Mandy Tik Tolman has won the inaugural ColdXtreme triathlon, just four weeks after suffering a collision with a car. She was cycling down Mount Austin when a car came around the corner on the wrong side of the road, she hit it and flew over the bonnet, breaking her tooth and injuring her shoulder joint. “I was a little resistant about the race, I knew I’d just been in an accident. Usually in triathlons, there’s police stopping the traffic, but this was all self-supported. Mentally it was very tough,” Tolman, 42, said. She completed the 15km of swimming, 80km cycling and 20km of running in 13 hours and six minutes, the first woman to win the event. “I was nervous. At the same site of the accident, two taxis were coming and I stopped and let them go by. It sapped my energy, it made me tired, I tensed my shoulders way more now as the accident is very fresh. “My tooth is numb, and I couldn’t rip the gels open properly with my teeth. It’s still quite new. It saps the energy, and I can’t be free, or just let go of my breaks and go as fast as I want as I’m always expecting traffic, that’s the mental stress. “After my four or five hour swim, I had to be mentally strong and focused on the bike. That is the real challenge. Vaid’s heroic 360km triathlon helps to forge Hong Kong community bonds “I could have been scared to death going down hill and worrying about coming off the bars and scratching my face,” she said. “But I was practising faith over fear, I was transforming my fear into faith. I had to do a lot of self talk.” Tolman’s victory was assured from the start – she was the only woman to sign up to ColdXtreme. There was also the Cold Half 15km Extreme Marathon Swim and the Cold Plunge 1,500m swim, which women entered. Tolman works as a women’s health physiotherapist and every day sees her patients struggle with health problems, postnatal issues, chronic diseases and other ailments. She hopes others will take up extreme sports. “Triathlons are associated with masculinity, with strength, but I’m not even 160cm tall, I’m 48kg. It’s the extreme athlete body that God gave me. I just use it, and I’m not the classic extreme triathlete and I’m very proud of it. It’s non-breed specific, non-gender specific, it’s for anyone who wants to persist,” Tolman said. The overall winner was Thomas Butter, a Hong Kong-based Austrian. He completed the ColdXtreme in 10:23. He has never attempted anything this long. Butter toyed with the idea of doing the Cold Half for years, but was intimidated by the length of the swim. Ironically, having the run and the cycle after somehow made the swim seem shorter for him. Above all, he was inspired by Mayank Vaid, who recently finished a 44km swim around Hong Kong Island, 100km run and cycle of 215km . “I think it‘s typical for all of us, you do your first race because you are inspired by other people. Seeing other people makes you believe you can do it, so you are inspired and maybe you can inspire others too,” he said. Vaid was also part of the ColdXtreme. “I was running scared, expecting him to come up behind me, listening for his footsteps. He inspired me. I was hoping I would do OK, but I did not expect to win,” Butter said. Alex Fong Lik-sun won the Cold Half overall (3:29:07) with no wetsuit. Edie Hu won the Cold Half woman’s (3:59:52), also with no wetsuit. Oscar Coggins won the Cold plunge (16 minutes, 10 seconds), and Baily Brown was the first woman (17:40). The Cold Half is in its ninth year, and both Butter and Tolman hope that the event, and the new ColdXtreme, can work as a showcase for Hong Kong’s potential to become an open water swimming and extreme triathlon hub. “It was just so beautiful, you start in Stanley when the sun is going up, and I spent half the swim just thinking about how beautiful it was,” Butter added.