Staying awake for 24 hours is tough, but it's even more tough when you spend the whole time running. But when it's all for a good cause, it's well worth it
With no sleep and 24 hours of cheering and running, I was completely exhausted. My legs were on fire but the end of the final lap was approaching.
The relief of stepping over the finish line for the last time felt unreal. All I wanted to do was collapse on the ground in triumph, but even that was too difficult. It felt like I would never be able to walk again.
November 15 and 16 marked the annual 24-hour relay race, Running to Stop the Traffik. Since 2011, this organisation has hosted three 24-hour races across Asia: in Hong Kong (The Peak), Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their mission is to educate people about modern-day slavery, and raise money to help stop it.
As 9am approached, I lined up as the first runner from my school. It was an immense rush, with more than 100 other runners dying to start. As the charity event was also a race, I decided that I would run the first 10km fast. It felt great to be in the front pack - except for the fact I was becoming increasingly tired, and I was only a few minutes into what was going to be a very long, strenuous journey.
Twenty-six schools from across Hong Kong took part in the race. Each school could decide whether to compete as one team or to split into groups - our school chose the latter option. This would give us four one-hour breaks in between our running shifts. Great idea, right? Wrong. We spent the time we were supposed to relax treating our "injuries" - we were suffering from painful cramps due to a build-up of lactic acid in our muscles.
By the start of my second shift, I felt completely re-energised, but my legs were still sore from the first run. Perhaps going fast so early wasn't such a bright idea.
As the day wore on, the stiffness and pain grew, making it difficult to continue.
Even though we had spent three months training for the race, all of our team members realised it just wasn't enough.
It's a good thing the atmosphere was very lively, with competitors cheering each other up.
As midnight arrived, the desire to keep running started to wane, with some student runners pulling out of the race. By this stage the idea of quitting was very appealing, but even though my Achilles tendon was now inflamed, I continued to run. With only five hours to go, there was no way I was going to just give up.
The days following the race were equally agonising; I was reduced to hobbling, but Running to Stop the Traffik was a thrilling event.
As it was held at The Peak, we had spectacular views of Hong Kong while running. There were also live performances and DJs which made the running just about bearable.
A large number of international schools joined the race, and it would be great to see more local schools taking part next year.
Both mentally and physically, Running to Stop the Traffik was one of the hardest races I have ever run. However, the sense of achievement I felt at the finish line was simply overwhelming. I am definitely going to be there next year!