Luckily, this title isn't related to me overestimating myself and ending up broken down on a trail somewhere, but rather the distance of a what was supposed to be the last long run before next weekend's 38km KOTH.
In order to properly test out if all systems were go for the race (after last week's sickness), I figured a long Sunday trail run would be ideal. I decided to head up Wilson Trail Stage 4 (as I did a couple of weekends ago), but instead of turning north towards Sai Kung, swap to MacLehose Trail Stage 5 heading west past Lion Rock to Tai Po Road. As I was mixing two different trails, I didn't have a firm idea of the length, figuring it to be around 20-25km. As it turned out, the trail was quite a bit shorter, right around 15km, but no less difficult for the reduced length.
Heading out of Tseng Lan Shue towards the hills
The downhill sections were distinctly less fun than last time, where this time, in the damp conditions, stepping on the darker coloured rocks was a quick way to end up on your arse
Misty but quite humid and warm conditions prevailed
Flooding... wonder if he had insurance?
Quite a little colony they have
Getting more misty the higher I climb
As I came over this hill before heading up the road (which is quite steep, despite appearances), I noticed that on the top of the concrete cutting/peak just right of centre, a pack of dogs were sleeping and surveying their domain:
It reminded my very much of "Pride Rock" from the Lion King!
Moving onto the south side of the ridgeline, with Kowloon just visible beyond the misty veil
Awesome winding dirt trails around the back of Lion Rock
A sign detailing one of the many war relics found along the Lion Rock ridgeline
The Pillbox (sorry for poor photo quality!)
Almost to Beacon Hill
I must apologise here, to the couple I passed at the bottom of the climb up Beacon Hill. As I pushed up the stairs past them, they asked me: "is it much further to the top?" to which I answered: "not too much further, almost there". My failing memory had forgotten the rather large and steep hill just after the one they were on! So: I'm sorry! Hope you guys made it up all the hills in high spirits!
Another war relic: a tunnel
More misty views of Kowloon
I found this beautiful little flower right beside the trail
The sun starting to heat things up towards the end of the run
The trail winding around gullies in the final 2-3km of wonderful flat dirt trails
The initial climb up onto Kowloon Peak is immediately obvious on the elevation profile, just as it was immediately obvious to my burning legs on the Sunday! Smaller (but still tough) climbs at Lion Rock and Beacon Hill are also pretty obvious from the profile.
This was a great little run, and probably easily doable in under 2hrs (I ran it in about 2hrs15mins). A run like this really shows what a difference a little elevation can make to a trail run. Back in December, I ran the 15km AVOHK Tai Lam Chung Reservoir race in about 1hr10mins. That route had a little elevation, but mostly on roads. When compared to this route (also around 15km) it's inconceivable that I could run it in anything approaching 1hr30mins! I've read that this is called "Fell Running" where the hills and elevation gains are a significant part of the overall course difficulty. All I can say is: bring on the next hill!
See you at the peak!