When you feel like dying, you keep on running – Hong Kong Spartan team face brutal beast at world championships

Hong Kong will compete against the best in the world in California, with a main aim to beat their old rivals Malaysia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 11:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 9:28pm

The Hong Kong Spartan team will be lifting heavier weights and running farther to compete against the best in the world, but that is what they love about the sport.

Spartan races are obstacles courses that require competitors to climb, swing, carry sandbags, jump over fire and run.

The courses vary in length, but the world championships, from September 30 to October 3 in California, include a 19-22 kilometre ‘Beast’ and a42km ‘Ultra Beast’, with over 30 and 50 obstacles respectively.

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The team comprises Nicky Inge, Roy Ng and Magdalena Cvetkovic.

“You are running as fast you can, you feel like dying,” Cvetkovic said.

“Then you get to the obstacle and you’re so exhausted, the obstacle takes everything out of you. Then when you’ve done it, you have to keep running.”

“It’s a constant adrenaline rush. That’s what I like about it.”

When she first started Spartan races, Cvetkovic did not expect it to be so “brutal” but she feel in love with the sport.

Inge said the world championships would be more difficult than anything she had done because the weights will be heavier.

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“In Asia, the girls carry a 40-pound (18kg) sandbag, in the States it will probably be double,” Inge said.

Inge has been working on her running, given the distance of the race. Before she started Spartan races, she neglected running in her training and focused on aesthetics.

“I used to run four kilometres then think I was done,” she said. “But now I run four times a week, focusing on speed, hills and long distance runs.”

Predicting how they will perform is hard, given that the Western teams are unknown quantities.

“The European countries are going to be strong, and we don’t know them,” Inge said. “But we’d really like to beat Malaysia, we’ve competed against them in a lot of tournaments.”

Cvetkovic is part of an online group, where she follows training programmes and compares times with Spartan athletes based in London. “Some are better than me, some are worse. So I think we’ll be in the middle.”

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Ng thinks the 1,800 metres elevation at the starting point could prove hard given the air is thinner at altitude.

“And the race will be held in a ski resort with bumpy, twisty routes, where the distance between the highest and lowest points is dozens of metres,” Ng said.

“I hope I can get a good result through my efforts,” he said. “And show to the world that Spartan competitors from Hong Kong can also achieve good results. I consider it a way to win glory for Hong Kong.”

Inge, who was born in London but grew up in Hong Kong, said it was very important to her that she represents the country of her youth. “I couldn’t imagine representing another country,” she said.

Cvetkovic is originally from Switzerland, but now considers Hong Kong home after almost a decade.

“I never planned to stay for nine years, and now I don’t want to go back.,” she said.

“I feel very proud to represent Hong Kong, but also honoured that I was chosen given I’m an expat.”