The old Calvin Tsang might have thrown in the towel when the going got tough on the Oxfam Trailwalker.
But not this time.
The 18-year-old, who has autism, embodied his team’s “Never Give Up” moniker as he persevered to cross the finish line after 100 kilometres in 27 hours and 14 minutes.
And his mother, who ran the race with him alongside teammates Tommy Wong Shui-shing and Fung Shun-chun, struggled to hide her emotions.
“He kept on running, even for the last few kilometres,” said his proud mother Lee Wing-suen, choking back tears of pride.
Not only did Tsang stay the course, he also wants to do it all again next year.
“People with autism can lose their temper,” added Lee. “A few years ago, he would just lose his temper and sit down on the street and not move.
“But now, I told him ‘never give up’.”
On Friday, the elite runners ripped up the Oxfam Trailwalker with Team Nepal taking first place and mixed team Beauty and the Beasts setting a record, while Nutters Return won the women’s section in 18 hours and 14 minutes.
But there were champagne moments today as the rest of the 5,000 runners continued to pour over the finish line.
The Mountastic 4+ team finished in 21 hours and 27 minutes, and immediately cracked open the bubbly.
“The original plan was 20 hours,” Dickson Man Ka Wing said. “But we started in the later group, at 2pm, and it was so jammed.”
Hong Kong’s most popular trail race, Trailwalker sees the first group leave at 8am, but start times are staggered up to 2pm.
Runners can be nose to tail with each other at points along the 100km course, particularly those with later starting times.
“We tried to overtake,” Man said. “It was hard, especially on the uphill sections. You have to be going very fast on the uphill to overtake. And some bits are very narrow.”
He said Friday’s unexpected heat also slowed them down, but Man and the rest of the team – Wong Ka-kit, Ken Leung Kin-wai and Forward Chong Kwok-chin– sprayed champagne and cheered with their support team when they finished.
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It was an improvement on last year’s finish of 24 hours and 46 minutes – but will Mountastic tackle the Trailwalker a third time?
“We were asked the same question on the finish line last year, we said no,” recalled Leung. But one week later they went on a hike and their interest was piqued again.
Man has already set his sights on his next goal. “Next week I will run the Osaka marathon,” he said. “I will just take it easy and try and finish within the cut off time.”