Sam Agars catches up with top DB athletes Olivier Baillet, Katia Kucher and Thomas Kiprotich to talk about their new club, the Discovery Run.
Discovery Bay has long been known as a runner’s paradise but even some of the best trails and tracks Hong Kong has to offer are sometimes not enough to get us off the couch. That’s where the newly formed Discovery Run comes in, a community initiative soft-launched in June this year by well-known local athletes Olivier Baillet, Katia Kucher and Thomas Kiprotich.
Every Monday at 7.45pm, the trio welcomes all DBers to meet at the playground at Tai Pak Wan for a 5-kilometre group run, a concept that has been well received thus far.
The Discovery Run is many things – a way for Olivier, Katia and Thomas to give back, a way to promote healthy living, a way to contribute to a close-knit community and, most of all, a reason for DB residents to stay active.
Olivier, a long-time athlete who runs executive endurance coaching business Beyond the Line, came up with the idea for the Discovery Run as a way to share his considerable expertise.
“As full-time coaches, we need to make a living but I feel that it is part of my duty, my role, to help people for free too; to share the enthusiasm and the lifestyle that provides so much good to me, my family, my clients and my training partners,” he says. “Being very much involved with Splash in DB [the free swimming-for-helpers programme], I realised I had the means to provide a lot.”
The Discovery Run is built on the Parkrun concept, a hugely successful organisation that started in England and now organises thousands of runs across the world.
“I contacted Park to keep moving and stay active is very important, that’s why running is so beneficial.” And for those still not convinced: “It’s all positive,” Olivier says. “At worst, if you don’t like it, you’ve tried. But I am sure you will like it. We understand that running can be intimidating but with us, it’s not.”run to see if we could work with them but they were too busy developing elsewhere. Hong Kong was not their priority,” Olivier says. “I decided to do it without them but as I have limited time and already have a lot of projects on my plate, I shared my plan with Katia and Thomas, who were instantly sold to the idea.”
It’s clear that having three top DB running coaches – the triathlon coach (Olivier), the road running coach (Thomas) and the trail running coach (Katia) – offering their patronage for free is a very cool concept. While Olivier brings his years of in-depth fitness knowledge to the group, Katia, according to Olivier, “is fantastic at motivating people with her energy, drive and charisma”. Katia feels Thomas – who runs DB outdoor fitness training company Kipmovin and is one of Hong Kong’s top runners – is a real draw card for the club.
Forty DBers attended the first Discovery Run and Katia, who runs DB personal training company d.BeFit, is confident interest will continue to build now that the club is back on track after the summer break. “Having a set schedule, easy access to a running course and being part of a running group is a lot more enjoyable than running alone,” she says. “Physically and mentally it makes it a lot more fun. Everyone can join, if you’re a new runner, you can run/ walk, if you’re a fast runner you can push yourself to run a fast 5 kilometres.”
Pointing out that most people who do not run consistently have tried but don’t stick to it, Olivier says: “With us, they have a framework, a time, a rendezvous and they will need an excuse not to come. The fact that we are here every week, with a course well defined in advance and different pacers [usually three] helps a lot. We hope to create an event that is here to stay and that residents look forward to.”
The benefits of exercise as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle are well documented but not always put into practice.
Hoping that the Discovery Run will inspire people to run and, in the process, stay active and fit, Katia says: “Running regularly has several health benefits. It helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It also improves the quality of our emotional and mental life. For many people, running is a great therapy. With today’s more sedentary lifestyles, to keep moving and stay active is very important, that’s why running is so beneficial.”
And for those still not convinced: “It’s all positive,” Olivier says. “At worst, if you don’t like it, you’ve tried. But I am sure you will like it. We understand that running can be intimidating but with us, it’s not.”
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