King of the Hills – Sham Tseng (2013)
Rewind time to two years back: I completed the KOTH Sham Tseng marathon in 4 hours 57 minutes and came 16th overall. I also got lost in two different places.
This is what I wrote about that race two years back:
So, for the first 2 hours, I was trying to find the right dude to follow and eventually, I target locked some thin Chinese dude who was more or less cruising at the same speed as me. I just followed him blindly and even copied the few mistakes he made (better than using my brains).
Towards the last 10Km, that dude and I got separated. I stopped for water and lost him! That’s when I made my first big mistake for the day. Went uphill at some point instead of downhill. Lost about 7-9 minutes and had to retrace steps.
And, two years later, i.e. today, I followed the SAME Chinese dude (Alger Chan!) and, towards the end, both of us wrongly went up the same hill! Moral of the story: this is deep, so take note: “History repeats itself for those who don’t learn the lessons the first time around!” And, that’s a genuine quote btw! (picture me gloating and pulling up my own collar).
My result two years later was this: got lost two times (no change from two years back), came 28th overall. The time was 4 hours and 35 minutes (22 minutes better compared to 2010). But, despite being 22 minutes quicker, I came 10 places behind compared to two years back! And, here’s another genuine quote to summarize that: “Competition is like inflation. For the same amount of power, you get less and less as each year goes by”. Ok, this one is not as great as the previous quote, but anyway…
I reached the start in Tsing Lung Tao at about 8am in the morning. (Btw, ladies and gents, Tsing Lung Tao, is not Tsing Tao — the beer! I thought it was the first time I heard the name but the “Lung” in between kind of changes the meaning altogether!) All the trail running celebs were there at the start on this cold morning. Rachel, Jinhwa, Rom, Martijn, Rupert, etc, etc.
The race started at 9am and I got off to a rather great start! I overtook Rupert, who said “don’t get chicked” to me, as I ran past him. I traded places with an injured Claire Price every now and then (best time to trade places with her is when she is injured!)
Eventually, I found myself running with Chris as our pace was more or less the same. We were running on some trail shared by many mountain bikers who I’m sure didn’t fancy getting off their bikes as often as they had to end up doing! Chris was just ahead of me, so I told some mountain biker dude to go run him down for me. You know the saying, one competitor less! Unfortunately, this biker dude didn’t comply with my request (people tend to be rude these days).
Then came the Tai Mo Shan climb. One heck of a climb. By that time, I thought I had passed Chris and put some distance between us. But, on the technical downhill from Tai Mo Shan to ground level, he came after me from behind like a rolling stone! I got out the way to avoid being mowed down. Then both of us lost power! We were slowing down quite a bit!
After a boring water catchment run, came our mistake #1. I lead both of us up some rough trail which lead nowhere. We backtracked and Chris got us back to the main trail (I delegated that task to him). Then, slowly, I began losing it more and more. I grew increasingly tired and had a hot stomach (by that I don’t mean I constantly farted — ok, fine, maybe a little). Btw, on that topic, note to self: no Indian curry the day before a race! Chris capitalized on my relatively weak condition and put on quite some distance between us. Then came Rupert and Martijn from behind me and it wasn’t long before they were in front of me!
I then became like Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. My question to everyone who passed me was this: “are we there yet? are we there yet?” The run seemed to be going on FOREVER! Then came Alger from behind with a “hi friend!” And both of us needlessly went up that hill like we did two years back! Note to self: if I go up that hill again in 2 years’ time, I am gonna shoot myself.
As we ran back down, Alger exclaimed “here, here, finish!” as he spotted the correct turn which we should have taken. Shoulda, woulda coulda. We ran down that trail with Alger leading the way, and before I knew it, he started putting some distance between us as well! The water lady at the checkpoint then gave me some bad news: “2.5k to go!” she said. Damn! I thought we were done! Arrrgghhh! That was a LONG 2.5k!
I went up Yuen Tsuen Trail part struggling and ran at about 8kmh. Then I had a big fall! Luckily, my gloves and trademark knee protection clothing saved me a few unwanted scratches. I gathered myself and continued to run which is when I saw trail running champ Jeremy Ritcey walking up from the other direction. (He was probably running it for like the 3rd time). He said “Hey Vince” to me and I asked him the usual “are we there yet?” to which he replied “5 minutes, literally”. That encouraged me but I was unsure if it was HIS 5 minutes or mine! I figured that mine would be 10 minutes at most (twice as slow as him). So, I prepared myself accordingly, and, FINALLY, I saw the finish line about 8 mins later!
Overall, I finished in 4 hrs 35 mins, came 26th overall and 13th in my category. But, what worried me was the way I was feeling at the end of the run — very tired! Looks like my recent holiday has had a toll on my fitness. Now, to get back into shape for HK100 which is in two weeks’ time. And, I promise, I won’t be doing any curry the previous night (although, admittedly, the farting produces quite some forward thrust like a jet plane). Hmmm… maybe, I should go Ebeneneezers instead?