After finished TransLantau 50 last year, I was trashed. I took a few months to recover fully physically and mentally from the brutal race course. Several Singapore runners DNF for 100km due to injuries and overexertion. And I saw Singapore runners coming in at 28hrs or more. So I thought is real crazy, insane and impossible for me to do that 100km at that time.
I took a long half a year break from any running events to recover the body. When the news of registration came up, I think "I must have knocked my head against the wall" and signed up 100km this year.
And there my training for this event started....it started with trying to do 3-4 times of training per week with 2 session of long runs and 1 session of short stairclimbing and a longer session of stairclimbing. However, many events happened along the way like falling sick, Grandma passed away and increasing loading of work and late meeting that has turned my plan upside down. for the last 2 months, it almost became training only on sat and sunday with sat long run on the road and sunday long stairclimbing session or fast hiking in the trails.
3 weeks before the event, I made a last minute decision to get a new lighter trekking pole after I saw a good price on amazon and managed to get it for the last 2 training sessions (Which is the best decision made)
Translantau 100km. The above race course and elevation chart shows how tough this race will be (Actual Race course is actually much tougher than what the chart shown). Why This event is considered the toughest of all 100km in Hong Kong?
1) No Drop Bag - Carry what you need all the way
2) 11.30pm starts - slow guy like me will definitely hit the second night
3) Bush Whacking - There are 2 bush whacking, the first is a down slopes with rope obstacles and the second is a crazy steep upslope climb that I took 2hrs on a 45-50 Degree slope
4) Butt Sliding slopes - Crazy steep slopes that no way to run but slide down your butt
5) Direct 800++m climb to Sunset Peak after midnight
6) ~500m of Vertical climb to Lantau Peak(934m), second highest peak in Hong Kong
I decided to fly in the day before and stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui so that I can go window shopping at Mongkok and is easier to get good food. Not to risk any stomach problem, I have meals at Tsui Wah, Coral de Cafe, Chee Kee and Mido Cafe and have a good early sleep.
On the day of the Race, checkout out early and went to Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong Airport Express Station for a good Tim Sum lunch before taking the Ferry to Mui Wo and checked into Silvermine Beach Resort.
After checking into the room, went over to Lantau Base Camp to see what they have and went to the SuperMarket to get water and other food stuff. Headed back to the Hotel and try to have an afternoon nap before dinner.
After rolling on the bed for two hours, i washed up and went to collect the racepack at the event site before heading off for dinner with friends at the Mui Wo Food Centre.
The race pack is simple and nothing to shout about. An event tee and AsiaTrail magazine printed multifunctional headwear and an outdate issue of Asiatrail Magazine...with some other vouchers
Packing begin after Dinner. The unpredictable weather and condition up in the mountain makes packing tricky. I need to bring enough to protect myself from elements and also not too much to carry unnecessary weight.
What I wore:
1) Hammer Nutrition Visor (packed - to be used for the Day)
2) Icebreaker Adult Chute for the Neck (Merino Wool)
3) H.A.D Multifunctional Headwear
4) AsiaTrail Multifunctional Headwear (from the race pack)
5) Kathmandu UltraCore Baselayer
6) Outdoor Research Helium 2 Rain Jacket
7) CW-X Pro Shorts
8) Yahoo Red Wristband
9) Injinji Ultralight Weight RUN 2.0 ToeSocks
10) Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS
What I used:
1) Raidlight Ultra Olmo 12 Race Pack
2) Raidlight 750ml Biden water bottle x2
3) Samsung S2 Mobile Phone
4) Raidlight Trail Quiver for trekking poles
5) Black Diamond Ultra Distance Carbon Z-poles 120cm
6) Black Diamond Storm 2014 160 lumens headlights x2
7) Energizer AA Battery x2 (Spare)
8) Energizer AAA Battery x8 (Spare)
9) Emergency Blanket (Daiso)
10) Collapsible Silicon Cup (Daiso)
12) Swiss Army Knife
13) LED Single AA Battery hand torch
14) Lowe Alpine lightweight Weatherproof Gloves
15) First Aid Kit (tape, vaseline, spray bandage, FAD, crepe roll)
What I eat:
1) Health Warrior Chia Bar (Coconut) x12
2) CoCo Hydro Coconut Juice Hydration Powder x4
3) Sqwincher Zero Qwik Stik x11
4) Clif Shot caffeinated Orange favoured BLOKS x4
At the End of race, I discovered I only consumed Chia Bar x3, CoCo Hydro x2, Qwik Stick x4, BLOKS x1.
