After recovering from miscarriage to conquer North Pole marathon, Hong Kong Olympian Christy Yiu’s next goal is to become a mum
Hong Kong’s Olympian braves -40 degrees Celsius temperatures as she joins husband Chan Ka-ho in an Arctic adventure
It’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up. For Hong Kong Olympian Christy Yiu Kit-ching that was more than 30 as she conquered the “world’s coolest marathon” at the North Pole this month.
Two months after suffering a miscarriage, Yiu and husband Chan Ka-ho joined 54 runners from 20 countries competing in the 2017 FWD North Pole Marathon, in one of the remotest parts of the planet with only a few metres separating runners from 3,600 metres of Arctic Ocean.
Balance rather than breathing in air frozen at -40 degrees Celsius was the biggest obstacle for Yiu,
contrasting wildly with the 35 degrees heat she encountered when finishing 36th at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games last year.
“The weather was harsh and you need to wear thermal clothing with a mask to protect your face and breathing,” said the 2016 Hong Kong Athlete of the Year.
“But this was not the most difficult part. You have to maintain your balance when you run. This is not on an athletic track or a public road.
“It’s so difficult to master on the soft snow and small ice pressure ridges. I fell down for more than 30 times throughout the race but don’t laugh, many other competitors had the same experience.
“There are not too many people who have run a marathon on top of the world.”
Conquering 42.195km on the Arctic ice floes in extreme weather is not something Yiu is planning to do again any time soon.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience as my focus is always on representing Hong Kong in major games. The North Pole marathon is more on the adventure side and not a real competition,” said Yiu, who finished third in six hours, 37 minutes and 18 seconds. Her personal best in a normal marathon is 2:36.11 set in Rio last year.
Yiu says she is desperate to have a baby and does not know when she will compete competitively again – maybe the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
“My next battle will be on a hospital bed,” laughed Yiu, who is a registered nurse after completing her degree at Chinese University. “As I have said many times before, I want to have a baby before resuming full-time training in preparation for major games, but I don’t know when – 2019 could be a target before I get back to training for the Tokyo Olympics.
“We could have run the North Pole marathon with three persons but it’s now history. The miscarriage has nothing to do with the marathon and it was just natural.
“But we are still young and it may only take more time before I can have a baby and resume serious training.”
Yiu is also now training on a part-time basis as she goes back to work as a nurse at Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po.
Hot stuff: Christy Yiu Kit-ching beats the heat to run a PB but falls just short of Hong Kong’s marathon record
“My primarily target is to have a baby and there is no point spending all the time on training,” she said.
Runners had to complete a 12-lap course but they could retreat into a refreshment tent when they wanted to regain body warmth and hydrate themselves with food and water.
Yiu said she could have finished second behind Frederique Laurent of France who won the women’s section in 6:21.03 if she had not stopped to wait for her husband to cross the finish line. Chan was the fourth man to finish, in 4:57.47, behind winner Piotr Suchenia of Poland who clocked 4:06.34.
“I wanted to accompany my husband when he crossed the finish before I started my race again,” said Yiu.
“That delay probably cost me second spot. But it doesn’t matter as all we were all enjoying a special race in a special area. It also happened to be my husband’s birthday the day before the race.”
Chan holds the 3,000-metre Hong Kong steeplechase record but he favours events like the 10km or half marathon.
Yiu has repeatedly said she wanted her husband to join her in the marathon.
“I think the experience of racing along with me may push him for more marathon races in future,” she said.