What a fantastic night this was – Moontrekker is so much more than just a race, it really is a big event that is built around a great team of organisers and volunteers and racers that participate for so many different reasons. There are those that want to beat last year’s time, others who are taking part for the first time because they want to get fitter and even some that don’t want to loose a bet. But whatever the reason is, it is truly an effort to climb Lantau Peak at night.
The race starts at 9.00pm for the 40km route and at 11.20pm for the 27km hike. For both races, the starting point is the football pitch at Mui Wo. This is where all the volunteers meet, to pick up the supplies for the night. I arrived at 9.45pm so the first group of racers was already underway. The second group was just gathering for the start and it was an amazing atmosphere, lots of cheers and words of encouragements were shared.
We took a taxi to get to our remote check point. This year, I supported the volunteers at Checkpoint 4, which is right before Lantau Peak, behind Ngong Ping. From Checkpoint 4 it is ‘only’ 8km to the finishing line, but with a 500m incline up to Lantau Peak. Racers that come to this point will already have completed 19km (Moonlit 27) or 32km (Sunrise 40) so the majority is tired and exhausted.
We set up at 11.00pm, together with the guys from Sennheiser (one of the main sponsors) and Racetec who were in charge for the race tracking and the music. One on side of the path we erected a small tent for our tea station (where we’d be serving tea and biscuits all night) while on the other side we had our supply of more than 300 litres of water and lots of Aquarius sport drink bottles. Plus three big boxes of bananas, trail mix nuts and raisins plus some sweets for the sugar rush to climb the peak.
You can’t tell this from the pictures, but we also had glow in the dark sticks to mark our path (plus some lights at the stations). They looked nice, but more importantly helped the hikers to see the route.
The first to arrive came shortly around midnight – those were the guys on the Sunrise 40 race. They had run 32km in less than three hours, ignoring the hilly path and darkness surrounding them. Those guys did not stop for refreshments, except for a quick water refill.
The first 100 hikers passed through quickly, just grabbing a banana and a drink, but once we hit 2am it became busy. More hikers stayed for a rest, or for a hot tea given it was actually really cold at night (our checkpoint was quite exposed, so all volunteers were wearing at least three layers, me included!). That’s the point when we started talking and hearing all the stories, about how the hikers feel and why they are doing the race.
By 5.50am you could already tell that it was getting lighter, the sky was becoming gradually brighter from the East side. It’s difficult to tell in those pictures, but in real life we could see that sunrise was coming.
By 6.18am the sun was up and we turned off all the lights.
Most of the hikers had cleared the check point by then and had finished. In fact, the fastest racers were incredible fast (all race results are here):
Sunrise 40 – Male
Clement Dumont in 4:04:11 (at 1.04am)
Wong Ho Chung in 4:14:42 (at 1.15am)
Antony Siu Lai Yin in 4:22:55 (at 1.23am)
Sunrise 40 – Female
Claire Price in 4:36:03 (at 1.36am)
Valerie Lagarde in 5:11:17 (at 2.11am)
Moonlit 27 – Male
Shane Early in 3:21:56 (at 2.42am)
Dwyfor Evans in 3:22:52 (at 2.43am)
Adrien Choux in 3:23:41 (at 2.43am)
Moonlit 27 – Female
Denvy Lo in 3:45:38 (at 3.05am)
Zein Williams in 4:00:59 (at 3.21am)
Anne Prenez in 4:32:42 (at 3.52am)
We packed up at 7am …
… and went down to the finish line, where we were greeted by a big BBQ, live music and lots of happy but tired hikers.
The sun was up and everyone was in a good mood. I stayed for a little while and then caught the bus back to Discovery Bay (via Tung Chung). By 9am I was in bed, dreaming of the Moontrekker 2013.
Some interesting stats from this year’s event:
- 582 hikers took part in the Sunrise 40. Out of those 438 finished (75%). That’s 348 male and 90 female hikers
- The average time for the 40km course is 8 hours and 5 minutes. The fastest was just about 4 hours and the slowest 13 hours
- 694 hikers signed up for the Moonlit 27. Out of those 580 finished (83%). That’s 345 male and 235 female hikers
- The average time for 27km was 7 hours and 28 minutes. The fastest was 3 hours and 21 minutes while the slowest hiker took 10 hours and 56 minutes