Selfie with Sha Tau Kok in the backdrop

#9 – Six Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Our Plover Cove Trail (With Hannes Niggli)

Hannes and I in Robin's Nest

Hannes and I in Robin’s Nest. Sha Tau Kok in the backdrop

In Episode 9 of the Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast, I co-host the show with Hannes Niggli, fellow owner of Plover Cove Trail in Hong Kong. He and I fought to own the majority shares in Plover Cove and our fight still remains unresolved. Hannes has been in Hong Kong for 2+ decades and he knows the trails of Hong Kong very well! He used to live near Plover Cove for almost a decade.
A few points on the Plover Cove Trail:
  • Plover Cove is MY TOP trail in Hong Kong. 100% trail (until you get to the dam at the end) and it presents some of the most beautiful views that Hong Kong trails have to offer
  • Hannes and I have done gone around this 17km trail (with around a 1000m elevation gain) so many times that we claim to “own” the trail. We even set up rules for ownership. For example, you have to have gone around the trail at least 10 times during the year and if you are a member of the sub 2-hour club, you get extra ownership points. See HKTR Plover Cove Challenge.
  • If you are training for a run under the hot sun, make sure Plover Cove is your training ground. It’s totally exposed, the hot air is trapped by the shrubs on either side of the trail. It feels like you’re in an oven. The second half is when you feel like there’s no other place in Hong Kong where you’d rather be

Plover Cove Amazing Facts:

As we are disputing our ownership shares in Plover Cove rather heatedly, Hannes sent me an email that read: “good morning, have been stuck at the airport for 3 hours so took the opportunity to create some educational material with the aim to close our knowledge gap on the subject as I eventually have to handover the property one day to younger generation. Everyday is a slide show, some of it is public information, some of it is personal”.

  1. Fact one:
    • Plover Cove was the first “reservoir in the sea”all over the world. Started in 1960, finished in 1968, providing a capacity of 170 million cubic metres.
    • It as once famous for pearl production. Now, it’s a famous, natural fishpond
    • Many Hakka villages were displaced. The British colonial government gave them shops along Kwong Fuk Road instead in Tai Po
  2. Fact two:
    • The famous KOTH Series run by Keith Noyes was known as “Tai Po marathon” between 1984-2006. Then the route went around Plover Cove. Hannes organized the newly set up KOTH series between 1998-1999
  3. Fact three:
    • Plover cove is an undulating trail. The highest point on this trail is at a trigonometric station which you can reach if you continue walking for another 5 minutes after the halfway point. You see a sign there that reads “11km to Tai Mei Tuk”. It’s a major landmark of the reservoir
  4. Fact four:
    • There are 3 routes around Plover Cove. Not just the standard Wuk Kau Tang to Tai Mei Tuk. The Ridge Trail, The Middle Trail and The KOTH Trail
  5. Fact five:
    • If you continue to go straight from the halfway point, you reach the most remote place in Hong Kong. It’s 15k of walking to the first settlement or house! There’s no other place in HK where you need to walk this distance before seeing civilization. Over here, you see the Finger Rocks or the Devil’s Hand which is over 200 million years old
  6. Fact six:
    • The tolo channel floating barriers were set up in the early 1990s as all smuggling was done by speedboats through this channel. The smugglers could easily load cars at the Plover Cove reservoir main pier. Once the police barrier was installed, all smuggling stopped

And, a “Fact 7” is that the image you see of the Hong Kong Trail Rockers podcast on iTunes is an actual shot of Plover Cove! When I had to pick a photo as the cover of the podcast, I naturally chose Plover Cove!

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to


Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 3/3 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – Medicines, Injuries, Nutrition, Goals and the Hong Kong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge

Continuation from Session 2. This is the last Session in this 3-part podcast with Andre.

Before summarizing what we spoke about in Session 3, I want to briefly write about my key takeaways after speaking to Andre. I keep track of certain traits that I want to emulate in my role models and if I can copy at least some of these qualities that Andre possesses, I’d be happy.


