WISE HK teammate and board member, Wanda made her personal history on 17 February, when she completed her first-ever full marathon at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2019.

We love to spo(r)tlight the accomplishments of our own teammates, especially when they challenge themselves through sports and in so doing, learn a bit more about what they can do.

Here’s Wanda’s story:

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My finishing time was not great, but I am happy that I can have ‘finishing a marathon’ under my belt now.

On the wall of completed marathoners

Years ago, the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon had a slogan: Run for a Reason. I feel I still need to run for a reason. Mine is to challenge myself. Maybe my struggles in finishing a marathon can be an inspiring story to others.

When I look back many years ago, I couldn’t even run beyond 5km. But last year I finished the Standard Chartered half marathon without stopping.

From preparation to the real race, it’s always been a mental game for me. I don’t run fast, and I don’t have endurance. My practice took place every weekend, and my aim each time was simply to run more than the week before. I left each practice feeling like I was ready to drop, and walking down stairs was always an agony. My progress was slow, but I was disciplined in following a training regiment, and I was determined to press on.

The race day was hot for running. The high humidity didn’t help. But the atmosphere was great! Many runners passed me in the first 5km. I felt an urge to surpass them but refrained: not running at my own pace would kill me in the final stretch of the marathon. I reminded myself:

Keep on running and don’t walk; no matter how slow you are, keep the rhythm.

There were gentle downward slopes, and there were many mild upward slopes over the course of the run. Since we were running on highways, a good length of the running route was slanted too, making running difficult. Some runners started to walk before 10km. I managed to keep on running, despite the slopes. We ran through Stonecutters Bridge and another bridge. The gust at these bridges almost blew me away. When the wind pushes you forward you feel great, but it’s no fun when it’s working against you. More and more runners started walking right before it hit 20km. I kept on running at my rhythm. What’s funny is I became a ‘benchmark’ for some of them. When I overtook them, they immediately ran ahead of me and walked again; I would overtake them, and then they ran to surpass me again. Soon this game of catch-up became too exhausting and they stayed behind me. I managed to overtake a bunch of ‘walkers’.

Pain started to kick-in in my right knee, and forced me to retreat to a mix of walking and running in the last 4km. I managed to run the last kilometre all the way to the finishing line. My body was so exhausted. I hobbled my way out of Victoria Park.

A well-deserved medal of accomplishment for finishing the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2019

I learned so much from my first marathon. I know myself better, such as what preparation and diets work and don’t work for me, what my pace should be, and how I should eat and drink during the course… Will is something you can train to have. That will kept me going non-stop until the 38km mark.

And I never realised how much support I had and how important it is to me. JB from my Ultimate Frisbee circle told our friends in the community about my run. Words of support ensued. Ruth even tracked my progress and cheered me throughout my run. Friends, like Charlotte Poon, Kathy Forley, Gerard Chau, my team Club 7 and my fellow WISE HK teammate Alicia remembered me and messaged me before the run. The Youths from my Church and Youth Leaders like Marissa and Teresa Fox offered their prayers and words of encouragement. My choir buddy Andy Morris even showed up in the last 2km to high five me. There were many more messages after the race and I spent quite some time messaging and thanking everyone. God has placed these lovely people in my life. I feel my friends have mentally boosted me to make this dream of mine come true and I am truly thankful.