What a week.
It’s very rare that I am lost for words but this week is the one.
This week I have been mostly listening to Thundercat.
At Gone Running l, we try and organise events around races. This week we had the amazing Gediminas Grinius – winner of the UTMF and third place on the UTWT. He spoke about his training, nutrition and dealing with sponsors. Such an incredibly humble man and so nice.
He was here for the Hong Kong 100 where he came third and only the 6th person to finish in under 10 hours. Couldn’t have been more pleased for him!
This week, we, as in RaceBase, organised two evenings with the running legend that is Lizzy Hawker. One of the most amazing and humble people I have ever met. Anyone who has won the UTMB five times, has the record for Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu, and numerous other records, she is plain amazing.
The plan was to raise around 7,000 HKD. Instead it is probably around 4 times that figure. Lizzy is a truly inspiring person. I haven’t met anyone as humble or kind as her.
I’ll write more on this soon. But just wow.
Then comes Thursday. RaceBase were the organiser of the trail summit in Hong Kong around the HK100. Jeri led the way with this. I was fortunate enough to be able to come to the later session after an appointment during the afternoon. I ended up listening to the Q and A with the elite runners. Was really good to see and hear some amazing runners.
Hong Kong 100
My race went to plan until a tree root decided to ruin it. I felt great. I was light and planned my bag and gear perfectly.
The first section I knew would be slow as of the bottle neck on to the trail. After what felt an age, we finally got to run through parts. Eventually leaving the trail and onto the road. I slowly got into a nice rhythm on the road. Jogging the flats and downhills and slowly hiking up the hills. Eventually reaching the first checkpoint and running straight through. I wanted to get across the beaches before refuelling. This worked brilliantly.
Got over the first climb slowly as that was my plan. I didn’t want to ruin myself so early on. People passed me but I wasn’t breaking a sweat. Just slowly and easily get over the hill so I could run the next bits.
The beaches were brutal. The wind was whipping up the sand and causing it hard to run and even get going. Slowly going up again and edging closer to the next CP.
I felt great. I genuinely was in such a good place. My bag was light, the shoes were going well. I was cold but not worryingly so.
Hitting the beach before the CP, I smiled. This was going well. I felt stronger than last year and felt that it was going to be a hard day but better. In to the CP, I quickly refilled. Had a quick swig of Coke. And got going.
The climb was slightly more technical. Tree roots and rope. I kept moving and suddenly my foot caught a root and my knee went the wrong way. Nothing major. Slightly sore but moved on. The further I moved the more the pain intensified.
This was a worry. I started running and it didn’t improve. Two painkillers taken. Already. 22km in. The pain didn’t subside. It got worse. I was slowly quite dramatically.
From running smoothly and happily, it became harder and harder to keep moving.
A call had to be made. So I called it.
This was going to be a DNF. I have 196 days till the North Downs Way 100, and those 196 days have to count.
I slowly reached Wong Shek and pulled. I realised that there are more important races this year so need to focus on long term rather than short term. I am beyond disappointed. I was looking forward to this race and finishing in what I knew would be significantly faster than last year.
A race I was running turned into a race that I was supporting.
I’ll be honest, this hurts. It’s hard knowing that I was doing so much better than last year and then the chance to prove the time, vanishes so quickly. There are 196 days till the 100 miler and now I need to make that count.
Vibram Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail – Part Two
I had two choice:
- Get depressed and sad, think about how bad this was for me. Oh woe is me.
- Brush the depression off. Stand up, forget about it and support Michceala.
The choice couldn’t have been any easier. The priority was to help Michceala in any means necessary. At Wong Shek, Kerensa and Etienne were supoorting both Michceala and Etienne’s wife Zoey. When I stopped we talked. I told them what I wanted to do. They naturally tried to talk me out of it but I knew that the knee couldn’t last the next 70km.
We went into Sai Kung Town for some lunch and then headed to Kai Ling Sha – CP5 and the half way mark.
