Taking the Lead

The annual Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon will be held on December 4

The Macau International Marathon is running into its 35th year in 2016, continuing in its goal to further develop local sports, strengthen the bond between Macau and overseas countries, and contribute to the promotion of sports tourism in Macau. This year’s event is once again organized by the Sports Bureau and the General Association of Athletics of Macau, and sponsored by Galaxy Entertainment Group.

With more than 800 marathons held every year all over the world, the Macau Marathon’s unique course still manages to attract thousands of enthusiasts, both locally and from overseas. The marathon course in Macau is rich in challenges, including tunnels, bridges, uphill and downhill sections, hairpins, sealed roads and Portuguese-style pavements, and complicated repeat loops. Runners must complete the entire 42.185km Full Marathon within five hours.  

In order to let the competitors experience the unique combination of Macau’s elements of tourism, culture, and sports, this year, the course of the Full Marathon and Half Marathon will go over the Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, passing by the Anim’Arte area of Nam Van Lake and the heritage-listed A-Ma Temple, and then back across Sai Van Bridge. The entire course will be closed to traffic during the race. 

The course length for the Mini Marathon this year will be increased to 5.5km. The Sports Bureau has uploaded the course maps and relevant videos online for those who want to know more about the course routes and to prepare in advance.  

This year, the organizers increased the registration quotas, with 1,400 places for the Full Marathon, 3,600 for the Half Marathon and 5,000 for the Mini Marathon. The total prize money has also increased to MOP2,160,000, up from MOP1,500,000 last year. Amazingly, even with the increased quotas this year, all the places for the three events were filled on the first day of registration – testament to the huge popularity of this great sporting event.

The race will start and finish inside the Olympic Sport Centre Stadium, with the starting time set for 6am for the Full and Half Marathons; the Mini Marathon will start 15 minutes later. A total of 42 distance indicator signboards of will be set up every 1km, with first aid stations and mobile toilets along the course. There will also be two shower stations, one on the Macau Peninsula side and one in Taipa - Cotai. A water station will be set up within the first 5km and water, sports drinks or sponges will be supplied every 2.5km after. Water, sports drinks, bananas and chocolate will also be provided at the finish line area. 

One participant who has been training hard for this year’s race is well known Macau Ironwoman, Lorna Hoi Long. 

As a triathlete, she has participated on behalf of Macau in a number of world-class Ironman competitions and three times at the Asian Games. In 2015, Lorna won two bronze medals at the International Triathlon Union Chicago World Championships.  

But behind all the victories and accolades are countless hours of hard training, determination and perseverance. Working as a full-time civil servant at the Sports Bureau, Lorna only has time to train for two hours each day, before and after work.  Every morning she begins her training session at 6am, and every evening she finishes at 8pm. On the weekend when she has more free time, she trains more.  

Adding to the challenge of competing at a professional level is the fact that Lorna has a severe hearing impairment caused by medical malpractice when she was only five months old. Despite this, she has never given up on her life and passion. As a child she insisted on studying in regular school and went on to receive her masters degree in 2011 from Beijing Sport University.  She can communicate in Cantonese, Mandarin and English, and can read lips and sign in both Chinese and English. 

Lorna says that throughout the year her training is mostly focused on Ironman Triathlon events, and she sees the Macau Marathon as a personal challenge to herself: “For triathlons events, I hope I can win or at least get in the first three places, however for the Marathon, it will be a bonus if I can finish in the first ten places.”  

Every year, the triathlon season finishes at around the end of October or mid-November, so Lorna can only truly begin to focus on her preparations for the Macau Marathon after that. This year will be Lorna’s 13th Macau Marathon, and her best result so far was last year when she finished in three hours and 36 seconds, taking an impressive 15th place and making her the top ranking female runner from Macau.

Even for an athlete like Lorna, running the Marathon is a big challenge. The hardest time during the race is when she feels what is often described as ‘the bonk’ or ‘hitting the wall’.  

“You can do nothing but run slower. I won’t consider giving up unless my physical condition really doesn’t allow me to go on. At that point, just to be able to finish the race is good.” 

On the other hand, her favourite part of the race is the last 2km stretch: “That’s the moment I can finally realize that I will finish it soon,” she laughs.  

“Regarding last year’s course, I really enjoyed running across the bridge and through the University of Macau,” Lorna says. “December in Macau is really good for Marathon races, as the weather is good and won’t be too hot.”

For those runners preparing to participate in this year’s race, Lorna has some good advice: “Energy supply is very important. You need to eat something or have power gel at timely intervals, as well as enough water during the race. Also, you have to adjust your speed properly. Careful distribution of your physical strength is the key point that will allow you to achieve a better result in your marathon. ”