Redemption run? Maybe it was for Luk Dim Boon after his Hong Lok Yuen Run 1777 debacle, but it was retribution for everybody else, with a runner crashing, others veering off course and three stooges out on the misty tops for three hours – and I’m not talking about an hour each!
To be fair, the hare set an interesting and very well marked trail on the slopes of Tiu Tang Lung, the biggish peak north-west of Wu Kau Tang. The GM, as is his wont, set the small pack off on the stroke of 7.30, just as Golden Balls arrived from his monster commute from his office at Mid Levels. By the time he’d changed he was five minutes behind the pack, a happenstance that was to have significant repercussions later on in the run.
Liberace was late and in a murderous mood as he’d asked us to wait for him, while Eunuch was absent sick, a victim of the mines on Saturday and hanging around in his wet clothes after the run when everybody else sensibly changed into their dries.
The run started with a couple of loops in the village before heading up the western flank of the mountain via a seldom-used track. Victim 1 was claimed here, with Gunpowder Plod wimping out to do his own thing. On up through forest and thicket as a thin drizzle started to fall and the tops were lost in cloud. Trail was very well marked – the hare had obviously made good on his promise to mark every 50 metres.
On up we went with Mango Groove and Vibrator leading the way while the scowling Liberace started picking off the backmarkers. When he got to the trig point at the top (400 metres) he checked left, right and centre before finding trail down – the very trail he’d just come up. Charging headlong downhill in an attempt to catch Mango and Vibrator, he was surprised to encounter One Eyed Jack, who he’d passed going uphill some time before. “Short-cutting bastard!” he exclaimed, a fair assumption given that OEJ is indeed the master of the canny cut. “You’re going the wrong way!” OEJ retorted, but Libs ignored him and continued his relentless pursuit – until he came upon Golden Jelly, also heading uphill. Just how this bumbling Clouseau ever became a crack member of Hong Kong’s Finest is a mystery. Victim 2.
Meanwhile, on the correct descent from the peak, Mango and Vibrator were on the steep, rugged and slippery south face, one of the most detestable descents in Hong Kong, bad enough in daylight but treacherous on a damp night. Mountaineer Vibrator kept pace with ace descender Mango – until Mango took a tumble. Victim 3.
Back on the western ramp backmarker Golden Balls had caught Geriatric, who was moving slowly. Then, as he approached the trig point he heard Serbian Bomber’s plaintive voice: “GB, tread carefully. a branch whipped my glasses off and I can’t see a thing. Can you help me find them?” Victim 4.
A fruitless search of the shiggy ensued on the misty top, aided a few minutes later by the arrival of Geriatric. Within two minutes his torch had died. Victim 5.
GB said, “We can’t waste battery power looking for your specs so we’ve got to start back,” but Serbian was not to be denied. “I’ve got spare batteries for my torch and a spare torch and spare batteries for the spare!” he pronounced, eager to get out his well-thumbed survival kit, the one he nicked from the South African SAS. So they carried on searching until even Serbian tired of it.
Under advice from GB, who knew and dreaded the descent, they went back down the way they came up, single file, GB in front, Serbian in the middle and Geriatric behind in close formation as GB described the trail to Serbian. “Rock on the left, step down, tree stump on the right, steepening, two big steps down…” This agonisingly slow descent continued for half an hour until GB announced a NO NO (reverse ON ON) ahead, indicating they were doing the trail in reverse as planned. But no! It was an ON ON. And in front of them the cloud-shrouded mass of Tiu Tang Lung reared up. “We’re going back up the mountain!” came GB’s desolate wail. Victim 6.
Three hours after they set off the three stooges returned to spirited abuse from the rest of the pack, who had drunk all the beer (almost), and in the ensuing carnage of the circle were characterized by Mango as “one without glasses, one without a torch and one without a brain!” – Golden Balls