Who’s da ULTIMATE SOB? (Sun of the Beach)

Checkout the full SOB photos here.

Would the real SOB please stand up?
London Olympics 2012? BOOOOOOOOOOOOORING! A far more exciting and truly gripping sporting event was being held right here in Hong Kong! And, the stakes were significantly higher than the lousy gold, silver or bronze medals. The winner stood the once-in-a-lifetime chance to win both domestic and international recognition as THE ULTIMATE SOB! SUN OF THE BEACH, that is! Imagine the pride and significance of strutting around the world knowing that you’re the ULTIMATE SOB! That’s exactly what was at stake!

So, what is this ULTIMATE SOB challenge?
Imagine a near vertical 850m climb spread over less than 3 kilometers! We’re talking climbin’ gigantic boulder steps after steps nonstop on a HOT summer day.

According to the Constitution of Hong Kong Trail Runners (Chapter 75.A, Section III.b.1), “The Ultimate SOB” is defined as the fastest person to reach the summit of Sunset Peak (900m) from near ground level in Tung Chung.

The rules
Here they are, courtesy of the listing on the website.

“Hello Potential Ultimate SOBs,

Your SOB organizers have some SOB remarks to make.

1) Water, water everywhere not a drop to drink: thou shall bring thou own water (and at least 1.5L of it) as us SOBs won’t provide it. It’s going to be hot and you’re climbing up 800m. So, if thou shall be cheap on water, thou shall suffer!

2) You have to be in Tung Chung MTR station by SHARP! If thou shall be late, thou shall be disqualified and sent to a brutal torture room

3) Thou shall receive 2 bibs at the start from the organizers. The first bib is to be given to Vivien who will be patiently waiting near the junction where Wong Lung Hang trail meets Lantau trail. Second bib is to be given to Shane and Vic at the finish

4) In order to finish, you HAVE TO touch and kiss the trigonometric station at the top of Sunset Peak. (You can also choose to kiss Vic and/or Shane instead -only applicable to girls-)

5) It’s about 5km or 1-1.5 hours to get to Chang Sha beach from Sunset Peak. If you are SUPER DUPER LAZY, you can take a bus there from Pak Kung Au but you will be the subject of generous ridicule from all of us

6) And remember, SLEEP WELL THE NIGHT BEFORE and aim to be the ULTIMATE SOB. There’s no greater pleasure than to be called an SOB.

PS. The course will be marked. So, DON’T YOU DARE make excuses about getting lost!

Yours sincerely, Chief SOB Martijn and fellow SOBs Vivien, Vic, Romain, Shane and Vince”

Potential SOBs gathering
At precisely on the morning of August 5th, 2012, over 20 potential SOBs gathered in Tung Chung MTR station with one common goal in mind – to win the grand SOB title! The atmosphere was electric. All major TV stations, ESPN, CNN, Star Sports, etc, etc were covering the event live. The illegal bookie activity was running on overdrive. With Jinhwa unable to compete in the event because of wasp stings from an earlier hike, several million dollars were collectively being bet on Olivia, Maggie and Alice to win in the Female Open category. Nick, Adrian and Christian were popular contenders to win in the Male Open Category.

Gathering of SOBs

Jean-Luc and Guillaume releasing nitrogen back into nature – albeit right by the main road

On your mark, get set and there go the SOBs…
Jean-Luc finally learned to suck – his hydrapack tube that is. Fortunately for him, he received some enlightening how-to-suck 101 education just in time for the grand SOB event. After struggling to draw water from his Hydrapack (despite his best efforts at sucking on the tube), he finally discovered the secret to sucking effectively. Contrary to his traditional (and natural) style, he learned that one has to bite the tube and suck on it in order to draw water! Although puzzled by this counterintuitive “biting when sucking” approach (he says he doesn’t normally bite when he sucks), he took advantage of this newfound enlightenment and plodded uphill at a slow and steady pace.

Jean-Luc plods on happily knowing he’s got water

Adrian in top form, determined to clinch the SOB title

Olivia and Maggie, competing fiercely from the start for the title

Happily inching closer to the top

April seems undaunted by the climb

Video of runners at the start

To Bee or Not to Bee
Being the Ultimate SOB requires a lot of fortitude. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry has that kind of valor! In order to test the bravery of potential SOBs, we installed a special wasp nest by a tree halfway on the trail. Adrian, Maggie, Olivia, Alice and a couple of fast SOB challengers didn’t even notice this carefully planned course obstacle! However, several others did! In fact, a big Cosmoboys group that was also training on Wung Lung Hang trail today, had to turn back out of fear of being stung.

I was guiding the challengers through this course obstacle. The directions were simple. Wait for the bees to settle down, watch where you’re going and RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! These wasps are fast and are professional sting masters! 24/25 SOB challengers were faster than the wasps, however, just when Sarah was speeding away from a bad wasp, the wasp developed Rocky style strength and flew even faster. This wasp had her from behind (literally). Shrieks of pain echoed in the air and unnerved Jean-Luc who was next in line to display his bravery. Going back would have been too humiliating for a man of Jean-Luc’s stature. So, in order to retain his title as a man, he ran like there was no tomorrow and made it across the nest unscathed.

Explanation of the wasp nest!

Running for life!

The moment of reckoning
Alice looked all set to claim her title as the ULTIMATE SOB (Female Open Category) but there was a hitch. She got lost (despite the trail being marked like every 5m). These few costly seconds of misnavigation meant that Maggie and Olivia were going to snatch the title from her. Eventually, after what looked like a photo finish, Maggie persevered and claimed The Ultimate SOB title (Female Open Category).

Maggie, Alice and Olivia pose with the much coveted Ultimate SOB Certificate

Adrian was unstoppable from the beginning. He climbed up like there was no tomorrow. He later confessed his secret of success to us. No, not doping but Bacardi. He ran with a Bacardi bottle in his bag. He also “curiously” asked another question. He wanted to know if one could fill beer instead of water in the Hydrapack. Although that question might have seemed out of place in the traditional trail running community, it wasn’t so for Christian Weber, who evidently, seemed to have tried something of this sort before. He noted that by filling beer in the Hydrapack, the end of the tube would foam up, hence it wasn’t quite possible to fill beer in a Hydrapack.

Anyway, despite asking questions such as this one which was likely to send him to Alcoholics Anonymous, he clinched the ULTIMATE SOB title, fair and square (and maybe drunk).

Adrian becomes the ULTIMATE SOB! You can see the glint of success in his eyes!

For their incredible achievements, Maggie and Adrian were awarded state-of-the-art certificates from the organizers.

And the party begins!
A 5km downhill descent took the group to Cheung Sha beach where the accomplishments for the day were celebrated over some fine Thai culinary. Then, it was time for some beach volleyball and a very interesting game that Phoebe had us play. I am still unclear on the rules.

Martijn can’t wait to get to the beach!

Party at the beach!

Now, the question that’s on everybody’s minds. Will Maggie and Adrian retain their Ultimate SOB titles next year? With so many wannabe SOBs out there, it looks like they have to train immensely hard to retain their title. But, until then, I bet they’ll be walking around Hong Kong with the ultimate sense of pride – they are now certified SOBs.