GreenPower 50km (ultra)

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GreenPower Hike is a race from The Peak to Big Wave Bay on Hong Kong Island and usually takes place in early to mid January. The money raised is used for environmental education. There are various categories and distances (50km, 25km and 10km) and the trail is a mix of concrete and trail. There are some steep roads and hills along the route.

The fastest anyone has ever done the 50km is 3 hours, 39 minutes. I did it in a whopping 11 hours 30 minutes and it was my sixth time to participate having done so every year from 2009 to 2014.

At the start, the temperature was 17C which is very warm. Previous years have been colder and it helps when pushing through the jungle and up and down the hills. There are some very long and dull parts to GreenPower featuring catchwaters mostly.

The Peak was the start of GreenPower 50km

My training had been done during cold weather but I had struggled to get up the hills and I know I didn't do enough long walks but had concentrated on step work. This training turned out to be a mistake because by the time I'd hit 25km, I was tired. Added the fact that I'd suffered from sock friction burns at the 15km mark on both feet.

At the half way mark, I had a break. I knew then it would be a miracle if I was to even hit my personal best (8 hours fifteen) but pushed on regardless.

The second half features two big hills with hundreds of steps and I struggled here a lot. When I was going up, the 25km racers were released meaning dozens of people running by me and up the monster hills. The heat was now 25C and I was in a line of stop-start traffic (inexplicably, hikers think it's ok to stop, hold everyone up behind them as they take a photo/selfie).

Finally hauled myself up and got to the checkpoint. In previous years, I'd mixed the walking with some short jogs. This time, I walked it all. A main reason for being so slow. It got to the stage where it just went on and on. I knew what was coming up but it never seemed to end.

Somehow I got over the Dragon's Back (a series of low hills comprising steps or a rocky, muddy trail). I was broken at this point but I was at the 40km mark so there was a clear incentive to finish.

View from the Dragon's Back, Hong Kong Isand
Sunset on Dragon's Back. At this point the realisation sunk in; I'll be doing the final part in the dark. I'd walked for nine hours at this point.

Once off the hills, it's back on a trail again for 4.5km. The longest 4.5km of my life and worse, darkness was falling. Managed to get through this part and hit a road just as darkness fell so walked the last 4km in the night with about 20 other people. No one used their phone lights or torches. We just all walked in the dark together me and another 20 people walking without speaking on a road in the night. There was enough ambient light to make out the concrete road and once we hit the last kilometre, we switched our phone lights on.

The last bit is the worst. The trail is shit here with some broken pipes running down the centre with rocks and tree roots exposed. Even in daylight, it's perilous.

Finally, having started at 7,30am, I crossed the finish line clocking in at 11 hours 30 minutes. Very slow time. But I wasn't the last. People were still coming in after me. And, importantly (to me anyway), over 150 people either didn't show up or dropped out on the way.

The route.
My seventh GreenPower 50km completed.

I wasn't the fittest, I wasn't the fastest, I wasn't the slowest but I did it. 50km. Seventh time in a eleven years.

Shocking time. Five years ago I did it in 8 hours something.