Distance: 21.1 Kilometers
Date: February 24, 2013
“Running Hong Kong had me on a flyover and tunnel overload but beneath the cold climate run and the inclines is a really a well organized and scenic run that takes you to the rich Chinese heritage and modern infrastructure of Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong Marathon
Read also about my first out of the country race: Yellow Ribbon Run in Singapore.
Running in a different environment or a different set of challenges is always something I look forward to in a race and this is one of the reason I would want to include running in different countries in my bucket list. Luckily before the registration closed out, I was able to register in time as the slots got filled up real fast. I got a slot for Half Marathon 2, which would start at 9:10 am. Planed in Hong Kong February 22, Friday to get my race pack and also to give me time to get used to the cold climate. I stayed at my cousins place in Tung Chung which was around 45 minutes away from the start and finish area via MTR. I’ve been to Hong Kong several times already but this half marathon would be a new way to explore Hong Kong.
10K Test Run around Tung Chung
Race Course and Elevation
Race starts at Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and proceeds to the West Kowloon Highway with a climb of about 30 meters elevation in the first 4 kilometers. The course intersects with the Tsing Kwai Highway before making a u-turn past the 7 kilometers into the race wherein you get series of inclines and descents along the route. The Race then heads back to West Kowloon Highway and Western Harbour Crossing for the next 6 kilometers before the 70-80 meters descent entering a 2-kilometer tunnel stretch of the Western Harbour Tunnel which is below sea level. The race then goes to the Hong Kong Island side starting with a 70 meter worth of incline in Central via Connaught Road over the next 3 kilometers. The race descends to Admiralty via Man Po Street and heads to Wan Chai via Lung Wui Road and Convention Avenue in a partly flat and rolling elevation. The race gets one last flyover before entering Causeway Bay and Victoria Park for the Finish Line.
All Geared Up and Ready to GO!!!
It took me about an hour from Tung Chung to the starting line in Tsim Sha Tsui so that’s my warm up. Approaching Nathan Road, you get to feel the marathon vibe with people warming up and the festive mood of people eager to hit the roads and get on with their run. The weather was really cool even if I had to start my distance at 9:10 AM. With 72,000 runners spread out in the different categories, this would be the biggest race I’ve ever run before. I placed myself on the middle of the pack and went on to wear my yurbuds and in 10, 9, 8… 3, 2, 1. Bang!!!
Calm before the Start
Kilometer 1 to 13
Kilometer 1 to 13 was on the Kowloon Side of Hong Kong. I started at a moderate pace before picking up speed midway the first kilometer and went on with a pace below 6:30 minutes per kilometer over the first four kilometers and around 6:45 minutes per kilometer in the next nine kilometers. I enjoyed the Kowloon stretch as the inclines were challenging and I was able to maintain a fast pace and it felt so natural. Well, music does help to keep the rhythm. The water stations were loaded from water, to sports drink, to bananas and chocolates.
My Running Tour in HK
Kilometer 14 and 15
Kilometer 14 and 15 was the full 2 kilometer stretch in the West Harbour Tunnel. It was a surreal feeling running in a tunnel which was under water and something I’m not used to. There was no GPS signal in the tunnel since an enclosed area so the tunnel felt like forever since I had no idea of the distance I was covering but I think I still was able to maintain a 7 minute per kilometer pace. After endless running, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Still A-Ok Going to the Finish Line
Kilometer 16 to 21
The light at the end of the tunnel… is an uphill climb. I think this was the toughest climb in the run as you go from around 30 meters below sea level to around 40 to 50 meters above it going to Connaught Road. This stretch alone felt like an endless supply of flyovers as you get to several climbs across the distance but it was scenic as you see old buildings in Central and modern ones like IFC along this stretch. It was also really windy on this part. I was doing this stretch above 7 minutes per kilometer. The last 3 kilometers of the race was both festive and scenic with well wishers around the road and key attractions like Wan Chai and several peeks at the harbour. I went on back at below 7 minute pace going back to Causeway Bay en route to the finish line. 21.1K done in 2:30.
To the Finish Line
That’s my second half marathon of the month after Condura Skyway Marathon earlier this month. It was really fun to run in such a big event wherein no matter what your pace is, you’ll always be part of a crowd. It’s easier to run that way. Another good part of the run is communal feel wherein you get to see people cheering runners along the race course and involved in the festivities. I didn’t have any game plan for the route but just to run it and enjoy the scenery. I can say the course had some challenging inclines and it’s always satisfying crossing the finish line. Now to look forward to the next big international race for me to experience.