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 was waiting till after the Hong Kong Marathon with the decision whether to do this one or not. At the end I decided that it would be nice to end the season with a 50km ultra. And so I signed up for 50km version of MSIG Saikung 50.
I was vaguely familiar with most of the route. I did a recce of the final 12km loop on Mac3 and the first 4-5km a week ago. Sharp Peak I tried during summer. The majority of the rest of the course I have run before although usually in the opposite direction. The only bit unknown to me was the approximately 3.5km trail diversion from the road section of Mac Lehose Trail section 1. I was not really sure what time to expect but comparing the time sheets of Lantau50 and Saikung50 a year ago I guessed sub 8 hours would be satisfactory result for me, especially at this stage of the season.
MSIG Saikung 50km Start
I originally signed up for the shorter 26km version of this race. But then I realized that due to my planned December travels I would not have that many opportunities for longer training runs before the HK100 race. And so at the last minute I switched my registration to the full 50km distance. This was to be my first 50km race and the second longest distance I ever did (after LT70).
My plan was to take this race as a training run – start easy, maintain comfortable pace, do not care what others around me are doing. I was quite familiar with most of the route. I did the short version a year ago therefore I knew all the major uphills and downhills and most (although not all) of the additional Chi Ma Wan loop I knew from the Moontrekker.
MSIG Lantau – Podium
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.