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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

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