Preparing for Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2012

Hong Kong, a fascinating place. And I am not just talking about the gastronomic aspect. This year, again, I am lured by it's enchantment to venture into a third installment of SCHKM. Three years in a roll....and still going back for more. So predictable.

Anyway, just what is it about SCHKM?

I suppose first of all, for the budget constraint traveler cum marathoner, cheaper airfare has it's irresistible allure. Secondly, Hong Kong is just about the closest one can get to running a marathon in temperate climate. Some who has tasted this would testify to it's addictive effect. And, as if the above two points are not enough to tempt you, one undeniable fact that is sure to tantalize a weak willed glutton like me is, of course, the food! Imagine a food haven like HK, the choice of food for carbo loading is just ginormously endless. The only limiting factors would be the size of your stomach and most certainly, the depth of your wallet....

But before all that, preparation for the marathon would first require some attention. Details unique to SCHKM. I was previously under the impression that the organizer had decided to alter the route for 2012. However, after studying the route description on the official website, I realize that it is exactly the same route as the previous 2 years. Knowing this is crucial, which means: the same elevations awaits me on 5 Feb 2012....

There are three bridges to conquer. These are the main 3 elevations that you see on the chart. Prudence demands closer inspection of such elevations to avoid undesirable outcomes which I will point out a little later.

There is a shear 70m climb from the starting point until the Stonecutter's Bridge at the 8th km. One would be wise to keep his pace in check instead of letting the excitement of the start whisk him into a sprinting frenzy. Beyond the Stonecutter's bridge, the route varies between 50m to 85m elevation (highest point at the Ting Kau Bridge). These bridges are the parts that are most "exposed", therefore one's inadvertently subjected to the mercy of the weather and wind condition. My favourite part would come at the 22nd km where there is a 16km (overall) downhill "thrill". And understandably, most would accelerate from this point onwards to make up for lost time from the climbs. But nearing the "end", there is still that one gruelling elevation at 37th km of 50m climb (from 30m below sea level to 20m above sea level). With near depletion of glycogen storage and energy at an all time low, I have seen many runners slowing to a walk at this elevation.

Weather condition in Hong Kong is variable. Just because it will be held in early February, one could never assume that the weather will naturally be cool. Humidity is also another variable. With humidity recorded as high as 98% in 2010, thousands suffered cramps due to dehydration.

Therefore, preparation for SCHKM will include doing more hill runs. The key is to know when to increase the pace and when to conserve. From previous experience, I have learned that it does not pay to run fast in the initial 8km. In 2010, I ended up with a cramp and finished with 4:00, which I think was largely due to a careless, faster pace in the initial half. With the exact same route in 2011, I started off slow in the initial half, but managed to do a negative split in the second half to finish with a decent 3:28. So, strategic planning in SCHKM does make a difference.

Well, I have another chance to prove my running strategy this coming February. Will update the outcome soon after. Given so many variables, one would never know, like what a good friend always says: Human propose, God dispose. We shall see....


  1. I might need to refer this entry again one day in thr future. Despite the hilly stretches, I heard runners keep on doing good timing in HK. Anyway, hope you'll get the timing you desire. Best of luck!

  2. Plan to run on the 2013 version. Will take note on the hill training :) Good luck and enjoy!

  3. All the best! This will be a mini simulation of Boston heh?

  4. Deo, yeah, it's one of my favorites. But I think the weather helps too, as long as it doesn't change suddenly....anyway, u must try HK.
    Neoh, yes, u must try it out. Registration starts sometime in Sept... Keep a look out, it closes very rapidly due to overwhelming response.
    Jamie, I think HK is more hilly. But, will definitely benefit from the training. But Boston's heartbreak hill sounds pretty scary....

  5. Update:
    I have been informed that the last few km of the route has in fact been changed for 2012. Whether or not this complicates the finishing by way of elevation remains elusive to me (I have tried asking the SCHKM for the elevation chart previously but they have not replied)...Anyway, I doubt that it will be more challenging than last year's finish. We shall find out.


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