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.