Episode 4 – The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (Conversation with runners at the end of an insane Hong Kong Trail run)

What’s the deal?

As part of our insane summer series, we did a 45km run (The Hong Kong Trail) on 13th June 2015.

12 started and 5 completed the entire trail. This podcast is a very brief conversation at the end of the run with the 5 that finished (Milos, Pak, Stuart, Bogden and I). It took us something like 7.5 hours (including all stops) to complete the run. My Garmin froze midway through the run and I had to hard reset it to bring it back to life. This unfortunately meant that I have lost all my Garmin data for this run.

What will you learn from this episode of the podcast?

Umm.. It won’t be anything that is going to change your life! However, if you have nothing better to do, you can listen to this rather amusing conversation with the 5 finishes right at the end of the run.

Basically, here’s what you will learn:

  • You will learn that you can’t really think clearly after you have done a long trail run in summer
  • You will learn which part of Hong Kong trail to avoid when you run it. (Thanks to fellow runner Stuart’s contribution to our Hong Kong soil)
  • You will learn to make sure to apply sufficient Vaseline before you begin a long run (again, Stuart speaks about his experience with chaffing – after speaking about his struggle with his bowel movement, he thought there was no need to hold back descriptive stories about chaffing)
  • You will learn to carry sufficient water and not purely rely on website info when deciding your water strategy. Runner Bogden ran out of water as the water point he expected to see (as per our website info) was nonexistent.
  • You will learn how to shift blame like a pro. (When Bogden shamelessly blamed me for his water planning fiasco, I proudly shifted the blame to Milos who was too busy texting and did not hear me – remember that if you want to escape culpability, blame it on someone else who isn’t paying attention when you falsely accuse them
  • You will learn that the Ultra Track mode in Garmin is not reliable
  • You will learn that the hot weather plus reservoir stretch combination is the most dreaded part of the Hong Kong trail. You will go through 8L of water on a hot day
  • You will learn that the run down from the peak and the run down to Big Wave bay is usually the best part. Oh, and the air conditioned shopping in Park View
  • You will learn that if you want to get a trail runner to run back to the start after he/she has just completed a 45km run, the going rate is USD 1000, not HKD 1000 (runners think that’s too cheap)
  • But, the biggest lesson you will learn from this podcast is that there are many insane people in Hong Kong who will run 45kms on the hills of Hong Kong under a hot summer sun instead of sitting in an air-conditioned room or sipping a piña colada by the beach. Adventure or insanity? You decide

Conversation with Bogden at the end – Courtesy Stuart


Milos happy that he has reached Marker 100 – Courtesy Milos

Our Group Pjoto

Our Group Pjoto

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

The almost 40kms McWilson Trail

40kms McWilson Trail

A formidable group showed up at Yau Tong for what was supposed to be a 60km run with sufficient early exits. The route was going to be a combination of Wilson Trail and Maclehose trail — hence my cool name, “McWilson trail”. It was Vic’s idea: we decided to skip the two most boring parts of Wilson Trail (the longish and super boring catchwater run after Sha Tin Pass and the 5km run around Shing Mun dam) and do the Mac instead.

The formidable group – Matt and Peter were new joiners

I came armed with two bags of Calbee’s Pizza flavored crisps for breakfast. They sold two packs for 16 bucks and one for 12 bucks. Cheeky guys. Just felt wrong paying 12 bucks for one pack of crisps.

Vic gets lost plus question of the day
Somehow, even before we could do the 1st kilometer for the day, we lost Vic! He went back to the MTR to get Marcia and we thought he was ahead of us. We left without him but not before the topic of lightning came up.

I posed a question to Milos and Peter: if you are wearing shoes (which do not conduct electricity), why is getting struck by lightning still harmful? (The circuit isn’t complete as the electricity cannot pass through the shoes to the ground). Milos did not know the answer. Physics aside, he simply wanted nothing to do with lightning.