After packing, Race Pack weigh in at 4.47kg
A Hong Kong friend who wanted to come down to support my run was unable to make it due to business trip to Shanghai. But he got his friend to pass his UTMB race band to motivate me.
As the UTMB wristband was too short to go over my wrist, I decided to have it tied to the translantau wristband.
Got into the Startline area half an hour before start and managed to catch a photo with the experienced Singapore ultra runners (I am a novice, first 100km trail attempt... in the mountain of Hong Kong).
Race Start to CP1 Pak Mong (12km)
The Lion Dance started as a tradition for this race before flag off. The start at the beach in Silvermine Bay required runners to run on the sand for a couple of hundred metres before getting up the pavement and run into the village of Mui Wo. I started at the back of the crowd and I tried to quicken my pace to squeeze forward as front as possible so that I will not hit by the slower group during the bush whacking later. It is nice to have the residents coming out in the middle of the night to give cheer to the runners as we ran past their houses in the village.
We ran about 1-1.5km before we hit the trail head and started our climb up towards Lo Fu Tau at 465m. I was one of those who want to save our headlamp battery by following other's lights and turn on my light only when I really cannot see the path ahead. The initial climb got very warm and humidity is high. I got to take off the rain jacket which was soaked in sweat as we climb further. There is a short section of cemented pavement before we continue into the single track trail and up we reach near the peak of Lo Fu Tau, we turned left to descent. The initial descent was quite steep with large stone step, I went slowly to save my legs for the long night. It was not long before we started the bush whacking descent.
I decided to keep my poles from Start to CP1 because of this bush whacking..I followed behind a guy struggling to use his poles in the bush. My poles got caught by the bushes where at some part is taller than me and luckily got picked up by the runners behind. This part of bush whacking is still ok and the most challenging is the rock face descent which ropes are provided for us to go down to the river bed.
It was not long before we hit the temple in the Pak Mong village and I took a chance to relieve myself at the public toilet by the road that led us to CP1 in Pak Mong.
CP1 Pak Mong to CP2 Pak Kung Au (21km)
After refilling my water and grab some bananas and oranges, I put on my rain jacket again and also my gloves in anticipating the strong winds on the mountain. I fixed up my trekking poles and used it from now on till end of race, my trekking poles are my life saver.
The climb begins immediately after the support station and at just about 100m above sea level, my vision started to fade as we ran into the heavy fog and strong wind was blowing. I can only see my own feet and the reflecting from the shoes of the runner 1-2metres in front. I cannot even see what I am stepping on. I thought is my spec fog up but no...it is the same after I took my spec off. The fog was real heavy and this is the first time for me hiking up the mountain in heavy fog without knowing where I am and just follow.
After more than 1 and half hour, we started to descend, vision improved a bit but the steep stone stairs descent is not easy because of the slippery surface...saw a few runners slided on their butts a few time. I went down cautiously and try not to overexert myself at this stage. Took 2hrs 15min to finished this section which is a surprised 15min faster than last year as I thought i was going really slow trying to feel my way up the mountain like a blind man.
Met a fellow Singaporean and he said he bumped his butt three times coming down.
CP2 Pak Kung Au to CP3 Ngong Ping (33km)
I went to wait for the portable toilet to pee for about 15min. By now, a lot of runners has overtook me and started to move on and I have rested quite well. I felt my legs are fresh again. I took a small jog for first part of this stretch which is running by the side of the mountain...trying to take it easy and the mountain side trail led us down to the water catchment area which is a wide cemented pavement road. I guess it was a couple of km on this flat pavement and I took a quick walk with a few breaks of running trying to conserve my feet. I was overtaken by a few others who started to pickup speed and run on this rare stretch of flat road.
This stretch ended with a bridge crossing to the start of a short stairs up to the mountain side again. As we are closing into the big Buddha, the sky started to brighten up. It was only 6.30am and I an switched my headlamp off. I took a slow jog and break into fast hiking with the help of the my trekking poles to propel forward and very soon, reached the wisdom path, a short distance away and hit the checkpoint.
