I was in Lantau island, Hong Kong, from 13 – 17 March not for vacation but to run the Translantau 100km. It was my first time in Lantau island and it would be my first ever attempt in a 100km ultra trail marathon.
The 100km race started on 14 March at 11.30pm, the start/finish point was at Silvermind bay beach, Mui Wo. On that chilly night (16 – 18 deg C), the race director flagged about 400 of us off without much fanfare as the majority of the runners in the 50km category would be starting the following morning.
I’ve little recollection of what went on during the night run/hike, except the suffering from the wind-chill while we were ascending the peaks. Besides the cold, I vaguely remembered there were lots of queuing to go uphill, and bottlenecks when going over obstacles and steep downhills. There was a very steep downhill on single track where many runners were sliding down on their backsides.
The 100km route included the second and third highest peak in Hong Kong – the Lantau Peak at 934m above sea level and Sunset Peak at 854m above sea level, respectively.
It was daybreak after descending Sunset Peak, and that was when I’ve the opportunity to enjoy the race running through the Lantau South Country park, Ngong Ping Plateau where the Big Buddha is situated, Keung Shan country walk, going around Sheik Pik reservoir as the route brought us to Tai O, a fishing town located in the northwest of the island.
After Tai O, I headed towards Ngong Ping CP6 and by the time I reached, night has fallen and I’ve been running for 20 hours over 69km! My sleep-deprived mind was screaming for much-needed sleep and to be honest, the thought of DNF has crossed my mind. After CP6, the route would take us to the summit of Lantau Peak, and to make this climb in the night and in less than idea physical and mental state would be a very risky venture.
At that moment in time, my body was ready to give up. My running buddy, Frances from Philippines, whom I met at TMBT 2013, encouraged me to give Lantau Peak a try. After refueling at the CP, I decided to press on. It proved to be the best decision in the whole race, as the experience of climbing Lantau Peak was the scariest and most memorable experience of my life! Every step up the stone stairs felt labored and excruciating to the knees, but we were able to see the Big Buddha in all its glory. As we ascended higher, the darkness and heavy fog reduced visibility until we could see the Buddha no more. Once near to the peak, we were practically on all fours moving on the ridge line as what felt like 100km/hr wind pounded on us and threatened to blow us off the face of the mountain!
When we finally reached the summit, the wind was blowing so fierce that a crew member (he was holed up in a dug-in shelter) instructed us to quickly get off the mountain as fast as possible. After descending thousands and thousands of steps, we finally reached the next CP at 84km mark. I’ve conquered the highest point in Lantau island in darkness and lived to tell the tale!
From 84km onwards till the CP9 at Shap Long, it was all a blur to me. It was way past midnight, I’ve been on my feet for 2 nights without sleep. I struggled, sleep-walked and tripped my way through this last leg of the route and finally tumbled my way towards CP9 within the cut-off time. I’ve been running the race for 30.5 hours and i absolutely hate it!
From CP9, it remained 5km to the finish point at Silvermind bay beach. As daylight broke, my body awoken a little and I made a late “dash” to finally crossed the finishing line in 31hrs 46mins to complete my first ever 100km ultra trail marathon!
Yes, I finally made it! I felt so privilege to have run and completed this beautiful race in Lantau. The course was brutal, and all the finishers must have climbed no less than 50,000 steps up and down the many peaks along the race course. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual figure was double that!