Not knowing how long my recovery from TDS would take I played it safe. Same as last year I set the Moontrekker as my first race of Hong Kong running season. At one stage (during a struggle on a long training run about 3 weeks ahead of the race) I thought about skipping it as well. But at the end I decided to give it a go. My focus of this season are four 100km races in Hong Kong. Moontrekker is was to be one of my training races.
The weather was good, a bit cooler than a year ago. What was not too good was my position at the start. I totally forgot about the bottleneck at the playground exit. By the time I got out the gate the leaders of the pack were half way to China Bear probably.
I was running with Shane and TR. Shane was passing the people. I tried to keep up with him. It was OK while he was only 1-2 people ahead. But soon due to traffic jam the gap became bigger. I gave up, I decided to follow my own pace, that was the end my Shane chase :-).
Soon I made it to Chi Ma Wan. I was not pushing crazy but I kept decent pace. The whole Chi Ma Wan section was very enjoyable. I made it to the 16-17km checkpoint a bit later than on my previous two Moontrekkers. But I felt totally fresh. I did not waste any time at the CP. I only quickly refilled the water bottles, cleaned up my knee that I managed to scratch somewhere and pushed on towards Nam Shan.
The small climb was easy and I have almost no troubles there. Almost, except for a headlamp issue. I brushed some branches with my headlamp and all around me went dark. It took a while to make the light work again. Few guys passed me while I was fixing the lamp. Lucky for me I made it work again without having to switch to my less powerful and not so comfortable back up.
Other than this it was a non event quick section to Nam Shan CP. I refuelled there quickly and went on towards South Lantau Country Trail. This is a nice trail but I still haven’t figured out how to efficiently run on this rocky surface. I could not find the right rhythm. I kept hitting some rocks or roots. I was passing more and more people but my pace was not exactly fast. I guess I could have done this 15 mins faster but that maybe not without some falls . So at the end still good.
I had quick pit stop at Pak Kung Au. This was the first CP where I found some Coke so I made the most out of it. I took some bananas with me and went on towards Ngong Ping.
It may sound strange but I was so looking forward to these climbing sections. Once on the uphill part I found nice rhythm and I enjoyed the climb towards Ngong Ping. I passed few people but most of the time I was alone in the darkness.
I did not waste too much time at Ngong Ping. Some more coke, water refill, banana to take away. Lantau Peak was waiting. On this climb I was totally alone. In previous years I always passed somebody and somebody passed me but this year I met nobody on the entire climb. Except for one bamboo viper next to the trail in the grass but out of harms way.
Weather was good, even up on the ridge it was not too cold. I spent a bit of time on the peak chatting with Stuart and posing for some summit pics before running down.
The descent was quite OK. Legs felt good, trail was in good condition. I slipped once or twice but nothing serious. People climbing up in opposite direction to watch the sunrise were showing a lots of courtesy and leaving enough space to pass. The one big hole on the trail was well marked so no issues there. And soon I was down at Pak Kung Au.
There was no checkpoint and no marshals but there was water so I refilled my bottles and jogged down the road towards the catchwater. Some super fast guy passed me, no idea who was it but he sure was flying down that road. I vaguely remembered that there should be an obscure turn from the road to catchwater so I was on a lookout for it. I duly found it. The catchwater was interesting. This was perhaps the first time in my racing on Lantau that I actually felt like running the whole thing towards the end of the race. Legs still good, I actually felt bad that this is almost the end of the race. I was just beginning to have fun .
Only the short trail section remained, then the road towards Pui O and the final bit through the fields and along the beach to the finish line.
I finished in just above 6 hours, faster than year ago and feeling pretty fresh. All happy feeling. Good training run ahead of the 100km races that await.
Link to Strava here.