The Green “Italian” Power 2014

Author: ltcommander  //  Category: Green Power, THE RACES

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The Green “Italian” Power 2014

The Italian connection
I have worn a French cap, a Canadian cap and a Dutch cap before on races. Today was the first time I wore an Italian cap. I chose to be “Giuseppe” for the day — my injured teammate who gave me his bib which allowed me to participate in the Green Power 25km run. So, I was proud to be Italiano for the day. I just had some teething problems with my newfound identity:

(1) I don’t even know how to pronounce Giuseppe. Some say you have to say the “e” at the end (Ju-se-pi) whereas others recommend dropping the “e” (Ju-se-p). Which is the right way? Solo Dio Lo Sa! (Only God knows) Also, all the fine things that Italy is known for, like Expressos and fine coffee, well, I don’t even drink coffee! Heck, I don’t even know how to say ‘thank you’ in Italian.

But, worry not, I got away wearing my French cap last year without knowing any French whatsoever. And, trust me, my Italian pronunciation beats my French pronunciation any day! For instance, I didn’t even know that Benoit was to be pronounced Ben-wah. I always thought it was to be read the same way it’s spelt (kind of like German). So, Benoit, according to me, would have been Ben-o-it and Francois would have been Frank-o-ise, NOT the fancy schmancy Fan-Sua.

But, luckily for me, I know for a fact that I am certainly not the only one who is, let’s say, linguistically challenged. A friend of mine (let’s call her ‘S’), thought that Guillaume was pronounced Gu-La-Mi. And, why shouldn’t it be? Can you imagine how much simpler this world would be if people pronounced names the same way they are spelt? Ok, before I go a little too off topic, let me just conclude by saying that when I run for President, I will ban names that aren’t pronounced the way they are spelt. I know two people who will instantaneously feel happy about this ban! Yours truly and my friend “S”.

(2) 25km is way too short. I don’t even begin to pollute the environment with my farts until the 30-35km mark. (Wait, maybe that’s a good thing for the general public). Anyway, it takes me 20km to warm up and get into the zone! A 25km race is a little too short for me. John Rambo won’t be proud of me for saying this but I am little afraid of living in the pain cave!

In any case, a free bib is always hard to refuse. So, off I went on the race.

That Start Line
There were many familiar faces at the start – Dwyfor, Oscar and Martin. Dwyfor looked strong despite having done the Hong Kong 100 just 6 days back! He told me that he was having some sort of problem with his thigh muscles and today’s race was a test for him. Oscar also did the Hong Kong 100 last week but still looked all gung ho and was raring to go. Moray, came in much later to the start line, as all VVIPs do. Being the generous guy he always is, he told me that he was going to give me a head start.

Then came an important announcement from Bernard about incinerators (I think he’s some dude from the Government). Apparently, 52% of the waste Hong Kong produces everyday can’t be recycled and has to be dumped at a landfill. This is because Hong Kong doesn’t have incinerators and people adopt a “not in my backyard” attitude towards the construction of one. I remembered my Swiss friend Hannes telling me about an incinerator that was located smack bang in the middle of Zurich. I thought to myself why Hong Kong couldn’t do that if Zurich could build a zero-polluting incinerator right in the middle of the city. As I was dwelling on that thought, the countdown began and, in an instant, I snapped out of that thought and began running. Dwyfor and Oscar shot off like rockets in front of me.

Cruising to Dragon’s Back
I kept exchanging places with two guys all the way until Mount Parker. I would get them on the downhill and they would get me on the uphill. I saw David at the bottom of Mount Parker who told me that I was in the 4th position. I switched to cruising mode to prepare myself for the horrible 8km reservoir stretch that I knew was coming. I saw Retha by the Tai Tam bridge and we yelled “Pain is weakness leaving the body” before I went past her. Just before embarking on the dreadful 8km reservoir stretch, I saw Angel and someone else who were clapping as I went past. Nothing like being encouraged like that on a race! It made my day. Then came the godforsaken 8km reservoir stretch but I was prepared for that. I had my collection of punk rock and gangsta music to keep me company. I was wondering where Dwyfor was but I immediately blocked that thought. I’ve learnt that in races, you’ve gotta curb those “who-is-where” questions and play your own game.

