About 3 years have passed since my first 100km race at Translantau. After I finished that race, I swore never to take part in it again. But fast-forward 3 years later, I found myself back at the start line of the 100km race. Originally, I wanted to come to the event to support my friends, Duwei and Wei Chong. But my hands were itchy, so I registered for the ballot… and I got in. So that meant that I would be running with them instead. Luck, or fate, is fair. In the end, Translantau 100 – 2018 would be my first race of the year. It wasn’t exactly my first choice, but I’ll take it.
After finally finishing the CCC, I continued to run as per the usual schedule by Coach Andy. Base fitness was kept, followed by specific training which intensified about two to three months before the race. I felt that I was in the best physical condition I could possibly be. But in January, I caught a fever lasting a week, which surfaced again in February. In the week leading to the race, I was struggling to recover as quickly as I could before flying to Hong Kong.
Keeping to the original date of my planned trip to Hong Kong, I arrived at noon on Wednesday. A bit too early for a race, it gave me time to explore Hong Kong at my own pace. My friends, as well as the other Singaporean runners, would be coming a day or two later.
About 4 hours later, I arrived into Hong Kong. The immigration process was smooth, as usual. Got my luggage and hopped in a cab to the hotel. It was warmer than I last remembered, so I took off my hoodie in the cab. But continued to feel giddy and nauseous throughout the ride. Maybe it due to the cab driver weaving up and down the road at speed, and without the air condition turned on. I breathe a sigh of relief once I reached the hotel.
Wandering About – Day 1
After checking-in, I got some rest before heading off to Hong Kong island for dinner. There was no fixed schedule or plans that I made of with anyone. So I decided to visit Gone Running and see if I could meet Joe Joe, as I knew John Ellis wouldn’t be around. Thankfully, Joe Joe was in and I had a great time catching up with her. We talked about the store, differences between the running markets in Hong Kong and Singapore, and of course about WAA.
I had dinner at a nearby cafe, of Steven Carr‘s recommendation. Well, I didn’t have much choice as one of my favourite restaurants was closed for Chinese New Year and was only open the day after. The vegetarian pizza was good, nevertheless. And with that, I headed back to Lantau Island after a long first day.
Being alone and with nothing to do, I tried my hands at vlogging. It turned out alright, although, without a laptop, there wasn’t much editing I could do.
Wandering About – Day 2
Thursday, Day 2, began with an easy run. It was cool and beautiful morning. Honestly, I was just happy to be moving again and getting the phlegm out of the system.
After the run, I headed to the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast before packing some of the gear for the race. I rested a while more before heading out to Hong Kong Island for brunch. My place of choice was, of course, the most famous Halal Dim Sum place in Hong Kong.
I had one more stop to make before heading back to meet Wei Chong and Duwei, and that was to visit Samantha at RacingThePlanet. It was great to catch up with an old friend. Though I still have no clue when I would sign for my first desert race.
And I decided to do another vlog again.
Race Day Gear
Read no more, for this video will guide you to some of the gear I used for the race.
I won’t go into too many details about this. But to put it simply. I thought I’d be having the hotel room to myself, or two. But I eventually would be sharing it with four other blokes, who happen to be my closest pals. Good times. No homo.
The group opted not to head to Hong Kong Island to conserve our energy for the late night start. So we spent most of our time checking our gear, taking naps and walking around Lantau Island for meals and groceries. The last member, Andy, arrived in the afternoon and met us in time for early dinner and race bib collection.
Most of us tried to find some quiet time before the race, either napping or just checking our phones. It was definitely different from my 2015 experience when I couldn’t catch a nap before the race. At about 11 pm, the group gingerly made our way to the start line, which was now at the Mui Wo River Silver Garden, just behind the hotel.
We took a quick photo before settling into our places at the start line. The race counted down and started with little or no fanfare (no music or festivities). I didn’t expect too much out of myself but to keep moving and do my best. I was definitely in better shape than in 2015 as I ran along thinking about it. But if race finishes were guaranteed, none of us would be signing up for these races.
