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 – 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

My fastest ever Mac 3, 4 and 5

I violated the unwritten golden rule of Trail Running — “thou shall not get up late!” As a result, I couldn’t make it to Repulse Bay in time to join the gang who were going to do a recci of the King of the Hills Hong Kong route. But, I still wanted to run. So, I ended up going to Pak Tam Au. The idea was that I’d start the run at Mac 3 and would stop whenever I got tired and/or bored.

Start of the run: 10.16am
Time taken to run Mac 3: 1 hour and 16 minutes
Time spent at the vending machine to refuel: 1 minute 55 seconds
Time taken from end of Mac 3 to Gilwell Camp: 1 hour 43 minutes
Time taken from Gilwell Camp to Sha Tin Pass: 21 minutes 24 seconds
(for the first time, I didn’t stop at Sha Tin pass for refueling, I just continued)
Time taken from Sha Tin Pass to end of Mac 5: 56 minutes 53 seconds

Total distance: 31.62km
Elevation gain: 2,343m
Total time: 4 hours 20 minutes

I was then torn between continuing to run vs stopping at the end of Mac 5. I still felt relatively fresh and fit but continuing would have meant a 7 Read more

From “doing nothing” to running 34km (Mac 3, 4, 5)

My teammates and friends are mostly certifiably insane. One of them made me run downhill from Grassy Hill to Shing Mun Reservoir at about 17-18kmh yesterday while another one made me run 70kms “just for fun” a couple of weeks back!

So, today, I wanted to regain some of the sanity I had long lost by doing a casual solo hike at a snail’s pace. Contrary to typical Saturdays where we train like madmen, I got up at a leisurely 7.30am today and was even dillydallying between staying home or doing a slow hike. I eventually settled on the latter and made my way to Sai Kung at about 10.15am.

I have to admit, I was feeling some of that dreaded runner’s guilt for dismissing the thought of a hardcore trail run. At exactly that moment, someone tapped my shoulder and exclaimed “Hi!” I turned back to find my teammate Vic standing there! (This is the guy who made me run 70kms a couple of weeks back). All surprised, I asked him what he was doing there. He told me that he wanted to do a slow, lazy hike, possibly to bring back some of the sanity he had also lost in Read more

The flu-bustin’ Mac 1,2,3 run

The flu-bustin’ Mac 1,2,3 run

The appetite
Imagine a food lover fasting for a day. The day after the fast he walks in all hungry into a gourmet restaurant and sees all these delicious food items on the menu. The food now controls his mind and he instinctively ends up ordering way too much.

What does this have to do with today’s run? Well, after several weeks of averaging over 100km/week, I feel victim to the influenza virus last week. As a result, my mileage until this morning dropped to 11k for the week (I know, blasphemy). While nearly recovering from the flu, I felt extremely “hungry” for some serious trail running. On the menu, at least officially, was Mac 1, 2 and 3 (34kms) but for dessert, I was sure to savor Mac 4, 5 and perhaps Mac 6.

The happy troopers

Read on to discover the truths about running with a flu