Race walker Jessica Ching Siu-nga would not predict the result in her first serious half marathon race but called on her fellow runners to “treasure the opportunity” of taking part in the Hong Kong Marathon this year. The Tokyo 2020 Olympian will join the 6,500 field in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday after she walked through the same event in 2018. “It’s not easy to stage such a large scale event during the pandemic and we should treasure the opportunity,” said Hong Kong’s No 1 race walker. “That is why I will also start on Sunday even if running is never my favourite. In fact, I always finished last in running when I was a little kid but I am sure it would not happen again this time.” Although both running and race walking are endurance events, they use different part of the leg muscles and Ching said that she felt the pain when she started her preparation. “Even my coach laughed at me when I first started training, saying it looked like walking more than running and my thigh muscles also hurt as I seldom use them for walking,” she said. “But it’s now getting better as I look forward to Sunday’s race.” Ching Siu-nga feeling the heat as she tries to book Tokyo berth Ching finished her maiden half marathon in one hour and 46 minutes in 2018, mostly using the skills of race walking. “The distance of the half marathon is similar to the 20-kilometre race walking in the Olympics and there should be no problems for me to adjust to the distance,” she said. “But in running, there are many ups and downs along the route while race walking is on a flat course. Also, race walking is on repetitive laps while running is from start to finish and seldom with laps. There is still some difference. But still I think I run faster than I walk and therefore it should be a better time on Sunday.” Ching said she had a rough idea of what pacing she should use in the race as she measured certain physiological indicators for running during training such as lactic acid tolerance. “The Western Harbour Tunnel should be the most difficult part as you run down the tunnel and go up again to the exit. If I feel too tired, I may turn to use my race walking skills and it may help,” she said. After Sunday’s marathon, Ching will return to the United States to take a break before travelling to Japan for the race walking season that begins in early 2022. “My long term target will be the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as age is never a problem for endurance events,” said the 34-year-old.