Anticipating HK100

In anticipation of my upcoming Vibram's HK100, to this day, I am still bemused and puzzled by my decision to register for the event. 




Temporary lapse of better judgement. I am sure the list will go on even after the conclusion of the event...

But the contemplation of DNS would never come to pass. And hopefully no DNF either. Not even if I have to crawl to the peak of Tai Mo Shan and glide down on my backside. Unless I had to be brought back in a stretcher or in the unforeseen event of natural disasters, by God, I will attempt to finish it. But let's be clear about this: There is no shame in DNF, and neither do I pass any judgement on the ones who DNF'ed in previous HK100. 

It's just that it's a personal quest. Something that I must do. It's a runner's thing. 

So, preparations so far consist of getting the proper equipments ranging from the list given by the organizers, to some more 'personal' stuff like chia seeds etc. That's the part where money would be handy to help ease the passage....

But what money can't buy, is the actual training and the physical condition leading up to race day. (Unless you're thinking of bribing the organizers for a 'shortcut'....) 

Sweat. Pain and Hardwork. That much is a no brainer. The elevation chart below tells you why.

Elevation gain of 4500m is somewhat a daunting task. Even if you walk all the way. I seriously cannot imagine how one could actually run in that kind of terrain. Particularly the second half of the race. You must be the reincarnation of a deer or yak or some ghostly creature. But the winner of last year's HK100 Ryan Sandes aced it in an astonishing 9:54. 

So does anything prepare one for such an event? Despite my limited expertise in this area, common sense would deduce that to survive such an ordeal, one has to be rather specific in the training regime. That would include lots and lots of steps and endurance training many many months (at least 3-4 months depending on your existing fitness and stamina) before hand. 

Unfortunately, I haven't got that part right. My focus had been on my marathon time leading up to the Nov 25's Osaka Marathon. So, mileage wise, I could say it was adequate, but as for specificity, not at all. 

It was a rather rude awakening. Not to mention late in the game when my experience with Penang Hill left me in a much undesirable disposition. But consequently, it became an impetus that drew me to train more frequently at Penang Hill in the past few weeks. And when I couldn't, I would pound the condominium's emergency stairways. (35 floors x 3 was all I could manage before being reduced to a heap of Jell-O.) 

To be absolutely honest, I don't think I have done nearly enough to be comfortable to take on HK100. Then again, doing ultra trail, especially for first timers like me, there will always be an element of "reckless abandonment" entwined in it. All your training would do is to prepare you as much as possible. What you are truly made of, on the other hand, won't really be clear until you are finally face to face with it. 

I have enough marathons under my belt to be fearless (not less respectful though) of the 42.195 event. But when it comes to Ultra trail like HK100, this IS the new frontier. The great unknown. What awaits me is not just the question of whether or not I could complete it, that wouldn't be too difficult to answer.... (I think...)

But I have a feeling that something more substantial is about to unfold: The 'ultimate' discovery of myself and my limits. And there is no other way to find out unless you tumble through that rabbit hole....and come to see for yourself. And experience with your senses and make that connection. 

It is the road to liberation. 

And I am looking forward to that. 


  1. Doc, we will always feel nervous regardless how much we trained for it. It's a runner's thing but someone said to me that it's ok to be nervous (provided you've trained for it). But I'm sure you'll do great in HK. Good luck!

    1. thanks Deo. It will be an eye opener for me. Yeah, I agree it's better to feel some 'appropriate stress' than outright ignorance and total disregard for the magnitude of the challenge. Are you going to be there? Pace with me?

    2. Yes will be there. I'm not too optimistic to be able to pace with you, Doc. I'll take my sweet time during the race. But surely we will bump into each other that weekend :)

  2. All the best Francis. While it looks like a huge undertaking, I'm pretty sure with the experience you have running marathons, you do fine and come out of it with a totally new experience to share with us.

    1. Thanks Nick. It'll be something alright. But I would reserve some comments until AFTER the race...:)
      Had a discussion with a very experience Ultra marathoner Seow Kong and he gave some very useful and insightful advice. Will need all the advice I can get for this HUGE undertaking.
      Hope I will complete it in one piece. Seriously.

  3. Hi Francis, what an elevation chart! I can't imagine which part of it is a "run" for me. For me, I can only see the part to "crawl" and "fall". Ultra is really another dimension and hard to read it from marathon point of view.
    It's thrilling and inviting by just looking at the chart.
    Good luck~

    1. thanks Kent. It will be a monumental undertaking for me. Believe it or not, found out that walking is actually a large part of Ultra. With the right technique, of course.
      One thing abt this Ultra thing is...u hv got to hv time to train for it. Otherwise, it won't work....I am sure with ur ability now, you could do consider it too...

  4. Best of luck Doc for your debut Ultra Virgin HK100. Keep pounding the Penang Hill religiously and condo staircases diligently and I'm sure U'll make it thru in 1 piece as well...

    Mental strength is important too, esp to endure this Ultra Trail Race... It will be your make or break moment. Looking forward to read your review later on as I'll tackle my 1st Ultra 50K TMBT 2013... =D

  5. Thanks eezard-vazz. Aside from mental strength, other aspects such as nutrition, hydration and sleep (deprivation) are also key to a successful race. I am just going to go out there and 'enjoy' myself with no pre-set time or target. Would be happy enough just to finish in one piece.
    See you also for TMBT.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts