Category Archives: Races Hong Kong

2020 HK4TUC attempt

298km and over 14,500m of elevation gain and loss covering all four major Hong Kong trails – MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau in reverse direction.

IMG_4292

I did not make the decision to attempt the Hong Kong Four Trails Challenge lightly. It took me several years to finally get enough courage to even consider it. Few test runs on MacLehose early last year generated enough confidence in being able to complete the first trail without having to push too much and within the cut off. I took the plunge and in July I applied. Andre responded fast – I was fully committed.

I had a good base from my training for Ronda Dels Cims. After brief recovery period I started my final preparations for HK4TUC in September. The training went generally according to plan except for the cancellation of my only planned ‘training’ race – The Raleigh Challenge – Tornado. The only other setback was my shoulder – the injury from the fall at Ronda did not allow me to do proper strength and core training – but I had to work with was available to me.

About 2-3 weeks before the challenge I felt to be in the best shape I was in a very long time. I was ready to go. I could only hope that I do not mess up anything in the final 2 weeks.
Continue reading

2020 HK4TUC – notes (to be updated as preparations continue)

Few notes on what I learned from my training so far:

Pace:

Mac

– 7 hours for the first half seems just about right (as long as it is not too warm and humid).

– that leaves about 11 hours for the second half – around 9 hours sounds like reasonable pace leaving some buffer for F&B breaks if necessary

– the concrete of Mac 1 is pretty punishing – if I am lucky and arrive at East Dam with enough time buffer then smart choice would be to take Mac 1 very easy to save the legs for the next 200km…

REMEMBER – YOU WILL NOT BEAT 4 TRAILS ON MAC BUT MAC CAN BEAT YOU!

Wilson

The start is hilly – not too difficult but the distance progress is quite slow early on on Wilson. Much slower than on Mac – patience necessary.

The “downhill” from Cloudy Hill to Tai Po involves 11 uphill sections. Just suck it up!

When exiting Tai Wo area the Wilson Trail arrows are confusing – pointing right towards small village – just ignore and go straight up towards and under the Tolo Highway.

Climb up towards Leadmine Pass seems to go on forever but is not difficult – just keep on going.

Long runable bit after Leadmine Pass to Shing Mun – need to make the most of it without blowing up!

Shing Mun to Tai Po road – monkey kingdom – focus on the route ignore the monkeys, avoid making wrong turns just because monkeys sit on the signs!

Long catch water after Tai Po road – hope the legs are still fine to run it all and make up some time.

Climb to Shatin Pass – take it steady.

Road climb after Shatin Pass – just keep moving. Before hitting trail again watch out for the resident boars – there are some huge specimens around there.

Once on the trail time to run all the way to start of section 4!

Right at the start of section 4 – a noisy dog somewhere there. Just ignore and go. Some climbing here but nothing serious – keep on going.

Section 3 – dogs and boars – need to watch if here after dark but should not have any issues.

Road to Lam Tin goes on forever.

HK side – lots of steps and further than 9km that the W18 marker at Tai Koo may suggest…

Watch out those stupid steps from last Twin to Stanley – don’t roll the ankle like during the training recce…

HK Trail

This in all the likeness will involve some night running. Hard to tell how I will feel when/if I make it here. By the time HK Trail starts I would be in unknown territory- beyond any distance I ever did. Rule of the thumb – run/walk to feel, keep moving, don’t fight sleep – take short naps once the eyes start closing.

Lantau

Pay attention to the trail especially as by Lantau the tiredness will be out of scale. On the recce I veered of the course just 2km from Mui Wo on the part of the trail I know very well …

Get over the section to Pui O, the small hill may hurt as the legs will be stiff after a long post HK trail break.

Once on the catchwater it is FLAT more less all the way to Tai O – “enjoy” and get some miles on board!

The climb out of Tai O is properly steep but not too long. Use the steps on the side – will hurt the legs less. Ignore the next 3 hills – just get over them.

The road climb to Ngong Ping is long but NOT difficult – some bits are ruinable – jog them!

Make use of the loop around Ngong Ping to digest all the food taken at the Village.

After this only Lantau Peak and Sunset await – these are MUCH EASIER from this side. Last two hills, nothing to save the legs for any more – PUSH!

Nutrition and F&B supplies

Mac

Few energy bars for emergencies – no need too many. Start with a bottle of sports drink, bottle of plain water. Reserve one soft flask of plain water in the backpack. Carry filter. Extra pack of sports drink powder – to avoid stop at TMS kiosk that is off the course and means a detour that should be avoided if possible.

Leadmine Pass – only tap water at the moment but Bonaqua dispenser installed already and works.

Shing Mun – refill with sweet stuff (coke or Pocari – whatever available). Free drinking water available here.

Tai Po Rd – if not hot no need to waste time here – grab a drink and go – watch for monkey thieves

Shatin Pass – proper refill here. Cup noodles may be good idea to have some change after all the sweet stuff. Long section ahead so do not underestimate the supplies here.

Kei Ling Ha – Vending machines hopefully will have sweet stuff. Free drinking water here as well as Bonaqua dispenser.

