#HKTRP #65 – An Oxfam Trailwalker 2016 conversation with Milos, John, Martin and the Nepali Team

Welcome to a brand new season of The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast! First of all, a big “thank you” to our listeners for the great feedback and suggestions!

Going forward, we are going to have a couple of changes to the format of the show:

  1. We will publish full interviews in the same week  instead of having them them span over multiple weeks. This is to keep the continuity going
  2. We will have some great episodes that will be worth your time but not all weeks will see us releasing a new episode! But, when it’s out, we want it to be good!
  3. New episodes will be released on Thursday evenings

And, here’s the first episode of Season 2! I had the chance to speak to Milos Pintrava who is the main sponsor of Awoo Team Nepal (the winning team of Oxfam Trailwalker 2016 – 11 hours 01 minute is what it took them to run 100kms!)

The Nepali team, Martin, Milos and yours truly 

After that segment with Milos in which I asked him many questions about the Nepal team, I brought on my co-host who is none other than Milos’ son Martin Pintrava (he is too young even for a facebook account!) Listen to him as he takes control of the microphone and fires away questions at top runner John Ellis! None of the questions was scripted and you can hear 10-year-old Martin interviewing John like a pro and recalling facts from many years back effortlessly! This kid is not only going to become a top trail runner in the future but is also going to have a job in show biz waiting for him!

John gets floored by Martin’s insightful questions 

Finally, we interview the winning Nepali team with Dinna acting as our translator. My apologies in advance for the poor recording quality during this part of the show. We recorded the interview in a restaurant and there was some unavoidable extraneous noise and some interruptions!

My job got outsourced to Martin Pintrava

Questions we covered:

  1. compare last year to this year
  2. Tell us about how you stopped them from getting lost this year
  3. How did you find these guys?
  4. What are their profiles
  5. How did they train? Who trained them?
  6. Why did he choose to sponsor them?
  7. Tell us about the pressure on them
  8. Tell us about the support from the beginning to the end
  9. Tell us about the leadership aspects of the team
  10. Why did they eat?
  11. Tell us about the finish line experience
  12. What has this experience taught you?
  13. Will you sponsor again next year?

Nepali team:

  1. introduce themselves: background in racing (Tirtha, Purna -captain-, Bed, Bhim)
    1. Best internationals results
  2. Talk to us about the pressure back home
  3. Tell us about your coaches
  4. Does the army training help?
  5. How confident where they going in
  6. How different is it in HK compared to Nepal
  7. Walk through the race:
    1. Preparation
    2. Strategy
    3. How they handled the conditions
    4. Food
    5. Did you run as a team together before?
    6. Team dynamics
    7. How they would have handled injuries
    8. Any interesting stories or snippets?
    9. Talk to us about each stage
  8. How does it feel to have won?
  9. What did you learn from this experience?
  10. Any tips to share with future trail runners
  11. Talk to us about messages from back home

Big ‘thank you’ to Milos, John, Dinna, the Nepali team and Martin (?!) for their time! And, thanks to Andre for the photos!
Until the next episode, go out for a run and crank up the mileage!

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166)


