Trail events and the World Canoe Championships plus previews.
THE OUTDOORS MEANS DIFFER ENT things to different people. There’s no better example of this than the Fjallraven Classic, held in Hong Kong for the first time in October 2017. The city’s mania for trail running sees even day hikers take to the trails in superlight shoes, garish vests and compression pants. Instead, the three-day Classic promotes an ethos more collaborative than competitive. It’s all about sharing an experience of the outdoors, and so at the start line in Sai Kung, most of the 350 entrants were clad in long trousers and sleeved shirts, in muted, earthy colours. Over half were from overseas: more than 150 from Korea, with other groups from Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Most impressive though were the number of European and American first-time visitors who had flown in specially – a very counterintuitive way to get a handle on one of the world’s fastest-moving cities. From the start the feel was laidback, with more of the atmosphere of an outdoor festival than the frantic energy of a trail run. People chatted with whoever was passing. When a teammate went over on her ankle, strangers helped bandage her. Ask for sun cream or mozzie spray and you’d likely get three offers. The sharing extended even to livestock: the herd of cows cohabited our first-night campsite making off with three Korean girls’ dinners while they were setting up their tent. Next morning, early sun accompanied a lovely coastal walk before we cut inland for the climb to the Cheung Sheung checkpoint on the Maclehose Trail. This wooded campsite is a favourite of Hong Kong’s runners and hikers and the setting was the perfect excuse for an extended break. People lay back in the grass, some unpacked camping chairs and one unfurled a hammock. Fresh tofu and noodles from the village were added to the freeze-dried lunches we’d been supplied. We gained a support crew for the next leg to the road at Pak Tam Au, then stayed with the ‘Mac’ for the undulating section to Ham Tin beach, our second campsite. On a mild autumn evening, the beach was busy with tents even before we added ours. With the end in sight next day, a few beers accompanied the Hong Kong-style hotpot dinner. The last day skirted the High Island
Reservoir then switched to the eroded trails beside Luk Wu gorge before the final descent to Sai Kung where The Trekkers’ Inn promised drinks and music. Spea k ing a f ter wards, Simon Piecha of Germany, one of those who had f lown across the world for the event, was a happy camper: “I was worried I would have more problems with temperature and humidity, ” he said. A three-time finisher of the original Swedish Classic, he said he would happily do the event again. Labelling something a ‘classic’ suggests it’s different and enduring. The 2017 event showed it could be different; time will tell if the concept endures. The 2018 event, using the same course, is already up on the website, though as of press time, a date is yet to be confirmed. – Steve White