An insider's guide to local running neighbourhoods
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.
Hong Kong has made me a runner, and running has changed my life. Since moving to the city five years ago, I have run 10km races, marathons, and ultras, on roads and on trails. I never tried any of these when I was in Australia.
I've discovered that Hong Kong can be a runner's mecca, with hundreds of kilometres of trails weaving through the city, some tight-knit running communities, and countless races to test yourself.
Running in Hong Kong helps me to find space in a city where that quality is rare. I find it's generally the panacea for all ills, including writer's block.
At first glance, Sheung Wan, where I live, is no runner's paradise. The neighbourhood is full of cars, people and narrow streets. But I consider it a base from which to discover more.
There are plenty of options: flat, hilly, roads or trails. For a flat road run, head towards the water for an easy 5km loop along the harbourfront.
Running uphill towards Mid-Levels, there are longer and hillier runs, as you coil back and forth along Caine, Robinson and Conduit roads, and out to the 4km Bowen Road, less than 2km away.
But the highlight is the 50km Hong Kong Trail - and its many offshoots - in the middle of the island. An easy way to get to the start of the trail at The Peak is to run up Morning Trail from Hatton Road.
Sheung Wan typifies what being a runner on Hong Kong Island is like. Faced with few traditional "flat" road options, you must learn to run uphill. At first, the hills seared my lungs and burnt my quads. But over time, practice made perfect - or at least less painful.
The best part of running in Sheung Wan is the convenience. You can leave your doorstep, hit the trail, and be back and showered in under an hour (if you're quick).
The worst part is the pollution, which is unavoidable. In this neighbourhood, it seems to get trapped among the compact buildings.
Sheung Wan residents are spoilt when it comes to running and sports shops, as it is the home of Action X Store, Racing the Planet, and branches of Protrek and Round The World.
My favourite running route is a combination of easy hills, flats, and stairs. It starts up the stairs of Pound Lane, then onto Bonham Road, before winding up Breezy Path to Conduit Road.
From there, I make my way to Pik Shan Path - a quiet and unusually flat path that begins behind the public toilet block on Po Shan Road. The approximately 3km path runs high above the west of the island, and ends at Queen Mary Hospital. I turn back the way I came, but after about a kilometre, I take a diversion up through a waterfall.
Rejoining the trail, I go up a rocky path past a small sitting-out area (with a quirky goldfish pond) and up some stairs, before arriving at The Peak. Then, I take a small "snake path" - I've seen snakes here before - and rejoin Pik Shan Path, before running down the streets to Sheung Wan.
I refuel at Cafe Loisl on Tai On Terrace. This is a quiet little Viennese-style cafe which has a refreshing iced wild raspberry drink - perfect for a post-run cool down.
Scan this QR code to see a map of Rachel's favourite running route.
We are running an Instagram contest as part of the Home Run series. Send us your best snaps of running in Hong Kong by hashtagging your photos with #SCMPHomeRun. Each week, a prize sponsored by Escapade Sports will be awarded for the best photo and caption.
Up for grabs this week: a pair of Brooks Glycerin 12 running shoes valued at HK$1,180. The winner will be announced the following week. Full contest rules and details on scmp.com/topics/home-run