HKTR’s Annual Plover Cove Championships

HKTR’s Annual Plover Cove Championships

Battle for love
We’ve seen this so many times in the movies — the classic love story plot. Two guys fall for the same beauty and, after an arduous fight, only one of them emerges victorious and the disappears forever into the sunset!

Well, that’s just the movies. Real life is very different. In real life, you can actually slice up the “beauty” so that both men came partake in the victory. Yes, that’s right, and that’s exactly what happened last year when Hannes and I fought tooth and nail for our beloved Plover Cove. The fight was worth every kilometer of the 18km long trail which remains Hong Kong’s most beautiful trail by a wide margin.

Last year, after several rounds of heated exchange, Hannes and I settled for co-owning this beauty. The agreed split was 60/40 (60 to Hannes and 40 to me). It was the best I could negotiate at that point in time in that Thai restaurant. (It was hard to concentrate while savoring some delicious eggplant curry). But, in all fairness, I’ll have to give Hannes some credit. You know how if you really like someone intimately, you’ll invariably end up learning more about their parents and their background, etc, etc? Well, much to his credit, Hannes does seem to know his stuff about Plover Cove and her background. For instance, did you know that:

– Plover Cove was the first “reservoir in the sea” all over the world
– The King of the Hills Tai Po marathon went around Plover Cove from 1984 – 2006
– The highest point of Plover Cove is about 5 minutes away from the main trail and has a trigonometric station on it

I didn’t know any of this until he told me. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t love Plover Cove enough, let’s say it just means that “love is blind”, so I can chalk up my ignorance to true love!

HKTR’s Annual Plover Cove Championships
Fast forward to an year later and it was time for a very important weekend in Hong Kong. 42 Trail Runners assembled in Wu Kau Tang to take part in Hong Kong Trail Runners’ Annual Plover Clove Championships. The goal was simple — to run around our reservoir (our = Hannes and I) as fast as possible while admiring the views and giving the reservoir a lot of love.

Many trail running celebrities showed up. It felt like the Oscar awards for Trail Running. The outfits, of course, were slightly different compared to what one might wear at the Oscars. In place of the expensive, custom-designed, signature dresses that are a necessity for the Oscars, us runners only had to wear one mandatory piece of “clothing” — a Garmin around our wrists to record our time!

The Trail Running Celebrities of Hong Kong

Fellow owner Hannes addressing the distinguished gathering

The Organizers’ Committee — Hannes, ex Plover Cover contender Dominic, Cynthia and Martijn

On your mark, get-set and go!
At 9am, the Garmins started beeping and off we went running into the reservoir trail. Romain was there one second and disappeared like a rocket even before I could blink my eye. I told myself that I had “ownership advantage” and moved my legs as fast as I could. I saw Richard and Andrew up ahead. Both of them seemed to be running like there was no tomorrow.

About 30 minutes into the run, I saw Andrew losing steam. Having run 100kms the previous weekend, he seemed to be (finally) tiring. I could smell him getting tired and overtook him shamelessly. Then I saw Richard at a distance. He had a different MO. He was fast on the uphill climbs and the flat bits but relatively slower on the downhill stretches. My intimate knowledge of Plover Cove was just the weapon I needed to take on Richard. I knew that a massive downhill stretch was coming and I blasted my engines big time to create some distance between us on that section.

Around 70 minutes into the run, I saw glimpses of an HKTR tee shirt in the distance. I couldn’t believe it — I was almost catching up to Romain, the “Ferrari” of Hong Kong Trail Runners. I knew that trying to catch him was a big risk in itself. I had a feeling that he’d wear me out. So, I remembered one of Sun Tzu’s teachings from his book, The Art of War. “Attack the enemy by surprise”. So, my new ploy was to sneak up on him and then suddenly overtake him without him noticing. There was only one catch with that plan — I forgot to turn off my heavy breathing mode! Anyone in a 1-mile radius could have heard my loud steam-engine style breathing! Rom heard the noise I was making and sped up! My “attack by surprise” plan instantly went down the toilet.

A couple of minutes went by but there was no sight of him. I thought he had gained a lot of time on me but on on the next vantage point, I saw him at a distance. He appeared to be losing power as he was climbing a small hill. Then another one of Sun Tzu’s teachings sprung to mind — “Exploit the enemy’s weakness”. I turned off my heavy breathing mode and sneaked up on him but waited until the next uphill to overtake him. And then, finally, I had him! I went jogging uphill and overtook him. I then had to finish the job by preparing my mind. Meaning, I had to make sure I wasn’t going to turn around and see where he was and had to play my own game! Rest assured, I knew he would be trying to get back at me! I thought to myself that he would be trying to use Sun Tzu’s principle on me by exploiting my weakness! My relatively slower flat and downhill running speed!

As expected, Romain did catch up to me near the damn on the final leg of the run. I could hear him. Then I deployed my last piece of weaponry to keep him at bay — heavy metal music! Some good beats by Dr. Dre put some distance between us and soon I could see Organizer Martijn taking photographs of me. I gathered a little bit of courage to turn around to see where Romain was but even before I could turn my head enough to look backwards, my mind stopped me! Then I just made a beeline for the finish where fellow Plover Cove owner Hannes congratulated me on my victory! “I am happy you won (was easy as I am out of action)”, he later said. Ex Plover Cove contender Dominic looked on. (He has a club membership but no ownership shares).

So, in 1 hour 57 minutes, I went around our reservoir (our = Hannes and I) while giving her a lot of love.

Romain came in soon after me followed by Richard and Andrew. On the women’s side, Nora came in first followed by Emma. She finished in 2 hours 16 minutes despite having run 100km the previous week. Jinhwa came in 3rd despite her injury.

This is me stopping the Garmin soon after completing the run

Romain “Ferrari” Riche came in barely a minute after me

Trail Running celebs Emma and Nora

Last year’s female champion Jinhwa

And, of course, the Thai restaurant where billion dollar trail deals are made

Full Results – Courtesy Hannes

Vince Natteri1 : 57 : 2011
Romain Riche1 : 58 : 3722
Richard Browne2 : 02 : 1833
Andrew Dawson2 : 08 : 3044
Gilles Blanchet2 : 09 : 1555
Nic Tinworth2 : 10 : 1366
Nora Senn2 : 16 : 0671
Emma Drake2 : 16 : 0671
Jinhwa Kim2 : 21 : 2593
Mathilde Heaton2 : 23 : 20104
Adrian Barrus2 : 24 : 15117
Jan Littlewood2 : 24 : 20128
Mikko Revonniemi2 : 24 : 42139
Vic So2 : 25 : 101410
Javier Silvera2 : 31 : 181511
Chris Davis2 : 32 : 501612
Stephen2 : 33 : 251713
Emilie Saint-Pe2 : 36 : 58185
Alice Zhang2 : 38 : 24196
Xa Chang2 : 42 : 472014
David Wong2 : 44 : 182115
Maggie Cvetkovic2 : 45 : 45227
Romain2 : 45 : 452216
Ollie Luk2 : 57 : 58248
Bei Hu2 : 58 : 50259
Martin Shock3 : 02 : 592617
Jenny Ng3 : 10 : 202710

My Garmin and The map!

Special thanks to the Organizer’s committee for the fantastic organization. I think I speak for both Hannes and I when I say that owning Plover Cover is a real privilege!