Sunday was supposed to be the last long hiking session before the Oxfam Trailwalker, now just under 3 weeks away! So I got up at 5.30am, breakfast and changed, headed to the MTR station, sitting on the train and received a message: "Afraid I won't be able to join you today. Sorry!"... hmmm... Well, no point letting this preparation go to waste, I might as well try to run the 55km instead!
So, I headed out to Pak Tam Chung and set sail on the MacLehose Trail.
Last weekend, I ran sections 1 and 2 so I had a pretty good idea what to expect there. Section 1 starts out with a climb up a serious but not that steep hill, before winding it's way along the High Island Reservoir.
Morning sunlight reflected off the water in this crooked photo
The water in the reservoir looked so clean and inviting
Moving onto Section 2, my speed drastically decreased and I started walking up hills. After Long Ke, there's a serious climb up to Sai Wan Shan which is preceded by this sign:
After climbing the hill, the trail winds down to Sai Wan where, at about the 15km mark, I stopped for a bowl of Cold Sweet Tofu (Dong Doe-Fu Faa)
Delicious! But let's hit the trail!
Meandering around the cliffs
Around this time, I got a call from my friend telling me that he was indeed going to come along and that he was going to meet me a little further along on the trail, at the change-over between Sections 3 & 4!
Well, that would be the end of my running, and I was looking forward to seeing if I was up to the challenge, but the company would be nice.
If there's one thing I hate more than walking on sandy sections... it's running on sandy sections!
Section 3 starts with a killer hill (see the profile below), has some rolling hills in the middle and finishes with another steep steep killer.
Running the rolling hills in the middle of Section 3
Looking back down towards the hills I'd just climbed
After cresting the final hill, there's a downward spiral through bamboo grooves that depleted almost all the elevation I just banked, not to mention my knees' stamina!
I was beat down after the Section 3 descent, and very glad to meet my friend on the way down the hill, signalling the end of the run.
Section 4 again starts with a loooooong, steeeeeeep ascent to reach the Ma On Shan Plateau. After reaching our highest point however, I was thinking that it would have been nice to put in a couple of kms on the run, through the winding hills, even just to break up the monotony of walking (not to mention to speed things up)!
Cruising through the hills towards Kowloon Peak (Fei Ngo Shan).
Eventually, we reached the change-over to Section 5, by which stage I was really feeling the distance.
Looking happy sitting next to the 50km marker.
We decided to pack it in after we reached Shatin Pass Rd. It was getting dark, my friend didn't have his headlamp, and I was completely stuffed. I remembered the next section as quite hilly and strenuous, and, looking for excuses, I pointed at the darkening sky and signalled our retreat down towards Wong Tai Sin.
A retaining wall as we descended towards Wong Tai Sin.
Keep in mind that these are all serious mountains!
In the end I guess I covered about ~53km, with the first roughly 34km taking around 4hrs as a trail-run (walking up steep slopes, but running where possible). I'm pretty happy with the effort overall and would have liked to see if I could have kept running the flats, etc in the second section. I suppose that'll have to wait till another day!
See you on the roads, trails, tracks and slopes!