Jane Richards finally sees victory after 20 years
Hong Kong-based Australian says it is the first time she has won a race since she was 12
It is only taken 20 years, but Jane Richards celebrated the first victory of her running career on Sunday as the women's overall half-marathon champion.
"I can't believe I've won, I've never won a race before," said an ecstatic Richards, who finished in one hour, 26 minutes and five seconds. "I won an 800-metre track race when I was 12, but not since then."
Runner-up Karen Hung Shee-yeung was 20 seconds behind in 1:26:25, followed by Sarah Cheung Hoi-wah in 1:26:59.
"I'm so happy to have done my best today. It was a really windy day and there were a few tricky hills out there," said Richards, 32, a Hong Kong-based Australian. "I felt like I was being blown all over the road; it was very challenging."
Richards said her plan was to "keep it together" until the 15km mark around the Western Harbour Tunnel "and then I was just going to go for it".
"[Hung] caught me around 11 kilometres, and I was a bit worried I didn't have anything left."
Despite strong head winds, Richards found the reserves to power through to the finish in her debut Hong Kong Marathon race. "I just dug deep and stayed strong."
It was a surprising training run for Hung, who bettered last year's ninth place finishing time by almost three minutes.
"I was hoping for 1:28 today and I got [1:26:25], so I'm pretty surprised. I like the cold weather, it makes you faster," said the 29-year-old Hung.
She is hoping to carry her winning streak into the Rotterdam Marathon in April in the Netherlands, where she is aiming for a personal best time.
Cheung was unhappy with her third-place result.
"I couldn't follow the plan today. I wanted to get a personal best below last year's time of 1:25:57, but I ran a minute slower [she also placed third]. I had trained well and my preparation was good, but I think the wind was quite strong," said the 33-year-old.
The Women's Masters One podium was a mirror image of last year with Rachel Sproston winning the race in 1:31:12, followed by Lise Harrow in 1:31:35 and Ann Cheng-Echevarria in 1:31:58.
Cheng-Echevarria, who had battled illness during the week, had been in the lead until the final few kilometres when she was caught by an effervescent Sproston and then Harrow.
"I saw [Cheng-Echevarria's] times in a recent race and I thought to myself, 'I'm going to have to work this year'," said Sproston. "I didn't catch her until 18 kilometres in - she's very strong."
Harrow said the strong winds, especially after the tunnel, made it a difficult race.
"It was tough today," said Harrow. "After the uphill in the tunnel, the wind just hits and you're battling it for the rest of the race until the finish."
In the Women's Masters Two, Elaine Margaret Hall finished first in 1:36:35 followed by Stella Candice from the United States in 1:42:07 and Wan Chui-King in 1:42:08.