It’s Sunday morning in Hong Kong and in a few hours I will fly back to my family in Shanghai. I am sitting in my hotel room after a night mainly thinking what went wrong during the Trailwalker. Right after the Trailwalker I slept very well because I was so tired and feeling sick. But on Saturday morning I woke up and felt pretty good again. I did not have much muscle ache, just some serious blisters on my feet. To me the fact that I felt fine was not a good sign. Did I give up too easily? I thought about it for a long time and my conclusion is that I did the right thing. Continuing in the state I was in would have been dangerous for myself and would have slowed down the team even further. But it still feels very bad to give up in an event that I trained hard for.
Two people out of my team eventually managed to finish, one other person had to get out at CP 8 (around 80 km) after getting hallucinations (seeing animals that were not there etc.). Marcel and Martin finished in a much slower time than originally planned, but they made it. Completely exhausted and with some injuries, but they managed to get over the finish line. Congrats guys, you’re tough!
Was the race more difficult than other years? Some people say yes because of the high temperatures and very high humidity, but on the other hand the Gurkha’s set a new record on Friday with a time of 11 hours and 52 minutes. To me it is impossible to understand how they can pull that off. They seem to fly over the mountains. On Saturday afternoon I was at Thomas Crampton‘s place where I met one of his neighbors who also participated in the race. He finished 3 times before, but this time he (literally) passed out right before CP3 after about 35 km because of the heat. So I guess it really depends on how well your body can handle the temperature.
Saturday night we had a dinner with our team mates and the support team, and afterward I could not sleep until about 5 AM thinking about why I failed. I finally came to the conclusion that I could not have done things differently. Living in Shanghai with a busy job and a family I could not have any more (or better) training. Being in top shape is still not enough apparently to be prepared for all the mountains in combination with high temperatures and humidity. Maybe things would have been better if it had been a few degrees cooler, but I will never know that. Anyway, it’s good to fail sometimes and to learn the limits of your physical shape.
So what’s next? I made the decision not to do the HK Trailwalker again if I do not live in Hong Kong myself. It seems training for this event in Shanghai to finish in a good time is not something I can do. Next challenges should probably be in lower temperature areas where I do not get dehydrated as fast. I don’t know what’s next, but I plan to stay in reasonably good shape for the next couple of months, but not to run any half marathons before breakfast anymore like I did sometimes over the past months.
Thanks everybody for the emails and SMS messages that I received yesterday and thanks to the team for pushing me to get through some difficult parts. Like Marcel said in his speech last night, our team had an excellent team spirit. We tried to stay together and helped each other. At least I had a great time in Hong Kong, both during the practice sessions over the past months and during the actual Trailwalker. And most important, we raised some good money for Oxfam. For potential sponsors, the fact that I did not finish does not mean you cannot sponsor our team anymore (see also my post about this from last Thursday)!