Hong Kong 10k Championships

Vaibhav Bhovarahan’s story

AVOHK Member Vaibhav Bhoovarahan runs his first 10k race in Tin Shui Wai on Jan 8, following the relaxation of COVID curbs

My preparation for the race consisted of training in longer intervals than what I would usually do, such as 4-km intervals. Additionally, on Thursday [Jan 5] which I felt was my last opportunity to run fast, I aimed to run quite quickly, just over my race pace of 8 km. I did this to roughly gauge how my body should feel when I run at this fast pace for the race. This was also a good way to check which stages during the run I had any issues in and if I could do something to prepare for it before race day.

On race day my day started early, taking the first train from Tung Chung to Tin Shui Wai. I took the 706 light rail line for the first time. I arrived at 7:05 to start at 7:45am and felt my heart start pumping. This left me with 30 minutes to warm up. I had never run a 10 km before and had a slight strain in my right Achilles tendon that had been bothering me for the past week, especially on the longer, faster runs.

I remember finishing my warm-up and walking to the starting line 5 minutes before the start time. Since I was classified as an elite runner, I had the privilege of being at the start line, but when I arrived 5 minutes before the start, almost all the runners were already lined up, so I spent those 5 minutes squeezing past people and trying to get as far ahead as possible.

I needed 39 seconds to cross the start line, so I spent a lot of energy in the first few hundred metres making my way through the pack and squeezing through the smallest gaps. Fortunately, the road widened and I was able to overtake many people before the first kilometre and was back among the other elite runners.

From then on, I continued my overtaking, trying to find the group of runners who were my pace or a little faster so I could go with them – it took me half the race to find that group.

But in hindsight, even though I didn’t have the perfect starting position, I honestly think it helped me to be further back from where I was supposed to be. I always felt like I was running faster when I was chasing someone, so it was an advantage for me to constantly have someone to catch up to.

As far as I remember, I wasn’t overtaken once, and I think especially in a 10k race, which for me was the longest race I’’ve ever done, I knew I was going to have mental struggles, but I was never passed and didn’t lose sight of anyone, which motivated me to keep running.

For kilometres 2-8 I was able to maintain a relatively comfortable pace of 3:45 – 3:50/km, which was well below what I had set for myself at the beginning of the race, which was 4:00/km, so I was happy, and to my surprise, I felt good! I didn’t feel like I was out of breath or struggling (even though some pictures said otherwise).

In the last 2 km I could see the finish from across the road and I got ready to push hard, but shockingly there was a slight hill that felt like forever. But I knew that eventually there would be a downhill portion, and so I kept pushing and I flew down the hill, probably because I didn’t have the energy to slow down.

For the last few hundred metres I had to go back up that same hill, and I gave it everything I had for that last kilometre and I crossed the line with a time of 37:34, with my last kilometre being the fastest of all at 3:33/km, but unlike the first 8 km, the last 2 km killed me and somehow I managed to stay on my feet.

For my debut 10 km at which I started in the middle and my goal was 40 minutes, I was very happy with my time even though I didn’t win.