Friday 8 April 2016

My First Overseas Trail Race

Finally found some time to write about my recent experience at an overseas Trail Race. My Buddy and I had signed up for Trans Lantau 25, Hong Kong held on 12 March 2016.

While I have been participating in road races for about 6 years, I had no prior experience for any trail race at all. I never liked running in trails as I don't enjoy uneven terrain, nature and am especially terrified of creepy crawlies.

And so what made me sign up for this race? I was celebrating the Buddy's birthday with a group of highly 'poisonous' Friends and naturally, I was challenged to join this race instantaneously. I reasoned that the cool weather would make up for all my dislikes and I always enjoy 'race-holidays' and so I signed up for something different.

The Buddy and I did some research on trail running and received some training tips from experienced Trail Runner Friends in the community. It was also encouraging to receive tips and occasional freebies (trekking/trail gear) from my Ultra Runner Dad who signed up for the same race ( the 100K category).

Given the cut of time of 8 hours, we would say anyone with some basic fitness level would be able to complete it with walking/climbing. We reckoned this category was created to introduce newbies to trail races. It was like the 'fun distance' category of Trans Lantau race.

The Buddy and I started training around end Dec for about 3 months leading up to the race. Climbing stairs on Tuesdays, short 8K runs on Thursdays and Hill Repeats/Trail LSDs on Sundays (usually packing in at least 2 hours training duration). Training wasn't intense as you can imagine all the seasonal celebrations from Christmas to Chinese New Year. We skipped several sessions and still managed to steer ourselves back on track.

All in all, we climbed a few thousand storeys, ran the many trails around Singapore and extended our training to a trekking trip at Mt Lambak.

3 months of training leading up to the Race

Carbo-loading Day in Hong Kong at a typical Hong Kong Char Chan Ting (Tea House) and a Pasta Dinner Causeway Bay.

For the first time, we had the most express fine-dining experience as we requested for our 3 course dinner to be served all at once so that we could return early to prepare for race day.

Cheryl and I in our 'NON-ACTIVE' wear :)
Little Note to Psyche ourselves up
The most dramatic race-prep ever. Cos Dad said gear up and I prepared everything including merino wool and headlights (as though I was running the an Ultra Race).


We boarded the 6.10am ferry that arrived at around 7am at Mui Wo, Lantau Island.
There were two types of Ferry Services: Speed Ferry (35 mins) and Slow Ferry (55 mins)

Walking to the Race Site
Our Runner Friends ready to flag off the 50K category

The final load that got us through the 13-14C chilly trails. The Buddy and I agreed that was the best meal we had in Hong Kong.
Best Meal in Hong Kong
Race Bibs: We have similar names :)
The Start Line

The Lion Dance Prior to Flag Off

50K Runners Flagged Off

At the first 3K mark, I just had to pose for a pic. The backdrop was just too spectacular

6KM: A very basic Checkpoint 1 

Much time was taken to pose for too much pictures and we found ourselves lagging way behind with little or no runners around us after the 5K mark. LOL.

We made up for 'lost time' by running on flat areas and downward slopes. Each time we were about to slow down, one of us would shout out: "LOST TIME".

Checkpoint 2 17km mark: where I enjoyed the most heavenly Nutella Bread and a big cup of Coke
At checkpoint 2, we shortened our break to only 5 mins after learning that the toughest 8km was ahead of us. So we gulped down our food and charged forward.

Some of the 'mild' steps from 17K onwards

The Buddy and I closed the gaps at the elevation phase of the race. We were sort of chanting: 'hard work paid off' and overtook several local racers. The moments where we knew our training had really paid off.

Negotiating my way downslope
Alas! 25kms done and dusted. Against the cut off time of 8 hours, we were quite happy with our completion of 5:10!

Finishers of Trans Lantau 25K
My MINI race medal versus my Dad's big biscuit 

Trans Lantau 25 in a nutshell: a very doable distance for any new trail runner with just 2 to 3 months of prior training. Awesome air-con temperature racing, easy accessibility and lots of good food to savour in Hong Kong (not to mention: SHOPPING!) 

The Trans Lantau training and race experience made me grow to love trail running and nature much more than before. Roughing it out has never been my cup of tea. But never say never...I am now looking to break new boundaries and have been challenged to sign up for the 50K category next year. As for now, we are training for a much more technical Vietnam Mountain Marathon coming up in September; which will see us climbing more stairs and trekking more mountains. We look forward to meeting you Trail Runners out there! 

More details of the race found here: