By Virginie Goethals, Co-Founder and Programme Director, RUN
Last Wednesday four RUN female participants came into our office at 9am, had a quick breakfast before filling their water bladders, packing rain jackets, and putting their trail shoes on. This might look like a normal hiking day, but last Wednesday was special: it was the kickoff of RUN’s first official training for the Vibram Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail Race, a 100km race (or rather 4 x 25km!) through some of most beautiful scenery in Hong Kong.
These four women came to me and stated that they wanted to participate in the mythical Vibram HK100 taking place on 19th January 2019.“We can only try as we have nothing to lose, we can only gain experience and learn more about ourselves and what we can achieve in life.”
The longest distance that these four refugees have ever raced is 34km during the County of Origin Race in April. But these women are no ordinary women – they are strong, brave, and resilient, like only a survivor of the worst abuse can be. They humble me to the bone, every day. Their level of comfort is simply to survive in Hong Kong while waiting for another better life in another country as Hong Kong is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, and which means refugees cannot stay here in the long term.
We reached the steps of Violet Hill, and in 30C heat we set off to the mythical Twins. “We can do this, yes”, said one of the girls. “Of course”, exclaimed another, “one step at the time”. I stayed at the back, with tears in my eyes, tears of joy and pride. Maybe life has tried to break them at some point, but the trails are giving them their strength and hope back. This is only the start of a great adventure.
Refugees participating in HK100 is possible thanks to the support of the trail running community in Hong Kong. Special thanks to Janet Ng and Steve Brammar, organisers of HK100 for generously donating four entries in the race. Those closely involved including participants will write a blog every 2 weeks. Stay tuned!