Recovery Run/Hike – Cloudy Hill, Pat Sin Leng and Plover Cove
112 – that’s the magic number. My total mileage for last week. Two words to summarize it – “too much!” So, after having already run 44kms this week, I wanted to do a lazy 37km recovery run to give my legs a chance to recover from training too much. Besides, my two teammates Vic and Romain were also uncharacteristically feeling extremely lazy. I’ll tell you why in a second but, before that, here’s what the Hong Kong Government advises people to do when there is a Typhoon 8 signal.
Typhoon 8 Precautions
Do not stand near windows on the exposed side of your home. Move all furniture and valuables away from these areas. Make sure you have a safe place to shelter, should windows be broken.
Avoid staying in the street. Return home as soon as possible if conditions so permit.
When Typhoon Kai Tak paid a visit to Hong Kong on Thursday night, my HKTR teammates had a game plan. And, it didn’t quite involve heeding HK Government’s “avoid staying in the street” precaution. Instead, in their typical insane fashion, they literally threw caution to the wind and embarked on an overnight 48km Typhoon 8 run beginning at 10.30pm, exactly when the Number 8 Typhoon Signal was hoisted. They were banking on the Signal 8 lasting throughout the night and on Friday, meaning they wouldn’t need to go to work on Friday.
They met in Yau Tong, ran the Wilson trail until Sha Tin pass and then ran stages 6,7 and 8 of the Mac, finishing at 6.30am in Route Twisk. That’s 48kms in distance and about 2500m in elevation under a Typhoon 8 signal! It was as though they disdainfully danced on the butt of the typhoon! Of course, no typhoon would have tolerated such blatant disrespect. So, in what seemed like a brutal act of sweet revenge, typhoon Kai Tak taught them a lesson by weakening just in time for work on Friday morning! That left Romain spending all day at work on Friday without having slept a wink the previous night while Vic feigned some excuse and “worked from home” on Friday (read: slept at home).
When I met Romain in the morning, unsurprisingly, he looked exhausted – both physically and mentally. Vic looked better (thanks to “working from home”) but still seemed tired from the typhoon festivities. All in all, this meant that we all were going to take today’s run very easy!
21 runners showed up in the morning for the special 3-in-1 run. Trust me, even on a normal day, running all three courses in one day isn’t for the faint of heart. On a hot day, just finishing is a big accomplishment.
One person, in particular, seemed extra determined to complete the run today. Roger. He showed up all ready to kick ass. Prior to the run, he made sure that every single question he had on properly navigating the trail was answered to perfection. And, God forbid, we couldn’t let him die alone on the trail either. “when I get lost and die a slow, horrible, painful death tomorrow, I’m coming after you all…”, he warned.
Romain and I were sort of in the lead after Cloudy Hill. But, a sleep deprived Romain couldn’t stay awake after climbing the first hill of Pat Sin Leng. He wanted to turn around and quit as early as possible. Vic did his best to encourage him to continue. “Pat Sin Leng is flat”, he lied blatantly with great conviction. “There is a stream on the way, you don’t need much water. I don’t have water either”, he continued, responding deftly to Romain’s protests about not having enough water. Short of promising a Starbucks en route, he quickly exhausted his repertoire of lies. Strangely, Romain was persuaded to complete Pat Sin Leng, albeit slowly.
I went ahead to provide “direction advice” to the guys at the front – Andy, Jerome and Laurence. Andy had several “are-we-there-yet” kind of questions. “Only two hills left”, I answered after looking at a sign on one of the 8 summits of Pat Sin Leng. Two hills later, I realized that I had actually read that sign backwards! After those two hills, Andy optimistically asked me if it was all downhill from there. My credibility was decimated.
In about 3 hours, we reached the rip off vending machines by the bus station in Bridespool. 7 bucks for 500ml of water, 11 bucks for coke – it was nothing short of highway robbery. But, a man can’t drink his sweat (or can he?) Anyway, one by one, we gave the owner of this vending machine a lot of business. Sharon didn’t seem as concerned about the water situation as she was about how her hair looked after running 20km. We assured her that she looked fine. She then, filled up her hydrapack with water and seemed determined to run Plover Cove.
Roger, despite being armed with answers to all his questions, decided to quit at Bridespool. So did Bei, Jerome and a few others. Adrian, Laurence, Andy and I were the first ones to set foot in my territory. Soon, the difficulty of running Vince Natteri’s Plover Cove Country trail became apparent to all. Martijn, Alice and Mikko decided to return to Wu Kau Tang which left Adrian, Laurence, Andy, Olivia, Sunny, Sharon and I on the trail.
Vic failed to convince Romain to run Plover Cove. He tried telling him that the course was flat which even a sleep deprived Romain couldn’t believe. The two of them had lunch in Tai Mei Tuk and Romain exited there. Vic, being the generous guy he is, decided to walk Plover Cove from the opposite direction carrying water for everyone as he knew that this course would leave many feeling thirsty prematurely. (Also, he was secretly hoping that he could save the girls from not only water deprivation, but also attacks from snakes, bears, etc, etc and become a hero in their minds). Martijn and Martin also decided to give Plover Cove a miss and instead decided to wait for the group at the end of the the dam in Tai Mei Tuk to ensure that everybody was okay.
When I was running on Plover Cove, I saw our names carved in mud. It looked like we had a secret admirer.
I thought to myself that it was probably Jean-Luc or Carol, who were going to run just the Plover Cove part beginning at 10am. Or perhaps, it was Shane, who also hiked Plover Cove today and reported seeing wild pigs on the trail. Or maybe, it was an English speaking wild pig? (Well, you never know with all the genetically modified animals we get these days!)
The heat took its toll on everyone. Eventually, I saw Vic about 6km from Tai Mei Tuk. The two of us then waited for everyone to catch up with us.
Adrian showed up, suffering from leg cramps. This was his first ever 20km+ trail run! Adrian and Andy went ahead while Vic and I waited for quite a while for everyone else to catch up. But, we didn’t see anyone else. I then concluded that the rest of the group must have returned to Wu Kau Tang. We then proceeded to finish and when we did, Martijn told us that that Sunny, Doug, Nel, Olivia and Sharon were still out there! Thanks to me wrongly assuring Vic that there was no one else behind us, he missed his chance to heroically rescue the girls. But, when we did see Olivia and Sharon arriving, it didn’t look like they needed any rescuing! They were chatting away to glory.
By the end of dinner, everyone in the group was accounted for. A 100% survival rate. Normally, on our runs, 1-2 people are considered to be expendable (read: Roger, Martin), but somehow we all managed to survive this day. Unusual yet possible.