[Adopting a “never give up” attitude even during trying circumstances. Believing in yourself and gathering the determination to face and conquer challenges while enjoying them, instead of being overwhelmed by them. Achieving results while remaining humble and always feeling a sense of gratitude]

Andre Blumberg
He peed black urine yet knew not to give up. When confronted with challenges during his ultras, he solved each challenge as though it were a puzzle. He doesn’t let challenges overwhelm him. The greater the challenge, the greater the satisfaction he derives from it. He practices gratitude and is extremely humble despite his long list of accomplishments. He cares for others and gives back to the community. An inspirational person who serves as a role model to many people


Summary of Session 3 (the last part of Episode 8)

Medicines, Injuries, Nutrition and Gear:

  • What kind of gear does Andre swear by?
  • What did he do regarding nutrition when he did his grand slam?
  • What’s his philosophy on medicines? And, alcohol?
  • How does he deal with injuries?

The Hong Kong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge:

  • What gave him the idea to start this challenge?
  • Why did he change the format of the challenge?
  • Finishers for 2012, 2013, 2014
  • His invitation to me to do the 4 trails (?!)

Philosophy on supporting during races:

  • Where did that cowbell idea come from?
  • What part of the race does he enjoy supporting most?
  • Giving back to the community


  • Goals for 2015
  • Parting words of wisdom
  • Best place to reach Andre

This show also includes a Tailwind Trail Tip on pacing by John Ellis. Don’t miss it.


I’d like to thank Martijn Doekes from Lantau Base Camp for his help in getting me prepared! Also, thanks to John Ellis for providing a very important trail tip on pacing. And, of course, to Andre for spending close to 2.5 hours with me and imparting all this knowledge and inspiration!

Feedback and comments are welcome! My podcasting skills are still rough but on the mend! If you’d like to hear a certain guest on the show or have any sort of ideas, please write to me or leave a comment here. Thank you.

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to


Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 2 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – Physical, Mental Training, Personality Questions

Continuation from Session 1:



“So glad you’re getting Andre on – big hero of mine.” – email from John Ellis (accomplished ultra runner in his own right)


As I continued to talk to Andre Blumberg, we covered the following topics in Section 2 of this 3-part podcast.

Session 2: Physical Training, Mental Training, Personality Questions, Lessons Learned

Physical Training

  • Physical training all the way up until the grand slam
  • Talk to us about your training program. Right from the beginning in 2010 all the way up until the grand slam
  • How did he bring his weight down by 30-something kilos in 2010?
  • How did he train for the grand slam?
  • Talk about the high altitude tent
  • Now that all the training is done and he is so accomplished already, how does he train everyday and where does the motivation come from?

Mental training

  •  Most people look up to Andre when the going gets tough. They don’t want to disappoint him. How does he cope with this himself? Is he influenced by external pressure?
  • What makes him mentally tough?
  • What does he tell himself when the going gets tough?
  • Was he this tough before ultras? Does he train his mental strength? Who are his motivators?

Personality questions for Andre

  • Is there a lot of pressure on Andre? So many people look up to him. So many regard him as a role model. How does he deal with the pressure?
  • If he had to choose between work and running, what would he choose?
  • How does he manage his time between working in a high profile role vs running?
  • This sense of humility and benevolence Andre is known for, where does it stem from? Does he make a conscious effort to remain humble despite being like the Godfather of ultras?
  •  What are Andre’s fears? Is he scared that he may run out of challenges?
  • Would he be rather be known as Andre, the father of ultra running, Andre, the founder of HK4TUC, Andre, the accomplished professional Andre, the mentor for runners? Which does he like being known as more and why?

Injury, pain and philosophy on medicine and alcohol

  • Doing ultras in 5 months… did he get injured? How did he deal with it?
  • What does he do when he’s in physical pain or mental anguish?
  • Would he take medicines? When/where does he draw the line?
  • He went cold turkey on alcohol. Considering beer is staple food in Germany, how did he go cold turkey and does he drink now?

Lessons learnt and definition of failure

  • What’s Andre’s philosophy on failure?
  • Has Andre ever DNFed? What’s his philosophy on it?
  • Philosophy on team runs vs individual runs. Which one is better according to him and why? Does he like team runs?