Pak Tam Au – May need to stock up for all the way to the end. Free drinking water here.

Sai Wan may be good place to restock but most likely all closed when I get there.

Wilson

Not ideal for on the route replenishments – need to carry food on me and plan the drinks. Some detours may be necessary.

7Eleven and/or other shops available at Tai Wo MTR seems to be the first one – requires short detour

Yuen Tun Ha area – there may be options but again would require detour – nothing on the way up.

Leadmine Pass – Bonaqua water refill by the toilets – works now. Few hundred meters down the road is water tap – needs filter.

Shing Mun – Vending machines at BBQ area but require about 500m detour to Mac and back. Not much afterwards until Shatin Pass shop (if open…) so this may be a necessary evil…

2 water pipes on the catch water near the end.

Shatin Pass shop – not reliable – was closed few times when I made it there on my runs.

Clear Water Bay Rd – small shop.

Yau Tong, Lam Tin, Tai Koo – posbilites to eat, drink and refill for the rest of Wilson.

Parkview – may not be open when I am there.

HK Trail

Shek O F&B establishments – but hopefully will have supplies from my crew here.

Parkview supermarket – good place for some proper food if it is open when I am there. Otherwise only the gas station at Wong Nai Chung gap.

Lots water available along the way – filter important.

Food supplies important for this trail!!!

Lantau

By 8-8:30am there was nothing open in Pui O on my recce – better stock up all the way up to Shui Hau.

Shui Hau – small shop only open – only drinks available.

Shek Pik – tap water available.

Fan Lau – small shop, drinks available.

Tai O – restaurant – may be good to eat properly here.

Ngong Ping – hopefully will be open when I am here.

Note: the beetroot bar did not go down well during Mac recce – better stay away from this.

Big Boar’s Backyard Challenge

I did not plan any races between UTMT in January and Ronda dels Cims in July. But this Big Boar’s Backyard Challenge sounded like something that could spice up my Ronda training. Concept is simple – nutcases assemble and run 6.7km more less flat loops. New loop starts every hour and who is not ready to start the new loop is out.  The one who is the last one left out there is the winner (provided he/she completed at least 24 loops/100 miles). Everybody else DNFs :-) .

I did not specifically train for this. It was purely part of my training. I did not even taper. The event date felt on my hard training week and I followed my usual training routine up to Wednesday (20km run). Thursday was a rest day but also a day when I developed some cold – runny nose mainly. I did not have the best sleep as a result but I still felt to be in a reasonably OK shape for Friday. My plan was to do at least 50km as a minimal training distance and after that just keep on going as long as all is well without risking any injury. I promised myself to stop if I feel anything “weird”.
Continue reading

img_9469

2019 Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan

UTMT 162K

I had few reasons to sign up for this race:

a) I wanted something new, a race in HK I haven’t done before

b) I wanted to do a 100 miler before my second attempt at Ronda as a confidence builder

The month ahead of this race was a big mileage month for me. It started with 100+km race in Taiwan and by the end of Dec I had accumulated 400km of quality mileage. I tapered down few days before UTMT but it was much less aggressive tapering than what I used to do.

Continue reading

2018 9 Dragons Ultra – 50/50 (or 54/54)

Last year I failed at this one. I managed to complete the first day 50 miler but a shin injury meant DNS the next day. So there was some unfinished business… This year I was determined to finish. I was very well aware that I am nowhere near this sort of race ready. Completing this event and doing so without any injury was the only goal. Plan was to take it rather easy on the first day to keep the legs as fresh as possible for the second. I guess I was not the only one coming up with this strategy.

Day 2 on Tai To Yan - Photo by @the.drone.runner

Day 2 on Tai To Yan – Photo by @the.drone.runner

The weather at the start (midnight between Fri and Sat) was rather fine although it was drizzling a bit. I started in relaxed comfortable pace. It did not take too long before the field spread out and found myself running on my own. This remained the case for most of the 50 mile race. Here and there I caught someone ahead or someone passed me but I had a pretty lonely day overall :-) .
Continue reading

2018 HK100 – It has been a while since I last did ultra on home turf…

I haven’t finished an ultra in Hong Kong since 2016 Translantau100. Seems that since I completed my HK Grand Slam in 2015/2016 season the luck was not my side, at least not in Hong Kong. Yes, I have completed UTMB and La Diagonale des Fous since then. But I DNFed 2016 LT70 (not yet recovered fully from UTMB), 2017 HK100 (because of silly injury a week before the race) and thanks to shin splints my 50/50 9Dragons attempt last year only lasted the first 50 miles.

My summer calf injury did not allow me to do almost any running the whole summer. My Diagonale des Fous training consisted mostly of hiking up the hills and jogging them down – no speedwork at all. This somehow worked fine for a slow long hilly endurance event but I knew the fast HK100 would be totally different story. Especially as due to post Diagonale recovery I only had about 6-7 weeks of proper training time for this race.

Unlike last year I did not set myself any specific time target. My primary goal was to finish the 100k race after almost 2 years of this not happening to me. Secondary target was to do it under 16 hours to get that golden buddy trophy.

