Ultra-runners race 102km umbrella-shaped route across Hong Kong to support Occupy
Two of Hong Kong’s top ultra-runners completed a 102km “Umbrella ultra-marathon” on Wednesday to show their support for the Occupy Central movement.
Wearing yellow shirts, Australians John Ellis and Andrew Dawson began running at 4am along a course mapped out with GPS technology to form the shape of an umbrella.
At around 6.55pm, about 50 runners reached the Occupy zone in Admiralty by MTR after stopping in Mong Kok, some 15 hours after setting off.
Andrew Dawson, one of the organisers of the run, said he was surprised that so many people had joined the run. He said some supporters offered to buy drinks for the runners along the way. One supporter even played the bagpipes in Sha Tin when the runners passed.
"Running over 100km is never easy, but it's made easier today with so many people with us," Dawson said.
Andy Shah Kai-hong, 20, joined the start of the run at 4am this morning. The running enthusiast said he had been running for over 20 kilometres every day and he joined the umbrella run to show his support for Occupy Central.
The route began at Shing Mun Reservoir in the New Territories, then headed west to Tai Lam, across to Tai Po, down to Sai Kung and back to Tai Wai, “which completes the umbrella canopy,” Ellis said.
“After that, we head south to [Tsim Sha Tsui], including a stop at the Mong Kok protest site, MTR to the government offices at Admiralty, then over The Peak to Aberdeen and around to Pok Fu Lam to complete the umbrella handle.”
Ellis, a 36-year-old who works in the finance industry, and Dawson, a teacher, said they support the Occupy Central movement. They said they were running to show solidarity with protesters after taking part in a 4km run at the Occupy site in Admiralty earlier this month.
“It was a combination of ideas,” Ellis said. “I joined the Umbrella Runs from the Lennon Wall and was amazed at just how much even a little run could help to lift the spirits of the protesters out in Admiralty, who have been camped out there for a month now.
Ellis said he was inspired by “GPS art”, a method of drawing that uses satellite technology to create large-scale artwork, to plot a course across Hong Kong in the shape of an umbrella.
“I remembered reading about GPS art a little while back and thought ‘why not a GPS Hong Kong umbrella to show my support?'
“I’ve been really touched by the sacrifice, determination, creativity and restraint shown by the students and other democracy protesters over the past month. I very much believe that governments should represent the people, so wanted to show my support – and why not by doing something I love, like running?"
A Facebook page for the run created last night had more than 600 members on Thursday morning. The duo were joined by supporters who ran with them over parts of the course this morning.
“We only started planning this on Monday, and it was something that Andrew and I thought we could do quietly to show our support for the democracy protesters, without much fanfare,” Ellis said.
“However, as word got out, we’ve been inundated by dozens of people wanting to run with us for certain sections. It’s been quite amazing how many people are really behind the students and the Occupy Central movement.”
An ultra-marathon is defined as any race over a greater distance than the standard marathon length of 42.2km.