As easy as 1-2-3? Chinese runners fill the podium for both men’s and women’s half at Hong Kong Marathon
Men separated by photo finish as modest Chinese team struggle to explain dominance in both races
Mainland runners took the top spots in the men’s and women’s half-marathon events at Sunday’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.
Li Chunhui led the way in the men’s half-marathon but only by the finest of margins.
Both Li and countryman Liu Hongliang were both timed at one hour and 10 minutes but it was the Inner Mongolian runner that edged it.
Wang Kun was not far behind, finishing at 1:10.25 to cap a fine early morning for the mainland runners.
China’s women quickly followed in their footsteps in the women’s half-marathon.
First over the line was Hao Xiaofan in 1:18.13 before Yue Chao in 1:20.49 and Li Shiyi in 1:22.21 ensured that the podium was completed by mainland runners.
It was not expected according to the recently assembled team’s manager.
“The course is difficult for runners from the mainland,” Ethan He said, because it is up and down, pointing out that the tunnel section as particularly challenging. “It’s not easy to handle,” He said.
He also pointed out that they knew the times for winning the half-marathon in Hong Kong and the performance levels that were required.
He admitted that the team came to win but were still pleasantly surprised.
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For Hao it was her first visit to Hong Kong. She, along with the other five runners, was invited to run by race sponsors Nike.
The 28-year-old retired from the national team several years ago to return to her home province of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, where she now works as a PE teacher.
“We train very hard in China and the weather was perfect,” was how she explained her success on Sunday.
Men’s winner Li had no such explanation. Instead the 26-year-old laughed, saying that he didn’t think he had run well.
Li has been to Hong Kong before but “only for sightseeing”. He can add his photo finish on Sunday morning to his memories.