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.
I ventured to Lantau after few weeks to join one these infamous Vince’s insane summer runs. Plan was to to do Lantau Trail from Mui Wo to Tai O and then the coastal trail to Tung Chung.
The weather hot and sunny so the heat was always going to be a challenge. I had some stomach issues the night before. Lack of sleep and some dehydration meant that I was not starting this run in the sharpest shape.
We were quite big group but after short break in Nam Shan we split into several smaller groups. Soon I was all on my own climbing up Sunset Peak. It was brutally hot at first but as I climbed higher I made it into the clouds. That made Sunset Peak section rather pleasant (or as pleasant as one can hope on 30+C day).
The rather pleasant weather continued also on the way up to Lantau Peak (thanks to the cloud covering both peaks). I was going in steady pace – strong enough to feel some effort but easy enough to keep some energy for later on.
The descent from Lantau Peak was a nightmare… I have done this so many times but this time for some reason I just kept slipping and falling. Sure the steps were wet and slippery but I had navigated them in this condition before without any troubles. This time I just could not avoid slips and few falls. One fall resulted in nice bruise on right ankle. Another one was full on landing on my left side. While falling my main thought was not to land on my ribs – I could not face another cracker… So I landed on my arm and my hip and thigh. Everything was sore but overall OK. I could continue. Later on when I had chance to inspect that thigh I could see large bruise in many colours…
After few more slips and stumbles I finally made it down to the sticks. From there I opted for the proper Lantau Trail option – the longer way to Ngong Ping 7/11. Here there was no cloud cover to cool me down. This was serious suffer fest in the heat. I walked most of this loop…
When I reached the 7/11 I saw Vic and Paul (they took shortcut) and a bit later also Vince (another one taking the shortcut). After refuelling and refilling our drink reservoirs we continued. Vic went a bit ahead, me and Vince followed him. We ran the road section. But then when we started the trail climb Vince started to complain about overheating. I also started to have doubts I would be able to push through those exposed section that were ahead in my weakened condition. We took a short break considering our options. After a while (after seeing few runners running some illegal race in opposite direction) we decided to turn back and take the road to Shek Pik.
This still was a solid 20+km outing with good hill training but I did miss that extra distance that was originally planned. But turning around was probably the smart option under the circumstances.
Link to Strava here
This is a special race to me. Back in 2013 LT70 was my first venture into ultra distances. I struggled in the heat last year and I was as close to DNF is one possibly can get without actually pulling out. And this year I signed up again. For fun. This is a happy race. And testing myself over 70km three weeks ahead of OTW sounded like a good plan.
I approached this race as a training race. No special preparation, just a part of training for my upcoming four 100K races. I set myself no specific target. I definitely wanted to finish. Anything sub 13 hours would be fine, getting sub 12 hours would be excellent.
Not knowing how long my recovery from TDS would take I played it safe. Same as last year I set the Moontrekker as my first race of Hong Kong running season. At one stage (during a struggle on a long training run about 3 weeks ahead of the race) I thought about skipping it as well. But at the end I decided to give it a go. My focus of this season are four 100km races in Hong Kong. Moontrekker is was to be one of my training races.
The weather was good, a bit cooler than a year ago. What was not too good was my position at the start. I totally forgot about the bottleneck at the playground exit. By the time I got out the gate the leaders of the pack were half way to China Bear probably.
Two years the 26km version of this Lantau race was my first proper trail race. This time last year I shocked myself and while doing my first 50km race I won my first trail running trophy. So me and this race we do have some history. And the history was to continue in 2014.
The 2014 edition however came with a tiny change – a brand new course. I was a bit disappointed as I liked the old route – the combo of three hills and the long speedy Chi Ma Wan loop. But old route or new route I was determined to go for it. Not without some recce runs though.
From the race map I guessed that part of the race would follow LT70 route. I only had 2 Saturdays to spare so I decided to recce the beginning and the end hoping that the middle part will not throw in any nasty surprise. After my 2 recce runs I knew that this would be one of the toughest races Hong Kong has to offer… My plan was simple – start easy to save the legs and the energy for the last 20km.
I am focusing only on handful of races this racing season and I have been looking forward to this one for weeks. A year ago this was my first foray into the ultra territory. This year my plan was to a) not to get lost like last year and b) improve my time.
Before race start
I set myself what I thought was a realistic target – sub 12hours finish. I prepared a simple table with splits from last year to help me to keep track of my relative pace. The idea was to finish the first 2 stages around the same time as last year and then pick up the pace on stages 3 and 4.
My original goals for the 2013-14 racing season was to finally do a full road marathon race and to complete my first 50km+ ultra on trails. But during the summer I signed up for the HK100 – the original solo Hong Kong 100km and when the LT70 race (70km and about 4000m of accumulated elevation gain) was announced it sounded like a good training and endurance test for my main event of the season. After considering all pros and cons I decided to go for it. I signed up. This was to be 30km longer than my previous longest race and about 26km more than the longest trail run I ever did.
LT70 route sketch
I worked on my pace during 40km test runs on Hong Kong Island and being familiar with the first 25km of Lantau Trail I felt pretty confident that I should be OK for at least the first 2 stages. Beyond that I had no prior knowledge of the route and no idea how my body is going to handle the distance.
I originally signed up for the shorter 27km version of Moontrekker. Then I joined overnight summer recce run covering the full 40km Sunrise route and really enjoyed the “extra” Chi Ma Wan loop. Then later in the summer I decided to sign up for HK100. Running the full length Moontrekker became part of my training plan for HK100. And so I made the switch.
Before this race I had almost no previous night running experience except that one all night Moontrekker practice during summer. Moreover I never finished a race this long. I had two full HK Trail practice runs from previous winter under my belt (44.5km). However the only 40km+ race that I previously entered (2013 Green Power) I had to abandon after half distance due to foot injury.