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
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”.
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.
Saturday is the “D” day for long runs. The plan was to join Vince and Brendan again on their 70km round the island adventure but do only part of it. My original idea was to do about 40km and finish by the Shek Pik reservoir. Unfortunately after week of suffering from hay fever I was not in very good shape. All I wanted was to sleep…
We started from Tung Chung instead of from Mui Wo and planned to join the Lantau Trail somewhere before Sunset Peak. I was a bit concerned about the weather. The thunderstorm warnings were on and glance on radar and satellite images on HKO phone app did not provide too much encouragement. It looked like us and the storm may cross paths somewhere. And I did not want that somewhere be somewhere on the exposed ridge… Anyway, we decided to go and see.
This was a cool concept. Find two team mates holding the same passport as yourself, form a team and have race against other teams on some fun Lantau trails.
Concept was cool but finding 2 team mates with same passport was mission close to impossible for me. But not wanting to miss out on all the fun I explored some other options. And one of the self proclaimed race directors announced that teams coming from other planets of our solar system will be given wild card entries (suggesting for example Uranus) and I was all for it.
Still I had to find team mates. I managed to convince a guy called Vince that he also is from Uranus. He in turn recruited lady called Rachel and Team Uranus was born.
A year ago I spent the night in Pak Mong and Ngong Ping check points helping with the Translantau timekeeping. It was a very interesting experience seeing the tired runners approaching the Ngong Ping CP in the early morning hours. Some fresh and eager to push on, some destroyed already with two thirds of the course still ahead. I guess it was then when the idea of signing up for this race was planted somewhere into my brain.
Translantau map and elevation profile – beast of a course
Then later in the year I signed up for the TDS (because CCC was not enough ). And I thought that it might be good to end the winter season with a tough run – already as a part of preparation for the TDS. So I signed up with no goal other than to finish. I had no special race plan, I haven’t done any recce and I had no specific time target.
Then came new year and as I had a spot at both HK100 and Translantau100 I set myself the target to finish all four Hong Kong 100km races in 2015.
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.
Awoo Boys Training for LBC Valentine’s Day 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.
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.