#HKTRP #40 – Discussing HK100 2016 experience with Milos

HK100 ultra race was held in January 2016. Today on the podcast, I’ve got the story of two of the participants. One is Milos who completed in 15 hours and 32 minutes and me, I completed in 14 hours and one minute. We’re going to keep this podcast very much like a conversation Milos and I are going to have about our experience and journey through the 100km race.
  • How important was the HK100 to us and why?
  • What were we expecting going into the race?
  • How do we normally prepare for 100km races?
  • How did we prepare for this one?
  • Nutrition preparation
  • Gear preparation
Stages of the race:
  • The start line [Cold / Agnes got hit by a branch / Saw Nora]
  • Stretch from the start to the concrete road (back to Mac) [Overtook Marie – dejavu]
  • From the concrete road to Wong Shek [Saw Emily Woodland, Saw Thailand Mountain Seb and spoke about mindfulness]
  • Wong Shek to Hoi Ha [Overtaking people and plenty of photos]
  • Hoi Ha to Yung Shue O [Two ankle twists, lost mojo, Marie overtook me. Saw Paul Ridley, Brendan, Nic]
  • Mac 3: to Kei Ling Ha [Very hungry, had Tailwind plus food]
  • Mac 4: Ma On Shan to Gilwell Camp [Met Emily who told me about quitting, got blown off on the ridge]
  • Mac 5: Sha Tin Pass [Saw Canadian Emilie Han, very hungry]
  • Mac 6: Shing Mun [Slowly regained my mojo. Saw Rachael. Gear Check]
  • Mac 7: Needle Hill / Grassy Hill [Fast walking and steady pace]
  • Mac 8: Tai Mo Shan [Kid did my jacket. Embarrassing. Ate plenty. Kid tells me about the route change]
  • Tai Mo Shan to Route Twisk (new route). [Cold preparation. The new route! Overtook people.]
  • Finish
Talk about each of the following:
  • How we felt
  • People we saw
  • Conversations we had
  • What was going through our mind
  • Difficulties we faced and how we coped with it
  • What we ate
The Finish:
  • How did we feel at the finish?
  • Would we do it again?
  • What we could have done different

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166)

#HKTRP #29 (Early Release) – Talking Oxfam Trailwalker 2015 with Martijn and an interview with the super fast team from Nepal and their manager Ramesh Bhattachan


This episode starts off with Martijn and I talking about Hong Kong Trailwalker 2015. We talk about the course profile, then we discuss a few tips for runners and then we conclude by mentioning some of the favorite teams that are in a position to do very well.

We then talk to one of the fastest Trailwalker teams of all times — the team from Nepal that comprises of some very young (and fast!) runners. Their team manager Ramesh Bhattachan talks to us about their training programme among other things. You will get a window into the lives of these runners and what makes them fast. Favorite questions from Andre Blumberg, Steven Sparksman and others are also answered.

The runners:

  • Their OTW time from last year (11.56), target this year (10.45)
  • The names of the runners
    • Kiran Kulung, 31 (Leading of Team Columbia running team)
    • Suman Kulung, 24 (12.12 on HK100 2015)
    • Arjun Kulung, 24 (1st in Annapurna 100k, 10h 33m) in 2015
    • Ras Kulung, 19
  • Team manager: Ramesh Bhattachan
Questions (Humble Beginnings)
  • How did they discover their passion for running and how did their story land them in Hong Kong last year?
  • What has having a coach taught you?
Questions (Training)
  • How do they train? Walk us through the training routine
  • Does Ramesh still make them do the Pressure Steps repeats?
  • What does a typical training week look like in the key phase of OTW preparation?
  • Whilst coach Ramesh provides continuity at OTW over many years, the respective runners in the team change regularly. How do you transfer the knowledge and lessons learned from one year to the next and from the previous team to the next?
Questions (Mental)
  • What keeps you going after 50K and how to mentally fit not to quit?
  • What do you say to yourself when the going gets tough?
Questions (Nutrition and gear)
  • What about gears and nutrition? What do they go with when they train?
  • What do they eat during a 100km race like OTW.
Questions (Personality)
  • How important is it for them to defend their title this year? And, why?
  • What is the pressure on them like? Families and friends back in Nepal
  • What do they want to achieve in life? What’s their dream?
  • What do they think is their secret to success in trail running?
  • If there is anything you could have and ask for to perform even better (e.g. better gear, more time training on actual course, better support during race etc.) – what would be your #1 request?
  • What is the major disagreement amount their teams during races/training?
Questions (OTW Strategies)
  • What’s their target time?
  • What’s their strategy to win the OTW?
  • What has their training and nutrition regime been in the lead up to OTW?
  • How do they deal with stairs in HK?
  • Do they run up Needle Hill stairs or walk?
  • How do they avoid getting lost?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

#25 – Talking Lantau 70 with Shane Early


In this podcast, we talk to Shane Early, Race Director of Lantau 70, to pick his brains on the race, how to prepare for it and so on.

