Eight unmissable races from Hong Kong's bumper 2015/16 running season
City is spoiled for choice when it comes to endurance events
As the weather cools and being outdoors becomes more pleasant, Hong Kong's running season wakes from its summer slumber. We did our research and found about 70 running, adventure and multisport races that will take place from now until the end of March (find the list at scmp.com/runcalendar).
There's truly something for everyone, from ultra trails of more than 100 kilometres to mile relays, fun runs for charity to cheeky 500-metre sprints for tots. Pick an event (or a few) and use it as your motivation to get fitter this season.
Too much choice? Here's our pick of eight events to try.
If you didn't get into the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon: China Coast Marathon
All 74,000 slots for the 20th anniversary of the city's marquee marathon were snapped up in a flash, leaving many runners disappointed. The China Coast Marathon, which began in 1981, is a good alternative: it's less crowded (2,500 runners maximum) and less polluted, with a scenic and hilly route that hugs High Island Reservoir. All finishers receive a medal, T-shirt and souvenir.
When: Sunday, Jan 31, 8am
Distance: 42km and 21km
Where: Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung
Register: avohk.org HK$400 until Dec 14, HK$500 after
If you want to run for a cause: Terry Fox Run
This non-competitive family-oriented walk/run is an annual global charity event inspired by Terry Fox, a Canadian cancer research activist diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 18. Despite having his right leg amputated above the knee, Fox went on a "Marathon of Hope" to raise funds for cancer research, running more than 5,300km in 143 days across Canada before being forced to stop when the cancer spread to his lungs. Fox died in 1981 at the age of 22. Hong Kong's event is organised solely by volunteers and all proceeds go towards a local cancer research project. Last year the event attracted more than 600 participants who raised close to HK$550,000. On the 35th anniversary of Fox's cross-Canada run, the organisers are expecting 1,200 participants to better that figure this year. When: Saturday, Nov 7, 10am
Distance: 10km, 5km and 3km
Where: Renaissance College, Ma On Shan
Register: terryfox.org/InternationalRun No participation fee or minimum donation required
If running is not enough: Taikoo Place Aquathon 17.3
The mere mention of Tai Tam Country Park's punishing Twins double-peak trail is enough to make even the most seasoned hikers to break out in a cold sweat. This race requires you to not only run over the Twins but also various other peaks for a total of 15.8km - and that's after a 1.5km sea swim. (Too much of a challenge? Grab a partner and split the work.)
When: Saturday, Nov 14, 8am
Distance: 1.5km swim, 15.8km run
Where: South Bay Beach to Taikoo Place
Register: revolution-asia.com HK$500 (individual) or HK$900 (relay), plus minimum HK$300 donation to the race's chosen charity Beam International Foundation, which provides free surgery for underprivileged children with cleft lips and/or palates in China
If you like repetition: Ten Times Needle Hill
For many people, once up Needle Hill is enough; this race - aptly organised by Club Mad - takes participants up the 532-metre summit 10 times. That gives you a total elevation gain of 2,600 metres (you don't start at the sea level).
When: Wednesday, Oct 21, 9am
Where: Needle Hill, Shing Mun Reservoir
Register: tentimesneedlehill.com HK$230
If you're looking to boost workplace team spirit: Bloomberg Square Mile Relay
More than 100 teams of 10 people have signed up for this corporate mile (1.6km) relay. The organisers aren't taking any more entries, but you can register your interest for the 2016 event. In the meantime, head down to the race to suss out the competition (and crash the after-party - all are welcome). The fastest team wins a HK$80,000 cheque to donate to a charity of their choice.
When: Thursday, Nov 5
Where: Edinburgh Place, Central
If you love dogs: Race for Strays
Lace up your pooch and sign up for this charity race organised by students at Chinese International School. The fun continues after the run with yummy grub, including popsicles, sushi and organic juice. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter.
When: Saturday, Nov 7, 10am
Where: Chinese International School, Braemar Hill
Register: hkraceforstrays.com HK$150
If you want a workout before indulging in a Christmas feast: Ramp Challenge
The only race we came across taking place on Christmas Day is this 14km run up Mount Parker, which will earn you seconds at any festive feast. For an easier time, opt for the 3.5km Xmas Fun Run which has a family category where a guardian aged at least 18 teams up with a child aged six to 10. The event is the third and final stop of the Ramp Challenge Series, which also includes races at Beacon Hill (10km, Nov 8) and Tai Mo Shan (12km, Nov 15).
When: Friday, Dec 25, 9am
Distance: 14km and 3.5km
Where: Tai Tam to Mount Parker
Register: hkmsa.hk HK$250 for one race, HK$700 for entire series. For Xmas Fun Run, HK$300 for family team and HK$150 for individuals
If you think you're mentally tough: Ultra Trail Hong Kong
At 175km, this race is Hong Kong's longest running event, with a cumulative elevation gain of 9,400 metres (that's more than the height of Everest, which is 8,840 metres high). Now in its second year, the race is one of eight 100km or longer ultra trails in the city. Just a few years ago there were only a couple of ultra-endurance races and a handful of participants. These days, popular ones such as the Vibram Hong Kong 100 and The North Face 100 sell out in a flash. Yes, there are that many gluttons for punishment in the city.
When: Friday, Feb 19 to Sunday, Feb 21
Distance: 175km, 100km and 50km
Where: to be announced
Register: ultratrailhk.com.hk - HK$2,000 (175km), HK$1,200 (100km) and HK$600 (50km) until Dec 31; HK$2,800 (175km), HK$2,000 (100km) and HK$1,000 (50km) thereafter