I am still amazed how quickly after the Nepal earthquake the local trail running community managed to organize charity run to raise funds for the earthquake relief…
I never hesitated when it came to taking part in this event. But as I don’t race in these hot months in Hong Kong I planned to make this run part of my training.
It was 13km and it felt just about right as the back-to-back run on Sunday at this stage of my training. For some reason perhaps for the first time ever I did not bother to check what the route is. What can it be, right ? Charity run, only 13km, Shing Mun reservoir… some loops around for an hour or so, and we are done… Yea, right .
I squeezed myself near the front at the start line. The dam was narrow and some 1000 runners would be a serious crowd. The field however spreaded out very quickly so there was no traffic jam, at least where I was. Right after the dam we started uphill on the road. I felt alternatively OK and not too OK, but I felt going. I told myself that as this is a traing for me would be good to try to run as much as possible on those uphill road sections.
I was going steady, then I speeded up once we started downhill. Somewhere here I passed Nora for a while. After about 3km there was a split separating the 7km and 13km runners. We turned into the forest on the trail. It was nice runnable trail. But it was a bit wet and slippery – exactly the perfect condition to turn my favourite Cascadias to skates. These shoes are great in dry but totally useless when the conditions are slippery.
While sliding around I was passed by few people, including Nora and one other guy I didn’t know. But their pace was quite fine and I ran with them more less to the water point at the half way distance. The other guy stopped for water, Nora kept going on, I kept going on too. Still had half a bottle with me and only 6km to finish, right?
Here I mentioned to Nora -“Should be only road now to the finish, right?”. Her reply shocked me: “There is still Needle Hill”…
Not expected, not planned for, not ready to mentally digest this kind of news
I almost immediately subconsciously downshifted 2 gears down. The training run was going to get a bit harder. No panic, but change of plans. Slower pace, saving water, as that half a liter in that weather would not be enough to get me over Grassy Hill and Needle Hill.
I did not feel too bad on the climb but I simply did not feel like pushing. I took it easy, few people passed me. It was not that bad though, Grassy Hill seemed easier to climb from this “other side”. On the concrete downhill my legs were not at their best so again few people passed me. Just before Needle Hill climb there was one more water station, I refilled my water bottle, had some water before leaving the CP. The Needle Hill climb also felt easier (shorter) from the other side. The path however was a bit overcrowded. It was not easy to pass on the way up. It was a bit easier to overtake on the way down but at the same time a bit more riskier as with some people one could never be sure which way would they move. I decided not to take any risk, I definitely can do without some silly fall.
So uphill downhill Needle Hill and I was back on the dam. This was only 13km but the heat + my tired legs and body + my lack of race route study made it quite tough day on trails. But good training run and for a good cause – the main puprose for this run should not be forgotten.
Link to Strava here.