Quick description of the race:

  • 70km run in Lantau – pretty much the Lantau trail 3300m elevation gain and loss. 65% trail, 35% road. 2nd half easier.
  • Two versions (70km and relay) Relay teams of 4

Quick Facts on this race:

  • This race is part of the Hong Kong Trail Racing League: (the solo 70km version) – Ultra League
  • This race used to exist back in the day as the Phoenix Challenge and Jojo Fan has the female record for it. I think it was 9 hours and 26 minutes. Jeremy Ritcey brought it back on in 2013 and Shane now runs the race
  • You get 2 points for the famous UTMB (Shane, out of curiosity, how do they judge how many points to award it?)
    (I apply with all relevant details, maps, GPS, previous results, elevation info, trail info. They have a formula. There are two parts. UTMB and UTMF. I apply for each. 2 points each event in 2016)
  • How many people are running it this year compared to the previous years?
    (420 in solo, around 33 relay teams. Not many all women’s teams.)
  • You are only allowed outside support at the checkpoints (True! I dislike races which allow that. Consider that cheating. It is unfair. )
  • Cutoff time 17.5 hours Yes, shortened so runners and volunteers can get last ferry out. Still a generous time.
  • Overall Male/Female top 3 receive prizes. Top 3 in each category receive prizes
    (Overall Male and Female winners get a Suunto Watch plus prizes from Salomon. Trophies are our traditional replica signs of the Lantau Trail. Medals for all finishers.)
  • How many overseas runners are running this time? Have not counted but similar to last year 50+

Visualize the course and the checkpoints:

  • Start Line: Please allow relay teams and fast runners to be up front. Tight squeeze first 400 meters to round about. Police will be there for traffic. Volunteers will line the walkway. Kids in Halloween Costumes
  • Sidewalk up to Nam Shan. Stay off the road!
  • Nam Shan to Sunset Peak – trails begin. lovely section. Tough climb – some runable
  • Pak Kung Au – cross road properly with my volunteer
  • Lantau Peak to Ngong Ping- tough work again. a little bit runable
  • LP – CP1 – Go down and turn right at giant rooster. 400 meters to CP1
  • Leaving CP1 – pay attention to left turn 200 meters in. Pop out at Cable Car building in Ngong Ping, cross public area to parking lot. then stay to the right. turn right on road and downhill for a few k. Cross road to start trails again. 3-4 short climbs – 2 are steep. Pay attention to trail signs. L041 will have a volunteer. No short cuts. L045 pay attention and follow signs into Tai O. Pass Man Cheung Po. Crappy downhill road before left turn into CP2. Drop Bags at CP2
  • Laving Tai O jog what you can, first climb is tough then out in beautiful plateau area. Pay attention to signs and go correct direction. Otherwise end up at CP2 again. Rolling hills, lovely trails. Downhill to the catch water is a bit rough so be careful. short catch water jog into CP3
  • CP3 – Shui Hau is ok. Can jog a lot. Careful crossing road and follow signs around Shek Pik peninsula. Careful with signs between L089- L092. Especially just past L089, road splits, Go uphill!
  • Later turns to trail near a fence, watch out later near Lo Kei Wan beach for the cows. He can be grumpy sometimes. and block s the trail.
  • Come out of Peninsula cross road and turn right past village about 300 meters and CP4.
  • Leaving CP4 is short trail climb to catchwater and turn right – follow follow follow until dead end and turns to trail, come out at road and turn left into pui O. At stoplight cross road and follow road around into Ham Tim where you may see people at a pagoda with water – it is ok to have water there. Follow road around past beach and left up Chi Ma Wan rd to steps on left for last big climb. After climb, go down and when trail splits go right and follow signs into mui wo. Careful in Mui Wo on road into finish.

