Vivian Zhi wasn’t aware her four-year-old son could run a 2-kilometre race non-stop until recently. Under the team name “The Octonauts,” she signed up herself and her son, Joshua, for the AC Fun Run to run with other CPAs and their children. “It was my first time continuously running this far with my son – he was very excited and ahead of me for most of the race because he kept telling me to hurry up,” says Zhi, Risk Manager at Bocom International, a subsidiary of Bank of Communications.
The AC Fun Run is a running event jointly organized for the first time this year by the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs, the Society of Chinese Accountants and Auditors, and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It took place on 3 November, and saw over 200 Institute members take part in 5-km and 10-km races, and a special 2-km race for CPAs and their children around Tseung Kwan O.
Zhi recalls the race day, albeit warm for early November, being enjoyable for all participants. “The atmosphere was very cheerful and the kids at the starting line were all very excited to take part,” she says. “As soon as the race started, many of them naturally ran as fast as they could.”
Vivian Zhi running the 2-km family run with her son, Joshua, at the Tseung Kwan O Waterfront Promenade.
The 2-km race, which started just before noon, took Zhi and her son up a slope towards a bridge at the halfway point, a challenge for both of them. “I remember feeling a bit lightheaded in the sun, and my son slowed down a bit too, but there were plenty of encouraging supporters cheering us on and also photographers, which my son really enjoyed posing for,” Zhi says.
Her son’s enthusiasm for running came after Zhi brought him to the PokOi x Old Master Q Hong Kong Charity Run in April, where the family ran a 1-km route complete with mascots from the popular Hong Kong comic Old Master Q. “Since that event, my son thinks all runs are this fun,” Zhi jokes.
Zhi herself started running in 2017. She also maintains her fitness by swimming and hiking, and says she feels the need for exercise to play a key role in her child’s life. “I believe long-distance running can benefit children – not just physically, but also mentally. In a way, it trains them to set goals, be persistent, and meet those goals.”
She looks forward to running a full marathon one day, but above all, running with and for her son as he grows up. “As a mother, I want to have a stronger and healthier body to not only take care of but to keep up with him.”
Frank Ki (centre) completed the 10-km AC Fun Run race in 44 minutes and 43 seconds.
Since Frank Ki started running, his focus has been on speed. Ki, Senior Manager, Corporate Operation and Company Secretary of RunOurCity, completed the AC Fun Run’s 10-km run in 44 minutes and 43 seconds – just shy of his all-time record. “I came quite close to beating my personal best of 44 minutes and 11 seconds,” says Ki, who came in first place for his age group.
But his results were no fluke. Ki has been training for almost two years at a sports ground in Shatin with the help of a running coach. “The key is to challenge your limits by running as fast and far as you can each time,” he says. “This helps to build endurance over time and allow you to run faster over longer distances.”
Using this method, Ki recalls how he gave it his all during the first half of the race. “My focus that day was to sprint during the first four kilometres,” he says, adding how his running coach also advised him to do this. “Though I began feeling a bit tired after this and noticed a drop in my performance, I jogged as quick as I could the rest of the race.” Ki’s efforts paid off, and he also won a trophy for his record time.
“I started running twice a week, and it automatically became a habit – it became something I needed to do.”
He enjoyed being part of an event that was both professional and physical. “I love running, and I also thought it was interesting to take part in a running event jointly organized by accounting bodies,” he says. “It was also a great way to meet and bond with runners who are CPAs, just like myself.”
Ki began running during his first year of university after being asked by his friends to join a 400-metre relay race during a sports day. He signed up, and was determined to bring his team to victory. But the absence of any exercise during the last year of secondary school meant he wasn’t able to keep up. “Even though I was a skinny guy, I wasn’t very fit and couldn’t run that far,” Ki recalls. “I felt embarrassed to let my team down.”
However, the loss motivated Ki, and he began running in his free time. “I started running twice a week, and it automatically became a habit – it became something I needed to do.” He completed the 10-km race at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon the following year and maintained the habit, even while working as an auditor at BDO. With a busy travelling schedule and time to only run once a week, Ki would use every free opportunity to run, even if it meant running at the hotel gym in between meetings or in the street.
Ki’s current schedule allows him to run more frequently, so he continues to train hard. He has already set himself a new challenging target. “I want to complete a 10-km run in under 40 minutes,” he says.