Peter asked not to be quoted as “he was no authority on lightning” but his answer (which made sense) was that even air conducts electricity. It is a bad conductor no doubt but it still conducts electricity. Same with shoes. So, if you get hit by 200,000 volts of electricity, whatever passes through the shoes can still kill you!

Which gave me a business idea. What about manufacturing lightning-proof shoes with a sole that is a strong insulator?! One can then run under any sort of stormy weather.

Yau Tong to Sha Tin Pass via Steven’s no-name hill
HOT! Climbing Devil’s Peak under the hot sun wasn’t easy. Dom was trying to save every ounce of his energy by sticking to one-word answers as replies to all the questions we asked him. By the time we got to the shop by Clear Water Bay road, we were all dripping with sweat.

Peter, who was running after a hiatus but still looking very strong, asked us if there was any hill on the way to Sha Tin Pass. Vic told him about this mofo hill called “No-Name hill” by our teammate Steven. “But, this hill really has a name”, he explained to both Peter and Tilly. “Dung Yeun Saan” meaning “East sea hill” is the official name. Name or no-name, it’s one heck of a climb on a hot summer day!

One hill – many names. “Dung Yuen San” i.e. “No-Name Hill” i.e. “Mofo Hill”

Who is this cool guy?

Strong and consistent – that’s Tilly

Matt overcoming bleeding from blisters to climb No-Name Hill

Peter getting back to it after a hiatus – he may be faster if he trims his beard which probably adds a few Kgs

Dom, Milos, Marcia – Dom looks like he needs some beers

We stopped at Sha Tin Pass for lunch and struggled to get the body moving again through the series of steps at the start of the Mac 5 Trail.

Sha Tin Pass to Shing Mun Dam
The sun was at its peak, shining brightly and zapping us of our energy, as we climbed Beacon Hill. Marcia, Tilly and I were running together while Peter and Matt were just behind. We waited for Dom at the top of Beacon Hill. He showed up a couple of minutes later and looked quite beat up.

When we reached the end of Mac Stage 5, Marcia and Matt decided to call it a day. Not because they were tired but because Marcia had a “LSD” planned for the next day. I didn’t think that the likes of Marcia (a proven long distance runner) could also be into doping! So, I innocently asked her what “LSD” meant. “Long, slow, distance”, came the response. Different kind of drug… she was going to run a long, flat stretch of road from Castle Peak to Sham Tseng the next day. Definitely hooked on the drug of running like the rest of us!

Surviving (and tired) members at the end of Stage 5

The quiet Sky still looked fresh at the end of Stage 5 and was full of energy, as we went up the concrete road on Stage 6 to Shing Mun dam. Vic had his second wind (as usual) while my energy levels were gradually deteriorating (as usual).

Once we reached the end of Stage 6, Dom and Peter decided to leave. Peter had a rugby game to watch while Dom had trouble with his ankle. I checked to see if that was an excuse (I told him that big brother Steven would be watching) but he genuinely seemed to be having bad ankle pain.

At that point Vic had a brilliant idea. He suggested that the three of us (Vic, Tilly and I) do the nice and shaded TNF trail instead of the Mac trail thereby skipping going up Needle Hill in the heat. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.

Nature hike to Route Twisk
I kind of knew this before but never really took the time to explore — Shing Mun has some really beautiful trails! We reduced our pace quite a bit and took the time to enjoy the trail instead of running past it as we always do. Here, take a look:

Black berries and I don’t mean the phone

Tilly told me that the combination of black and red in nature usually means “stay away”. So, I did not try eating the berries! Besides, the monkeys of Shing Mun stayed away too! “Monkey see, monkey do”.

The trees fighting for sunshine — the ones on the left swing right for sunshine and vice versa

The concrete road flanked by tall trees on either side

The tree trunks felt like carpet. It felt like a pile of wet papers stuck together

Our selfie – which magazine wants to put us models on the front cover?

After another 10km of exploring this beautiful Shing Mun trail, we reached a small village near Route Twisk and took a minibus back to Tsuen Wan.

But, the story doesn’t end there. We rendezvoused with Dom and Peter near a Thai restaurant in Tsuen wan and discovered their real reason for leaving. I won’t explain as this picture below will say a thousand words instead.

