Tag Archives: Wilson Trail

2020 HK4TUC attempt

298km and over 14,500m of elevation gain and loss covering all four major Hong Kong trails – MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau in reverse direction.

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I did not make the decision to attempt the Hong Kong Four Trails Challenge lightly. It took me several years to finally get enough courage to even consider it. Few test runs on MacLehose early last year generated enough confidence in being able to complete the first trail without having to push too much and within the cut off. I took the plunge and in July I applied. Andre responded fast – I was fully committed.

I had a good base from my training for Ronda Dels Cims. After brief recovery period I started my final preparations for HK4TUC in September. The training went generally according to plan except for the cancellation of my only planned ‘training’ race – The Raleigh Challenge – Tornado. The only other setback was my shoulder – the injury from the fall at Ronda did not allow me to do proper strength and core training – but I had to work with was available to me.

About 2-3 weeks before the challenge I felt to be in the best shape I was in a very long time. I was ready to go. I could only hope that I do not mess up anything in the final 2 weeks.
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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.

2018 9 Dragons Ultra – 50/50 (or 54/54)

Last year I failed at this one. I managed to complete the first day 50 miler but a shin injury meant DNS the next day. So there was some unfinished business… This year I was determined to finish. I was very well aware that I am nowhere near this sort of race ready. Completing this event and doing so without any injury was the only goal. Plan was to take it rather easy on the first day to keep the legs as fresh as possible for the second. I guess I was not the only one coming up with this strategy.

Day 2 on Tai To Yan - Photo by @the.drone.runner

Day 2 on Tai To Yan – Photo by @the.drone.runner

The weather at the start (midnight between Fri and Sat) was rather fine although it was drizzling a bit. I started in relaxed comfortable pace. It did not take too long before the field spread out and found myself running on my own. This remained the case for most of the 50 mile race. Here and there I caught someone ahead or someone passed me but I had a pretty lonely day overall 🙂 .
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UTMB Training No 6 – Wilson and Twins

I don’t like the Twins at and that was one of the reasons I decide to tackle them this Saturday as my longish hillish run. Plan was to go over Siu Ma Shan and Jardines Lookout to Parkview, then Violet, Twins and back to Parkview. After that to run back either over Jardines and Siu Ma Shan or around on the contour trail or combination of both.

The weather was funny – overcast, bit windy, humid. And it was hot but the thanks to the wind the heat was not that obvious.

I jogged up easy to the Cecil’s Ride and without too much effort climbed over Siu Ma Shan. Jardines felt fine too and soon I was at Parkview feeling pretty well actually. I bumped into Santosh there – exchanged few words and went on towards Violet Hill.

I felt quite well,  I reached the top quickly and then enjoyed the windy run down towards the catchwater. I was still feeling great climbing the first Twin but perhaps two thirds up I began to struggle. My momentum kind of carried me to the top but the second Twin was no fun at all. All of a sudden I felt so exhausted … I started to think that I may not make the return trip and would catch a bus or taxi back from the Stanley side…

At the end I had enough mental strength to turn around climb the Twins again but it felt worse than climbing Tai Mo Shan during HK100. I suspected the sneaky heat was the main reason of my struggle. I decided to go slowly, don’t care about the pace, just get it done and make it at least to Parkview.

Violet Hill felt a bit better but I had to stop at Parkview. I went to supermarket there to get some cold drinks but those helped me just to jog down to Wong Nai Chung Gap to the bus stop. Further run was out of the question.

So disappointing day but good reminder to myself that summer is here…

Strava link here

UTMB Training No 2 – Back to trails – A bit of Wilson

I planned 3-4 hour long reasonably hilly slow trail run. Martijn was planning something similar so we decided to meet in Yau Tong and run on the Wilson trail.

I still felt my legs from Thursday run – not a big surprise after the first post-break run. To make things more interesting it was really hot and humid, first 30C+ run in months …

Our pace was reasonably mild although I was surprised to see some PRs post run on Strava… I kept up with Martijn most of the time until the No Name hill climb. On the downhills he usually opened a small gap – I was a bit cautious – running safely was the rule for this first trail run in weeks.

On the No Name Hill Martijn pulled away. To keep up would mean to push a lot for me. I was already struggling with the heat a bit. I switched gears and kept slower steady pace – still an effort but nothing too exhausting. Once on the road we ran down to Shatin Pass in easy pace. From there Martijn continued to Tai Po Road on Mac, I jogged down to Wong Tai Sin MTR.

Overall nice 18km run with no risks to slowly ease into the training.

Link to Strava here.

