King of the Hills (Hong Kong) — 2013 Edition

King of the Hills (Hong Kong) — 2013 Edition

To “pee” or not to “pee”
In the last King of the Hills, i.e. KOTH Lantau, Michael heroically demonstrated how the sport of trail running has the unique ability to eliminate the need for a dump. Yes, he showed us that having a heavy + full bowel at the start of the race can still be fun, if you run! However, today, he didn’t practice the same philosophy. As Giuseppe pointed out with a wide smile on his face, Michael arrived at the starting point in Repulse Bay 30 minutes earlier, specifically, to do his business! So, don’t get rid of the toilets just yet! However, I know what all of you are thinking. Does the same philosophy apply to peeing as well? Can one do a 30km race with a stomach full of liquid content from the start? The person (read: lab rat) who tested this theory at the start today was none other than the famous Jogger J. As Keith, the race organizer, did a T-10 minute race countdown akin to a NASA rocket blast countdown, there was only one question that kept echoing in Jogger J’s mind — to pee or Read more

King of the Hills, Hong Kong – improvised (minus Twins plus pizza)

King of the Hills, Hong Kong – improvised (minus Twins plus pizza)

KOTH Hong Kong is supposed to be the easiest course in the series. It is just 30km long and features only one real mammoth climb (General Rock). Actually, make that two. General Rock and The Twins. And the fact that it starts and ends on Hong Kong island (Repulse Bay) makes it a pretty popular course.

Today’s recci of the course, however, attracted only 5 people. Well, one of them (Romain’s friend) didn’t actually count. (When you read an intro like ” Hi there, My name is xyz I love working out,cool calm and a good company. anyone there for friendship first” – well, you don’t have to be Sherlock to guess that she won’t be joining a 30km trail run).

Ray, joining us for the first time was all ready with his Garmin which had the course downloaded. Maggie, who overslept, started the run an hour after us. Romain and I were in the front and going strong all the way until General’s Rock, which felt like a vertical climb and under boiling hot weather, it had its toll on the legs and stomach. i.e. made us quite hungry. By the time we reached a little stream before getting back on Wilson trail, the hunger intensified.

After 25kms of running, we came to a junction where we had to make a crucial decision. Did we want to take a shortcut and head to Stanley for pizza or did we want to climb 2 more 400m hills and run 5kms on concrete before heading back to Repulse Bay? The choice was easy. We chose to climb 2 more hills and run the 5km concrete … yeah sure, like you’ll believe us.

We concluded the day over some sumptuous pizza in Stanley. Ray and Maggie also shared our enthusiasm for food. A hungry Ray ended up at Pizza Hut while a thirsty (and in all probability, hungry) Maggie took an early food exit.

And that concluded a recci from Repulse Bay to Pizza Express (Stanley). We’ll call this the improvised version of King of the Hills, Hong Kong. This one is King of the Hills, Hong Kong – improvised (minus Twins plus pizza).



King of the Hills – Hong Kong (2012)

3rd consecutive weekend, 3rd consecutive race. Today was the last of the King of the Hills (KOTH) races. This one took place on Hong Kong island, Repulse Bay to be precise.

The assembly point reminded me of Mong Kok on a Sunday. Except, you’ll have to replace eager handbag shoppers with eager racers. Also, these racers walk a little faster than the 0.00000000005kmh speed of a Mong Kok shopper. I met fellow Plover Cove contester Hannes at the start who took our battle for Plover Cove to a whole new level. He warned me that he would toss my motorbike into a ditch near Wu Kau Tang if I violated his Plover Cove ownership rights. I could have said the same thing to him but his BMW motorbike weighs a hell of a lot more than my Kawasaki Ninja. I’ll have to hit the gym and develop stronger biceps before I can make a bold threat like that.

Then I saw my arch rival Claus, a 60-year-old man who beat me on this very same KOTH Hong Kong course last year. His words to me at the end of the race last year echoed in my brain as I saw him today: “Tell your mom you got beaten by a 60-year-old”. So, today, my mission was simple: under no circumstance was I going to let Claus finish before me! That mission seemed like a sure success when I learnt at the start of the race that Claus was recovering from Dengue fever. No real man would compete with a recuperating racer, so I decided to modify my mission to “just have fun”. (You might argue, no real man should compete with someone twice his age but let’s just say that Claus’ fitness hasn’t quite caught up with his age).

