Nugo Yamanath Limbu is taking on the crazy 298km Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC) this Saturday because it will be a chance to relax.
“I like long races, I like short also, but in long races there is no pressure, there is just freedom,” Limbu, 41, said.
The HK4TUC takes runners along all four of Hong Kong’s major trails – MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau Trails – in reverse. There are no checkpoints or support allowed on the trails, but participants can have help travelling between the trails. The end is marked by the green letter box in Mui Wo. If you reach it in under 60 hours, you are a “finisher”, but if you reach it in under 72 hours you are a “survivor”.
“First of all I always train but I always prepare mentally too. I think about the route, the elements, the environment and the weather. I check them all, so I know I can do it,” Limbu said. “If you are not mentally ready, you cannot run or race.”
Limbu works in construction in Hong Kong, but he grew up in Nepal. He spent his youth running up and down hills, and through forests. Being around nature makes him feel alive. But it was not until 2017 that he started racing. His first race was the Lamma 8, and he finished in the top 10. He has inspired many Nepalese people to take up running, and hopes others will follow suit.
“Of course it was difficult to start for them, technically, physically but mentally, it was tough, but now they are more happy,” he said.
Limbu ran the Golden 100 mile (161km) race at the end of December and the Vibram Hong Kong 100km on Saturday, when most HK4TUC runners were resting and preparing. He now has sore muscles above his knee. Last year, he ran three 100km races on three consecutive weeks, so hopes his body will recover.
“Of course, it is soon, and there is no need to run the HK100. I knew I couldn’t win the HK100 but I like the course. My leg is sore, but I hope it will be fine. I hope I can do it,” he said.
Limbu does not have a time in mind for finishing the HK4TUC, but guesses 55 to 60 hours: “Every race, I don't pick a target time. I'll just try and pace myself. I just want to continue, not fast, then I can do it.”
“Feeling sleepy will be the biggest challenge,” he added. “Of this four trails, Lantau and MacLehose are OK, but Wilson and Hong Kong are at night. That will make them more difficult. But it's OK, I'll try my best.
“Of course, I picture the postbox. Maybe I'll cry when I get there,” he said.