It was somewhere just before CP9.
Winnie and I were tackling yet another horrid long downhill stairs that just does not seem to have an end.
Our knees were barely coorperating and our ankles were way beyond functional.
We were just too near to the end to give up.
Right behind us, tackling that tumultuous journey down the hill was Azhar from Singapore.
Azhar did this exact race one year ago.
We looked back and yelled out to him......what was he thinking when he agreed to return and tackle these neverending hills?!!
Azhar got to the base of the hill....looked at both of us.....and surprisingly said, he had no recollection of this hill....or the one before.....even the one prior to that!
He only remembered the awesome view.
* Me modeling the event T-shirt...which I really love!
You only hang on to the good bits.....and the rough patches along the race course somehow just fades into oblivion and barely given another thought.
I frankly hope that I'd always remember how bad this race was.
So I better get on about blogging about it before all I can remember was the awesome view!
I stepped up to the start of the line with subpar readiness for the long journey ahead of me.
But I felt fresh.
My game plan was to run as minimally as I could get away with....and walk as fast as my legs can function.
The weather has been a blessing....for as I had yet again underpacked and had minimal warm clothings with me. Yea yea..nothing new.
Right from the very start, we had almost clear blue skies with the sun in its full glory.
* Just before entering the Maclehose trail
Considering each CP had its own cut off time, my immediate aim was to make it to each CP with enough time to chug down some Coke and loads of candies,
Which was fine.
* Running across the dam
By CP4, it started to get dark and I bumped into Ah Weng and his brother, and along a few other uncles, made our way together in the dark to CP5, which was 52km.
I was very happy to find Winnie and Foo (plus the rest) at CP5 fueling up before heading off for the longest segment of 13km before CP6.
The huge group of us started making out way out of CP5.
It was kinda disheartening when we found out that some runners have voluntarily pulled out at that check point citing various personal reasons for quiting.
But obviously none of us in that group was the sort who would quit...especially upon reaching the half way mark!
* The awesome view along Maclehose trail (I googled the name...apparently he was one of HK's previous governor.....or something along those lines)
Frm CP5 to CP6, it was all about long climbs up.
All the way up....then all the way down....and repeat many times for the whole 13km.
* My trusty headlamp...which battery life did not last very long. Three battery changes to maintain the brightness. Spot beats Storm hands down!
We made many pit stops of 2 minute break on the climb up.
I personally felt that it was not at all necessary but lets not cry over spilt milk.
The 13km took almost 5 hours to transverse.....and many of us had micturated (I'm sure for some, defecate) along the trail.
I know I did. Thank goodness for the pitch black darkness.
By the time we arrived at CP6, we were suddenly told by the marshalls that we only had 5 minutes remaining to cross the timing chip belt or risk being disqualified.
Imagine the state of anxiety and panic we were all in at that very moment.
We were 65km into the race and just this close to being DQed.
In the blur of the moment, everyone (and I SO mean EVERYONE) in the group got up and ran off helter-skelter!
I turned around and saw Winnie, just as confused and surprised as I was.
We were the only ones left.
We were 7km away from the next CP. We were given 3.5 hours.
None of us could run. Our ankles and our feet were this close to staging full blown mutiny.
We decided we would walk and try our darnest to complete as far as we can until completion or disqualification. Whichever that came first.
It was just the two of us, and it was bloody dark.
I was staring at the light from my Black Diamond Spot directly infront of my feet and just focusing on the light.
Sure, I don't see very far ahead but then again, in the dark and in the middle of the forrest and hills somewheree in HK, I'd rather continue staring at the light right in front of me.
Knowing that Winnie was just behind me gave me a lot of comfort.
We walked stealthly through the woods in the dark until we hear the loud music and cheers somewhere ahead and we knew we had reached CP7!
Very relieved to have arrived at another check point, we did not want to slack and the volunteers there did not know how long before disqualification time at CP8.
We hurried off knowing it is just 7km away but having no clue how long a time we have at our expense.
We trudged off, quietly.....both of us with the unspoken worry of not making the cut off time.
Halfway through our journey to CP8, dawn came and the sky began to lighten.
And with the light, goes my sleepiness.
Our spirits lifted upon arrival to CP8. The well-talked about Needle Hill was just before us and we were so freakin close to the very end.
Frankly....I didn't think the Needle Hill was as difficult as everyone says. I didn't even realize that I've ascended to the peak until I looked over and realized...SHIT, its now several kilometers of downhill stairs!
We climbed one more hill after Needle Hill, where Winnie said she'd write a complaint letter to whoever it may concern regarding the inconsideration to race participants for all the amount of hills there are towards the end of the race. Right......
* Needle hill.....not that tough after all....
* The tough part was what came after ascending to the peak of Needle Hill....
Finally approached CP9.....and I felt like I was gonna cry.
Last 10km more to go.
Conquer Tai Mo Shan and we're done!
It was starting to get cold and misty (hence the name of the bloody mountain) from there onwards.
* Somewhere up in Tai Mo Shan
Frankly....even up till now.....the last 10km was an absolute blur.
I remember wondering when the hell it would all end....and where the heck was the finishing line.
It was roughly a 6km uphill climb......and it was really cold and windy.
It was so misty that I can barely see what's 100m in front of me.
But that was ok....I wasn't very keen at that moment to know what other challenges lie waiting ahead.
I just want to get it done and over with.
Finally after getting right to the peak....it was a 4km downhill slope.
Usually I would be ecstatic to see a downhill slope and would gladly run all the way down.....except this time around I could hardly feel my feet and my ankles felt like it was gonna go kaboom!
It must have been the slowest and more torturous 4km downhill walk EVER in my whole entire running life!
Every step was painful. Every second seemed like eternity.
I felt like crying every other step or so.
It was good to have Winnie nearby reminding me how embarrassing it was to be crying 4km away from the end. And it would not make a good finishing photo.
Holding back the tears.
The trudge was eternal. My bladder was impatient.
I needed to micturate ASAP. Must there wasn't any toilet within sight and the bushes surrounding were kinda sparse.
I was not in the mood to be mooning half the local weekend warriors hiking up the mountain.
Told bladder to stick it up and continue to tolerate the increase in internal pressure....until opportunity to pee arises.
And opportunity did arise!!!!
Like 500m from the finishing line......but heck, when you need to go...you just NEED to go.
We went into the public toilet...freshen up for the upcoming flashes of camera.....and continued the journey with a little more oomph in our heavy steps.
And FINALLY.....emerged in front of us.....was the finishing line....the very image I had been looking forward to for the past one and a half days......THE END of the journey!!!!!
IN 31 HOURS AND 1 MINUTE (you have to pardon our toilet time)!!!!!!
WE SUCCEEDED WHERE OTHERS FAILED!!!!
WE CONQUERED WHEN OTHERS THOUGHT WE COULDN'T!!!!!
.....and other self congratulatory pep talk one tells self when complete such a feat.