Go Behind The Scenes of a 16-km Race With 5 Domestic Workers

HelperChoice has followed five who prepared and ran the Tiger’s Head, a 16-km last Saturday on November 25th, 2017. HelperChoice organised a photo contest to identify the runners who were very motivated and able to run this long distance on Lantau island and 5 domestic helpers were able to run for free this race (thanks to a partnership with the organiser – The GreenRace), challenge their own abilities and push ambitions to the limit. In total, 300 participants attended the Tiger’s head and 40 volunteers supported the trail runners. Discover the of the domestic workers, their journey and their achievements!

Ivan, HelperChoice team and our runners
Ivan, HelperChoice team and our runners

I met Eden and Thana on the 7:10am ferry to start this great journey and learn more about how two became such good runners. Eden started running in 2010 as she was lucky to have employers who let her finish her working day at 4pm so some of her friends told her that she should enjoy her free time running… and she never stopped: even when she changed her contract and started working for another family, her new Chinese employer has allowed her to run every day. On her side, Thana does not like running on the roads, she prefers hiking and started her first hike on her own 10 years ago but decided to hike in a group when she met a snake on the trail. Since then, she leads other hikers on Hong Kong trails and knows almost all the trails of the island.

When I asked them why they decided to hike or run, they said that it was a way to bear the distance with their children and stand their current situation. “When something tough happens to you, you need to do something even tougher to compensate,” Thana said thinking about her daughter and her son. I was very moved to discover that running is a way for them not to think all the time about their children that they miss so much.

When we joined Jaybie, Angie and Bernz on Mui Wo, it was time to get prepared (mentally and physically) for the race. The runners helped each other stick the elastic bandages to bind their previous injuries and made sure that Thana’s shoulder or Jaybies’s and Eden’s knees won’t get hurt again.

“I feel so excited,” Jaybie said, even if she has already run 7 races, mainly on Lantau, since she arrived in Hong Kong a few years ago. But this is always a new challenge… And indeed, we can feel the excitement growing while the start of the was approaching.

When you first meet the 5 runners, you are astonished by their energy! They told me that they ate a lot of fruits and vegetables to be healthy but they confessed that the most important part is the mentality. When running such a long distance, one needs to focus only on one’s target, remember why one wants to achieve this goal and keep running.

Angie and Bernz’s warm-up
Angie and Bernz’s warm-up

The Green and HelperChoice were very proud to sponsor this great team. The race season runs from November to April in Hong Kong but when you have to pay for all the races, “it is very expensive! That’s why we are happy to have the opportunity to run this race for free thanks to HelperChoice. Thanks a lot for that!”

“We are very proud to have runners with very different levels in the team, it was important for us to have experienced and junior runners to show that everyone can take the leap,” Julie, HelperChoice country manager, says. Angie, for instance, ran her first ‘official’ this day, Bernz is also a beginner and says that she does not want to compare with others but just does it for herself. On the contrary, Eden, Thana and Jaybie are well prepared and would like to run the race in 2 hours.

Finally, the started at 9:10am, and the runners were taken on a trip through local villages and a former Silvermine Cave, climbing towards Tiger’s Head on one of the most picturesque trails in Hong Kong. This race was organized by the GreenRace team, a group of friends who love trail running and the environment. Ivan Lam, one of the team members, explains that they want to share their love for trails and also their concern for the overwhelming use of disposable products in Hong Kong. With every running event they joined, they felt increasingly responsible for the waste being generated.

At each GreenRace, they work to create a premium event experience without leaving a trail of waste behind in the process. “It’s not all easy! We focus on creating a greater benefit than all those medals and goodie bags. People think you need to give up so much for a green lifestyle. It’s not necessarily true. You can have almost everything and be closer to being wasteless than you may think,” Ivan said.

Financially, it’s been challenging to organise GreenRace as better quality usually means higher costs, be it a compostable bag or high-quality T-shirt that lasts longer or is made from natural fibres. In just over two years, they have managed to become profitable and, in the process, help change perceptions around how ‘green’ events can be just as fun and rewarding without the trail of waste.

After 2:25’, Thana was back and very thrilled to have finished this and Eden joined her 5 minutes after while Jaybie finished the race after 2:38’. It was hard but they are very proud of their achievement! Angie and Bernz, our two junior runners, finished the race almost at the same time at 3:00 and 3:01’. Well done!

If you want to start running or hiking, Eden advises you to do it on a regular basis and not to start at full speed from the beginning otherwise you will damage your body. You need to start smoothly and increase the duration and the difficulty step by step to know your body and know what you are capable of. Nevertheless, she insists that as a beginner, you do not hike or run every day because your body needs to get some rest too. Thana added that the hikers and runners should get prepared before running by identified the routes that are appropriate.

Find more information about the green movement at https://thegreenrace.hk/helpHK/.

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