02/01/2018   Good morning 50km and Happy New Year (di Paul DeMeester)

In the contest for the first race of the year 2018 Hong Kong had to succumb to Tokyo for no more than thirty minutes.

Following is the nice report by Paul DeMeester - USA, known to most for his battle for gender equality.


If 2017 turned unexpectedly into the Year of the Women’s 50K, what better way to ring in the New Year than with a 50km race where the women competitors outnumbered the male race walkers. And what a venue! Stonecutter’s Island sits west of Kowloon and serves as Hong Kong’s container seaport. The outbound half of the 1km circuit on the west end of the island gave the walkers spectacular views of giant container ships being guided into position by tugboats. 


The weather was race perfect. Cool 50s and low 60s (Fahrenheit) with overcast skies and, for Hong Kong, low humidity at 78%.


The 50km race shared the bill with a 6 Hour race, a 20km, and junior 10 and 5km races. This story only covers the 50K. I figured the best way to report on it was to be in it, even though I became the first drop-out at the half-way mark.


Echo Young has lit a spark under Hong Kong race walking. Race day was well organized, training days dot the weekly schedule, and her organizing efforts have opened the sport to those who are not chasing international entry standards. The 50K was a case in point. With plenty of judges of international caliber, including Khoo Chong Beng of Malaysia, a veteran of many Olympic and World Championships, the race offered a generous 7-hour time limit. And for those for whom the 50K was too big a bite, there was the 6 Hour contest.


It was the third consecutive New Year’s Day that the 50K race was held here for both men and women, affording gender equality prior to the emergence of the women’s 50km race as a hot legal topic in 2017. Hats off to the Hong Kong Racewalking Association and Echo Young.


In the men’s race, Walker Wong took the early lead in the first 2km, only to have to share it with Peter James Back of Singapore for the next 10km. Back was on his own after that, except when he lapped his closest pursuer, who stayed with Back for a couple of laps. Back then kept the margin between one-and-a-half to two laps; settled into a comfortable rhythm and took honors in 5:54:27. A tender moment was provided when Back was joined on course by his daughter Maelen, who was competing in the junior 5km. Each of the Backs was more concerned about how the other was doing. Chan Wai-on, a finisher in all three editions, came in third, besting his personal meet record in the process.




On the women’s side, Billie Kwok provided similar consistency in establishing a new meet record and going for her third straight win. She settled in behind the Wong-Back duo from the start and walked a steady pace to the finish line. She was joined on the podium by newcomers Wendy Choi and Linda Fung.





A special treat was the presence of So Kam Tong, who represented Hong Kong at the men’s 50km race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where he placed 31st in 5:07:53.2, a national record that was broken at last year’s First Walk when Ken Cheung won in 5:03:23. 


Unofficial 50km results read as follows


50km men
1.     Peter James Back
2.     Walker Wong
3.     Chan Wai-on
  Paul F. DeMeester
DNF (25km)

50km women


1.     Billie Kwok
2.     Wendy Choi
3.     Linda Fung
  Irene Tai
DNF (44km)
  Edith Leung
  DNF (30km)






(report by Paul DeMeester - USA)


Award ceremony of 50km Men



Award ceremony of 50km Men



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