With the Boston marathon six weeks away, I had a 20 mile run scheduled in my training program for this week. I was behind on my mileage with my travel and so had done a 17 mile run mid week which was on a treadmill at the hotel. In spite of the TV screen it was mind-numbing so I resolved to do an outside run for the 20.
I asked a friend about where to find routes and a friend put me on to the Hong Kong Runners web site. Through that I found a great site www.run.com. This lists routes from countries all around the world and there were quite a few for Hong Kong. Most were short runs but a couple long runs in the Kowloon area got my attention so I chose one starting near Sha Tin which headed out towards the water and then along the coast.
I caught a taxi from the Shangri-La Hotel Kowloon out too the Sha Tin area and told the taxi driver to stop when I saw the river. If I had know I would have taken the metro and saved myself $11 – there was a station right next to where the route stared (the map above I drew for www.run.com starting from the metro station so others in the future will have it easier!
I was pleased to find that there was bike path with a good surface which was not overly busy. There were trees along one side which provided shade. This wasn’t too important as it was not an overly warm day.
The only downside was the fragrance from the river. If you haven’t worked in Asia you can’t fully appreciate just how ‘sweet’ these waters can be. Still, Hong Kong is a lot better than China.
I headed east and was soon into my stride. After a couple of miles I passed some people setting up cups on a table. It transpired there was a 10 km road race being run which was starting some 30 minutes after I began my run. Had I known I would have entered. It seems that there are runs every Sunday in Hong Kong so if I’m back here again on a weekend I’ll definitely check it out.
I passed a fellow who looked like a serious runner. He then sped up to my nominal 5:10 km pace and I figured it was better to run with him than have him 5 metres behind me for who knows how long. Mike was a retired customs officer training for the Kuala Lumpur marathon. He hadn’t done much running before his retirement but had now set himself the goal of 100 marathons before 60. He was doing 11 a year which seems a lot to me!
It was fun to have a local to run with. He told me all about the Hong Kong running scene, as well as his experiences racing in different countries. He even pointed me to where one can find out about marathons in Antarctica ($6,000 – $16,000) which is the biggest challenge to doing a marathon on all the continents (apparently only some 300 people have done it). Hong Kong has a very active race season and while we were running several very serious runners passed us “he’s bus driver who does sub 3h marathons”; “that one is a fireman who does 10 km races” …
The run left the river and followed the coast. It was great to have a cooling sea breeze. The route wound along the coast towards Tai Po. There was a very pleasant coast park and Mike did his turnaround there. I tried to get some water but the kiosk was closed. I continued on to the end of the path which was 9 miles from the start. I had an energy bar and then headed back. I found a vending machine so finally got some water.
I’ve never worked out the physics of it, but the return run felt much faster than the outward run. It was now 10:00 and it was much more busy with many cyclists, and a more runners. There are definitely a lot more people who exercise in Hong Kong than there are in China – perhaps a reflection of the relative wealth. There is a lot money here as evidenced by the very expensive kit they were using.
I needed to do two extra miles so I crossed the river on a bridge where someone took the photo to the right. Another benefit of being in Hong Kong: most people, especially the young people, speak English.
From there I ran to where the path ended and then turned back to run to the metro station. This area was very busy with lots of pedestrians out for a stroll, cyclists, and joggers.
Finishing at the metro station I grabbed a chocolate milk (great recovery drink!) and hopped the train back to Kowloon. So ended an excellent run through a lovely area. Highly recommended if you come to Hong Kong.