Michceala came into the checkpoint in phenomenal spirits. She was smiling and looked strong. She mentioned that she had come out too fast but was in a great place. I was so unbelievably proud of her. We got her warmed up and helped her get ready for what was going to be a cold night on the trails. She was mentally prepared for the night ahead. She left the checkpoint and headed up to what I feel is the hardest climb – Ma On Shan.
We waited for Zoey to come in. Etienne had heard that she wasn’t in a great place. She came in and it was clear this was a very low point for her. She was sore and mentally exhausted. She made the call to stop as she was cold. We helped her get her gear and headed back to Sai Ying Pun. We would see Michceala again at Shing Mun, CP8 – 82 km in.
A few hours later, Kerensa and I headed to CP8. This was the start of the end in regards to the race. We knew that after here, Michceala was home dry. We arrived around 11pm and waited. I fell asleep for around an hour. I was exhuasted. The run and now supporting was taking its toll.
Michceala arrived looking amazing. She was smiling. She told us about the journey and had taken my advice of hot chocolate at the checkpoints to keep warm. She looked in such good spirits. We refuelled her and got her bag ready for the next section. 18km of Needle Hill, Grassy Hill, Leadmine Pass and Tai Mo Shan. We had run this section before and I expected her to take around 3-4 hours at most. She was confident and looking like a 21 hour finish. Phenomenal run. If only it was that simple.
Kerensa and I started to leave the CP and kindly some people took us into Tsuen wan to get a cab to the finish line. We asked a few taxis before we got one to take us up to the finish line. On the way up the road, the taxi driver told us that there was a traffic jam – there were hundreds of people heading to Tai Mo Shan to see the frost. We ended up walking around an hour to get to the finish line.
It had started raining but with a difference. It was freezing rain. Runners were coming in and looked cold. I was cold. Kerensa was cold. It was bloody freezing. The temperature was hovering around 0 degrees and in Hong Kong that is a rarity. I ended up falling asleep for around an hour and a half.
Michceala ended up leaving Leadmine Pass at 4:15. It had taken her 2:48 to run 7km. I knew there must have been an issue and it was one of two things. Either an injury or the weather. Michceala messaged and said that she had hurt her groin – an injury that was around after a KOTH race earlier in the season. She only had 10km to go which she knew and I expected her in at 6:15. This would be just over 22 hours. Still a fabulous time.
Then the ice came. This was the coldest that Hong Kong had been in 70 years. People were coming into the finish area with sheets of ice covering their bags and jackets. Some people with cuts and bruises. Shortly after Michceala left Leadmine Pass, they abandoned the race. She was the last person to leave the CP.
I was worried. If there is one thing I know Michceala hates – it is the cold. This was going to be a battle. 2 hours came and passed, and still no sign of her. She had an hour to beat the 24 hour time – something that I know she was more than capable of. I wanted her to beat my time. She had worked hard with Andy on this and she deserved it. I was getting more and more worried as people came into the finish area. Ian Lye from Singapore came through and told me about the ice on the road.
23:30 into the race and still no sign. Jeri and Dom left the finish line to go and help with finiding any runners hurt on Tai Mo Shan Road. Police were there as well as the Fire Services. My heart was beating faster and faster. Where was she? Was she hurt? I tried calling but no answer.
I couldn’t believe. After seeing so many people walking in injured or frozen – in comes Michceala smiling. Still. 23:45. What a bloody legend.
I am so incredibly proud of Michceala. Not because of the fact that this was her first Ultra but the way she approached it. Always smiling and always determined. Even in the worst conditions that Hong Kong races have seen – she persevered and got the job done.
She may have beaten my time and done it in style, but I am not angry. I am happy that I can call this amazing woman my wife.
And that trumps any DNF.
Even though the knee gave way and I DNF’d, I feel very happy. The pace over the first 22km was comfortable and I was very happy. I could have continued at this pace for much longer. This fills me with an element of confidence – not overly confident but happy. The knee needs strengthening and this will all start sooner rather than later. Running must become a priority.
195 days to go.