I was not sure what will be possible to do on Saturday. Thunderstorms were forecasted. Last thing I wanted was to get caught in one somewhere up on the ridge. First thing I did in the morning was to check the weather info. Thunderstorm warning was up. But quick check of radar images revealed there were no lightnings anywhere around. The west part of New Territories looked pretty clear so I decided to repeat the Mac 7-8 and back route.
The clouds were dark and low when I reached Shing Mun Reservoir but it was not raining. After the warm up hike from minibus stop to reservoir I started the Needle Hill climb. I was still a bit nervous about the possible storms so I wanted to have this hill done quickly. No sun and breeze made the climb rather easy. I was up and down in no time with no issues. The grip of the HOKAs also helped on the wet steps.
I ran quickly down from the top and kept on running on the flatter part of the Grassy Hill section. I felt quite good and the cool weather had a lot to do with it. I pushed on the climb to Grassy Hill. At times I could not see much in the fog but otherwise uneventful climb. Run down to Leadmine Pass was a bit slippery but nothing that the shoes could not handle.
Luckily I did not need to cool down. I could stay away from the stinky Leadmine Pass taps. Without wasting too much time I started climbing Tai Mo Shan. It was cool but sheltered on the first section under the trees. But once I reached the open area the wind gusts started to come and go. Not too cold though, just refreshing (for now). I tried to push to give the body some proper work out that is not possible that often during the hot summer days. My main issue going up the hill was the mud sticking to and accumulating on soles of my shoes. Otherwise no problems, every runable section I ran, those more technical or slippery ones I hiked as fast as was safe.
Up on the road it was quite windy and visibility was very bad. I could not see anybody ahead of me or coming towards me until they appeared just few steps in front of me. Half the way down I was in the clouds. But other than this the run down to Rotary Park was all fine.
I reached the kiosk after just over 3 hours (from Shing Mun minibus stop). I took a short break to refill my water, eat cup of noodles and drink some Coke. I checked the weather app – no thunderstorm warning – and then quickly I went back up to Tai Mo Shan.
My pace up the hill was good and I felt fine. Soon I was back in the clouds. I was totally focused on my climbing. I did not run but I kept steady pace passing everybody around. Then almost at the top out of nowhere came a blast of wind and deluge. It was bucketing down. This only lasted for maybe a minute but it was something … I was soaked in no time and in the wind up there I felt pretty cold. Good thing was that was right at the top so I could warm up running down the hill.
Ahead of me there were no signs of the mayhem I just came out off. View was great, many people coming up the hill from the opposite direction. I was pushing on the downhill as much as my downhill skills would allow me. But just before the end of the road bit I started to feel signs of cramping in my right hamstring. I almost never cramp during summer because of the snail paced nature of my runs. But this was a cool one with a decent pace and the muscles were feeling the pain. I slowed down to prevent further damage. I hiked up the uphill that comes after the road. Then started running again wherever it was possible. The HOKAs were holding up well on the muddy and slippery surface but I did slip here and there. And after one of these slips or stumbles a serious cramp hit the hamstring. That was pain similar to what came after the first CCC climb last year… I managed to shake it off but I had to adjust my stride and pace to the crampy nature of this run. Somewhere around there also came the seconds hit of bad weather, much worse than the one at the top. The wind almost blew me away and the rain was lashing my face in right angle. I swear this was the worse weather I ever experienced in Hong Kong on a run.
When I got back to Leadmine Pass I checked quickly the weather again. The thunderstorm warning was up again. That made me a bit worried. But seeing nothing anywhere near on the radar images I decided to continue as planned. Climb up Grassy Hill from the other side was fine except the slalom between cows and bulls towards the top. I ran most of the road towards Needle Hill with the exception of short uphill bit.
I still felt good when I started climbing Needle Hill again. I did not expect to blow up half way up like 3 weeks ago but I still made sure I had enough to drink. I also popped in a gel before the climb. I decided to focus on counting the steps. Now I can’t remember if I counted 900 or 1000 all the way to the top but was pretty even number. I did not stop at the top, I went straight down towards Shing Mun. I could see that I was way faster than 3 weeks ago, easily under 6 hours on the return trip. I went straight to the Shing Mun BBQ area to wash up and buy some drinks before heading for the minibus. It was still sub 6 hours when I reached the minibus stop.
Unfortunately once in the minibus I found out my poles are not with me. I must have left them at the BBQ area. So I went back those 2 or so km, recovered my poles (safeguarded by the staff there) and then back for the minibus…
This was a good training. I am also glad for those cramps. They reminded me that this is something I may have to deal with in the Alps… My legs really felt this one. Back home I felt like after the race with muscles twitching…
Link to Strava here.