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

Totally INSANE 70km Wilson Trail training

Totally INSANE 70km Wilson Trail training

Who does a 70km run just for the sake of training?? And, that’s a 70km TRAIL RUN, mind you! The answer: several of my totally insane friends. And fortunately/unfortunately, I am part of that club too!

I have roughly done about two dozen races so far. And, I have only had 2 DNFs (Did Not Finish) to date. Both these DNFs were on the trail I HATE THE MOST. The 78km Wilson Trail! Again, fortunately/unfortunately, our training run yesterday was the whole Wilson trail – my arch nemesis. Every time I have attempted it, usually something or the other goes wrong. Yesterday, I was determined to teach the trail a lesson and complete it in style.

21 runners showed up at about 7.30am in Park View to attempt various stages of the Wilson Trail. Almost all (except for five of us -Martijn, Olivia, Vic, Vivien and I) wanted to take an early exit at some point or the other.

The group – photo courtesy – Vic

Continue reading about the Wilson experience

Letter of gloat to Mr. Wilson

Dear Mr. Wilson,

How you doin’? Oh wait…you have some sort of a bruise on your rear end? Ah.. don’t worry too much about that. That’s just me kicking a good part of your ass in retribution of all the times you have kicked mine. In 2009, you had me on Devil’s Peak. Less than 20km into the run, I was toast. You sapped me of all my energy leaving me feeling helpless. In 2010, you had the event canceled in a cowardice manner by faking the presence of a typhoon. In 2011, you generously gave me an ankle twist while climbing up no-name hill. All those wounds have not healed and today, for a change, I thoroughly enjoyed kicking more than half of your rear end. And come October, I’d wear “ass” armour if I were you because we intend giving you a thorough kicking this year.

You must have observed that about 20 of us started off in Tai Tam, all ready to give you a whacking. Notice in the picture below that Pig is naturally sitting on a pig and so is Olivia. Martin is looking all gung ho and ready to kick your ass.

Pig on pig, the rest by pig

But, as always, you had the unfair advantage of having the weather on your side, you made sure that the “hot weather warning” was in force. It was 33+ degrees outside and the heat was unbearable.

Continue reading about me kicking most of Wilson’s ass

Sha Tin Pass to Tai Po (Sowers)

The plan was to meet teammate Steven who was participating in the Sowers race (Yau Tong to Tai Po) in Sha Tin pass to exchange backpacks with him. Actually, he was going to give me his used backpack and I would give him a new backpack. And then I had to run with him from Sha Tin pass to the finish.

The race started at 0815 and we were expecting him in Sha Tin pass at 1015. Teammate Jinhwa and I ran from Wong Tai Sin MTR station to Sha Tin pass in about 24 mins to wait for Steven.

He showed up soon enough and was definitely in the top 10 when he did. His goal was to finish in the top 25. I lead from there and although evidently tired from already running 16k in the heat, he was running at a very brisk pace. It was a hot day but Steven’s heat management techniques are top notch. We kept a very good pace and overtook quite a few guys along the boring concrete catchment and on Shing Mun trail. One guy who I thought was #1 had to lie down to take a break from the sun and shortly ended up puking after that.

As we were overtaking all these guys, I knew Steven was going to be in the top 5. On the climb from Shung Mun to Lead Mine Pass, we were jogging/running/walking at a pretty quick pace. And Steven cut loose on the run down from Lead Mine Pass to the finish.

Unsurprising, he came not just in the top 25 or in the top 10 or in the top 5, he came first! The champion of the Sowers race in the Men’s Open category! Remarkable effort and brilliant timing on such a hot day.

Distance: 28.63 km
Time: 3:34:46 (including a 21 minute break at Sha Tin Pass)

Wong Tai Sin to Sha Tin Pass: 24 mins 38 secs
Waiting for Steven as Sha Tin Pass: 20 mins 55 secs
Completing Wilson trail from Sha Tin Pass to Tai Po: 2 hours 49 mins

The champ:

Our OTW team celebrating at the finish: