9 Feb 2012

A full marathon since transitioning to barefeet/minimalistic footwear in "Monkey Feet"- Vibram Five Fingers

Successfully completed what is labelled as the toughest marathon in Asia, the Hong Kong Standard Chartered full marathon on february 5, 2012. The new and tougher route was introduced since 2010.The main race started off from Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui at 7:15 am. As runners we passed through some of Hong Kong's iconic infrastructure, including the West Kowloon Expressway, Stonecutters Bridge, Tsing Ma Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge and Western Harbour Tunnel, before finishing at Victoria Park. The 3 suspension bridges  with steep inclines(stonecutters, Tsing Ma and Ting Kau one after the other until almost the halfway mark!)  and followed by 2 major tunnels ( Cheung Tsing and the Western Harbour) with steep ascent at around 25 kms and 33 kms mark.After exiting the tunnel,  I cramped badly( just wanted to quit!!). The only positive was we crossed freely both the tunnels without paying toll :).This was soon followed by 2 flyovers towards the finish ( connaught road and admiralty). Boy oh boy! this sure was a killer! The organisation was very good with drink station (water and isotonic) at every 5 kms and then bananas and chocolates after 25 kms which was almost exhausted by some fast FM runners(however my friend managed to get hold of one chocolate bar and kept it with her and surprised me when we finished our journey and this was one of the sweetest cadbury dairy milk I have till date tasted!). Medical aid stations had abundant sprays and ointments for cramps and also ambulance ready to handle any untoward emergencies. What was lacking was crowd cheer and support to lift our spirits and pull us through along the way, especially at those claustrophobic tunnels when one is desperately looking for the ray of light!. We limped and walked through the whole course of the almost 4 kms long Western Harbour tunnel.Many of my "guide runner" friends who were running with visually impaired runners provided the most needed inspiration all through the darkest point in the course and we followed them one step at a time. It was clearly a victory of mind over body here! and a wonderful feeling to enjoy and successfully complete another beautiful and tough journey and see the finish line hand in hand with my soul/sole sis Deepa Natarajan and even happier when a volunteer put the medal around our neck ( like we had won a battle ;-)). As for the time I know it will only get better in future from 5hrs and 37 minutes!!. Both of us ran for the first time a FM course with minimalistic footwear ( VFFs), since one year of transitioning to run minimalistic/barefeet.I ran this for the cause of "seeing is believing" an organisation which tackles avoidable blindness.  Will I recommend this marathon to my running friends? Yes, only if you are a serious runner and very well trained. Not the best for a first timer. For those who are looking forward to more challenging ones? Yes, this is it!

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