There were a bunch of hikers on Dragon’s Back. I mgoied my way through the crowd and overtook quite a few people. My thoughts drifted to our Green Power Race in 2013 and how my teammate Viv taught me the little French I know during the Dragon’s Back segment (he was in pain and swearing quite a bit in French!) I approached the final downhill stretch on Dragon’s Back and turned on my heavy breathing mode which automatically did the “mgoi” for me.

Full blast to the finish
I saw Nick on the last technical stretch (he was doing the 50km). I overtook him and kept my pace consistent until the last downhill stretch – my favorite stretch. I remembered how we won the Green Power 2013 race by ten seconds on this very downhill stretch. I notched up the volume on my Mp3 player and ran downhill like there was no tomorrow. I overtook quite a few on that stretch.

And the score is…
My friend Dom saw me at the finish line and told me that I (I mean Giuseppe) came 4th overall and finished in 2 hours and 11 minutes. My man Dwyfor finished about a minute ahead of me and came in 3rd (this is despite all the mileage he cranked up the previous weekend plus his thigh muscle problems). The winner finished in 2 hours 02 minutes and the guy who came second (I think Alex is his name) finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes or something similar. Oscar finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes! Just 4 minutes after me and, you have to remember, I did nothing the past weekend whereas Oscar ran a 100kms!

But, you ask me, my personal Rambo award for the day has to go to John who ran 100km last weekend in 13 hours on a swollen ankle and finished running 50km today in 4 hours and 12 minutes. He came 4th overall. Oh, btw, his ankle is still swollen!

I guess the takeaway is that the human body is simply remarkable. There is a Rambo in each and every one of us! But, unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the human mind. Well, at least, my human mind! I still can’t pronounce Giuseppe and my Italian still sucks.

Gracias for reading.

PS. Giuseppe, thanks for the bib dude! Go Italy! :)

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Clinching a Greenpower victory by 12 seconds

Author: ltcommander  //  Category: Green Power, Hiking in Hong Kong, THE RACES

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Clinching a Greenpower victory by 12 seconds

It was Hong Kong Trail Runners’ first ever sponsored event. Lafuma was the sponsor and some simply awesome French-designed backpacks were at stake. (Well, the other “usual” things were at stake too, like sense of glory and achievement, etc, etc but the backpacks, I tell ya, were alone worth that 50km run!) But, in order to truly earn them, the objectives were twofold:

1) To break the current prevailing record of 4 hours and 45 minutes on the 50km Hong Kong trail
2) To win the Corporate Category under the Lafuma HKTR name

Vic, Vivien and I were going to represent HKTR as runners and we had at least a total of 15 people supporting the 3 of us! That’s 5 supporters per runner. We even had a motorbike crew which was available “on demand”. That’s not 1, not 2 but 3 BMW motorbikes supporting us — Hannes, Olivier and Romain. We neither depended on the organizer’s food stops not did we stop anywhere during the race. It was like a military operation planned by Generals Romain and Martijn. The army of 15 included Martijn, Michael, Jonathan, Gilles who were our pacers/mules (more about that later), then we had Hannes, Phoebe, Olivier who were our “mobile” support team and finally, we had Alice, Sunny, Janice, Maria, Philip, Billy and Nick who formed our “fixed” support team. Now, if this isn’t being pampered, I don’t know what is! The effort that went into coordinating the fixed/mobile and pacer teams was just mindboggling. Excel spreadsheets, whatsapp chat-rooms, briefing meetings, etc, etc. All done by Romain and Martijn to whom we owe a lot of gratitude. The three of us, Vic, Vivien and I, had the easiest job — to just run!

Speeches and races
We got to the start by 7.40am and found Romain and Phoebe already waiting for us! Romain began helping us from the get-go. Phoebe was testing her photography skills by using her new Canon camera on me. (She should have picked a better looking target). About 20 minutes before the start of the race, the three of us, Vic, Vivien and I, hit the toilets for that mandatory pre-race pee and gathered at the starting point by 8.20am. Then we had to bear listening to a long and boring speech by some special guest. I thought to myself that they should have been playing some live rock music instead. I told Vic to take it easy in the beginning and he repeated the same advice to me. Then I relayed that onto Vivien. We are all in agreement. Finally and thankfully, that boring speech was done and we were awoken by the countdown, 10, 9 .. 3, 2, 1 and off we went at 8.30am. Within a blink of an eye, Vic zoomed off and put us in the #1 position in our category by 8.31am. I reminded him of our “take it easy policy” and reigned him in.

Continue reading about the sponsored Greenpower race up ahead

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