Hong Kong’s best running trails, rated and ranked on new website

Launched last month, hkrunning.com aims to provide a comprehensive database of running trails in Hong Kong. Its creator hopes to soon launch an app that offers real-time tracking to guide runners

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2016, 6:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2016, 6:01am

David Tanner loves running. But a couple of years ago, his passion for the sport began to wane as his runs turned from being fun adventures to boring routines.

“I was bored of constantly running the same routes I knew and found it hard to find new places to go without having to do extensive research, ask for accurate route descriptions or dig up transport information,” says Tanner, 32, who was born and raised in Hong Kong.

About a year ago, he came up with the idea of a website where runners like himself could explore new and great running locations in the territory with ease. On June 30 this year, hkrunning.com went live.

The site, which took Tanner three months to create while working part-time at a local wellness centre, has a database of nearly 50 road and trail running routes covering a total of about 600 kilometres. Each route was handpicked and personally run by either Tanner or his friend, the shortest being a 2.7km flat jaunt along the Seaview Promenade at Repulse Bay and the longest a 50.2km hilly trail loop on Lantau Island that begins and ends at Discovery Bay.

Each route is described in words and is accompanied by a GPS map. There is also information on distance and elevation, transport and access tips to the start and from the finish, and details about any food, water or toilet stops along the way.

Tanner has also awarded a rating for each route, based on accessibility, runnability, terrain and views. It’s not scientific, but coming from an experienced runner who has raced distances of up to 100 kilometres, the rating could be a useful guide.

The three favourite Hong Kong running trails of hkrunning founder

To keep things fun, each route has been given a name based on Tanner’s personal experience while running the routes. The Seaview Promenade run, for example, is named “Shark Bait” because the route hugs the sea.

“I wanted to create something that I would find useful myself,” says Tanner. “There are a few other sites offering hiking routes but they are either lacking in map quality or new information.”

Another feature of hkrunning.com not seen on other sites is the ability for visitors to post comments about the route and check a “completed” button if they have run the route.

There’s also the option for users to register on the site to participate in the forum, which discusses topics such as gear, nutrition, recovery, races, environment, trail quality and so on.

Tanner hopes to add at least one new route a week, with a target of a database of 200 routes. He encourages runners in the community to suggest routes by contacting him through the website. However, routes have to be “approved” by Tanner before being posted.

“I don’t want just any route,” he says. “I want a good enjoyable route, meaning one that’s relatively easy to access, with nice runnable terrain, good views, a varied environment and something that feels a little bit adventurous.”

For now, most routes are skewed towards Lamma (where Tanner has lived for the past seven years), Hong Kong Island and Lantau. There are only a few routes in the New Territories – even though this region is blessed with some of Hong Kong’s most pristine trails. Another area with room for improvement is the map – as a Google Map it’s hard to track the route and your location apart from using map reading and orienteering skills. A downloadable GPS file would help.

Tanner hopes to fix this eventually by launching an app that offers live tracking. He also plans to launch a Chinese version, and perhaps organise little events, talks and meet-ups related to running or hiking. He also hopes to attract advertisers, which would help him sustain the site.

Most of all, Tanner hopes his site will add value to the running community in Hong Kong and get people to explore the territory more. It has worked for Tanner. Since starting work on the site, he has renewed his love for running.