Category Archives: Training

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.

UTMB Training No 55 – Recovery Sunday

After 8 plus hour baking on the sun in Saturday I had nice 10 hours long sleep. I was ready for some recovery slog.

Martin joined me for this one. It was yet another super hot day so we took it very easy – jog-walk up the road, then jog mixed with some walking on the exposed bits of Cecil’s. Then we walked up Mt. Parker Road to Quarry Gap. It was way too hot and did not have that much water with us so we turned around and jogged down to Quarry Bay and then on back home.

Nice and easy (but hot).

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 54 – The last insane summer run – reverse HK Trail

I picked the whole HK Trail, solo, in the opposite direction as my last long summer run of this training season. This was to be more about the distance, time on the feet and mental power than the overall elevation gain. Although in the opposite direction Hong Kong trail goes from the sea level up the peak. The main reason I picked the opposite direction again was the tree cover and streams at the second half of the route. I also used my poles. HK Trail is not exactly trail one needs poles for but this was the last opportunity to train with poles.

I started much later than I planned – around 8:45am from Shek O. I jogged all the way to Big Way Bay simulating the flat road race start. The climb up was fine and once on the concrete path I was jogging again. I expected hot day out and slow pace as a result. But my intention was to run as much as possible on the runable sections. So I tried.

The contour trail towards Dragon’s Back was fine and so was Dragon’s Back except for a bit too crowded trail even in the early morning. I paused few times to enjoy the views.

The catchwater was not as bad as I expected. I was mixing jogging with walking trying preserve some energy for later on. It was getting really hot by now. There was no way I could push on the entire catchwater and survive the whole planned distance. So I ran most of the sections in the shadow and walked those exposed to the sun.

The heat was slowly getting to me so I was imagining the cold splash in the stream somewhere in the middle of the jungle path between Tai Tam Road and the reservoirs. I made the best of it when I got there, also put my Life Straw to use.

The cold splash helped and I was feeling quite well on the climb up towards Quarry Gap. The water pipe half way up helped again. I took a short break before Mt Butler climb cooling down properly again at the Quarry Gap restrooms.

I knew from the very beginning that the section 5 of HK Trail will be the critical one in this weather. Mt Butler went fine but the Jardine’s Lookout was really rough, same as few weeks ago. The heat was insane, no cloud cover at all. The only thing that kept me going was the vision of cold CocaCola in the supermarket on the other side of the hill… I was struggling but I was still faster than any of the hikers around so it was not all bad I supposed.

After the cold drinks and some food at Parkview I was ready for the second half. The exposed bits of Black’s Link were a bit tough but nowhere near as bad as the Jardine’s Lookout. My pace was slow but I made it to Wanchai Gap without too much trouble. Sections of the trail were bit scary with large chunks of trees still dangling down after the typhoon. But other than that it was now all about keeping the head down and placing one foot in front of another. The sun was getting lower so I did my best to jog all the sections that were not uphill.

The water pipe with 10km to was a great refreshment post before embarking on the short catchwater section and the final climb up to the Peak. I was feeling quite OK – the end was near and most of the route was now under canopy of trees.

Seeing the 007 trail marker was great – from there is only around 3 easy km to the end. I still paused at the playground for some water refill and jogged the rest of the way against the flow of sightseeing tourists.

Although I suffered big way on the Jardine’s Lookout I never really doubted I would complete this run. The route itself is not too difficult but the insane heat turned this into proper mental challenge – nice final bit of UTMB preparations.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 53 – Thursday Parker No 14

Second to last Thursday Parker run of this summer. It looked like I may enjoy rain on the way up. Instead all I had was high humidity thanks to disappearing into the cloud after the first kilometer up the hill.

It did not feel too hot though and running was quite easy all the way up to Quarry Gap. From there switched to fast walk mode. There was some typhoon debris earlier but the final 1.5 km to the radars were full of it – fallen trees (some already chopped up and cleared away from the road), fallen branches. It must have been pretty intense up there during the typhoon…

I made it to radar and added the usual dash to the second radar too. Then I jogged down to Quarry Gap and walked up Mt Butler. I felt quite OK so on the final part of the ascent I pushed a bit harder. After taking few photos of lovely large golden orb spider I ran back down the steps and to Quarry Bay.

This was a really enjoyable Thursday morning work out.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 52 – Tuesday road

The typhoon has passed and so the weather did not disturb my training plan. It was a bit cooler than the last 2 weeks but much more humid.

