Yesterday I completed what was on my todo list for the past 10 years, which was to complete a marathon. And I did it by finishing the Hongkong Marathon.
What follows are some notes while the event is still fresh. I’m writing this post from a small restaurant in Wang Chai.
The marathon start was at Nathan road, in Tsim Tsam Tsui. This is the reason why we chose a hotel near that area. On the other hand, the finish is
at Victoria Park on the other side of Hongkong, so not sure which better place to stay.
The 42k marathon started at 7:15. You can deposit a marathon bag near the start line, which the organizers will bring to the finish area. The contents of my bag: just a clean shirt and shorts, and a windbreaker/jacket.
The temperature was around 16 degrees C, just right and you don’t need to bring extra clothing to warm up. I had planned to bring extra clothes to shed during the race but good thing I didn’t need to.
I was feeling full from a heavy breakfast in the hotel during the first 10k. Good thing that I felt better in the next 10k. I was making a good time of under 7min per kilometer. I made the 21k mark in 2:15. At the 30k mark I think I was at 3:30. Things started to slow down after that. At the 4:30 mark, I think I was at km 35. At 5:10 I was at km 38, doing 10 min per km, more walking than running.
Inspite of the good pace in the first 30km, it came to my mind several times that I might not make the 6hour cutoff, primarily because of the pain in my left knee, something i did not experience in any of my previous long runs. There were several markers which showed the cut-off time at that point, which sent my mind calculating how much time left.
I was quite relieved to reach the 5:00 mark with 4km to go. I thought I was going to make it in 5:40. However, at that point my left knee was quite painful and could barely manage to run. I had a mild panic at the last kilometer because I could not run and it was already 5:45. Good thing I had enough in the tank to finish at 5:57.
The whole race was run on the skyways, tunnels and bridges of HK. It wasn’t really that scenic. In fact there’s a clamor to have it pass through the central city. Also, the way the bridges and roads circle through the islands, the road is inclined 30 degrees in many parts which makes it difficult to run; I suspect that the sideways sloping surface caused my early knee pains.
The organizers did a great job. Aid stations were well stocked. They were giving out menthol ointments. At one point I had to get Vaseline, as my chest was chafing already.
At the finish, there was physiotherapy available. This was not just massage therapy, but knowledgeable physical therapists doing a scientific diagnosis.
The most painful part was the return back to the hotel. I couldn’t find a taxi and had to go back to our hotel on the other side by train. It was slow walking all the way. Now I know it’s better to have the hotel on this side.
As I read the morning’s papers, it said that one person died, there were close to 70,000 participants, and the Africans duked it out at for a 1-2-3 finish. It was quite an experience, something I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to doing again next year. But that’s farthest from my mind right now as I nurse my aching legs.
Preparing my race kit:
Last kilometer in sight. What a relief.
All smiles after the race.
Course Elevation Map. The route went through so many bridges and tunnels.