2017 – MSIG Sai Kung 50

On February 18, 2017 I ran the 2017 edition of the MSIG Sai Kung 50. No, I didn’t actually run 50 kilometres, in the countryside, up and down mountains. Maybe someday I will, but not that day. I ran the shorter, 21km route, in the countryside, up and down mountains. This run started super early in the morning. The run was to start at 7:00AM, so I got to Pak Tam Chung Picnic Garden at around 6:00AM. I had plenty of time to mill around, hydrate, warm up, and hand in my things to the friendly baggage collection folks for safe storage.

We got off to a great start at 7 in the morning but it wasn’t too long before we all behaved like lemmings and followed someone in the front who went off the path by accident. There was a hilarious few minutes of all of us trying to reverse direction on a perilously narrow village path.

Once back on course, we all began to spread apart a lot more as we all settled into our own personal grooves. Along the way was some great scenery as well as… a cow.

From then on, it was a mighty hard slog up some steep inclines. We eventually got to a beach village where refreshment stands were setup. Words can’t properly express how much I appreciated water and Nutella sandwiches.

From there, I had a nice little walk along the beach as I munched on my sandwich and drank the water. An important sidenote concerning the water: as I took the bottle from the refreshment stand and started to walk away, the lady at the stand reminded me not to just carelessly leave it somewhere. I assured her I wouldn’t. I didn’t. Once emptied, I crushed it and carried the dang thing up and down mountains until I finally saw the next rubbish bin.

So anyway, that nice walk along the beach was the last easygoing part of the run. From then on, I had a brutal, never ending walk up a mountain that seemed to never end. I swear, several times I just wanted to lay down and sleep. That was a real desire. This is the reason why I encourage people to get into endurance sports though. You get into a mental kind of headspace that is not really easy to get into in other situations. You end up LEARNING more about yourself. I finally did get to the top of that brutal incline and took a couple of nice pictures.

Now a little warning: when you’re completely knackered and sitting on the ground to catch your breath, DO NOT quickly stand up without your sunglasses on if there’s a clear blue sky. It was the strangest thing. It was like there was a little gremlin inside my skull, pinching the rear of both my eyeballs. I wasn’t having any of that so I sat back down for another minute until the weird little mini-migraine went away. Then I put my sunglasses back on, SLOWLY stood up again, and started the descent down the mountain.

Later on, we got off the mountain trail and spent a great deal of time running on pavement. At one point, there were some reinforced embankments that people had scratched various country names into. I made my own contribution.

All in all, I had great time despite finishing with an atrocious run time! Ha ha. I’d like to extend a big congratulations to the event organizers. They put on a great race overall – which even featured great post-race refreshments!

2017 China Coast Marathon

A month ago I took part in the 2017 China Coast Marathon, sponsored by Gammon. It’s a wonderful event that features a scenic full marathon and half marathon on a very challenging course of mostly incline and decline.

First I had to get up in the early morning hours to catch a minibus from my home to a shuttle bus stationed at Tai Po Market. That bus was due to leave at 6:00am and arrive at the race site at close to 7:00am.

Everything went smoothly and I arrived at Po Leung Kuk Holiday Camp with enough time to get my things ready, go to the washroom and properly warm up for the race.

There were already a lot of people milling about, trying to warm up. I was freezing. I immediately regretted not bringing a heavier jacket. I had thought a simple athletic wind breaker would suffice. I was mistaken.


Leading up to race time, I had to battle with my nerves to keep my digestive system at bay but I lost that battle. I had to go to the toilet shortly after getting off the bus, and then about a half hour later. By then the line was too long so I just hoped there would be some sort of toilet during the run.

At 8am we were off at the starting line and I felt GREAT, despite having to go number 1 and 2 at the nearest porta potty.

 

The run basically consisted of 2 rounds of the circuit shown on the map posted below. It was fairly challenging as most of the run was either at an incline or decline.

I was somewhere around 25% done when my left ankle began to act up as it sometimes does. I kind of expect it. I had sprained it a few times through the years and it healed a bit less every time. It’s not a big deal most of the time. From then on, I was forced to give up on my target pace of 6km an hour and had to alternate between walking, limping/running, and running. It’s funny how pain kind of comes and goes when you’re running.

I ultimately crossed the finish line and the feeling was amazing. This was my first countryside marathon and I had a lot of fun despite the poor performance. I hope I do better next time!