In Session 3, I talk to Andre about nutrition, Gear, The 4 Trails Ultra Challenge, Goals for 2015 and beyond

Session 3 coming soon…

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to


Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 1 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – His story / accomplishments

Talking to Andre Blumberg

Talking to Andre Blumberg


I was fortunate enough to interview Andre Blumbeg aka “granddaddy of ultras” in the 3-part podcast.

Without exaggeration, interviewing him was INSPIRATION, MOTIVATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL!

My biggest takeaway was this: “It’s easier to throw in the towel than it is to persist. Know your purpose, don’t give up. Very often we give up way before we should”.

Topics to be covered in the podcast:

Session 1: Andre Blumberg’s story, accomplishments (Grand Slam, Badwater, Lake Tahoe)

Session2: Physical Training, Mental Training, Personality Questions, Lessons Learned

Session 3: Nutrition, Gear, The 4 Trails Ultra Challenge, Goals for 2015 and beyond, Contact


Session 1:

Who’s Andre?

  • The father of ultras! The role model to many trail runners in Hong Kong. The only person who has completed the Grand Slam in the US (four 100 mile races in the US in the span of 10 weeks) with a total cumulative elevation of 24,380m. See Grand Slam quest. The 4 races were Western States, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch Front. Since 1986 only around 280ppl have done the Grand Slam. Andre is in that club. In 2013, 31 ppl completed the Grandslam. Andre is one of them
  • He underwent a transformation before his 40th birthday. He started biking in the gym in Jan 2010. He weighed 103kgs then. In April 2010, he ran the 65km RTI. Same year he did TNF 100 in SG and the next year (2011), his first 100 miler (UTMF)
  • He is also the brain behind the 4 Trails Challenge

Three Quick Questions for Andre:

  • What is Andre’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why? Also, what’s his favorite race in Hong Kong? What’s his favorite race overseas and why?
  • What in Andre’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of ultra running?
    Does Andre have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?

Humble beginnings including time scale:

  • We touched upon his story briefly but want to hear it from Andre himself. Take us back to the beginning. What is his story? When/why did he get into running?
  • When someone wants a life transformation, they’d run the Standard Chartered marathon or they’d do a 100km and end it there. What we want to know is (a) What caused the transformation? (b) What kept it going after RTI in 2010? Before that, when did he come to HK and what was his lifestyle like BEFORE all this running?
  • Most people start of with road running before hitting the trails. Why did Andre decide to hit the trails at the very beginning? Why RTI


  • What’s Andre’s biggest accomplishment and why? Grand Slam – he is also the only one from outside America)
  • Talk about the Grand Slam (Each of the 4 races).
  • He traveled back and forth to the US. How did he cope with the time difference?
  • Talk about Lake Tahoe (200 miles)
  • Talk  about Badwater 135 miles


Session 2 and Session 3 coming soon…

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to


Doing the podcast with Steven Carr

#7 – Steven Carr (Road runner -> Trail runner / Race Organizer)


Doing the podcast with Steven Carr

Doing the podcast with Steven Carr


Show starts off with the “Tailwind Trail Tip”  –  Three Tips for Downhill Running by John Ellis


Who’s Steve?

1) Very serious guy. Very hard to get him to laugh. No, I am kidding. Steven is a guy who decided one day that with all the people surrounding him being very healthy and very fit, that he wanted to do better. As he puts it in his blog, “it is quite simply a vendetta against all the people who have done better “athletically” than him”. A inspirational story and a guy who has a great sense of humor

Over to Steve:
1) Where is Isle of Man and is it a tax haven? Does Steve have billions of dollars hidden there and is he running from the law?
Nope! He says he doesn’t. But, who knows!
Quick questions for Steve:
1) What is Steve’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why? Also, what’s his favorite race in Hong Kong?
Ma On Shan ridge. This is on Stage 4 of the Mac. Like Lantau 70 and Hong Kong 100
2) What in Steve’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running?
Hong Kong 100
3) Does Steve have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
The very famous Andre Blumberg. Very accomplished yet very humble. Also, Jeri Chua and Rob Krar

Humble beginnings including time scale:

“Before we listen to somebody we want to know who they are”

1) What is Steven’s story? (Touched upon it in the intro but want to hear from his own words). When did he get into running?
Decided to shut people up by doing the London marathon.

