This is the first of a 2-part post on the 2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100, with this post focusing more on the travel aspects of the race!
A race that I had waited for almost a year to get in and … I blew it. Well the weather blew it, literally. And so this was the story of my first DNF at the Vibram Hong Kong 100.
As the opening race for the Ultra Trail World tour series of races, this 6th edition of the Hong Kong 100 was one of the two Asian races in the calendar, the second being the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. Both were marquee races that drew an international field of runners year in and year out. The 6th edition hosted a star-studded line up, which you can find out about more over here at iRunFar.
Despite assurances from friends (who had run it before) that the course was easier than Translantau, a 100 km race was still a 100 km race. Having been haunted by the mistakes of being grossly under-trained Translantau, I took steps to ensure that I was better prepared for my second 100 km mountain ultra.
I spent about 11 weeks training for Hong Kong 100. The first 6 weeks was the base building phase to strengthen my injury ridden left leg through consistent runs (40 km/week) and strength training. The next 4 weeks was the peak phase where I gradually increased my weekly mileage and vertical. I went for back to back sessions on weekdays and weekends, instead of single and hours long sessions to let the fatigue accumulate. I also chose to spend more time on doing hill repeats to help with my climbing, which had always been my weakest skill set. The taper week included easier runs and more focus on strength training before the race week.
The training sessions may seem short to the hardened trail runners out there, but because of my overuse injury, I took each workout by feel and moved my training days accordingly.
I strictly adhered to the mandatory gear guidelines for the race to avoid over-packing as I had done so many times for previous races My packed weight about 1.9 kg without water. You will have a rough idea on the gear I used for the race from the picture below.
In the city
Jiong How, Andy and myself booked a Tiger Air flight bound for Hong Kong on Thursday morning. At the airport, I was pleasantly surprised to have met an NS colleague who was working as one of the security staff there. A flight delay of sorts meant that we were in Hong Kong about 30 minutes later than expected.
For this trip, we opted to stay in an AirBnb apartment in Wan Chai. A first for us and a departure from the usual stay in hotels. The place was big enough to house 4 of us (including Ian) and was close to the race day shuttle bus pick-up point.
Bumping into a French guy and his German friend
After we had finished settling down, we headed down to a venue near Causeway Bay as I had to meet a film maker on an appointment by WAA Ultra. Little did I know that the venue was hosting the Asia-Pacific Region Trail Running Summit, where the elite trail runners from the race gathered to discuss on matters of the sport of trail and ultra running.
Although my appointment with the film maker got re-scheduled to the next day, we didn’t leave the place ’empty handed’.
For dinner on the first night, we went to the Islamic Centre Canteen in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The canteen was best known for its Halal Dim Sum and even non-Muslims can dine there. Fortunately for us it was a mere 15 to 20 minutes walk away from our apartment. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t open between 3 to 6 pm, so we waited around for a long while before we could eat. The food didn’t disappoint, but Dim Sum was only available in the morning hours.
Another place which we had dinner once Ian had joined us was at a Middle Eastern Restaurant tucked away in the higher floors of another Hong Kong commercial building. This restaurant was even closer to our apartment, cozy and had a host who was quite entertaining as we chatted about football and players who were from his home country of Algeria.
Queuing for stuff
On Friday, after Ian had joined us from his late night flight in Hong Kong, we headed down to Racing The Planet to collect our race packs. It was a rather chaotic affair (against Singapore standards), but the staff there did their best to accommodate the throngs of requests from runners, as well as those buying last-minute gear on discount.
In the camera, under the rain
As part of my commitments as a new member of the WAA Expert Team, I had to fulfill certain obligations set by the brand. One of them was participating in a video shoot for a commercial that will be airing later in the year. The video was shot on the road just outside the Racing The Planet building. The shoot was great, apart from the chilly weather and the occasional downpour (I wasn’t even wearing long sleeves).
Special thanks to Ian, Andy and Jiong How for ‘crewing’ me by holding my stuff and passing me my jacket when I needed some warmth!
Another shop that was conveniently located near our apartment was Gone Running, which was quite simply the best running shop despite being around for only 2 years online and 1 year as a shop. Setup by Steven Carr and John Ellis (whom I met at MSIG last year), we simply had to pay it a visit when in Hong Kong. We bumped into Jeri who was also in the shop for some of her running matters.
Back at base, we did our last preparation for the race. Laid our gear and packed all that was necessary into our packs and drop bags. Gear packing was always fun to do with mates around, as we could remind each other on what was missing or what we could drop from our packs.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which details the events of race day as well as some technical data from the race!