Sunday, 24 February 2013

Pre-Dawn Run

Runners at the start of the 10K last year at the Island Eastern Corridor
At 4am I woke up and got ready for the 10K race that is part of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2013.

I didn't have enough sleep -- I'd only gone to bed at 11pm, but I probably would have had trouble falling asleep if I'd gone to bed earlier.

Nevertheless, the tiredness was completely wiped out by the excitement of the race.

Back in late November I was one of the 72,000 people who managed to get into the website and register for the race.

This is my first time running the race. Last year I tried to get onto the website and the system crashed. By the time I tried again, all the slots were taken.

I've run 10K before -- twice in Beijing -- so I wanted to see if I could still do it. There were 33,000 signed up to do the 10K here, separated into six heats.

In Kennedy Town it seemed the buses were not running at 5am, and taxis were few and far between. I missed one of the trams go by, thinking I'd have better luck with a taxi.

Even though it's still dark, a few elderly women were wide awake and sharing a conversation. It's interesting to see how many people are up at that hour. But perhaps in Hong Kong, it doesn't seem unusual...

Eventually I got onto a red minibus, but the driver seemed mentally unstable -- ranting about how the government is useless -- including blaming the authorities for allowing mosquitoes into his bus -- and forced us all to listen to him. So I bailed out at Sheung Wan and took the MTR to Tin Hau station.

It was still dark outside walking towards the starting line on the highway of the Island Eastern Corridor. Many people carried their smart phones and were constantly taking pictures with friends or listening to music. Already there was a contingent of people cheering, handing out drinks. One group was handing out Red Bull which didn't seem like a good idea just before a race.

Finally I made it up the ramp and it was still quite windy right by the water. It's hard to have a lively atmosphere when it's a) dark outside and b) people in nearby buildings are still sleeping so you can't play loud music.

My time slot of 6.30am started on time and with a few blasts of the horn we were off, with a makeshift grandstand waving to us as we ran by. Tons of people passed me and some even sprinting, but I just kept my pace all the way through. I just saw a sea of people in front of me, all the way far into the distance.

For the most part it was quiet except for the sound of people's hands accidentally hitting their paper bibs. Many people started to walk after the 2km and 4km points so I started to pass them. I hadn't prepared for the ramps going up and down, but I just pushed on, keeping my pace throughout. And then past the 7km mark we could see The Excelsior hotel which meant Victoria Park wasn't too far away.

However, towards the end it was annoying having more walkers than runners and having to dodge them to pass -- perhaps there should be some etiquette about walking on the side to let runners go by? There was even an elderly man who brought his bird cage along and swung it wildly! Poor bird!

I wasn't anticipating one last run up a ramp before arriving in Victoria Park. But as they say, what goes up must come down and it was nice to go downhill by the end.

I'm not quite sure of my time so far, but when I saw a guy's watch next to me it said 7.36am. Had I really run 10K in 1:06? I shall find out on Tuesday and let you know.

So far feeling good, legs are a bit like jelly, but a good run overall.


  1. Congrats (again -- since I congratulated you previously via email!)!

    Interesting to read your account. Didn't know people were allowed to walk. Thought people would be required to run -- or jog -- all the way! So... did you run all the way, or end up walking a bit?

    How was the air? From Jardine's Lookout this afternoon, the view of the northern part of Hong Kong Island and beyond was hazy -- much more so than the view of the southern side of the island.

  2. Hi YTSL -- Yes! You would think with a 10K run people would take it seriously, but there were some who made the mistake of running too fast in the beginning and ran out of gas, while others underestimated their ability or didn't train properly.

    I ran all the way! If I stopped it would be hard for me to get back into it again.

    It was quite windy most of the time, running towards Sai Wan Ho (passing your favourite Hong Kong Film Archive building) there was headwind, and then tailwind on the way back.

    When we started the air was pretty good, but by the time we wound our way back, there was some traffic on other roads near us which was a drag so we totally breathed in CO2. Yuck!

    Will find out my time results on Tuesday!