The idea to do this race as a daddy and son team was born a year ago during this race. We were helping at the Chi Ma Wan checkpoint and seeing all sorts of couples having fun day out on trails we decided to join the fun a year on. And so we signed up as Team Awoo Boys.
I was a bit a afraid that I will spoil the fun thanks to my pre-HK100 injury. But while still not in a shape for any serious training I was relatively OK to go for some training hikes before this race. We did a recce of the course one weekend, cool Mt. Parker hike and bushwhack the other and some mellow hike to Stanley on the final weekend before the race.
I thought that we would mostly hike it and add a bit of jog here and there depending how we feel. Based on our 14-20km practice hikes we set ourselves a sub-3hours goal.
Junior however had other ideas. First it was not easy to convince him that starting right at the front ahead of the fast runners is not a smart idea. Then once the race was on I had hard time slowing him down on the initial climb and the descent that followed. I kept shouting “slow down, you are too fast” and “keep your power for the climbs” as well as some trail running safety instructions concerning stealthily overtaking people that are 3-4 times his body mass. His Eagerness obviously was not too happy that we allowed so many people to pass us while I was showing no interest in passing other.
After we passed the cemetery I gave up. I let him run ahead on the downhill that followed. Somehow during that descent we managed to get together, synchronize our pace and from then on we continued like a proper team. Few more couples passed on the flat section but I was quite surprised that kept on running without switching to hike. Compared to our recce 3 weeks back we were much much faster (that time injured me could not run at all). I was not too confident that junior will be able to keep it up in this fashion for much longer.
Then came the road climb to the checkpoint and to my surprise we started to pass others. I think we overtook 3-4 teams before we reached the familiar CP at the Chi Ma Wan entrance. It was easy to recognize Bei there but it took me a while to find out that it was Pete hiding behind that large beard next to the water station. He told us that we are not that far behind the leaders – information that junior took as solid fact. It seriously motivated him. Sip of water, banana for the trip and off we were towards the Goat Trail and hills of Chi Ma Wan. We dropped one position shortly after CP but that we recovered quickly. About kilometer of jogging on the trail later another couple passed us but that was the last (and ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to jump ahead of us. Junior really enjoyed the technical bits and caused few laughs when shouting at me “faster daddy faster”. He survived also the slippery downhill section just before we hit the old “road” without falling over. I admit that I was really glad we had that part behind us and my fearless team mate was still in one piece.
At this stage he started to see the benefits of smart pacing. I had no problems slowing us down for 200-300 meters to take a bit of rest before climbing Lo Yan Shan. We still managed to pass one more couple just before the steps next to the reservoir.
We were doing well on this climb but I could see that the pace and distance are beginning to affect my tough team mate. Now it was my turn to motivate and help and come up with some pacing strategy that would keep us moving in good pace while allowing the little one to rest. I told him to run only on the flat or downhill sections and the rest just hike. He clearly liked that idea but he was still running much more than I would expect. And anytime we climbed up the steps we were closing on people ahead. So I told him “look, see the big group ahead of us? I think if keep this pace we will catch them all before the top of Lo Yan Shan”. And we did …
I asked him to keep ahead of me and dictate the pace, just to make sure that I do not go too too fast. But by now my pace did not matter. Now he was totally determined to make sure that nobody catches and overtakes us any more. All I could do, was to do Paul McCartney and sing aloud “Hey Dude, you are so strong”.
We made it up to Lo Yan Shan, ran down then up, then some more and all of a sudden we were at the top of Chi Ma Wan. We some some people stopping at the top posing for nice couple pics but junior would have none of it. He could smell that Chi Ma Wan CP and dashed down the hill. I was glad that my knee and ribs were not giving me too hard time on the day. I could jog down that hill and down those steps and keep the little downhill running beast within my sight.
We agreed that we will not waste too much at the checkpoint. Water we had, hungry we were not. So we stopped only briefly for quick sip and some oranges for junior. He still managed to get into some serious conversation with Pete arguing the case of buffalos eating or not eating orange peels. Pete later messaged me that he was wrong and junior right, that buffalos do eat the orange peels as he could find out later on during his CP duties.
Anyway, ignorant of the philosophical talk happening behind me I started the final climb towards Nam Shan. Junior quickly joined me and we pushed on. I was really impressed by his stamina. I knew he is one tough cookie when it comes to running and I had no doubts that this race is easily doable for him. Otherwise I would not sign us up. But I had no idea he would push this strong. It was clear that we will finish much ahead of our 3 hours target.
On the last climb he clearly had to dig deep but all my “are you OK?” questions were answered with simple “yes”. He asked for water a bit more often that during the earlier parts of the race but kept on going. Then came the last downhill and he took off. I managed to warn him to be careful as it is rather easy to trip over when the legs are tired. But I let him go as he wished and kept few meters behind him. Then we saw some kids on the trail, one of them shouting “2 runners coming” towards to finish area. I reminded junior to smile for the camera (without success ) and there we were in the finish. Our time 2:14.07 was much much faster than I expected and it did not take long for the little one to set us a target for next year – sub 2 hours. Let’s see.
Now it is time for some rest for junior and for me time to try to get ready for Translantau100. Then, maybe, before the season is over we may try to do the Hard As Nayls family race as a team.