Putting the “Care” back in Care Action!
What happens when you send 5000 people racing up a narrow trail? Answer: plenty of pushin’ and shovin’. When I first ran this race 3 years back, I fell victim to some ruthless pushing. I still sport war injuries from that race! A small scar on my right palm serves as a constant reminder of the ruthlessness of Care Action! Today, I was determined to keep my body safe and intact during the race. Therefore, I decided to wear my medieval body armor suit for this race. Here, take a look:
However, I realized that there was only one small problem with this gear — it makes running up Sharp Peak slightly difficult! But, not the one to be bogged down by such a small problem, I was instantly reminded of the Giorgio Armani in me and wore my very own trail-fighting designer wear.
I also wore my gym gloves to complete my Rambo-style outfit for this race. I was ready for any fight and even looking forward to one!
Teaching a newbie the tricks of the trade
Adrian, Martijn, Vivien, Vic, Lawrence, Nelson and I gathered by the Luggage Corner in Pak Tam Chung at 8.30am. Three of them -Adrian, Martijn and Vivien- were making their Care Action debut. Vic and I were enjoying scaring them with exaggerated Care Action horror stories from the past.
“Make sure you wear gloves and get ready for a serious fight”, I warned Adrian.
Adrian looked all spooked and stared anxiously at his bare, gloveless hands and said “But, I don’t have gloves!”
He sought solace from Ronny who was standing by his side, also gloveless. But, then Ronny broke Adrian’s composure as he pulled a pair of gloves from his shirt pocket! Ronny offered a single glove to Adrian for protection. Gratefully, Adrian seized the opportunity to arm himself and the smile on his face returned! He was all set for the racing battle that lay ahead.
On you mark, get-set and SHOVE!
Around 5000 people assembled in Pak Tam Chung at 9am. Racers were everywhere! Spectators holding point-and-shoot cameras were parched up various vantage points to get a shot of the crowd. After hearing all our horror stories, Adrian decided to go slowly at the start while Martijn decided to run fast to escape the inevitable runners jam that would occur several meters ahead.
At 9am, several thousand legs started pounding the Pak tam Chung road. I saw Martijn, Vic and Nelson immediately disappearing into the crowd of runners ahead. I needed some time to warm up and decided to take it a little easy. Besides, I was ready for any fight — I was donning Natteri’s anti-knee scratch protection (TM) and a pair of gloves! But, shockingly, despite all the armory, there was no pushing or shoving that I had been so prepared for! The slower runners ahead of me actually gave me way which induced a similar act of reciprocity from me. At suitable junctions, I signaled the faster runners behind me to overtake me. Civilization on a Care Action race? What has the world come to? I’ll confess — the ruthless of the event had a special appeal to me but, today, fortunately/unfortunately, decency seemed to have taken the place of ruthlessness! Could it be the bad economy? Maybe people get more caring in a bad economy? I mean, come on! Adrian was wearing a single glove for no reason!
I first overtook Nelson on the way to Pak Tam Au and then I overtook Vic and Lawrence on the climb to Sharp Peak. Martijn and Vivien were nowhere in sight. It was a sunny day and the course was absolutely spectacular. For the first time during a Care Action race, I took my eyes off the trail on several occasions to soak in the beauty of the landscape and the beautiful beaches in the horizon. I didn’t fall even once and neither was I pushed or shoved by a fellow racer. I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t dreaming.
But, Natteri’s anti-knee scratch protection (TM) didn’t go to waste. It helped me on all those overgrown stretches where my knee would have otherwise been susceptible to some bad ass scratches from thorny bushes. I discovered one huge design flaw though. The socks actually started dropping from the knee to the calf after some intense running. Adrian later suggested a clever way to fix the design. He thoughtfully suggested that the socks can be suspended from the underwear thus ensuring that it always remains in space. And, if the underwear also drops, that too can be suspended from the shoulders giving it an even more fashionable look. (Yes, two minds are always better than one).
I overtook Vivien at Sai Wan — he seemed to be tiring but looked mentally strong. I then decided to check how well I was doing so l lifted my left wrist to look at my Garmin. Alas! It wasn’t there! It must have fallen somewhere on the course! My 3-year-old running partner and I were separated for good!
The Cosmoboys support camp gave me a bottle of water near Ham Tin. From there, I ran continuously to Pak Tam Chung and posed for the several cameras that were clicking on the way to the finish.
My time: 3 hours 34 minutes
73rd position overall (or something like that)
Number of falls: 0
Number of pushes/shoves: 0
(such trail decency on a Care Action race is blasphemy!)
The HKTR score:
1. Martijn kicked ass finishing in 3 hours and 20 minutes! He came 27th overall. Phenomenal effort. Dominic’s 3 hours and 11 minutes record remained unbroken
2. Vic finished in 3 hours and 39 minutes
3. Vivien, Lawrence, Nelson and Adrian finished after Vic but I don’t remember their times
Overall, HKTR won 6 points! Our most ever since we started participating in Care Action. And, most importantly, we all won those famous Care Action backpacks! (Next year, I plan to write to the organizers to have my very own trail running designer wear to be included in the prizes as well).
Speaking of which, I think I can hang up my gloves now and work on Natteri’s All New Underwear-Suspended Anti-Knee Scratch Protection prototype (TM)…