When I was running along I had a momentary thought about how to start this but essentially all my ideas went along the lines of ‘bloody hell fire and shit the bed!’ #ABeast! Most of the time I was concentrating or having a word with myself.
Since I’ve finished and slept the memories of the tough points fade dramatically. I am left with a disappointment in my performance especially how I faded because of my stupid error of perhaps going off a bit enthusiastically! They have not faded enough though for me to remember I did continually ask myself ‘am I going as hard as I can if not push on’ so I know I gave it my best which is all I ever ask really. The realms of my capability where less for this race so I have to remember that too.
I’d had a busy (what I mean is really stressful) few weeks before leaving home and to be honest training had been hampered by niggles which meant I had curtailed sessions. I was incredibly nervous of the race but now I know why. It was a premonition of how hard it would be and I was right to be respectfully weary of such a distance on such terrain.
The trip had lots of firsts… Visiting Asia let along Hong Kong. Starting a race so late (2330hrs). Night running for the whole night.
My journey over was great. I watched some new releases. I arrived and took a taxi to Mui Wo. I decided to stay on British time as my trip was so short so ate and was awake at random times.
Race night arrived soon enough. Everyone was so friendly at the start (I have since been delighted to read their Facebook posts to know they found it hard too- the technical terrain and wet foggy weather were their real challenges too). It was a really well organised event by Clement and Sabrina. Before I knew it we were off…
I know when everyone writes about trail running they mention the beauty of the course and the views and the immense feeling of joy they have in running along but there was none of that today. The views were obliterated initially by the darkness and then high up by the fog and wet weather. There was no beautiful sunset but I was pleased when the daylight arrived. The trail took all my concentration for 15hrs. It took me out of my comfort zone whilst I descended what others (I imagined) sprang down. I ran alone so at least no one could hear my chit chat!
2.5hrs into the race and my torch died. This was my first fear confirmed. I had two and spare batteries so it was ok although quite fiddly to change batteries on route.
We then climbed Lantau peak and it was blowing a hooly up there. The visibility was less than a metre and I was unsure of where the path was leading me. It was all a bit frantic. The descent was as everyone warned me step after step which soon became a theme on the course.
I felt I was running well but in hindsight too well! I should have started a little slower. Marie McNaughton a local lady and I were sort of together for the first half. I never saw her but our times suggest there was nothing in it. She passed me as I was having a wee (poor lady had a fright!). As the course was negatively loaded which I had not fully appreciated I got slower and slower and she just maintained the pace (although afterwards she said she was going to drop out at CP8 or 9 because she found it so hard but was persuaded to continue on. This was her 4th 100km in a local grand slam so she really wanted to finish for that accolade). I was not conditioned to run for 15hrs and considering all my hill training was done on a treadmill I was not really mountain fit but I was not going to allow such lame excuses so I kept pushing. My feet suffered with blisters which although I tried to ignore were really sore especially the one on my sole. My feet are awful at the best of times but perhaps the humidity made them slip around more in my sweat (?).
After it popped I dressed it just to pad it out abit. By this stage the effects of fatigue cumulated with ever more technical descents were taking their toll. It was meant to be 103km but it was more like 108km. Knowing the route would have been a luxury as there were so many false hopes as I kept thinking we must be nearly there. As I started to write this there were runners still out there- an truly incredible effort.
I had no energy problems thanks to a 32Gi gel or a chew evey hour.I did crave savoury after 8hrs and had some cheese which went down really well. I also tried coke for the first time to settle feeling a bit sick and it worked a treat.
I came first Open female but 2nd woman. Time 15.05hrs. Distance 107km. Elevation 5100m (I think). Overall 8th. I was disappointed- my fade, my blister, my crap descending but as I grow older I’m much better at reflecting on it all and taking away the lessons.
I learnt some things during my race:
- The importance of respecting the distance.
- Start slow. Slower than you think.
- Prepare your kit. Check your headlamps. Rechargeable batteries do not have a long life span.
- It helps to ask yourself ‘have a done everything I can to look after myself’ when racing- water, salt, energy. If yes then ask ‘can I push on’. If yes then good. If no then just accept where you are.
I am so grateful to my body when it puts up with what my mind makes it do!
Thank you Clement and Sabrina for such a well organised (tough!) race and your friendliness. A big thank you has to go to SCOTT Running for helping me get to the race and also to 32Gi UK, Rocktape UK, Bounce Balls UK, Ledlenser, Coffee Buddies for their support before, during and after. I would also like to say thanks (and well done) to all the friendly hello’s at the start and the end by the other trail runners and supporters- Ruth, Marie, Harry, Jacky, Jeremy, Henri and John who made me feel very welcome which was much appreciated after travelling such a long way. And finally to everyone for their amazingly supportive comments on social media it was and is so appreciated.