I grab a cup noodle and filled my water bottles and also stuff some banana and oranges into my mouth before I head off
CP3 Ngong Ping to CP4 Kau Ling Chung (44km)
The first part of this stage is pavement and road. Hit the Ngong Ping public toilet and went to relieve myself and continue on the cement pavement for about 10min before hitting the main road. It was a long downslope along the winding road before hitting a campside and also the start of the Lantau Trail stage 5. The trail started to climb and it was a series of rolling hills before we hit the peak of Keung Shan. Many other runners have highlighted the beauty of rolling hills for this stage but this year, it was just foggy and no scenery to rave about. After Keung Shan, the rolling hills continued and ended with a descent to the road at Kau Ling Chung. No cup noodle at this checkpoints...just sandwiches, bread and fruits. I filled up my bottles and went on without resting much.
CP4 Kau Ling Chung to CP5 Tai O (56km)
It was a decent before we started to climb again. My body started to felt strained from the distance and climbs covered. My legs are heavy and refused to move faster than I like. I was just pulling myself forward and climbing with my trekking poles. The sky opens up and not so foggy. The beautiful hills and scenery of the open sea started to appear on the west end of Lantau Island. The climb up and down seems to be never ending. At certain part of the mountain top, strong wind started to blow and it can be quite chilly at times. I have to put on my rain jacket to keep myself warm. I was with a couple of runners in front and behind me and I was not alone along this stage of the race.
After many climbs, we finally reached the observatory site for Tai O but it was still a distance away from checkpoint. We descent down a winding stone stairs to the pavement by the sea and ran into the storm shelter bridge that led us to the entrance of Tai O. We ran along the road and reached a school which is the Tai O checkpoint. It took me 3hrs to cover just 12km during this stage which is really slow.
It was noon when I hit and decided to have a good lunch and longer rest. Took a cup noodle and also a chicken soup and a couple of boiled potatoes. Met a few Singaporean as well as they break for lunch.
CP5 Tai O to CP6 Ngong Ping (68km)
The start of this stage is to run into the Village of Tai O. it was quite a sight to snake around the houses with the old residents relaxing by their houses and watch a bunch of crazy, insane and smelling runners invading their village. We ran past egg yolks drying under the sun and also scallops and cuttlefish having their tanning.
After exiting Tai O village, the marker led us to the ancient trail which is quite a flat trail that runs beside the seaside to the village of Sham Wat. I went on doing fast hiking instead of running to save my legs for the infamous tough bush whacking climb to Nei Lak Shan ahead. There are some roadside stalls and the aunty was getting business from some runners whom stopped by for a quick drink and food. I went on doing just fast hiking and at the top of the slope in Sham Wat village, the marker directed us to turn right into the vegetation.
This was the start of the tough and insane bush whacking climb. The slope we are climbing is at least 45-60 degree gradient and the bushes are at least shoulder height. I was struggling with trekking poles as the poles are often caught by the branches. It was a 500++m vertical ascent and I have to stop every 10-15min to take good breath and also to enjoy the beautiful scenery. My knees and lower legs are whacked constantly by the bushes and got quite a few bad shallow cuts on the skins. The climb seems never ending as I looked up, I can only see runners head popping in and out of the thick bushes.
The climb ended at the Nei Lak Shan Cable Car service station. we were led to hit the Nei Lak Shan country trail and the trail went running by the side of Nei Lak Shan. I am exhausted from the bush whacking climb and fast hike along and came back to the same Ngong Ping Checkpoint as before in the morning.
This is the longest stretch covered in terms of time and many have fell victims to the Nei Lak shan climb in previous years.
I had a cup noodles and couple of boiled potatoes before I head on to the vertical climb to Lantau Peak.
CP6 Ngong Ping to CP7 Pak Kung Au (73km)
At this stage, the body is totally whacked and the climb on "Stairway to Heaven" was a big struggle. I was climbing using my trekking poles and I was climbing like a sick old man..step by step, and the fog got heavier and heavier as i hit the 800++m height marker, the strong wind started to come in. The trail to the peak was tough and dangerous. The stone steps are not so obvious and quite wore out and breathing got difficult as well. There is no scenery but only blur vision because of the heavy fog. I hit the peak just under an hour and head down immediately. the descent was tough as the visibility is low and the trail was very slippery. It was direct descent with no climb and the stress on the quads are very high. I got to go slowly with the aid of my trekking poles to stable myself. I slipped 3 times and bumped onto my butt. There are a few hikes along the way and it took me about an hour to get down to the Pak Kung Au checkpoint from the Lantau Peak.
It was like a party at the checkpoint where the 50km cutoff was over but there are still some runners from 50km hanging around. a few runners are resting for longer time here before the sky turn dark.