Checkpoint food:

  • There are 4 checkpoints [Ngong Ping; Tai O; Catch water; Ham Tin village -pseudo checkpoint- ; Shui Hau]
  • CP FOOD: Water, bananas, oranges, Tailwind at 2 CP’s(Tai O and Shui Hau), Lucho Dillito bars at Ngong Ping, watermelon, pretzels.
  • CP3 will be simple, water, oranges and bananas.
  • Drop Bags at Tai O
  • Relay Team members can eat after their leg or before at the restaurant in village in Tai O. Many people did last year
  • Some runners do buy drinks at Ngong Ping and Tai O Shops. That is allowed.
  • There is a new checkpoint this year at marker L076, along the catch water after Tai O. Lots of people ran out of water there last year – New CP – I gave in to runner requests for a CP.

Quick word on the relay:

  • 4 stages (Mui Wo to Ngong Ping 13km; Ngong Ping to Tai O 14km; Tai O to Shui Hau 23km; Shui Hau to Mui Wo 20km)

Special Warnings:

  • Last year, there were DNFs (including yours truly) because of the very hot weather. This year, we might be looking at some hot weather too
  • Yes, Freeze your water bladder! We will have ice buckets at Ngong Ping and Tai O if hot. Just like Stairmaster.
  • Pace yourself. first 27k is hard work.
  • Don’t walk the catchwaters – you may not make CP cutoffs.
  • If you are doing the relay, “Don’t be late for your leg – this can cause tension and ruined friendships”

What should the strategy be for a person running:

  • Don’t run to Nam Shan first 2.2k unless you want to be in top 5. You have plenty of time to run later. Run what you can and fast hike the hills. Don’t waste time at CP’s.
  • Start easy, fast hike the first section in under 4 hours. Then move steady into Tai O. Leaving Tai O, jog what you can and then fast hike hills. Jog catch water around CP3 and into Shui Hau. After CP4 jog/run catch water and last downhill trail into Mui Wo. Don’t waste time at CP’s. Keep your drop bag simple.

Names to watch out for:

  • Male (not in any particular order)
    • Scottie Callaghan
    • Brendan Lee
    • John Ellis
    • Slavo Lindvai
    • Jeremy Ritcey
    • Jackie Leung
  • Female (not in any particular order)
    • Nia Cooper
    • Valerie Lagarde
    • Marie McNaughton
    • Irene Montemayor

Good luck to everyone participating and thank you to Shane for organizing the race and doing the podcast with me


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

How to get to 12 hours 30 minutes on Vibram Hong Kong 100?

So, how does one get to 12 hours and 30 minutes on Vibram HK 100?

I am about to answer that. Well, not exactly but you will see.

First of all, the books say that one needs to have a rock-solid purpose in order to achieve anything. In fact, there are many quotes on this:

“Have a definite purpose: a definite purpose is more than a strong wish. It is a clear, definite goal fueled by great passion. Definite purpose focuses all you energy on making your goal a reality. It makes you believe. When you believe, you forget your doubts and fears. Pessimistic thoughts vanish and optimistic thoughts become a habit. When you’re truly committed, you will make decisions and take actions that lead you to the fulfillment of those dreams” – Napolean Hill in Think and Grow Rich

“Purpose is stronger than outcome, reasons come first and answers come second” – Tony Robbins

“Purpose is the most important motivator in the world” – The monk who sold his Ferrari

You get the picture. So, Step 1: Know why you want to get to 12 hours and 30 minutes on HK100. I wanted to do it to challenge myself to get to the next level in trail running but I was unsure of the work this would involve. I am definitely not a 12h30m guy at the moment!

Anyway, assuming one has a solid reason to get to that level, then what? PLAN!

Here’s Andy McNab’s quote from Bravo Two Zero. (Btw, Andy is his fake name, not sure what his real name is).

