Sunday, March 13, 2011

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, Half, and 10k

This pretty much says everything.
But if you want the whole story, keep going...
First, the numbers:
Official Time: 2:39:52
Chip Time: 2:39:26

Overall position: 2924th
Category position 453rd
Halfway time: 49:15 - which is a big fat lie

8 minutes faster than my first half marathon and a new personal best!

The story begins back in October, immediately after that first half marathon.  I was so happy with the experience that I wanted to give Standard Chartered a try.  Unfortunately by that time it was sold out.  But then one day, on my twitter feed, I saw that some slots had opened up and immediately spread word to some friends that we should do the race.  Within minutes a few of us enrolled in the half marathon and 10 k, and by the end of the day the races were full again.

So on one cool February morning, we were ready to RUN!  I didn't realize until later that I was running with friends that had all done Trailwalker (the 100k race) last year.  

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, half, and 10k is the big city race, and this year there were 65,000 participants!  The race starts in TST and as soon as we got off the train it was like a runner's refugee camp.  First stop was bag drop off.  Super organized and took no time at all.

Next stop, Starbucks and potty break.  Amazingly this Starbucks was pretty empty, and located next to a set of porta potties with very little wait.  Nice.  I had my double espresso and was ready to roll!

On the way to the starting line we stopped to take a pic by Chungking Mansions, heyyyy!  I guess that frappuccino gave Max wings.

Once the half marathon 1 race got started (we were in half marathon 2 race) we ended up dangerously close to the starting line.

Rain was looming but stayed away.

And like that, we were off!  Racing down Nathan Road.  This was the only time in the whole race, except for the end, that went through the city streets.  It disappointed me greatly.

We were maybe 1 km in when dudes were already pulling off the road to pee.

And then before I knew it, we were in Olympic.

Do my eyes deceive me?  I made it to Lai Chi Kok!

Alright, made it to the turning point!  I really don't like out and backs, but since there wasn't really much to see during this race I guess it didn't matter.

The people watching wasn't that interesting, but I always manage to find the Jesus lovers.  It's God's plan!

Uh oh.  That can't be good.

The volunteers were cute.  Hmm, if I volunteered, would I get a cool jacket?

Hooray for the year of the rabbit.  

Running through some tollbooths.  

Approaching the scary part, the Western Tunnel!  I've heard many people say this is the worst part of the race.  2 km underground in a polluted tunnel and hard to breathe.  I wasn't looking forward to it.

At the 13 km mark, we went underwater.

Ahhhh, I'm running through the tunnel!  

1 km down, 1 more to go!  It was actually not scary at all.  I could feel some oxygen being pumped in so there was some cool air flowing through.  It smelled of tiger balm but that was the only weird part.  There were lots of candy bar wrappers on the ground.  Maybe I'll try that next time.  The first kilometer was kinda fun, but the novelty wore off in the second km and I was ready to see some daylight.

More highway running...  boring!

Ooh, hello Central!

Hello banks!

Hello bunnies!

While running through Central, I kept my eyes open for a friend that wanted to spectate.  Since we were highway running, I wasn't sure exactly where I would see her...  possibly on an overpass or something.  Sadly I missed her but she didn't miss me.  She said I was a running fool passing the slow pokes.  Awesome!

That last bit was hard for me.  I was totally in the zone and feeling good the whole way but then started to feel tired when we hit HK island.  The last 3 km were so tiring and I had to pee and I know in that last bit I slowed down a lot.  I wanted to hit sub 2:30 and maybe I would have if I didn't think the race was 20 km instead of 21 km.  What was I thinking??

Eventually we got off the highway and landed in Causeway Bay.  It was cool running through the streets and seeing all the people on the sidewalk and smelling the good ol smells of HK.  I wish the entire race was like this.  We do city races to experience the city afterall.  The WEIRD part was pedestrian crossings at certain points manned by police.  I never was stopped, but I would be pretty pissed if they stopped me so people could cross the street!

Here are some official pics of me needing to pee in the last 2 km through Causeway Bay.  I look like a mall walker!

But then we rounded a corner and holy SH there's the finish line!

I finished feeling good and on my way to collect my bags I took this of the finish line.  It was kind of a pain to get to the bag pick up area, but I didn't have to wait and it was super organized.  I took a few minutes to stretch in the grass and change.  I caught up with Max and we walked over to lunch together.

13.1 miles down!

Celebratory lunch at Bang Bang Pan Pan.  Us Half Marathoners met up with 10 k friends to chow down.

Mission Complete!

A close up of the medal.

And the back of the medal.

The full assessment:

The Good
  • Cheap - races in HK are a lot cheaper than in the US.  This is HK's big race and it was only about $40 USD.
  • Organized - you have to be when dealing with 65,000 participants
  • Efficient - see the above comment.  And this is HK afterall.  Super efficient.  Race pack pickup took no time at all.  Same with my race day bag drop off and pick up.  And didn't have to wait much for the porta potties pre-race
  • Water stations - I think water/sports drinks/sponges were every 5 km which was perfect for me
The Bad
  • The entire race except for beginning and end were on a highway.  SO BORING!!  What's the point of doing a city race if  you're not going to experience the city!
  • Hong Kong takes itself a little too seriously, which means no costumes or fun dress or interesting people watching.  No fun spectators or fun signs.  Ok I did see ONE person dressed as a shark.    
  • No maps to indicate the exact route or mile breakdown.  
  • Not enough porta potties along the race.  Most dudes were just peeing off the side of the highway anyway, which I would have done if I could.  It looked like people had to wait a bit for the potty, which is why I held it in and powered through.
  • Pedestrian crossing?  wtf?
I'm sure there's more but that's all I got off the top of my head.  I'm really glad I did it, but I probably wouldn't do it again.

Run like you stole something!

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