I ran the first parts of the race together with Duwei, with Andy close by. Wei Chong probably blitzed off as he stood nearer the start line. From the start line to CP1, it was a matter of getting through the bottleneck and into a good running space. I bumped into Ben Castro as I was climbing up a slope, wished him luck and continued on. I settled on a good pace of a mix of running, walking and climbing. Running the flatter parts, walking the technical parts, climbing the … slopes.
Coming into CP1, I checked my bottles before deciding not to stop but continue onwards. I had enough rations and water to last until CP2. But the sleep bug caught up and eventually, I began to feel a little sleepy. Perhaps due to the exertion of the effort I was putting in, the run through the night, the phlegm, or all of it. I was considering taking in a caffeine gel, but before that could happen, I tripped and came tumbling to the ground.
Other than falling on my hand, I also pulled my right calf, which left me in agony. A fellow runner asked if I was okay, and Kok Kwang, who was with me at the time, helped me up. He asked if I was okay before moving ahead. I took a moment to stretch my legs out, check if anything was broken, then ran again. The fall definitely shook me awake for a bit, so by then, I took the caffeine gel and pushed my way to CP3.
Upon reaching CP3, I checked in with a medic who helped to clean and cover the wound, which was a bloody mess at this point. I thanked him for his help, got some food, and swiftly moved off. My legs were feeling ok at this point, which was a relief but would come back to haunt me later. Meanwhile, I focused on the next task of climbing Lantau Peak. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any issues and made good progress up and over the peak. The descents were pretty steep and I was cautious of my foot landing to avoid another serious fall.
I don’t remember much between CP4 and CP5, other than it was getting hotter as the sun got up. Thankfully I had my buff cap and sunglasses, so I wore those all the way till I made it to CP6. I was thankful to have run together with PS Sim, as we both kept each other in view during the run. She was faster at climbing, and I, descending. We both ran together till the exit towards CP6.
And for the briefest of a moment, I stopped to take a photo of the surrounding. Something I haven’t done in a race in a very long time.
I pushed hard towards CP6 and arrived just before noon, exhausted. The first thing my tired eyes spotted as I wandered in was a hot milo. I took my cup, filled it up, sat down, and got organized. There were a couple of things I had to do, but somehow or another, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. Also, my right quads were starting to frizzle. I rested the best I could, re-organized my bag and nutrition, and got ready to go out again. As I was getting my hand patched up, I bumped into Duwei, who just got into the CP. We spoke for awhile before I continued my way.
By then, I still felt tired and my right quads got progressively worse. It felt dull and started showing signs of cramping. I was relegated to walking that 3km stretch before I decided to call it quits. Not knowing how to get back, I thought my best bet was to hike back to Tai O. But as I was walking, a kind runner suggested that I head out of the trail and call a cab, to which he kindly helped me with. I thanked the runner as the cab arrived, which took me back to Mui Wo.
As I got out of the cab, my quads seized up so badly, it was locked for a good 5 mins. Once it settled down, I slowly limped to the event area to report my DNF and return my tracker. Coincidentally, Andy, who had DNF’ed much earlier and was out to get some food, spotted me and helped me back to the hotel. I crashed to the foor, and decided to let everyone know about it, again.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with myself for another DNF, which now stands at 3. But for this race, I think I gave it my all and didn’t play it safe. I felt capable of a good time and I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. But of course a race, many things could go wrong, and they did. The weather warmer than I thought, I fell early on, etc. In the end, perhaps I could have finished, even with my busted quads. But as per my live video, I’ve done this race before, and I felt that I didn’t want to slog it out again. And who knows, I may have damaged my quads further and increased recovery time in the build up for UTMB.
But there were definitely many positives I took away from this race, as well as things I could improve. And I enjoyed the trip as well, it was great fun to be back on Lantau. Next year maybe?
Till next time.