The costume boys were there. Nick “007” showed up in his usual “Branson, Nick Branson” style and another group came dressed up as pirates. They had daggers that looked pretty real. After I did some pirate talking with them, they told me that the daggers were being carried “to chop up fast runners”. My mind made an immediate note: avoid this bunch at all cost!

The half marathon started slightly after 9am and the full marathon started at 9.20am. I ran as per the 2012 edition of my Rules of Running but found a major flaw in it. The rules state that I am supposed to start slow and easy. However, in this particular race where hundreds of people had started before me, I found that I was stuck in a massive running jam. It was a narrow trail and several hundred people were trying to find some sort of footing to climb this trail. I felt a bit of frustration and half decided to just bare the frustration and go with the flow. But then, suddenly, it hit me. Life often presents these kind of scenarios and most of us simply sulk and blame something else or someone else. BUT, the real doers take some sort of action and turn these frustrating moments into something they really enjoy doing. (Don’t ask me how I came up with that. I got no idea!) So, I decided to take action. I was going to breathe down everyone’s necks. Literally. I turned on my heavy breathing mode and made my voice sound remarkably husky in order to scare the person in front of me. (Ok, maybe the husky thing didn’t work but the heavy breathing sure did). I then aptly yelled “dude, PASSING LEFT” or “lady, PASSING RIGHT!” as the situation warranted. (“Chick, passing right” didn’t quite sound right).

Janet was right behind me and leveraged my new found bravery to her advantage. When I did one of my “dude, passing left” yells, she simply added “me too!” and overtook the guy after me! And, when we occasionally encountered one of those rather stationary runners who looked like John Rambo, I let Janet to do the “passing left” scream out of concern for my own safety. (Hey, they say you should only pick battles you think you can win!)

After climbing Violet Hill and her cousins and doing some flat running for quite a bit, we met THE GENERAL. This General was like a US Navy Seal kind of General. I am, of course, referring to General Rock and the super steep and slippery climb up to the top. It was, well, super steep and slippery! On some parts, it felt like a vertical climb and on others it felt almost like a vertical climb! I took a leaf out of Charles Darwin’s evolution book and brought out the ape inside me (it wasn’t difficult. Maybe I am more ape than human). I told my brain that I had four legs instead of two hands and two legs. Then, I started climbing up General Rock ape-style. I met Romain on the way up, he was still making human movements. Once I reached the top, I went back to human mode (this change was tough) and ran straight down to some place where we had to cross a little stream. I was slowed down at this junction by a Chinese hiking group who were taken aback by my heavy breathing and simply froze instead of moving to one corner of the trail. I had to roar to un-stun them and got moving once they got out of my way. Then there was a long, undulating stretch all the way to the junction where the full marathoners had to climb The Twins and the smarter half marathoners could skip that and proceed to the finish.

I saw super fast runner Pig Chan climbing the Twins, not like a pig, but more like a wild boar. Zoooooooooom. I decided to let him be (remember what I said about picking battles that you think you can win?) By the way, The Twins might sound like that slim, gentle and feminine Cantopop band but that definitely ain’t The Twins I am talking about. These Twins are two sister mountains that require any potential suitor to climb roughly 400 steep steps to flirt with them. (Talk about playing hard-to-get).

Anyway, after flirting with The Twins, I had to run along a concrete pavement for eternity before I took a downhill stretch that took me back to Repulse Bay. Some mini running along the beach took me to the finish where I saw Rowena. My first question to her was “Has Claus finished?” I know, mission changed, but just making sure nonetheless. Having learnt that he hadn’t, I high-fived her (talk about having a little fun at the expense of someone twice my age who is recovering from Dengue fever).

