Shanghai Running Magazine volume 1, Q1 2014 - Page 16

Race Review Shanghai Running, We Run Shanghai Hong Kong Raleigh Challenge 78k Ultra: By Ray Heraty I learned about running from that. Although I'm a slow runner, my competitive nature is always driving me to run faster and set personal bests in each of the distances that I regularly run. While having a fast day on the course is always satisfying, sometimes the most valuable races are the ones that don't go according to plan. On these runs, although you may not set a new best time, you can come away knowing more about yourself and about running than ever before. By this measure, my recent adventure on the Hong Kong Raleigh Challenge Wilson Trail ultra marathon was a real learning experience! The Wilson Trail is a team race. Groups of 2-6 must all arrive at each checkpoint before the team can move on. My running partner Claudia and I had signed up together as we felt well matched over long distances and had run the first half of the Hong Kong 100 with each other and enjoyed the experience. The first sign that things might not go to plan occurred at the Pudong airport. Cancellations and delays turned my early afternoon arrival into a 9pm arrival. This immediately caused my planned day of relaxing, resting and preparing our food for the race to devolve into a worried recalculation of arrival times, food buying plans and widening horror at the realization that my rest time was shrinking rapidly. In any case, it was about 1am before I turned in for the night and pre-race jitters combined with an early wake up call resulted in a poor nights sleep. Nevertheless, I awoke feeling reasonably relaxed and in good spirits. After all, I had run 100km races before and this one was a mere 78km. A piece of cake for an experienced runner like myself. We caught the Metro into the city and reviewed the days plan. Claudia likes a good cup of coffee before spending 20 hours on the trail and once we stepped off the MTR we stopped at Starbucks so that she could get her fix. I don't drink coffee but I did spot a pretty tasty looking tofu wrap, and deviating from my long established food plan, ordered one and for good measure also ordered a big slab of marble cake to wash it down. The race starts on Hong Kong island, the first 12km or so are run there with some great views of the ocean and Hong Kong itself. Copyright Shanghai Running 2013. One of the interesting aspects of the race is that you must take the metro again to go back under Hong Kong Harbor to rejoin the trail on the other side. . This also offers the opportunity to do a little food shopping as you descend off the trail and into the civilization of Hong Kong. We made a quick pit stop at 7-11 for glorious cold water and on a rash impulse I bought a bottle of Coke and a large candy bar. I proceeded to slam these back and boy did it feel good. On the other side of Fragrant Harbor the trail gets immediately down to business with a short but steep climb of about 350m. Claudia was powering up the hill but all of a sudden I don't feel so good. I've suffered from nausea before but this is only about 14km into the race and way too early to be feeling any ill effects. I shove my negative thoughts to the back of my mind but after another kilometer or so I have to confess how I'm feeling to Claudia and ask her to slow the pace. We reach an aid station and I grab a banana but with this things instantly get worse and I know I'm about to throw up. I'm just hoping that this will be one of those barf and done quickie illnesses so I find a quiet spot to take care of business. And I do feel better, briefly. But by about 17km the first thought of not finishing enters my head. Out of 35 long distance races, I've only failed to finish one and hated that feeling so much that I had no intention of repeating the experience. I push on, putting on a brave face and we begin one of the first serious climbs of the race. Now, the only records I set when running are strictly personal, but I have found that at the average race I will generally overtake people on the hill climbs and then often lose ground on the descents where I'm less willing to hurl myself down the hill at breakneck speed. But on this climb, I'm being overtaken repeatedly. Claudia goes ahead and waits periodically to make sure I'm OK. I think for the first time the realization dawns on her that I'm in serious trouble. I have to take several pauses on the climb; something I rarely do – I like to get to the top and then reward myself with a brief rest. At one point I slip and have trouble getting up. I lie prone on the trail, a sad sight indeed, only about 22km in and now I finally accept that something has gone seriously wrong. Pictures: Photo’s by Ray Heraty Top: Claudia and Ray at the stat Opposite: Wilson Trail 16