The annual Athletic Veteran's Organisation of Hong Kong (AVOHK) 5km race series starts soon. It's four separate 5km fun runs held every second weekend starting 8 am Saturday 19 August 2017. It may sound early for a Saturday, but the advantage is much cooler temperatures in the morning.
The course follows various paths and trails of Hong Kong and the route takes in some beautiful scenery; think mist floating through the mountain jungle and stunning lakes looked down upon from up high. There are also some rather steep hills to give your glutes a workout.
The courses are challenging enough to make it worthwhile turning up to participate. However, they are also short enough that you can still get home, shower and meet your friends for brunch.
The first race is along Bowen Road and is a gentle way to ease yourself into the competition. It is also the event to get your personal best (PB) as the road is completely flat.
Arrive at least 20 minutes before the start time of the Bowen Road event so you can pick up your race kit. The goody bag contains a race number, four bobby pins and an electronic timer chip to tie to your shoe. You need to keep the electronic timer chip for all four races. Your HK ID card is not required to collect the race pack.
Collect your race numbers from this car park area on Bowen Road. This is also where the race starts and finishes. There are toilet facilities nearby.
The second race is at Tai Tam and starts off flat but then has its own 'Heartbreak Hill' halfway through. The gradient is punishing. However, the reward is a spectacular view from the top of the mountain.
The Wan Chai Gap race starts halfway up the Peak. Last year, I thought it would be a breeze as the taxi took me most of the way up the Peak. However, the actual start immediately went up a steep gradient and continued for the first 500m. This race was particularly enjoyable as we got to run on dirt tracks on a little-explored part of the Peak. It's always good to learn new routes rather than running the same places over and over again.
Despite the length being only 5km each race is a challenge as Hong Kong as some very steep hills
The South Bay race is my favourite because there is a section that diverts off the road and onto the beach. Running on sand is tricky but was a welcome relief after so many hill climbs. There are some beautiful houses along the way for inspiration.
All four races are outdoors, so there are no locker facilities. Come dressed ready to run and slap on sunscreen before you leave the house. Don't forget to bring a hat and sunglasses, your Octopus card money for the taxi home. Consider wearing a hip belt or a small backpack for keys and money. Water is handed out at the end of the race.
The participants are a mix of serious athletes who complete 5km in under 17 minutes and those opting to jog/walk at a more leisurely pace and take around 49 minutes to finish. No matter what level you are you won't feel out of place. You must be 12 years or older to participate.
As a bonus, if you complete three out of five races you get a free t-shirt. As everyone knows, it's all about the t-shirt.
T-shirts are given out at the South Bay race if you have completed at least 3 races.