2) Talk to us about the half marathon.

“I woke up around 5. I put my running clothes on. Had breakfast; bananas, coffee, water, some Weetabix. Packed my bag. Bananas. Lots of bananas. I then went to the bathroom and proceeded to vomit for around ten minutes. What on earth was I doing?!? I hadn’t trained properly. I hadn’t even thought about this in any kind of depth. I was not ready. I couldn’t do this. I had to do this. I couldn’t not do it now. I had raised the money. My parents had come to watch. I had people waiting for me on the course. I will do it. I will finish it. I will survive.

5:35:21. The last six miles took one hour and forty five minutes.

How did he manage to finish despite vomiting? And, more importantly, what made him not give up?

What’s happened since the humble beginnings?

1) Why does he want to run and how big of a difference is trail running to him when compared to road running? Which one does he prefer and why?

Prefers Trail Running for sure now. Moved to Hong Kong, followed his wife Micheala around who runs. Friends who kept talking to him about runs got him into running. He decided to shut them up by knowing and doing more
1) Aside from his major accomplishment he already spoke about, what are some of of his other accomplishments? Talk to us about HK100 (2014)
After giving up at the 37km mark on the Lantau 70 race, he decided to work on his training. His trainer made his training process more efficient. Worked on nutrition (used Tailwind on HK100), focused on regular runs, better gear and was prepared as to what he was going to do every 10km of the race. Andre told him to call him when things got tough, before he could call his wife so Andre could get him to shut up and move on


1) How does Steve define failure?
As a teacher, doesn’t believe in failure. Only in taking lessons. Writes lessons down

2) What’s his philosophy on DNFs?

No problem with them so long as you learn from it

3) What lessons has he learnt from his “failures”?

On HK100, better training, nutrition and planning

Philosophy on pain:

1) What’s his philosophy on pain? Will he take medicines to finish a run? What’s his philosophy on medicines?
He will not take medicines. Pain is temporary, glory is forever. Makes a rational decision to continue despite pain

Nutrition and Alcohol:

1) What about his diet? Is there something he avoids?
Likes to cook. Now uses Tailwind

2) What’s his philosophy on alcohol?

Hard challenges with alcohol, decided to stop drinking and John joined him

Mental Training:

1) What about the mental aspect of things? Does he have a recorded speech he’d give himself when he is suffering mental anguish?
Not particularly. When he comes across tough situations, he has learnt to persist by looking at the situation rationally

2) Philosophy on team runs vs individual runs. Which one is better according to him and why?

Individual runs. Isn’t sure about team dynamics just yet

Nutrition and gear:

1) Talk to us about favorite gear plus nutrition strategy on an ultra

Nike shoes, Saloman bag


1) What are his goals for 2015 and beyond?
STY and a 100 miler in the future! Leadville or Western States (Thanks to Andre)

Career as a race director:

1) Talk to us about Hard as Nayls. What is it about? Why did he choose to get involved?
Got talked into it by Richard Scotford

2) What are the challenges of organizing a run?

Permits, people, volunteers, sponsors. He has the gift of gab. Was able to convince sponsors

3) Did he enjoy the challenge? Some guy fell down and hurt his head in the last bit of Hard as Nayls. How did he cope with that? How much stress is involved in being the race director?

Can be stressful. Had to learn to separate that incident and be rational about it

4) Would be rather be known as Steve, the ultra runner or Steve, the race director?

On that particular day, Steve, the Race Organizer
Lessons learned:
1) We spoke about lessons learned as a runner. What about lessons learned as a race organizer
Know many people. People are what make the race special


1) Outside of running what are Steven’s interests? Does he read books about running? Which one is his favorite?
Cooks. Reads books. Recommends Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton
Parting words of wisdom:

1) Mantra or motto or creed that Steve lives by (either in his running or his life)

Doesn’t believe in problems. Sees only challenges. Don’t hang around with negative people

2) For someone who views Steve as a role model and intends to start running, what advice would he give to this person?

Be sensible! Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Do your research

Best contact info:

1) What is Trail to a 100 miles?

2) What is the best way to reach him?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to