2015 TNF100 Hong Kong – The end of the year race

Seeing everybody making some New Year resolutions around January 1 I decided to set myself a bit of a challenge too – to do all four 100K races in Hong Kong in 2015. Well with new races popping up here and there they may now be more than four but I went for the original four – HK100, Translantau100, OTW and TNF100. It was not all smooth ride thanks to a silly injury but far from race fit I survived and completed both the early year races – HK100 and Translantau. A month long almost complete rest followed before I went full on into training for TDS. TDS was an amazing experience. But resuming training after that demanding race was not easy. The recovery took some time. But by the time of Trailwalker (after “practice” Moontrekker and LT70 races) I was feeling pretty good to go. Trailwalker went very well for me. Three out four were in the bag. The TNF however was always going to be the trickiest one.

I have never tried to attempt two 100km races within 3 weeks only. Also unlike the other three races I was not completely familiar with the TNF route. I knew most of it but not all. I never trained specially for this race. And of course – this race is a tough one…
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2015 TDS Training – Run no. 45 – Hot Wilson, Mac and two bonus hill

I could not make up my mind what run to do on Saturday but repeat of last week’s Mac action was one of the options. Then two things happened. First I failed to wake up early enough. Then I looked out of the window and I saw the ominous polluted haze. For first time in months I seriously contemplated to skip Saturday training. But with TDS getting closer and closer I managed to drag my butt out of the house at the end.

Due to late wake up I decided not to waste too much tie travelling. I went for Wilson 3-4 and then bit of Mac and see if I have any energy and willpower left to go up to Lion Rock (haven’t been up there in years).

The start was not too bad. It was seriously hot but taking the initial climb easy helped things. After few minutes only away from city I had this view:

where the harbour ends

where the harbour ends

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2015 TDS Training – Run no. 37 – Needle Grassy Cloudy Hills in the insane heat

My original idea was to do Needle Hill, Grassy Hill, Tai Mo Shan, re-fuel at the kiosk and then go back the same way. Then I got Vic on board and we decided to do Needle and Grassy Hills and then decide what route to take next.

For a change it was nice to start the Needle Hill climb with fresh legs. While it was hot it did not feel too bad. Needle Hill was easy. The Grassy Hill climb did not feel bad either. I had no difficulties at all. I felt like I made it to Leadmine Pass without too much effort.

After short discussion we decided that instead of Tai Mo Shan we would take Wilson Trail – Cloudy Hill and Pat Sin Leng. I survived those last week and it looked like doable challenge even with some miles and climbs in the legs already.

We ran down the trail to the outskirts of Tai Po. We made quick pit stop in a restaurant – Vic for food, me for some cold drinks only. Once refilled and cooled down we set off towards Cloudy Hill. The pit stop re-energized me. But the heat was full on by now. I knew that the immediate future isn’t going to pretty.
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2015 TDS Training – Run no. 33 – Cloudy Hill, Pat Sin Leng, Lai Chi Wo, Luk Keng on 36C sunny day

Saturday was time for yet another insanity – 32km or so following the route of KOTH Tai Po race in northern part of New Territories. It was less than 44km of HK Trail last Saturday but on much tougher and more exposed route. Never before I even dared to attempt the Pat Sin Leng range on a hot day like this. This time though I was determined to finish. My plan was to take the initial climbs easy and to make sure I always have something to splash over my head to keep cool. I knew there are some streams along the way. But I needed to make sure I have water when I need it not when it appears. So on top of 3 liters of drinking fluids I also carried with me 2 liters of stream water for head showers. Proper 5kg ballast. But that will be roughly the weight of the gear I have to carry with me on the TDS race anyway.

Eleven of us set off from Tai Wo station towards Cloudy Hill. I saw no point pushing up fast on the first climb only to stay up there on the sun waiting for the others. I decided to be one of the others and climbed up at the very back of queue. I missed most of the photo opps at the top as a result but at the same time I was still feeling totally fresh after the first climb of the day.

Cloudy Hill

Cloudy Hill


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2015 TDS Training – Run no. 20 – Completing the 300km month

As usual during my training season it is back to back runs of Saturday and Sunday. It was a bit cooler and overcast compared to the brutal Saturday. I packed 2 half a liter bottles – one with noon and soft bottle with plain water. Plan was to take the usual flattish route on Cecil’s towards (and beyond) Mt.Parker Rd and then back. I wanted at least 11km to complete 300km in May and if I felt like doing more I would.

I was not pushing too much but I was not running too slow either, fast jog. I cooled down at my usual pipe near before the Mt. Parker Rd, crossed the road and followed on Hong Pak. I felt pretty fine so I decided to keep going on. Then I saw group of people with many unleashed dogs of all sizes around them. As usual in this situation I slowed down and started to walk in order not to overexcite the dogs.
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