My strategy was to pace myself and make sure I survive well the first fast 52k before we hit the hills. My watch was on but I was not really checking it. It was run to feel race for me. Enjoying the surroundings and not pushing too much. As I found out afterwards I was not exactly relaxing though – I was running at my HK100 PR pace although it definitely did not feel like that.
Continue reading

2017 HK100 – My first 100km race DNF…

This was to be my A race of the Hong Kong season. After finally getting my golden dude last year I set myself sub 15hours target for this year.

My training went well and I felt I am up to the challenge. I felt I am capable of sub 15 performance. The question was if will be able to do it on the day…

Couple of weeks before the race a mailing arrived notifying us that the race will keep that alternative finish route applied in those freezing conditions last year. As this not exactly common route down from Tai Mo Shan I decided to an easy recce of that bit a week before the race – as a final pre-race outing. It was a very easy jog hike on the last 15-16km of the race route. I noticed during that run some soreness in my right foot but I paid no attention to it. It was nothing different for an ache here and there that we experience on our runs – the kind of stuff that comes and then few minutes later it goes away we forget about it. I finished that jog-hike with no issues, happy knowing that the new ending is not that difficult and ready for the race.

Then when I woke up the next day my foot was really hurting, was swollen and featuring a colourful bruise. During the week the swelling and bruising went away the pain was still there. By Wednesday – Thursday it was getting better so I was cautiously optimistic about making the race. Then on Friday morning it started to hurt more, afternoon it felt better…

I haven’t tried to run for the whole week so I had no idea at all what running will feel like. I went to the start still undecided if I would actually go for it or not. After trying to jog for 15-20 meters I almost made up my mind to opt for DNS… But after some negotiation with myself and out of respect for all those people who could not get a place in this race I decided to at least give it a try. I could always turn back after few hundred meters … So I started.
Continue reading

2016 LT70 – Finding out like DNF tastes after long long time

I had this plan not to sign up for any race until after I am done with UTMB. That would in effect mean there would be no races after UTMB for me till end of 2016. And that was not a bad idea. It was actually a good plan. So I skipped Moontrekker, OTW, TNF. But when the registrations opened for LT70 back in April I could not resist. I signed up leaving the decision “to run or not to run” till later.

My post UTMB recovery was going slow. I took quite solid break in September and come October I was back in training.

The training was strange. I felt great one day and totally empty another. I enjoyed being on the hills but I could feel that I am definitely far from being ready for another race. Still I decided to give it a try and see how I feel on the day. If nothing else it would be a good assessment of my current condition.

The day was hot as it always is on LT70 day. If I was going to get anywhere I knew I must take it easy at the beginning.
Continue reading

2016 Translantau100 – the final chapter of my Hong Kong grand slam attempt

My main target for this season was the Hong Kong grand slam. Many things have to go right complete it. The first major hurdle is to secure a spot at each of the four races. I had luck in my first ever OTW lottery, I was just about quick enough to fill up the applications for TNF and Translantau and I went for charity entry for HK100 in order not to miss out. One also has to keep fit for the whole season, avoid injuries, don’t get sick… And then as we found this year – we also need the weather on our side. Two out of four of these races were stopped early due to the weather this season. There also is the small matter of actually finishing all four races.

After OTW, TNF100 and HK100 the only race left to do was the Translantau100.

Thanks to AFCD the route was brand new making the time predictions a bit difficult. The route looked on paper easier than the old version. Easier but still hard. Based on few recce runs and knowledge of some of the sections I guessed that 18 hours should be possible. My main goal however was to finish and get the slam done. Anything else would be a bonus. The main instruction to the brain before the race was “don’t do anything stupid”.
Continue reading

2016 HK100 – When Hong Kong froze

I planned this race as the A race of my Hong Kong season. I had the same plans last year. However the unfortunate tumble a week ahead of the race altered my race goals a year ago. This time I was determined to finally get that golden dude reserved for those who finish under 16 hours. That was the target.

I never thought the weather would be playing any role. This time of the year it is always nice in Hong Kong, usually almost the perfect running conditions. This year it was a bit different. It was raining more less the whole week leading up to the race. And for the race weekend we had the promise of polar vortex (whatever it means) affecting Hong Kong bringing close to freezing temperatures and even with chances of some snow. The observatory was quick to dismiss the snow fall but the freezing temperatures and strong winds were definitely on the cards.

I was not really worried about the cold itself. I have done some runs and even races in much colder conditions in Europe before. I was however concerned about cramping as a result of both the cold and the faster pace. At the same time I had to re-think my gear for the race.

Preparation

I originally planned to use my UD SJ backpack with 2 front bottles (filled) and the empty bladder at the backpack to meet the minimum mandatory drinking capacity. But the cold weather called for more layers for the race. I managed to squeeze almost everything in but there was no room left for my waterproof gloves. Also the packing was too tight and getting things in and out with potentially cold hands could be a major trouble during the race. So I decided to switch to my slightly oversized 12l Raidlight Olmo that served me well twice in the Alps. It is a bit too big for race like this but easy to get stuff in and out. And it covered quite large area of my back providing additional layer of weather protection :-) .
Continue reading