Well, after only finding out about it on Tuesday, the race was quickly upon me. In the lead-up, I kept telling myself that I should just take it easy and try to enjoy myself. I didn't taper, I didn't eat right, get enough sleep or put a lot of effort into prep... but I did have a fantastic race.
The night before, I had pizza and beer for dinner, getting to bed around midnight, telling myself not to worry, that I would just go out and enjoy the run.
The sun rises behind hills as I walk to the starting line
Racers getting ready
I couldn't help myself. There was no going easy. Pre-race I was a tiny bit anxious and when the gun sounded I started at a pace I thought would be unsustainable.
The race follows the circumference of Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, first taking an access road along one edge before coming back along a sandy and rocky trail. The road section had the longest hills (but not the hardest). In this section I was just moving along with a group of fast-ish runners, chatting to fellow runners, everyone able to stick a good pace early on.
Looking down the starting straight towards the only real hill the race climbs (photo taken after the race!)
After the road section we hit the first water point and headed onto the trail. Back where I belong... and it showed. The trail was very twisty, fairly sandy, with occasional rocky sections that required swift feet to navigate. I quickly lost the pack I was running with except for one runner determined to stick on my tail. As we'd enter the rockier and hillier sections, I'd pull away from him and when things flattened out, he'd be right back on my tail. He was using me to set a good pace for himself, but honestly, it was also very good for to have someone constantly there to keep me moving at a good pace.
The trail moved onto a road briefly before another water-point and a final quite tough section of trail. The weather was starting to heat up and this section featured steep hills with lots of stairs. I was running low on energy, each staired section taking another chunk out of me. I lost contact two guys I was running with but just had to wrestle with myself. Just gotta keep pushing, almost there!
Coming back out on the dam wall, an adrenaline burst allowed be to push fast towards the finish line. Time running down on my hopeful 1hr10min goal.
On the dam wall, with the reservoir on the left. Again, looking towards the one real hill
I crossed the line in 22nd place overall, somehow snagging 3rd in the Men's Open (18-35 year olds) category. I think I just missed out on the 1hr10min goal, probably coming in around 1hr10min30sec if my calculations are correct (official results haven't been released yet).
Surprised to have snagged 3rd place. (I think this little guy is in charge of the athletics association - an absolute machine, recording a time close to 1hr!)
Overall a fantastic race. Certainly, there were many things in my favour. The course exactly suited my style; the distance is fairly ideal for me and It's only 2 weeks since the Oxfam 100km, so it's possible many faster runners are still recovering from that. Still, very happy with the effort overall and it's got me excited for the half marathon I'm running in January!
See you in the hills!