Pauline Tse 謝麗僑MSc(ECom&IComp) 2002
What began as a reunion of HKU’s Master of Science in Electronic Commerce and Internet Computing (MEICOM) in 2003 became a life-transforming Marathon journey for one alumna – Pauline Tse. She went from being an office lady to a recently honoured champion of the World Marathon Majors, an accomplishment that requires completing the six largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW Berlin, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York City.
Pauline is one of a few Hong Kong people who is in the Hall of Fame of the World Marathon Majors. It is indeed a prestigious honour because the qualifying standards of all six marathons are extremely high. For example, the qualifying time is adjusted upward as age increases in Boston Marathon. For runners aged 18 to 34, the qualifying standard for men and women in 2016 are 3 hours 5 minutes (3’ 5”) and 3 hours 35 minutes (3’ 35”) respectively, while for those aged 80 and over they are 4 hours 55 minutes (4’ 55”) and 5 hours 25 minutes (5’ 25”) respectively.
Reminiscing in the days before the reunion in 2003, Pauline Tse looked back on what had been a sedentary life, having given up running after her primary school days. However, persuaded by MEICOM Programme Director and running enthusiast Professor Paul Cheung and other classmates at the reunion, Pauline registered for the 10KM race of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (SCHKM) in 2004.
“I joined a running clinic seven weeks prior to the SCHKM but I struggled to finish a mere 800 metres. I was so out of breath I blacked out.” Although faced a seemly insurmountable challenge, Pauline never stopped trying; in fact she became even more determined to run in that 10KM race.
During those seven weeks, she gradually increased her run-and-walk interval times as well as her total running times. “It was quite hard to keep going after the 10-minute run as my body and mind kept telling me to quit. But I told myself not to give up, and after three to four weeks of daily running, I could run continuously for about 20 minutes. Once I did that, my body became more comfortable and I could run as long as I wanted”.
The race day finally came and Pauline completed the 10KM in 1 hour 3 minutes (1’ 3’’). “When I saw the digital clock at the end point showing 103, I stupidly thought I finished the run in 103 minutes, which in fact meant 1 hour 3 minutes. You can see how unfamiliar with running and marathons I was back then.”
Her unexpected achievement prompted her to accept more and more marathon challenges. In 2005, she finished her first full marathon (42.195km) on the Mainland in 4 hours 18 minutes (4’ 18’’) – an encouraging result for a first timer that had Pauline rethinking her running capabilities: “Am I talented in running?” she asked herself.
Since 2006, Pauline has been fully occupied with marathon-related activities: founding the HKU Marathon Team together with Professor Paul Cheung, MEICOM friends and the Development & Alumni Affairs Office; receiving systematic and professional training; completing a Master degree in Exercise Science; and working as a running coach. She has also succeeded in meeting her marathon targets one by one, which brought her the honour of the World Marathon Majors in 2016.
“All of those world-class marathons are well organised, and each marathon gave me a unique and unforgettable experience. For example, a shower area is available at the end point of the Berlin marathon, and the spectators at the Tokyo Marathon prepared sushi and fried pork fillet to cheer runners up. I am really impressed by the facilities and care offered to runners, and the supportive culture of the citizens in those cities.”
While Pauline enjoys taking part in these world-class marathons, she most treasures those times when she is part of the HKU Marathon Team. “It’s all about bonding. Not only did HKU give me academic knowledge, it also provided me with the opportunity to understand myself better, so that my life has been transformed from a sedentary office lady into a running lover. Running is now my language to communicate with people around the world without any barriers.”
More on HKU Marathon Team
My life has been transformed from a sedentary office lady into a running lover. Running is now my language to communicate with people around the world without any barriers.