I sat on a bench at the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong in the dark. I was in shorts and a singlet, because it was still hot and humid as fuck, even at night. I was waiting for two people I’d never met before.
I was in Hong Kong for a week, and had asked Nic on Twitter for any running suggestions as I knew he was based in HK (I can’t actually remember how we’d connected, I think it was after I’d done some writing for a running website). He’d offered to come and meet me for a run, and I was thankful he’d suggested meeting at the top of the hill to run down, as I was pretty run-unfit right then. He and his girlfriend had ran up the hill; I’d got the bus.
I knew they ran ultramarathons, and I sat on that bench feeling apprehensive. What if I was too slow for them? What if couldn’t keep up? What about the humidity and heat? Would I fall over?
I needn’t have worried; they were the nicest people. We chatted and ran [slowly] down the dark trails of the 552m hill, headtorches on, the bright lights of Hong Kong city twinkling through the trees. Nic told me all about the trail running scene in HK, and for a short time that evening I was a part of it. The views were breathtaking, and I had to pinch myself every few steps. I knew I wouldn’t have found (or run) those trails by myself.
We ran through spider webs, through streams and over tree roots. I was amazed at the woods being so close to the concrete of the city, both appearing to co-exist in perfect harmony.
‘You guys are incredible. I’d never be able to run an ultramarathon.’ I said to them, over a beer after the run, my legs aching after the 10km of downhill.
‘You absolutely could!’ Rachel replied. ‘It’s just about the training.’
She was right, you know.
Sadly Nic died earlier this year, after almost two years battling a brain tumour. I feel so privileged to have ran with a Hong Kong trail running legend.