Sure-footed Li Shaozhuang retains rainy Men's Hong Kong Half Marathon title
Mainlander overcomes troublesome feet to repeat his victory
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,” 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.”
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.
“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.”