Frenda So volunteered as a pacer for the AC Fun Run. His group completed the 10-km run in 48 minutes and two seconds.
Frenda So never thought he’d ever become a runner. But a decade ago, after noticing runners who were much older than him jogging along a waterfront, he decided to buy a pair of trainers and start running. “I guess I got tired of feeling like an old man,” So jokes. He began running for two hours each weekday morning, and in two short months, he built up enough endurance to run 10 km. A year later, he completed his first full marathon and since then, takes part in marathons each year.
So, a semi-retired accounting tutor, signed up as a pacer for the AC Fun Run. A pacer takes part in running events and runs at the front to help competitors maintain a certain speed throughout the race and also meet their target times. Leading a group of five, So was determined to help them complete the 10-km in under 50 minutes. To achieve that, the participants had to cover at least a kilometre every five minutes. According to So, achieving this feat requires running at a constant speed. “Pacers are sort of the ‘captains’ of their group,” he says. “If you’re running slow, people will naturally slow down, and if you’re running fast, they will speed up.”
“The most satisfying thing about being a pacer is helping another runner meet or even go beyond their targets.”
So kept a close watch of the group, making sure none of them felt too much physical exhaustion. If so, he advised them to run in a slower group to prevent injury. But for those who can keep up, So runs at a steady pace throughout the race and provides updates on direction, terrain and also sends words of encouragement. He does so in a unique way. “Every kilometre, I turn around and ask if everyone is feeling alright while running backwards for a few seconds at the same speed,” So says, adding how he learned this technique from other pacers he met at other marathons. “It took me about a month to practice and master this,” he laughs. “The runners get a boost of confidence and morale if you go the extra mile and update them this way. Without this extra step, they’re simply following another runner.”
In the end, his team was able to finish the run in 48 minutes and two seconds. “The most satisfying thing about being a pacer is helping another runner meet or even go beyond their targets,” he says. But So wasn’t ready to call it a day. He had enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of the CPA runners after the race, and decided to squeeze in another run and join them for the 5-km race right after. “I wasn’t a pacer for this race – I just wanted to run and chat with other accountants, and also enjoy the friendly atmosphere.”
So hopes to continue running, helping others and also become a certified running coach next year. “I want to teach others not only the physical benefits, but also the many mental benefits of running.”
Parco Wu and his three-year-old son, Princeton, running the 2-km family run.
An early start
Parco Wu has long dreamed of his son, Princeton, becoming an impassioned runner just like his father. “I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities with my family, and I’ve actually waited so long for my son to be able to walk and run,” says Wu, Managing Director of PW CPA & Co. Under the team name “PW,” Wu and his three-year-old son signed up for the AC Fun Run’s family run.
Wu himself began running in secondary school, where he was also captain of the cross-country team. “I was quite sporty as a kid and always took part in the 100 and 200-metre races every sports day,” he remembers. He has taken part in the 10-km race as part of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon each year for the past 10 years, and attempted the half marathon in February this year.
But the AC Fun Run was more about bonding with his son. Wu warmed up by completing the 10-km AC Fun Run race earlier that morning and then went home to pick up his eager son. “A few weeks before the run, I told him ‘daddy is bringing you to a running competition,’” he says. “In a way, this was his first marathon.” Instead of speeding towards the finish line, Wu and his son made the most of each step of the way. “We spent our time running, talking and enjoying the view of the sea. My son would sometimes ask me to carry him because he was tired, which I did,” he laughs.
“Surprisingly, my son wasn’t even tired after the run. He didn’t want to take his afternoon nap and still ran around the house as usual – I think I was more tired than him!”
The running duo managed to complete the race along with the other 10 families within the time limit of half an hour. “Surprisingly, my son wasn’t even tired after the run. He didn’t want to take his afternoon nap and still ran around the house as usual – I think I was more tired than him!”
Wu adds how the event was also an ideal opportunity to network and run with other accountants. “I like smaller running events. I recognized many CPAs who I usually see at seminars or other recreational activities,” he says. “Even if you don’t know someone, you know they are a CPA, and that bridges a gap.”
With his son’s first mini-marathon completed, Wu is proud, and says his son told him how much he enjoyed the event. He looks forward to taking part in next year’s AC Fun Run, and hopes his newborn daughter will one day also get into the habit of running.
Members interested may join the Institute’s Athletics Interest Group or volunteer as marathon support. For more information, please visit: www.hkicpa.org.hk