“You should remember the 7Ps of life. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

Tony Robbins has a quote too. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

So, Step 2: Come up with a plan!

But, what plan? And, how? Before answering that, I first wanted to test myself to gauge my current level of fitness. Is 12 hours 30 a realistic goal? Am I way off that target at the moment? Of course, the test had to be conducted fairly. I mean, not before a curry night or without sufficient sleep. And, it had to be the Double Au. A solo Double Au (Mac 3-8). That’s when you take the body and mind beyond 40kms and stress test both of them.

The rough plan was this:
1) Get enough sleep
[check – I got 7.5+ hours]

2) Have a decent breakfast. The body is like a motorbike. You put crap fuel in and the engine won’t work.
[After a kick ass speech to myself about how “the body was my church”, etc, I went to McDonalds for breakfast. I know, it’s like the US President preaching fiscal prudence. Talk about hypocrisy. Anyway, in my defense, I offer that “No. 4 no meat” tastes quite good]

3) Let the subconscious right mind take over from the egotistical left mind. What do I mean by that? Here’s something I read in a book called Inner Game of Work. The book is written by a Tennis Coach who teaches you how to best learn something. Here’s what he says:

You’ve got to read this. I apply this to pretty much any learning activity now.

The Discovery of Self 1 and Self 2

My first insight into another way came the day I stopped trying to change the student’s swing. Instead I asked myself, “How is learning really taking place?” and “What’s going on inside the head of the player when he hits the ball?” It occurred to me that there was a dialogue going on in the player’s head, an internal conversation not unlike his external conversation with me. In a commanding tone, the voice in his head would issue teacher-like commands to his body: “Get your racket back early. Step into the ball. Follow through at the shoulders.” After the shot, the same voice would deliver its evaluation of the performance and the performer: “That was a terrible shot! You have the worst backhand I’ve ever seen!”

Is all this inner dialogue really necessary? I wondered. Is it helping the learning process or is it getting in the way? I knew that when great athletes were asked what they were thinking during their best performance, they universally declared that they weren’t thinking very much at all. They reported that their minds were quiet and focused. If they thought about their performance at all, it was before or after the activity itself. This was also true in my own experience as a tennis player. When I was playing at my best, I wasn’t trying to control my shots with self-instruction and evaluation. It was a much simpler process than that. I saw the ball clearly, chose where I wanted to hit it, and I let it happen. Surprisingly, the shots were more controlled when I didn’t try to control them.

I gradually realized that my well-intentioned instructions were being internalized by my students as methods of control that were compromising their natural abilities. This critical inner dialogue certainly produced a state of mind very different from the quiet focus reported by the best athletes.

My next question was, “In this inner dialogue, who is talking to whom?” I called the voice giving the commands and making the judgments “Self 1.” The one it was talking to, I called “Self 2.” What was their relationship? Self 1 was the know-it-all who basically didn’t trust Self 2, the one who had to hit the ball. Out of mistrust, Self 1 was trying to control Self 2’s behavior using the tactics it had learned from its teachers in the outside world. In other words, the mistrust implied by the judgmental context was being internalized by the student’s Self 1. The resulting self-doubt and over control interfered with the natural learning process.

But who is Self 2? Is it that unworthy of trust? In my definition, Self 2 is the human being itself. It embodies all the inherent potential we were born with, including all capacities actualized and not yet actualized. It also embodies our innate ability to learn and to grow any of those inherent capacities. It is the self we all enjoyed as young children.

All the evidence pointed to the fact that our best performance happened when Self 1’s voice was quiet and Self 2 was allowed to hit the ball undisturbed. While Self 1 might be commanding the body with the vague instruction “Get the racket back early,” Self 2 was doing something far more precise. Calculating the eventual position of the parabolic arc of the ball, it was issuing hundreds of exact nonverbal instructions to scores of muscle groups that allowed the body to hit the ball and send it to the desired location on the other side of the net, all the while taking into account the speed of the ball, the wind, and the last-second movement of the opponent. Which self was more trustworthy?