From being tired and knackered on Stage 5 (top pic) to recharging the Dom way (lower pic)

The score
38kms. 1868m elevation. 8 hours.

Training Diaries 2014: Wilson Trail (Yau Tong to Tai Po)

Training Diaries 2014: Wilson Trail (Yau Tong to Tai Po)

Another super hot day and another 40km run! This one was a scorcher (I guess like the one before this one and the one before that one…)

I ran with Tilly and Dom from Yau Tong to Sha Tin Pass. Despite being jetlagged and not having slept the previous night, Tilly was unsurprisingly very strong and maintained her consistent machine-like pacing.

On the Sha Tin pass stretch, we had a glimpse of HK’s wildlife.

A redneck snake – apparently very poisonous

(Dom wasn’t man enough to test how poisonous this snake was. He refused to be made the guinea pig by letting the snake bite him for the sake of science).

A beetle

And a snail — probably the snake’s food

The group at Sha Tin Pass – courtesy Vic

Sha Tin pass to Shing Mun was a good reminder of how boring the Wilson trail can get. Dom and I were running on the never-ending concrete water catchment pathway to Shing Mun and boy was it long! Not just long, but grueling. It can slowly take everything out of you and you won’t even realize it. By the time we reached Shing Mun reservoir, we were split from Read more

Training diaries 2014: Mui Wo to Tai O via Lantau Peak/Sunset Peak

Another super hot day. Another fantastic run.

Quick facts (as I am outta time time today):
1. Tung Chung to Mui Wo:

Distance: 8.7km
Time: 51 minutes

2. Mui Wo to Pak Kung Au (via Sunset Peak)

Distance: 9km
Time: 1 hour 45m

3. Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping (Wisdom Sticks) via Lantau Peak

Distance: 4.43km
Time: 1 hour

4. Wisdom Sticks to 7/11 via Lantau Trail Section 5
(I made faces at the cable car passengers overhead and waved to tourists as we entered Disney Buddha)

Distance: 2.7km
Time: 23m

5. Rest at 7/11 plus refueling (much needed Pepsi + ice cream + Cream Soda)
Time: 25 minutes

6. 7/11 to Tai O via The first Hill/Man Cheung Po and a shortcut to Tai O skipping Ling Wui Shaan
(The pool by Tai O was godsend. We all took a dip there. I got zapped by the heat while climbing Man Cheung Po but made a quick/full recovery by acknowledging it early enough. Too much machismo and you get fried!)

Distance: 9.63km
Time: 2 hours 1 minute

Distance: 35km
Time: 6 hours 21 minutes
Accumulated elevation: 2371m

What an awesome run this was! That little waterfalls on the Sunset Peak climb (Ok, more like a small piss from the hills was soothing and that last pool near Tai O – man, priceless!)


Training Diaries 2014 – Going back down memory Lane!

Training Diaries 2014 – Going back down memory Lane!

The fitness goals for 2014 are clear. To have two HKTR teams and attempt to run the Oxfam Trailwalker in less than 14 hours!

Hmm. Sounds almost unachievable considering that not-so-long-back, we were only a 22-hour OTW team! And, 22-hours at that time was a gargantuan task for us! During those years, we thought that those who did sub-16 hours on the OTW were just plain old crazy. Now, we seem to have joined that club!

In fact, I remember pitching myself as the “fastest guy in the HK Trampers” to Steve Sparky, our strict team boss during those years. HK Trampers is a hiking group and my sales pitch to Steve was that I ran upto Sharp Peak and did a 20km loop during weekends which I thought was totally jaw-dropping HARDCORE! I was expecting him to go “wow! you are da man!”

This is the email I wrote to him.
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 7:34:22 PM
Subject: Re: Trailwalker 2009

Hi Steven,

Thank you for the offer. I am a 28-year-old ex Trailwalker (2 times). I think my personal best can be 20/21 hours. As a team, my best was 24 hours. I am also the Read more