2015 Country Of Origin Run – The race that wasn’t (and my pre-TDS training self assessment)

This was a cool concept. Find two team mates holding the same passport as yourself, form a team and have race against other teams on some fun Lantau trails.

Concept was cool but finding 2 team mates with same passport was mission close to impossible for me. But not wanting to miss out on all the fun I explored some other options. And one of the self proclaimed race directors announced that teams coming from other planets of our solar system will be given wild card entries (suggesting for example Uranus) and I was all for it.

Still I had to find team mates. I managed to convince a guy called Vince that he also is from Uranus. He in turn recruited lady called Rachel and Team Uranus was born.

Team Uranus ready to go

Team Uranus ready to go

We got some cool light weight Uranus tees on (to look cool of course but also to feel comfortable on a hot April day) and we were ready to go.

There was a small hick up ahead of the race. Rachel not realizing how long the run the may actually take was not too sure if due to her other commitments she can actually finish the whole run. Was not a problem for the rest of the team as the main goal was fun only then the glory.

I myself also wanted to make use of this run as test of my fitness. I haven’t done much proper training in 2015. After injuring myself a week ahead HK100 I took long “heal my ribs” break. Then without too much training I went into Translantau100. After that I had to give my body some time off. I planned to kick off my training for TDS from May 1. I started to slowly ease into my training routine from about mid April – to spare my muscles and tendons and joints the sudden shock come May 1. I however haven’t done anything more than I guess easy 15km since mid March. So this 31km run over some tasty Lantau hills was going to take me way beyond my current comfort level.

We started slowly chatting with other people around us listening to rather frequent “cool tees” and similar comments. The morning was not too hot so the conditions were fine but signs of heat to come were out there. We were running on trails familiar from the Valentine’s Day and Moontrekker races. There were no surprises and with talkative team mates it was not boring at all.

We soon reached Nam Shan, crossed the road and followed on the South Lantau Country Trail in the opposite direction of Translantau race. This was nice and runable section and we were making decent progress. I did not feel I am pushing, I felt quite fresh, no problems at all.

As we were getting closer to Pak Kung Au we met Marie. She looked like she has some problem. Her description brought back memories of 2013. It all sounded way to similar to when my right calf went pop … We checked on her if she is OK. She clearly was not as she was barely able to walk. As Rachel was planning to quit somewhere midway through the race anyway she decided to stay with Marie and accompany her to the nearest checkpoint (which was not that far away thankfully). So we took one last complete Team Uranus photo and bid farewell to the ladies. From here on we were only two left.

Team Uranus farewell shot

Team Uranus farewell shot

We made it to the water point or check point at Pak Kung Au. Not wasting too much time we posed for some photos in our cool shirts, refilled some water and went on to conquer the Sunset Peak climb.

I started the climb well but I could feel the first signs of lack of fitness. Closer we were getting to the huts the more I was struggling. I was obviously holding Vince back. I recovered a bit up there near the huts and managed to run all the way to the point where we left the Lantau Trail.

We turned in to the Lin Fa Shan direction – this was basically Lantau 50 route for the next several km. I was feeling sort of OK but I had to switch from running to fast walking from time to time.

The route was well marked so we haven’t waste any time getting lost even with Vince being at the front. The only place where we had some doubts was a junction with shiggy leading down to Tung Chung. But quick look on the print out of the race route solved this. We continued on the way towards Pak Mong. I was beginning to feel hot by now. Knowing how “well” I handle the Hong Kong summer weather I knew I am in for some fun soon … I could not wait for Pak Mong and chance to cool down.

Once we got to the village Vince went right to buy some cold stuff to drink while I went straight toward to toilets to cool down my head. I was hot …

Can of Coke, some water both in and over me and some gel kickstarted me again. I was ready for the shiggy climb that was ahead.

To our surprise we managed to find the right turn. I think presence of the team from the former planet of Pluto helped us bit with navigation.

The shiggy was tough but for me mainly because of the heat. Climbing itself was fine and that was a positive discovery. But once we were over this my legs were too heavy to run on the runable trail towards the Lo Fu Tau – Mui Wo trail.

Vince had to show some patience here as I simply could not keep up with his pace. It was jog a bit, run a bit but mostly walk only by now. The golden combo of lack of training and hot and humid day conspired against me.

We passed by Claus on the way down to Mui Wo and almost missed another turn to the bushes. Well, Vince missed, me 2 meters behind him managed to spot it. This was good news – it was clearly shorter way to Mui Wo than the main trail. This gave me some wings. I tried to run down the hill passing some funny probably biking structures. The other thing that gave me wings was sight of guys from Pluto not that far ahead of us – we simply could not finish behind the planet that was kicked out of the Solar System Federation!

My wings were not that strong though and I had to switch to fast hike from time to time. But at the end we made it down to Mui Wo, re-passed Pluto for the final time (and for good this time) and crossed the finish line by the China Bear. We were not classified as only 2/3 of our team made it to finish but who cared, we did not.

I found out that after the not-so-great beginning of 2015 I was still good for not too shabby 20km on the trail but 30km was a bit outside of my comfort zone. Not perfect but at least there is some base to re-build on.

It was also a good learning experience in team racing that I hope will come handy when (if) as planned I for OTW later on this year.

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