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  • Writer's pictureMichael Van Elsberg

The MacLehose Trail Part Two

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

The MacLehose trail is the longest trail in Hong Kong and it covers most of the highest peaks from one side of the New Territories to the other, east to west. To complete the 100 kilometer trail, in either direction, is an accomplishment in its own right that anyone should be proud of doing even once in their lifetime. But in the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge, the Mac is only the first of four, and the trail is run in reverse from the end of the last section to the beginning of the first, which just makes it that much harder. Although many feel that the Wilson trail may be the most difficult of the four in the HK4TUC, the Mac is certainly a contender, at least in my opinion from what I've seen so far from my limited time on that trail. It is also my current nemesis. Like the Lantau trail, as well, the stairs just seem to go on and on without end.

After a few days on Lantau Island, I moved back to North Point on Hong Kong Island where my time was divided by alternating hours of running the trails and training in Lam Family Hung Kuen with Si Gung Lam Chun Fai. It was exhausting but unbelievably rewarding. My time with Lam Chun Fai is something I will always cherish and I plan to spend as much time with him as I can as many times a year as I can make it. I also love the North Point area and it was easy to get around from there. With the HK4TUC only days away, Andre, the race director, then suggested that I start at the section I left off on my last attempt at the Mac, which I thought was a great idea, and it was, for many reasons.

Besides figuring out how to stay hydrated and avoid the wild monkeys, I have found it especially difficult not to get lost on the MacLehose trail in darkness or broad daylight. It's a good thing I wasn't running it for time. And those monkeys! My second attempt was solo back in November and I made a wrong turn after the Shing Mun reservoir and ended up coasting down to Shing Mun below after passing a minor gauntlet of monkeys, a few of which, made a run at me. That area was, according to Andre, not the place where the real monkey danger is. He told me that the real monkey danger is, in fact, a little further along the trail where I was supposed to have been the first time. I found out, on attempt number three, just exactly what he was talking about. The road down to Shing Mun had dozens of monkeys. But further along the trail there are literally hundreds of them. And you can't avoid having to pass them at very close range, sometimes only feet or even inches away. Other times they are above you. They are literally everywhere.

The additional sections I did complete were incredibly beautiful. The best pictures just can't capture how beautiful the trails in Hong Kong are in person. I ended up only finishing a few more sections of the trail on that trip, but enjoyed them at a more leisurely pace and took a lot of pictures for future reference--about just exactly where you're supposed to be. I later got to see several of the rest of the sections of the Mac along its entire route traversing in reverse order from the "start" again, to its "end," for that first part of the HK4TUC, cheering on those for whom the Mac is just the beginning.

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