Saturday is the “D” day for long runs. The plan was to join Vince and Brendan again on their 70km round the island adventure but do only part of it. My original idea was to do about 40km and finish by the Shek Pik reservoir. Unfortunately after week of suffering from hay fever I was not in very good shape. All I wanted was to sleep…
We started from Tung Chung instead of from Mui Wo and planned to join the Lantau Trail somewhere before Sunset Peak. I was a bit concerned about the weather. The thunderstorm warnings were on and glance on radar and satellite images on HKO phone app did not provide too much encouragement. It looked like us and the storm may cross paths somewhere. And I did not want that somewhere be somewhere on the exposed ridge… Anyway, we decided to go and see.
We set off in reasonable pace. A bit of running to start with followed by long climb on Wong Lung Hang trail. I had no issues, the pace was juts right for me. All was made easier by the non stop chatter from Vince, as usual. It was getting hotter and the air was quite steamy but there was no rain.
When we joined the Lantau Trail near Sunset Peak we even had some sunshine. I heard some distant thunder from somewhere far south of the Island. It looked like we are all clear and if any trouble awaits it would be the heat.
All fours of us (including Baptiste who was the 4th to the party this weekend) kept together until the descent to Pak Kung Au. Vince and Baptise were too quick for me, I am not exactly the downhill running superstar. Brandon was taking easier dropping a bit behind me. I enjoyed the downhill though, it was one my better and faster descents from Sunset Peak.
At Pak Kung Au we stopped for a quick chat with few friends working the Stairmaster Lantau checkpoint. Yes, it was the day of the race and we wondered if any of the runners would actually pass us.
We started the climb up to Lantau Peak all together but soon Vince and Baptiste pulled a bit ahead. I started to struggle a bit, the lack of sleep and the general hay fever weakness was really starting to show. Brendan was a bit behind me but when he caught up with me I told him that I don’t think my body is ready for the Lantau Peak today. I thought about turning around and coming back down to Pak Kung Au. I decided to give it 5 more minutes and see.
I closed myself in “the zone” and kept on going. Surprisingly after few more minutes the thought of turning back disappeared. Not that I was suddenly feeling great but it seemed like I could handle a bit of effort. I passed some hikers on the way up and then most of the surrounding disappeared in fog or clouds. Vince and Baptiste were ahead, sometime I could hear their voices, Brendan was behind (practising pole skills ahead of his big race).
Eventually I reached the summit. Vince and Baptiste were still there talking to some hikers. I quickly said hi and let them know that the slow downhill me is going ahead. I thought they would catch me somewhere on the descent to Ngong Ping but they probably spent too much time enjoying the top of the peak.
When I arrived at Ngong Ping people manning the check point first thought I am the leader of the Stairmaster race 🙂 . I corrected them quickly and paused to wait for the rest of the guys. I was quite surprised when the next guys to show up was none of our bunch but instead it was Clement, leader of the race … By the time four of us re-assembled the top three of the race all passed the checkpoint. Those guys are beasts …
From here we followed the Lantau Trail to Ngong Ping, more less together with Vince and Baptiste only a bit ahead (within the sight). Ngong Ping 7/11 was the usual pit stop (but before that cold over my head in bathroom). Here I decided to continue with the rest only on the road till they start the next trail section towards Tai O. I turned left ran the easy way to Shek Pik reservoir to catch the bus. So at the end I finished at Shek Pik, but with only 20.5km in my legs instead of 40km. For that day with my level of tiredness it was felt just about right.
I took a taxi (driven by an insane i-am-the-racer driver) to Nam Shan to watch and meet the people finishing the Stairmaster. So that was the bonus for cutting my run short.
Link to Strava here.