Umbrella-shaped ultramarathon to support Hong Kong protests

HONG KONG- Two Hong Kong expats set off Wednesday on an ultramarathon course in the shape of a giant umbrella to support ongoing pro-democracy protests in the southern Chinese city.

The pair plan to run 102 kilometres (63 miles) over 15 hours on a path taking them from the city’s mountainous country trails near the Chinese border to finish at the main protest site opposite the government’s headquarters.

John Ellis and Andrew Dawson, both seasoned ultramarathon runners, said they wanted to show their solidarity for those camped out on the streets demanding full democracy for the former British colony.

“We deliberately wanted to make it long because it’s symbolic of what we think will probably be a fairly long struggle ahead,” Ellis, a 36-year-old Australian who works in investment, told AFP hours before the pair kicked off their odyssey at 4am (2000 GMT Tuesday).

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Movement” following the creative ways demonstrators have used them to shelter from the heat, torrential rain, pepper spray and police batons.

Ellis and Dawson wanted to find a route that would look like the protest movement’s symbol once laid across a map of the city.

Their race began in the early hours of the morning at the Upper Shing Mun reservoir in Hong Kong’s New Territories, a hilly rural region close to the mainland far removed from the concrete jungle the Asian financial hub is better known for.