I ate a cup noodles and fruits. put on my headlights that I used on the previous night before I head off,
CP7 Pak Kung Au to CP8 Chi Ma Wan (83km)
I estimated if I can hit CP7 by dark, I should have a big buffer to complete within the 32hrs cutoff. I was surprised I was relatively early and I guessing I should have a good chance to hit below 26hrs. It was a relative flat by the south Lantau Trail by the mountain side of Sunset Peak but I was reduced to fast hiking. My legs just cannot run for more than 10min. I rather be more conservative as there is still 25km to go. By this time, I am familiar with the route and know what to expect ahead since this is the same as the 2nd half of 50km route which I ran last year. The sky got darker as I got closer to Nam Shan Campsite and switched on my headlights as I descend down from the mountain side trail to Nam Shan. The battery from previous night is just not getting bright enough so when I reached Nam Shan, I switched to the second headlights with fresh batts. I had a toilet break at Nam Shan (the last decent clean toilet till the finishing line).
From Nam Shan, there is still 2km left to the next checkpoint and the route led us up another hill climb before descent down to Chi Ma Wan checkpoint.
I had my last cup noodle before I headoff to the last mountain climb to Lo Yan Shan.
CP8 Chi Ma Wan to CP9 Shap Long (94km)
The ascent to Lo Yan Shan started immediately but do not be fooled. We got to climb up and down 2 peaks before the actual climb to Lo Yan Shan which has a huge building at the peak. The descent down from Lo Yan Shan went through the Bamboo Forrest which I still remember but the marker was too far apart that I got to go down slower to make sure I was able to catch the route marker.
The trail descent down to Chi Ma Wan country trail which runs by the mountain side along the winding coastline. Giant boulders to climb along the way and this stretch although not very hilly was quite a long boring stretch and seems never ending. The trail ends on a descent down to a reservoir and hit a road. After a short run on the road, the marker led us to climb on our last hill. It was a single narrow winding trail up the hill before we hit a technical descent down to the last checkpoint at Shap Long.
CP9 Shap Long to Finish Line (99.5km)
The adrenaline started to increase as we got only 5 km left. I known my legs will not last if I try running so I continue my fast hike and try to increase my walking pace with my trekking stick. It was a tough 5km as first half was running on cemented pavement going up and down many slopes before the pavement changed into muddy uneven trail which is not flat either.
I quicken my pace as Mui Wo got closer and closer and once I hit the ground at the West end of Mui Wo, i was walking quickly as my legs just refused to lift off for a run. I ignored my watch as I continue to plant my trekking poles onto the ground and pulled with my might. A lot of cheering from the passerby and after crossing the bridge over silver river, I began my run towards the finishing line. I have finished my first 100km in mountain trail of Hong Kong and also the longest run of my life in terms of time and I did it in 23hrs 59min 59sec...Surprisingly much much faster than expected in one piece!!!
Comparing the Medals with last year 50km, it was a bit bigger in size:
I did not expect myself to come in within 24hrs on my first attempt after hearing and seeing my friends trying this last year. I did not expect my training to be sufficient as my running mileage is really low and my training frequency per week is pathetic. I can only depend on my weekends to train.
Be conservative is always important for ultra long distances for novice.
My best decision is to get a lighter and better trekking poles which have saved me right from CP1 to the end. I was able to hike fast and it helped a lot in reducing the loading on the legs.
I have explored and tried many types of energy food and hydration during training. I settled on the best weight to calories ratio and also tasty enough that I can eat when I am very tired into the run. The cup noodles at the checkpoint helped a lot in providing most of the energy I need and I took less than 20% of the food that I brought along.
Trying out different types of the apparels during training including footwear, socks, top, bottom and inner wear is very important to discover all the hot spot and apply sufficient skin protection.
Body Glide and taping helped a lot in protecting the skin again hot spot and this is the first time i completed an ultra with no blisters and no abrasion. Just quite a couple of bloody skin cuts which already dried, from the bush whacking up Nei Lak Shan. No pain at all in my first post-ultra shower.
One important thing I did not prepare during training is running with headlights and running in the middle of the night. It all boils down to Human survival instinct and I am lucky I survived safely.
I completed in a much better state than last year 50km and I guess I m more mentally prepared for this year.
It is definitely more mental than physical for a tough 100km run and if I can do it, SO CAN YOU!!!
Other Reviews for this year 100km
Thanks to All Weather, Shawn Cheung and Jenny Liu for the photos taken along the race.