The score? 3 hours 46 minutes and 19th position overall. Now to go and repaint my motorbike just in case Hannes delivers on his threat…



King of the Hills – Hong Kong

The 3rd race of this year’s KOTH. This time on Hong Kong island. Weather was cold – about 10 degrees centigrade and it was drizzling. That combined with easy accessibility to Repulse Bay (start of the hike) meant many people! The full marathon started about 15 minutes late (0930).

I had a pretty bad start. Not sure what went wrong but the power in the body felt low and the legs weren’t moving faster than 10kmh. I had some trouble with coordination and ankle control as well. Got reminded of the HK100 start which was similar. It is highly demotivating to feel down and see everybody overtake you. But, I knew from past experience that I simply had to weather this at low speed and high speed would eventually return, which is more or less what happened. Up until Violet Hill, my times were terrible but after that I managed to catch up to quite a few people.

KOTH HK is the easiest of all KOTH races and there’s plenty of flat running involved. There are two huge climbs, one is called General Rock and that’s a real killer. Feels like climbing Sharp Peak and today’s weather meant climbing on 4 limbs and being soiled in mud! The second huge climb happens after 25km and that’s the Twins. It was great to see my friends from the Hong Kong Trampers cheering me on! (Thank you Alex, Karen, Vivian!) At that point, Rowena gave me some intel. She told me that fellow racers and friends Dominic and Claus were just a little ahead. I floored the gas and tried to catch up. Passed another friend (Chang) who overtook me a long time back. I then had a clear visual on Claus and was preparing to attack. Claus, a 59-year-old racing veteran seemed to sense that! He started flooring his own gas as well!! I still tried but could not produce enough thrust to get to him! In the end, he beat me by a minute! Had I known it was only a minute, I would have gone all out at the end! Shoulda woulda coulda. Claus went onto win the first prize in his category and created a new course record for his age group! Impressive.

– Have to improve speed on flats. Running on flats just isn’t my thing. Climbs and trail running I love but just can’t seem to get speed on flats
– Actually, that’s it!

Funnily enough, came 9th my category and 16th overall YET AGAIN! That’s the 3rd race, 3rd time! Have to give myself an A+ for consistency. Really enjoyed the race (except for the starting part) and finished in good style and spirit. Winner (Stone Tsang) completed in 3 hrs 2 minutes. Extraordinary feat!

Total: 30.007 km in 3h 50m at an average of 7.81 km/h. Total elevation: about 1750m



King of the hills – Hong Kong (Full Marathon)

I have said this many times before and I will say it again – KOTH isn’t for the faint of heart. Finishing a full marathon is by itself an accomplishment for an amateur athlete like me!

After paying a 20 bucker fine for a forgotten bib last time, I made sure I carried one this time! Also did my homework – carb loading the previous night, about 8 hour solid sleep and plenty of training over the past couple of weeks. During the recci of this trail, it took us 5 hrs 30 mins to finish.

Everything was going according to plan – slow on the uphills, fast downhills and jogging on flats, up until I reached the Twins. The temperature was quite hot and I think I got smacked by the sun. Also, I filled my water bottle with some electrolyte drink instead of pure water and that had a reverse effect – making me thirsty yet retaining the water. Also, I was wearing a black tee shirt as a gentleman before the climb to the Twins pointed out! All this slowed me down quite a bit and I was developing stomach cramps when trying to accelerate, perhaps because of the accumulation of fluids in my stomach. I tried watering the plants but that didn’t help much!

I had to walk fast instead of jogging from there on. That had a negative effect on the time. Overall though, all things considered, there is a lot of improvement but this isn’t too bad, at least I finished and I know I could have gone farther as well.

Actual time taken: 30.5Km (4 hours 52 minutes) – My personal target was 5 hours and a top 15 ranking in my category
Ranking: 21 in my category, 56 overall (not too happy with this)

Lessons learnt:
(a) Go with salt tablets (b) get one of the British hats instead of a cap for a 360 degree protection against the sun (c) don’t wear black tee shirts (d) have to learn to hike/run formidably even during ultra hot weather

Needless to say, the fellow racers were just amazing! The winner finished in something like 3 hours 5 minutes! I think Hong Kong’s fittest participated and there were several professional athletes.