HK’s trail running stars are on track for the World Champs, thanks to the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme
A tailored training plan has been whipping David Ng Wai-hei and Karen Cheung Man-yee into tip-top shape for September’s Scotland race.
With just two months to go until the biggest race of their lives, Hong Kong’s rising trail running stars, David Ng Wai-hei and Karen Cheung Man-yee, are on track to be in the best shape of their lives. Ng, an 18-year-old tertiary student, and Cheung, a 28-year-old Orthopedic doctor, will be representing Hong Kong in September at the Skyrunning World Championships in Scotland.
The catalyst for their phenomenal progress has been the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme, a first-of-its-kind initiative by MSIG Insurance (Hong Kong) Limited and Action Asia to prepare promising Hong Kong local trail runners for the world stage. On Monday, July 9, Ng met with Mr. Kenneth J Reid, the CEO of MSIG Insurance (Hong Kong) Limited, and other senior management from the global insurance firm, who presented Ng and Cheung with MSIG training gear to don at the Skyrunning World Championships.
Reid said: “It is our pleasure and privilege to have David Ng Wai-hei and Karen Cheung Man-yee join the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme, the first-ever personalised training programme for Hong Kong local trail runners. Hong Kong’s natural environment offers the perfect training ground for this unique sport. The city also boasts an abundant talent pool of athletes. The MSIG Action Asia Development Programme is designed to give these athletes more opportunities to shine and compete on the world stage, and at the same time, we hope this programme will inspire more Hong Kong people to join this sport.”
Ng and Cheung began the intensive training plan in April this year. They earned their place in the prestigious programme by being the top locals in the MSIG HK50 Series 2017/18, which included three legs of 50-kilometre races in Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island (which doubled as the Asian Skyrunning Championships) and Sai Kung.
Featuring the world’s best trail runners, the World Skyrunning Championships – ULTRA race in Kinlochleven, Scotland on September 14 will be about 52km long with approximately 4,000m of cumulative vertical gain. The technical route has variable terrain, including river crossings and summiting Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1,345m).
Said Ng, who started trail running four years ago: “I’m really pumped about representing Hong Kong at the Skyrunning World Championships. Thanks to the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme, I had my first race outside of Hong Kong—the Yunnan Action Asia 3-Day Ultra Marathon. I’m looking forward to experiencing the different trail-running scenery and atmosphere in Scotland. No matter the weather or race course, I believe it will be more challenging than the trails in Hong Kong.”
Reid offered words of encouragement and support to Cheung and Ng: “The Skyrunning World Championships race is two months away. On behalf of MSIG, I would like to give Karen and David our best wishes for the race and we hope that they can enjoy the race with a strong mind and superior physical strength in Scotland.”
The comprehensive and gruelling five-month training plan has been designed specifically for the challenges that Ng and Cheung will face in Scotland. For example, Michael Maddess, race director of the MSIG HK50 Series and a top trail runner himself, has been taking the pair through leg-burning stair workouts, as well as sharing his experience and advice. In addition to a weekly running mileage of up to 60km, Ng and Cheung also attend strength and conditioning sessions with supporting sponsor Joint Dynamics, and underwent sports science testing to track their development progress.
Cheung, who picked up trail running less than two years ago, expressed her delight with her progress over the past few months. “Every Wednesday, I take a body movement class at Joint Dynamics to improve my muscle strength and balancing ability. After a few weeks, I noticed that my balancing was enhanced. Before attending these classes, it was quite common for me to twist my ankle. Now the injuries have reduced while my stamina has improved.”
Ng and Cheung have also been given opportunities to sharpen their racing experience and tactics through fully paid trips to overseas races. Cheung joined her first overseas race, the MSIG Thailand Action Asia 50, in December 2017, and was the second woman to finish in the 54km event. On July 15, Cheung also claimed the women’s title and the overall 3rd place in the Malaysia Action Asia 50. Ng was the overall champion at the Yunnan Action Asia 3-Day Ultra Marathon in China in April, where he gained valuable high-altitude racing experience.
Reid said: “The goal of the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme is to first train and nurture top Hong Kong local trail runners, then inspire them to challenge their limits at top-level competitions. As expressed in MSIG’s core company value, ‘Going above and beyond’, we always aim to achieve top-level success by preparing ourselves for all challenges.”
The MSIG Action Asia Development Programme
Sponsored by global general insurer MSIG Insurance (Hong Kong) Limited, the MSIG Action Asia Development Programme is the first of its kind for local Hong Kong trail runners. To qualify for the programme, runners need to be Hong Kong-born and must participate in at least two 50-kilometre races in the 2017/18 MSIG HK50 Series.
Since the first extreme races in 1992, the first World Championship in 1998 and the introduction of the Skyrunner World Series in 2003, Skyrunning has grown to become a globally renowned sport governed by the International Skyrunning Federation. In 2015, the Continental Championships, which include Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Oceania, were introduced. The sport is practiced in more than 40 nations and has followers from 126 countries. For more details on the World Skyrunning Championships 2018 in Scotland, visit www.skyrunning.com.
With a network of operations dating as far back as 1855, MSIG Insurance (Hong Kong) Limited (“MSIG”) has been providing general insurance solutions and products to customers in Hong Kong for more than 150 years. MSIG is backed by the solid foundation and rich heritage of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited, an established insurer that has received strong financial ratings from leading rating agencies, including Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Today, MSIG is one of the few foreign-based general insurers to have representation in every ASEAN country, a testament to its strength and reach. MSIG also benefits from being a member of the MS&AD Insurance Group – one of the largest general insurance groups in the world. Leveraging the multi-channel distribution, strong partnerships with intermediaries and an extensive geographical network, MSIG offers a wide range of insurance solutions across personal and commercial lines. MSIG builds and nurtures enduring relationships, forging close partnerships through good times and bad.