Students from S.H. Ho College (CUHK) and Zheng Sheng College Challenge Themselves in the Origin of Marathon
S.H. Ho College (SHHO) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Christian Zheng Sheng College (Zheng Sheng) sent six-member and four-member joint teacher-student teams respectively to complete their 42 km full marathon in the Athens Marathon. The fastest team member crossed the finished line in merely four hours. The members did not know one another right at the beginning, but got attached by distance running through the ten-month long intensive training. They sweated for their dream, leaving footprints in the CUHK sports field, the hilly campus of Zheng Sheng College and Castle Peak Road (from Ting Kau to Sham Tseng). Encountering chilling wind, scorching sun and sore muscles, they just encouraged one another to boost the team’s morale. Running toward the origin of Marathon, the young runners challenged their limits and reached a new horizon on foot.
Feeling the Historical Scene in the Origin of Marathon
The Athens Marathon is also called the Athens Authentic Marathon. It modelled on the traditional route in which the runners ran from Marathon to Athens, Greece. In the year 490 B.C., many Greek towns fought against the invading Persian army and eventually won in the plain of Marathon. The military courier Pheidippides, who set a precedent for the marathon, ran for more than 40 km to Athens to deliver the victory message. The race runners ran past the beach where the Persian army landed in the old days. Mr. Emery Chan, manager of the S.H. Ho College Running Team, completed his first full marathon in Athens. ‘Athenians take marathons seriously, and they respect and appreciate marathon runners. They stood along the raceway and cheered for the runners, yelling “bravo”! Sometimes I slowed as I was too tired, the cheering onlookers would urge me to run faster,’ said Emery. Around 43,000 runners from all over the world participated in the marathon. Some runners even dressed up as ancient Greek warriors, which enriched the atmosphere of the marathon race.
Friendship within the Marathon Team, Ingredient of Perseverance
The first 12 km of the Athens marathon is a flat asphalt road, but the middle is a 19 km-long upward slope. It tested the full marathon runners’ ability to persist. SHHO runner Ferdinand Tsang equates marathons with perseverance. He treasures the moments running side by side with his team, during which they encouraged each other. Having teamed up to undergo marathon training for almost one year, the joint teacher-student teammates from the two colleges have cultivated deep bonding. They would run together on Zheng Sheng campus, the CUHK sports field and Castle Peak road in alternate months. In the ‘Athens Marathon Intensive Training Camp’ held at S.H. Ho College, the joint team learnt from a distance running coach and a full-marathon runner in Hong Kong’s National Team. The team even practiced in the CUHK sports field under heavy rain, which in turn ignited their ‘can-do’ spirit. In the last training session before the Athens Marathon, SHHO runners gave the Zheng Sheng team books as gifts. The encouraging remarks and wishes written on the inner pages gave them much delight. During the marathon, an SHHO runner discovered that a Zheng Sheng runner suffering from leg strain. She encouraged him and ran with him, and they crossed the finishing line together. Each footprint left on the raceway is a mark of friendship.
Different Routes, Same Destination
Despite the different life experience and background between the SHHO and Zheng Sheng teams, they befriended because of distance and ran toward a common goal——the finishing line in the Olympic Stadium of Athens. Whether the teammates were experienced runners or merely freshers, all of them completed the full marathon and set a milestone in life. After the race, some of them were satisfied with their performance but some of them were a bit disappointed. When the joint team did a post-marathon review, they reflected on their original intention of joining the race and observed their personal growth in running. While setting goals for their future, some Zheng Sheng students aspired to brush up their English for better chance in further studies and employment. Some determined to keep running to nurture their perseverance. A Zheng Sheng student Wilson Ta could not forget the time to experienced growth with his teammates during marathon training and race. ‘To me, ‘marathon’ means one has to maximize one’s potential for the best timing. Now, I think the key lies in camaraderie——to complete the race with teammates side by side. Marathon races now transcend merely mutual competitions,’ remarked Wilson.
The moment of crossing the finishing line is glorious, but the long and arduous training is not easy. For instance, runners had to cope with strains and injuries, practices in hot and humid weather, as well as self-doubt when facing below-average performance. All the runners have experienced growth under intensive training. ‘S.H. Ho College incepted SHHO Runner Force in 2012 to cultivate students’ discipline and promote healthy living. Once runners have determined to run, they will practise systematically and regularly. They are also prudent enough to strive for better performances. To strike a balance in life, they will rest intentionally to clear the lactic acid in muscle for better recovery,’ said Emery.
With an aim to visually expose friends of the Joint Team runners and the public to the wonders experienced in the Athens Marathon, runners have created a fanpage, which included the videos edited by Zheng Sheng video production team, to record the experience of marathon training and the runners’ feeling joining the Athens Marathon. Please click the following to view them online:
Athens Marathon Documentary Video:
Media coverage (Chinese Only):
正生中大生跑雅典馬拉松 跑速不同 目標一致 (明報)
馬拉松發源地 路人揮葉喊bravo (明報)
隔牆有耳：中大 正生 師生勇闖雅典馬拉松 (蘋果日報)
Different Routes, Same Destination－陳艷瑤 (體路)