The latest in our series about running in Hong Kong focuses on Lamma
Beyond the skyscrapers and traffic-choked streets, Hong Kong is a paradise for runners. On January 25, some 73,000 people will take part in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. In the lead-up to the race, local runners will take you on a tour of the city's neighbourhoods, pointing out the best running routes, shops and pit stops. This week, 31-year-old artist Tanya Bennett shows us around Lamma Island.
"Running is a part of who I am and a huge part of my life. The more I run, the more I ask myself, "How does my life fit into my running schedule?"
I started trail running in 2012 to even out the excesses of living in Hong Kong. I've since completed over 20 races, many of them ultra marathons (42km).
Lamma Island is the perfect place for a morning run. I leave my house at Yung Shue Wan and within five minutes I'm running across the beach. A few minutes later, I'm scaling a hill and looking back over Hong Kong Island. Unlike its hilly neighbour Lantau, Lamma doesn't have many significant climbs (except for Mount Stenhouse at 353 metres, which is technically a climb rather than a run). But there are runs here to suit all abilities.
The trails on Lamma are mostly paved, but there are a few lesser-known dirt paths. Over on the less populated side of the island, Sok Kwu Wan, there are some beautiful old villages that make me feel like I have been transported back in time.
My runs on Lamma vary between a flat 5km loop to an arduous 20km tour around the island with a few mini climbs thrown in.
Lamma has an enthusiastic paddling, more than a running culture. But I do know a couple of other runners on the island, and the paths are well trodden by hikers and dog walkers. I would love to see more runners here. It's one of Hong Kong's lesser known running havens.
The best part of running on Lamma is that during Hong Kong's hot and humid summer, there are so many beaches where you can cool down. The views of Hong Kong Island and Lantau at sunrise or sunset make me thankful to live here.
The worst part is the spiders in the summer. The main dirt trail on Lamma (from the wind turbine over to Sok Kwu Wan) is not possible to run from May to October due to the density of spider webs. Spider face plants are an unfortunate side effect of running on Lamma at certain times of the year.
There isn't much in the way of running shops on Lamma, but you can buy nutritional essentials such as energy bars or nut butters at Just Green on Yung Shue Wan Main Street. Otherwise, it's over to the city for sporting essentials.
My favourite running route goes from Yung Shue Wan up to the wind turbine, along to Sok Kwu Wan via a small dirt trail on the right, then the headland loop via Mo Tat Wan and Tung O before climbing up to the radio tower. I then descend to Mo Tat Wan and run back to Sok Kwu Wan village for a popsicle, before heading back to Yung Shue Wan via the Youth Camp.
After my morning run I like to refuel at Green Cottage. It's a vegetarian cafe with a fantastic range of smoothies, perfect for a pre- or post-run boost.
Running brings me focus and perspective. I get my best ideas for a drawing or a project when I am up on the trails. When life gets tough I remind myself, "I ran 45k that time, at night, with mountains … meeting this deadline is also completely achievable.'"
Scan this QR code for a map of Tanya Bennett's favourite running route
We are running an Instagram contest as part of the Home Run series. Send your best snaps of running in the city by hashtagging your photos with #SCMPHomeRun. Each week, a prize sponsored by Escapade Sports will go to the best photo and caption. Here's the winning photo by @lloyd_belcher taken at Sunset Peak. Congratulations! Up for grabs this week is a CompresSport On/Off Multisport First Layer long-sleeved shirt valued at HK$790. Go to scmp.com/topics/home-run for details.