I noticed it right from the beginning. The legs felt much heavier than on the hotter but drier days. I had to run slower. The road conditions were fine on the first climb but on Tin Hau Temple Road it turned into obstacle course. The post typhoon debris was everywhere. I usually run full power down the road here. This time had to be a bit slower and careful to avoid all the fallen tree branches.

I settled into what on a day felt like fast pace (but significantly slower than the past 2 weeks). At one spot on Bowen Road the path was completely blocked by fallen tree – I had to climb over it. After that the road was mostly clear for the rest of run. Other than the heavy legs at the start and slower pace due to high humidity and messy surface it was a overall a good run.

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No 50 – Epic Lantau adventure

This was always going to be a crazy. Lloyd is moving away from Hong Kong and this was his farewell run through his Lantau playground.

We did not really know the route, all we knew was it is going to epic.

At the end we spent the whole day on the slopes of Lantau Peak going up and down and up and down on some seriously hard core routes. Shiggy steep approach from Tung Chung side, Dog Tooth down (insane), then another Dog Tooth up all combined with brutal heat under direct sunshine with no cloud cover at all.

It was almost all technical vertical, took us over 6 hours to cover little over 12km.

I was feeling OK and strong on the return climb up the Dog Tooth. But I knew that I would not be able to handle that exposure to direct sun for much longer. And with no access to any streams I decided to play it safe. Once we made it to the Lantau trail just below the top of Lantau Peak I decided to take the direct route down to Ngong Ping. At that time I still thought that the rest will stick with the original plan going on to Tai O. My plan was to cool down at Ngong Ping and go on to Tai O on less exposed route and meet the rest of the group there.

However the sun got the better of everybody. The rest of the guys continued according to the original plan and took the Heaven’s Gate route down from Lantau Peak but then they decided to call it a day at Ngong Ping too.

After the lunch we all jogged down to Tung Chung.

This was rather short outing for Saturday training but what it was lacking in distance it had in the difficulty. And the overall awesomeness :-) .

Links to Strava here (part 1) and here (part 2)

UTMB Training No 49 – Thursday Parker No 13

I stuffed my jersey pockets with 3×0.5l bottles of water and VFUEL for this run to make sure I don’t have to cut it short because of water shortage.

I tried to run as far as possible in the morning heat before switching to fast hike mode. I made it to the big pipe at about 2.2km up the hill. There I cooled down with water over my head and pushed on walking up the rest of the climb.

I made the quick dash up and down to the next radar too. Before running back down to Quarry Bay if went up Mt Butler too, enjoyed the great views for a while and then rushed back down the hill to Quarry Bay.

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No. 48 – Tuesday road again

After the great music powered run I had last Tuesday I went for it again this time. I mixed the Frantic Metallica music with some Number of the Beast from Iron Maiden and went on.

Weather was a bit more humid than week ago but still surprisingly bearable. I decided to try to go in similar pace like a week ago. I pushed up the hill and made it to the end of the 1K climb even faster than last week. I continued in strong pace for the next few km. I was OK but after about 4km I started to feel that I am struggling a bit in that higher humidity on the longish uphill section.

I had to slow down a bit to recover. On Bowen I pushed again running happy. I could not recover all the time lost while running slowly but at the end I finished only about a minute later than on the same run last week. Good times continued …

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 47 – Sunday recovery (in the heat again)

I really felt my legs this morning after the Tai Mo Shan thing yesterday. It was not easy at all to get out of the bed and run. The good thing was I had more sleep, the bad thing was that when I finally made it out of the house the sun was blazing full power again …

I did more less the same thing as last Sunday. Easy jog up the road towards Cecil’s. Then hike up the steps to the trail and run … I did run part of the steps though too. There was a boar or few in the bushes and the noise was suggesting it (or they) may be getting closer to the trail. I did not feel like I want our paths to cross so I injected some pace to my tired legs :-) .

After this it was uneventful run. I jogged easily all the way towards the Mt Parker Road with only one or two short walking sections (slightly uphill trail or too exposed on the sun). Of course I also paused at the water pipe to cool my head down.

Then I easy walked up to the radar at top of Mt Parker. Uphill workout was not the plan so I just walked without pushing. All I wanted was to enjoy that long and easy downhill jog from the radar to Quarry Bay.

Hot Sunday morning but very enjoyable recovery jog/hike.

Link to Strava here.