Mark Green’s first Action Asia Event
Would the real Mark Green please stand up?
My name is Green, Mark Green.
Two weeks back my name was Martijn Doekes and last week it was Romain Riche. No, I don’t suffer from any multiple personality disorder. I was simply racing on behalf of injured or unwell friends. And, today, “Mark Green” made his debut in an Action Asia Race — the MSIG Lantau 50.
Although, Mark Green is an “early to bed, early to rise” kinda guy, getting up at friggin’ 4.30 in the morning certainly ain’t one of his passions. But, unfortunately, the race organizer had a strict 7am start time for the race — that too from Discovery Bay! That meant that Mark Green had to get on his motorbike at 5.15am and reach Tung Chung by 5.50am to catch the 6am Disco Bay bus.
The cold, dark and raining starting point
At 6.15am on Saturday morning, North Plaza in Discovery Bay looked more like a refugee camp. There were three kinds of camps. The “toilet” camp featuring a bunch of racers getting ready to relieve themselves at a moment’s notice, the “let’s-go-kick-ass” camp featuring racers with excessive testosterone, and finally, the “yeah-whatever” camp featuring racers who wore a puzzled “what am I doing here?” kinda look on their faces. I belonged to that camp. Hey, don’t blame us. It was still dark, cold and drizzling outside!
Some Action Asia kid with a microphone “interviewed” Shane and I at the start. He asked me to say something for the camera. With great enthusiasm I said, “My name is Mark Green. There’s only one reason I am here and that is to KICK ASS!” I was expecting an equally gung-ho response from the kid but all I got was a nonchalant “Ok, thank you” in return. Hey kid, if you are reading this, my clip better be there on that video!
And, the RACE!
The race was underway at precisely 7am. I had a secret target for the day. I wanted to stay “unchicked” (not overtaken by a girl) throughout the duration of the race. There was one main problem with that. Olya was participating! She’s like a female Ferrari. In true Ferrari style, she overtook me at the very beginning before all the climbing even began. And, boy, was there climbing or what! It was a TOUGH course featuring 2500m+ elevation and plenty of technical twists and turns.
I saw Nora and her dog at a downhill stretch and could hear Nora yelling “Go get Olya”. I then floored my own engines to get the Ferrari and I succeeded! Well, up until the point where I missed a red ribbon and a sharp turn to the left. Instead, I ended up going straight with 5 other runners to a underpass that led to Tung Chung! One runner turned back and asked me if we were headed in the right direction! That’s like asking the great US of A for advice on fiscal prudence! I told him that I had no clue. The 6 of us then backtracked our way back to that left turn. By then, the Ferrari was well ahead!
Then came a mammoth hill — Lin Fa Shan. I overtook Michael and Thorsten somewhere on the climb to the top expecting both of them to come zooming after me in due course. Near the intersection between Lin Fa Shaan and Sunset Peak, I saw ace runners Andre and Jeremy. They weren’t participating. Instead, they were there supporting everyone. “Don’t get chicked”, Andre warned as I ran by. “Go get Olya!” Jeremy encouraged as I started running down to Mui Wo.
I once again floored the engines on the downhill stretch to Mui Wo and ended up misstepping a couple of times resulting in a minor ankle twist. Despite my best efforts, there was no sign of Olya anywhere, not even in Nam Shan. I saw no point in car-chasing anymore, so I resumed my normal pace on Chi Ma Wan until I saw Martijn’s HKTR camp. He had a little support camp set up for us and even left the HKTR tee shirt dangling above his makeshift tent giving it the look of an official flag! I took a water bottle and some Oreo biscuits from there although there was no sign of Martijn. About 10 minutes later, I saw him coming at me from the opposite direction yelling “Go get Olya!”
And so, I made the mistake of going after the Ferrari again. I floored my engines and after a while I saw the coattails of the Ferrari. “You dropped a Granola bar at Checkpoint 1”, Olya said to me as I was passing her. She also offered me her Muesli bar in case I was out of energy. I overtook her at that point and I thought that I had beaten the Ferrari!
Clement Dumont and his wife Sabrina came running from the opposite direction with words of encouragement and told me that I was in 6th position overall! Suddenly, I had an overdose of confidence. So, I started running up every incline on Chi Ma Wan. Before I knew it, I ran out of gas! And the fact that Chi Ma Wan never seemed to end didn’t help either. 18kms of undulating terrain that will slowly but surely take everything out of you!
By the end of the 18km Chi Ma Wan peninsular loop, my energy levels deteriorated big time. Then came another one of my navigation brainwaves. I missed the Chi Ma Wan exit and a race marshal almost sent me on another one of those killer 18km loops!! Then another race marshal came running towards me yelling “wrong way, wrong way”. He then ran with me, all huffing and puffing, in the other direction. I then saw the Ferrari again, looking a lot fresher than I was and her engines were revving. I could smell defeat. She was going to floor her own engines at that point and I knew that I would have no chance. I didn’t even bother chasing after her.
After Chi Ma Wan, the course led us back to Mui Wo via the Nam Shan forest trail. Janice, another HKTR member, yelled “Hi Vince! Go, Go, Go!” as I ran past her towards Mui Wo. Then came the trail back to Disco Bay via another huge hill — Lo Fu Tau! (Exactly, when I thought we were done with humongous hills for the day). I saw Martijn once again somewhere on this trail. He hurled some abuse at me and told me that Olya was way up in front! He then gave me a much needed kick on my rear which propelled me forward by another meter or so before my take-it-easy pace took over again.
A very technical downhill stretch followed and then came my last navigation mistake for the day. I turned right instead of left when I descended down to Disco Bay (there was no ribbon!) I searched around for one but saw none. Then I backtracked and waited for a 27km runner who told me to go left!
Finally, there was one last concrete stretch back to the Disco Bay tunnel. It was a relief to see the Action Asia banner again.
And so, Mark Green ran through that banner in slow motion, creating history — his first ever Action Asia race!
51.25kms (Mark did an extra 1.25km thanks to his awesome navigation skills)
6 hours 13 minutes
Unfortunately, Mark Green got chicked. Ferrari finished in 6 hours 6 minutes. But Mark has learnt his lesson — Chase Ferraris at your own risk!