The 6 Hong Kong women who conquered the Mongolian Desert

May 21, 2019

Photo courtesy of WISE HK 


Doing an MBA is difficult enough as it is - trying to fit in attending classes, taking exams, completing homework, group assignments and class projects, going to networking and social events, and seeking jobs and career planning.


But imagine also having to fit in training for a 70km desert race, in Inner Mongolia no less.


That’s what these six students (Yoyo, Wendy, Olivia, Kim, Jessica, & Blair) along with 38 other HKUST MBA students are doing.


With their biggest turnout yet, they all have one goal in common: to come back with the Sand Gull Award as part of the Yasha Desert Race - given to the school whose both teams complete the entire 3 day race in the designated time.


Through this journey to prepare for the race, they have learnt so much more than what is expected of them to pass their exams.


In between their training and MBA course work, they still found time to chat with me to talk about their experiences preparing for and competing this year’s race during the last weekend of April.


Photo courtesy of WISE HK




Since November, they have trained every Saturday afternoon at the track.


Alongside this, they do weight training at the gym, HIIT, as well as running hills and running on the sand to get their bodies used to the terrain. By having this much variety, they are able to train their bodies for all types of terrain in which they may face.


Training didn’t become a chore, but rather part of their daily routine. Through their sessions, these women have become closer than ever.


During their hill training in Sai Kung, the map reader once led them stray on a 23km path to a construction site - well in excess of the 13km they were meant to run. 


They also had to deal with classic Hong Kong problems along these runs, such as cows in the middle of the road, monkeys in trees, and being chased by terrifying dogs.


These shared experiences have brought the team closer, and it is evident when sitting around these women how they reminisce about these fun filled training sessions.


 Photo courtesy of WISE HK


Teamwork and extra motivation 


One aspect that makes this year’s Desert Race team from HKUST so special is that they have unanimously decided to cross the daily finish line together as a team.


This may sound like a nice idea but it adds extra pressure for the female racers - because the men have a different cut off time than the women, if they do not make the finish line in that cut off time then, they lose the chance of winning the Sand Gull Award.


However, this idea to push themselves even further and to finish as a team is a symbol of their commitment to one another. 


Photo courtesy of WISE HK 


Creating leaders through racing


As Wendy had mentioned, even though there may be conflicts or disagreements, it is because there is such a diverse group of people who all have opinions and ideas and it is a great way to learn how to work together in a group and people manage in a real life setting.


Because they are so invested in this event both as racers, and organizers it has made the race feel like something they have created for themselves, and holds a special meaning to every individual who has been involved.


Photo courtesy of WISE HK


At WISE HK we often focus on either women who play sports in Hong Kong or how sports has helped women in the corporate world.


But this is a special case where not only have the women stuck to their goals, and physically achieved something amazing, they have also honed so many amazing leadership qualities through the experience of helping organize the event.


These women have gone above and beyond what was asked of them to complete their MBA not because they felt the pressure or need to but because they had a genuine passion and drive to be part of creating something monumental and special to them.



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