Planning pays off for Wang Kun
Macau-based student pulls away two kilometres before the finish to record first race victory
It was a battle of bodies and wits between the leading pair of Wang Kun and Kawarai Tsukasa in the men's half marathon.
For a long time the runners seemed content to take it in turns out in front before the 21-year-old Wang kicked clear for his first-ever race victory and the Macau-based student revealed afterwards it had all gone to plan, from his side at least.
"I didn't want to face the wind by myself for the whole race so I tried sometimes to drop back behind him to take a rest from it," said Wang, who finished the race in 1:09.08, ahead of Tsukasa in 1:09.26, with Australian McIntyre Klarie third in 1:11.55.
"It went to plan for me today and I was able to kick my way clear with about two kilometres left," he said. "I have been doing a lot of interval training and I think this has made me stronger, especially at the end of my races."
Originally hailing from Jiangsu province, Wang is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Sports at the Macao Polytechnic Institute while grabbing the opportunity to test out the theories he is being taught in race conditions whenever he can.
"I am trying to race more and more," he said. "I am only really beginning as a runner so I need to get as much experience as I can."
Wang came to Hong Kong with one eye on China's national university championships later in the year.
"I came here for the atmosphere of this race and to experience what it is like to race in a huge event," he said.
"It's a well-known event and you can race against many experienced runners so it is very important for me to gain this experience - and I am very happy with this result."
There were no complaints from Tsukasa, with the Japanese runner saying the race formed just one part of a much bigger, long-term plan.
The 27-year-old sports promoter is among those tasked with hyping up the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and said he would be travelling to races around the region over the next six years and trying to drum up support for the event.
"I really enjoyed it today," he said. "We were able to go pretty fast, even though the wind was blowing hard and the tunnels seemed very hot.
"The winner was a little bit too strong for me in the end but I have had a great time - and I have told everyone they have to come to Tokyo for the Olympics in 2020."
While conditions provided plenty of problems for runners, they were made to measure for the 21-year-old Klarie, who had come to Hong Kong looking to escape fierce summer conditions in Victoria.
It was just Klarie's second half marathon since deciding to turn his attention to the event after running cross-country races throughout his high school years.
"I came here because it's still winter," said Klarie, who is studying for a degree in health science. "It's been a hot summer in Australia so I thought this would be a pretty good place to start my year as it's much cooler and you can run a faster time."
Klarie said his first time around the idiosyncratic Hong Kong course had provided some challenges, but he thought he was definitely better off for the experience.
"I found the course really hard because of the tunnels and the bridges but it is a good start to the year for me now I can just look forward to the year and working on improving my times," he said.