It was like a dime-store computer giving orders to a billion-dollar mainframe, then wanting to take the credit for the best outcomes while blaming the mainframe for the worst. It is humbling to realize that the voice giving the controlling demands and criticisms was not really as intelligent as the one receiving them! The invented Self 1 was not as smart as the natural self. In short, the cartoon character Pogo was right when he proclaimed, “I have met the enemy, and it is us.”

Self 1 is the left brain (the rational mind) and Self 2 is the right brain (the subconscious mind). My plan was that I will not issue instructions tn the body but simply ask myself questions at the end of the Double Au run in an effort to determine what I could have done better.

And, here’s what happened

1Stage 3: Pak Tam Au to Kei Ling Ha1.21:38It was nice and cloudy. Slow and steady start until engines were all warmed up
2Break to refill water3.52:08 bucks for a small bottle of water is a ripoff I tell ya
3Stage 4: Kei Ling Ha to Gilwell Camp1:54:11It started to rain. I was enjoying it! Andy McNab says "Take what you can, when and while you can". I happily accepted the rain and increased my speed
4Stage 5 (Part 1): Kei Ling Ha to Sha Tin pass23:49I was still feeling great and full of power
5stage 5 (Part 2): Sha Tin pass to end of Stage 557:37Barring one fall, the speed was very steady and the pace was beautifully managed
6Stage 6: Tai Po Road to Shing Mun BBQ31:47Continuous running. Very well managed. I saw Ying Ying and Law Chor Kin at the BBQ site. They told me I could complete the Double Au run in less than 8 hours
7Break: Refill water6:02Why did I buy "COOL" water when the mineralized Bonaqua water was available?
8Stage 7: From Shing Mun to Needle Hill summit35:30The sun was back in full force. I was not doing that well. Stomach cramps began. However, they were minor and I slowed down/took deep breaths to counter it
9Stage 7: Needle Hill to Grassy Hill34:58I walked good chunk of it and I was beginning to feel quite tired. Again, took deep breaths to ease stomach cramps
10Stage 7: Grass Hill to Lead Mine Pass7:06The stomach recovered and I enjoyed showing off and overtaking a bunch of runners!
11Stage 8: Lead Mine Pass to the top of Tai Mo Shan59:57The stomach almost completely recovered. Breath management was good
12Stage 8: Top of TMS to Route Twisk19:45Great run downhill. Reminded me of HK100. I recovered fully and wanted to get the time below 8 hours. Manged doing so with 4 minutes to spare
Summary53km, 3374m elavationTotal time: 7.56:19.
Moving time: 7.45:44
Glad to have let the right mind handle the run! No interruptions and unnecessary mind-body instructions

Questions to myself about the run:
1) What did I do about nutrition?
[Soyjoy bars, Granolas bars and a coke in Shing Mun. I suspect the coke threw me off on Needle Hill. Probably dehydrated me]

2) What were the main hiccups during the run and after?
[Other than a bad stomach on Needle Hill, all good. The stomach recovered though. I think it’s just the way long distance runs go. Nothing can really be done about it except for fixing the symptoms as they appear]

3) What could I have done to make the run faster?
[Better training. Run more, more and more until the body’s standard pace goes up. This will need more commitment to training]

And, the main question. Can I do 12 hours and 30 minutes on Hk100 or is that a goal that’s unrealistic?
[This run was optimized. If it takes me 8 hours to do 52km, the first half of Hk100 (42 km) needs to be done in 4 hours and 30 minutes. That is unrealistic. Fatigue is not taken into account either. So, the answer: yes, anything is possible through practice but at the moment, 13 hours is more realistic. Knocking off 30 minutes more from a Double Au will need a phenomenal commitment to training. Is this goal important enough to warrant that?]

Hmmm. Perhaps, I will train a little more and revise my target for this year to 12 hours and 50 minutes!

Strava link.
Garmin link.