When most of us head out to hike, we think 15 km is a fantastic achievement. After all, that is the distance from DB, up the Tigers Head, down the Olympic Trail to Mui Wo, and back to DB. Quite a distance, to be fair. For some however, that is a mere walk in the park. Those Trail-walking Titans are the kind of people whose idea of a good weekend is to trek the 100km Maclehose trail and for whom the 50km GreenPower Challenge is a pleasant way to see the Peak. This year however, there is a new challenge on the horizon. One that is most definitely not for the fainthearted!
The Lantau50, sponsored by Raidlight, kicks off in style on March 24th 2012. Lantau is the home of some of the most arduous peaks in Hong Kong, and it is fitting that the Lantau50 combines three of the toughest into a single day challenge. The race will start in Discovery Bay, and covers three peaks, Tigers Head, Sunset Peak, Lo Yan Shan and back to DB - all to be completed in under 12 hours!
Tigers Head, or Lo Fu Tau, will be a familiar climb to many, being literally in our backyard! While a short climb, it is vertical, and offers fantastic views over Discovery Bay at its summit, 465m above sea level.
Onwards and upwards to Sunset Peak. Sunset Peak (or Tai Tung Shan) sits at an elevation of 869m above sea level. The incline to the peak is quite steep, but you are rewarded by a gentle descent, following the South Lantau Country Trail to Chi Ma Wan peninsula.
Chi Ma Wan Peninsula is home to the last of the peaks, Lo Yan Shan, which at 303m above sea level is the lowest of the climbs. The race then follows the Chi Ma Wan Country Trail back to Mui Wo, finally finishing in Discovery Bay.
WHY DO IT?
Broken toenails, chafing in unmentionable places, and blistered toes are your reward, so why do it?
50km (or to be precise, 51km for this race) is longer than a marathon, and doing a marathon over mountains would test anyone's sanity. However, there is something enormously satisfying about seeing that finish line. It takes a lot of mental stamina, aside of the obvious physical conditioning, to finish a race. Perfect for those who enjoy talking to themselves!
There is also a massive sense of freedom when you are trail running, an exhilaration magnified by spending the day in nature's beauty rather than the concrete jungle that defines Hong Kong for most people. You definitely need to concentrate hard so you don't lose your footing, but bounding down mountainsides at speed is very liberating.
However, for such liberation, you do need to put in the hours of practice. The most relevant training you can do is to simply get out on the trail. Luckily living in DB, the Lantau50 route is easily accessible.
Whether you are intending to walk or run it, leg strength will play a massive part in your success. To get your legs used to incline and your ankles used to uneven terrain, try and hill climb at least twice a week. Flat ground training will be effective in building your cardiovascular fitness, and including a few trips up and down the numerous stairways here in DB will stand you in good stead on the day.
While training, try and do half the trail on one day and the other half another day - this way you get an idea of what your liquid consumption will be like and what foods you need to bring with you. Electrolytes or salts are a must have, and usually food intake tends to be on the lighter side, so most people rely on energy gels and jellies to see them through. There will be five checkpoints on the day offering water, electrolytes and fruit, including a first aid checkpoint half way through and at the finish line.
If all this sounds a little intimidating, fear not. The organisers have included a shorter route for those not quite up to a 50km challenge. The Explorer15 is a tidy trail running from DB to Mui Wo (via Tigers Head) and back. There is no time limit on this, and probably a better fit for those who prefer to walk rather than sprint! DBL
With HK$30,000 in prize money, you can be sure that this year's inaugural event will attract much competition!
For those of you interested in taking part, there is an early bird entry fee for both races before March 1st, and closing date for all applications is March 19th.
For more details check out the race website on www.lantau50.com. Good Luck!
By Claire Wallace
PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY DB LIVING MAGAZINE