Four Peaks racers braced for frigid conditions in Hong Kong as 2016 edition prepares to get underway

With temperatures set to tumble, the annual Simpson Marine Four Peaks sailing and running race faces some of the chilliest and most challenging conditions of its 32-year history

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 January, 2016, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 January, 2016, 2:56pm

With temperatures set to tumble, the annual Simpson Marine Four Peaks sailing and running race faces some of the chilliest and most challenging conditions of its 32-year history.

This race invariably falls on the coldest weekend of the year and this year the conditions look particularly lively
Anthony Day, Rear Commodore of Sailing at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

“This race invariably falls on the coldest weekend of the year and this year the conditions look particularly lively,” commented Anthony Day, Rear Commodore of Sailing at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, who’s been competing in the race since 1992.

A “Polar Vortex” is forecasted to bring extreme cold to the region tomorrow, while monsoon conditions will make for chopping conditions on the water.

Only 28 boats are set to compete this year over the 55 to 90 nautical miles (depending on boat class), down from 44 last year.

The Four Peaks Race brings together the sailing and running community for a unique endurance feat. Competitors will set off from Tai Tam bay on Saturday morning, travelling towards Lantau. There, runners are dropped off in an allocated “zone” and travel to shore via a small boat or kayak before and ascend Lantau Peak (934 metres) on any chosen route, before making their way back to the boat for more. From there, competitors tackle three more mountains during the day and overnight: Mount Steinhouse (353 metres) on Lamma, Violet Hill (433 metres) on Hong Kong Island and Ma On Shan (702 metres) in Sai Kung.

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The average time to complete the race is 24 hours.

Tactics, practice and stamina have long been the hallmarks of the historical race which requires “speed and strategy ... and fine seamanship and sailing skills on the water,” says the organiser’s website.

“Bouncy conditions will mean getting runners on and off the boat safely this year will be a real concern, and so some of the more tactical and sketchy drop-offs – especially those around the south side of Lamma – may well not be on this year,” said Day.

Bouncy conditions will mean getting runners on and off the boat safely this year will be a real concern
Anthony Day, Rear Commodore of Sailing at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

Accomplished local runner Mo Devlin, 50, a PE teacher, is taking part in the Four Peaks Race for the first time this year. He’ll run up Lantau Peak and Ma On Shan after a chilli kayak journey to shore. “I am blissfully ignorant,” he says of the unusual challenge – and unseasonably freezing conditions - that awaits.

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“I expect to get wet and cold, to feel miserable at times, to wish I was back in bed or anywhere apart from on that boat at times, and to be totally exhilarated and pumped up over the whole weekend.”