Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2016

Sure-footed Li Shaozhuang retains rainy Men's Hong Kong Half Marathon title

Mainlander overcomes troublesome feet to repeat his victory

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 January, 2016, 11:25am

Li Shaozhuang looked more surprised than delighted when he broke the rope for a repeat victory in Sunday’s Half Marathon Challenge – and the mainland runner soon revealed just why that was the case.

I didn’t really give myself a chance this year ... I have only been able to run twice in the past month – and only 10km each time
Li Shao Zhuang

“I didn’t really give myself a chance this year,” laughed the 25-year-old. “I’ve had trouble with the instep on both of my feet and have only been able to run twice in the past month – and only 10km each time. But maybe that helped. I felt fresh starting the race – but I am exhausted now.”

Li finished in 1:19.34, in front of China’s Wang Kun (1:12.47) and Hong Kong’s Christopher Ngai Kang (1:12.54) and, despite his dodgy feet, seemed unconcerned by the slippery conditions.

WATCH: reaction from the half-marathon winners

In fact, like many of the athletes gathered yesterday, Li said he had actually preferred if not so much the rain – which arrived around 6.30am and started to deliver its full intent from 7am onward – but certainly the chill in the air that greeted the runners who had rose before dawn.

“Usually it is very humid so today was different and I think it was nice,” said Li, who has just finished medical studies in Dalian. “I had some pain in my feet still but the conditions were less uncomfortable than I expected. The course here in Hong Kong seems to suit the way I run and I feel very comfortable out there running through the streets. It is an event that has given me some great memories.”

READ > Flying visit: UK’s Jack Martin takes Men’s 10km race in record time

Li said he had stuck to a simple race plan Sunday – avoid big groups of runners in case the slippery conditions claimed a few victims.

“I tried as much as possible to stay away from other runners,” he said. “What surprised me given my lack of training was how strong I felt all the way until the end.”

Just whether or not Li will be back chasing his three-peat in 2017 remains to be seen as the runner’s immediate future – once his feet are back to full strength – will be a few challenges of a very different, more extreme, kind.

MORE > Read all of our Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2016 coverage here

“I’d really now like to try and train and get myself ready for some ultra-running,” Li explained. “I’d like to try some really long trail events, like 100km, as I think this would really be a great challenge. And I want to start climbing mountains – the ones with snow on their peaks. Later this year I plan to head to Yunnan to achieve this goal. I have always been fascinated by mountains and now that I have finished school I have the time to go and explore some.”