkongers have put everything on the line to complete charity event under 12 hours
The seeds of a dream were planted nearly six months ago at the Round the Island Race, where four runners talked about clocking the fastest time for a local Chinese team in the Oxfam Trailwalker's 27-year history.
At the finish of the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong annual race round the Tai Tam Reservoir in April, Law Chor-kin, Thomas Lam Shing-yip, Tsang "Ying Ying" Chun-kit and Tang Sun-kam gathered for a photo. They also joked that they could be the "Dream Team" of Hong Kong's trail running scene. Tsang won the men's open division in five hours and 43 minutes.
On Friday, Team 2XU HOKA UFO hope to complete the treacherous 100km charity run in under 12 hours.
If they do, they will be faster than the 2010 People's Liberation Army time of 11 hours and 59 minutes, and faster than last year's 12:25 set by the "Convoy Cosmoboys", a Hong Kong team.
"Winning or not is a relative thing. Our focus is not on winning, it is on beating our target," said a level-headed Law, a 36-year-old surveying officer. "I will consider it a win if we can achieve what we aim for. Our competitors are ourselves."
Tsang, a 30-year-old lifeguard, added: "To be the fastest will be something we can contribute to Hong Kong. We love Hong Kong and would like to do something for the city."
They are no strangers to putting everything on the line for a record. Since that photo, they have taken line honours, as individuals and as a team, in almost every local race. Last weekend, the quartet smashed the field in a 70km relay race, the Salomon LT70, along the hilly Lantau Trail, logging a collective time of 6:50:12 - more than an hour faster than their competitors. Lam and Law hold the record for the fastest time on the Raleigh Tornado 156 - the 78km length of the Wilson Trail, then back again - a 156km race, which the team completed non-stop in 24:50.
Apart from raw talent, they have a secret weapon: an army of 20 supporters. "Apart from two cars, which will offer static support at major checkpoints, there will be others who will have to hike to the middle of the course where cars cannot reach to offer drinks and food to the team … [minimising] the weight the we need to carry," said Law.
And if everything goes to plan, they may even be at the front of the pack. But their closest rivals are the returning Nepalese army runners - Team Columbia and Team Nepal - who have been training on the trail for months.
Other rivals are fellow Team 2XU, comprising Daniel Parr, Peter Lee, William Davies and Eric LaHaie, some of the stalwarts of Hong Kong trail running who finished fifth last year.
But those who know Team 2XU HOKA UFO best believe they have the right stuff. "They are good friends who enjoy running and racing together, and have very good rapport. Sometimes putting the best runners in one team may not work, but I am sure it will in this team, the chemistry is very good," said Ida Lee, team manager and Law's wife.