The MSIG HK 50 was scheduled for 27 October, 2013 – the Sunday of the Moontrekker weekend. Once I switched my Moontrekker registration from 27km to 40km I knew I would not be ready to follow it up with 50km race only 27 hours or so later, especially being aware of tough nature of the second half of the 50km route. I still decided to sign up for the 24km race though. It followed my regular Sunday morning route (HK Trail stages 1 to 4 from The Peak to Wing Nai Chung Gap) with only difference being the extra 2km long Mt. Bennet loop – so very familiar and not exactly tough route. I though this could be a nice recovery run made easier by lighter backpack thanks to all the checkpoints with water.
I tried to put a brave face on when seeing and talking to some friends at the starting point. But I was still a bit sore and tired from the previous race. I planned to take it easy and reminded myself that I am only here to enjoy my recovery run that happens to be an organized race.
I lined myself up not too far from the front of the pack hoping to avoid the usual early mess. It did not help, the moment the race started I was digested by the crowd. Most of the people who forced themselves to the front slowed down very quickly making it (as usual) difficult for those stuck behind to keep a reasonable and steady pace. I was afraid I may stumble and fall in that jungle of moving legs and I decided to forget for a while about taking it easy. I pushed a bit to move forward to get some clear running space and then relaxed my pace again.
I haven’t felt like I am pushing at all and I was really surprised when I reached the 10km mark at less than 1 hour – that was pretty close to my PB on this segment! I refilled water without wasting any time and went on climbing the kilometer or so long climb before joining my favourite undulating sections of the Hong Kong Trail. Few people overtook me here but I was catching up and passing many more. I was running fast still feeling relaxed.
Nothing special happened for the next 7km. Then came the diversion from the original HK Trail to the Mt. Bennet loop and I was running in the unchartered territory. This part offered nice views and was well runable. Parts of it however were quite exposed and I started to feel a bit tired on the sun. I slowed down here a bit and lost one or 2 places but I passed few other people so it was not that bad. Once I rejoined the HK Trail I was back in the fine condition. I tried to keep on running also on the climb up to the Black’s Link but my Moontrekker tired legs were against it. I switched to the power hiking mode and made my way up in decently swift Sunday morning pace. Once at the top of the climb I picked up the pace again on the concrete, slowed a bit on the final trail section and went for it on the final stretch towards the finish. I had to stop for maybe a minute to give way to buses and cars before crossing the Wing Nai Chung Gap Road and making it to the finish line.
I finished 25th overall, 5th in my 40+ category in 2:35.14 – that was some 3 minutes faster than my time in 2012 on 2 km shorter course (and I had no Moontrekker in legs the year before). Totally unexpected result for me. I am starting to feel positive ahead of the upcoming races …