Tinny Sort of Run
Hare Dingaling had said the exact start of the run would depend on the prevailing winds, and on arriving at the general area indicated – south of one of the nullahs that run north from Tai Tong into Yuen Long – we find out why. The noxious stench of piggery invades our nostrils. Geriatric is already there along with visitors South Side Pushover, Easy Rider and Cannot Finnish, and they’ve found a leafy glade in which to take shelter from heat and pong, and after some confusion among the drivers about where to park we all drive into the glade.
The hare arrives full of bonhomie and confirms we’ve found the start. Penile Dementia makes his first appearance since rupturing his cruciate ligament last year at a party and does the run with poles, while three of the four Kinabalutans present are nursing injuries: Stunt Double (gout), Hoover (gashed hand) and Dingaling (twisted ankle); only Fartypants is unblemished. Walky Talky is getting drunk at the Babes Hash while BJ, perhaps wisely, has decided to rest up. He will miss an epic sharpener for next weekend’s climb up Mt Kinabalu.
Dingaling gives the briefing: look for chalk and shredded paper. Three rambo splits with split 2 going past old tin mine workings. Split 3 has a little hill. Photo, and off we run down the road towards yards and agriculture, where I solve the first check and arrive first at the second check. It looks like we have to get across some fields to where a defined path contours around the bottom of the hill. Walkers are clearly visible. Between us is a mini cliff and thick vegetation with no obvious way through. On an impulse I head away from the hill with Stunt Double. Creme Brulee has taken the path towards the hill. I find nothing but on turning round I see Creme Brulee also running back towards the check, so I decide to go further, Stunt Double abandons the cause. Has he heard something that I haven’t? I’m on a promising track – one that ends in a wall of vegetation. Back to the check. There’s nobody there, but I can see them on the contour path below the hill. The check isn’t marked. “Where’s the trail?” I shout. “On on!” comes the faint reply.
And so I thrash about past piles of sand, heaps of rubbish, old containers and scruffy vegetation, unable to find the way down, until Dingaling appears to rescue me. Back on trail, I run through agriculture, over a bridge, through a gate and up to the contour trail. This leads to a set of steps going up and off the contour path. After a little climb the rambo 1 / wimp split appears. I take rambo 1, a little detour through abandoned agriculture, a stream and a scramble up some terraces, until I regain the wimp trail uphill. High above, I can see the blue shirt of Cannot Finnish. This is to be the last sign of a hasher I see until the final stretch of the run.
Here is the rambo 2 / wimp split, through a gap in the trees for a steep scramble. Lots of false summits. several pits in the ground that I assume are old mine workings.
Some badlands, one part where I must negotiate an arete-like ridge that falls away on both sides. Luckily there is vegetation to hold on to and steady my rising vertigo. Forest gives way to scratchy dry bracken. I’m at the top. A check is marked to the right where, some way below, I see the grey waters of Wong Nei Tun Reservoir. The track down is very steep and loose, difficult to negotiate, but there’s a metal pipe I can hold on to. Wrong, it’s wet and slippery. At least there are plenty of bushes for braking. But they’re mostly poison sumac and I cannot grab them. At a particularly steep stretch I resort to arsing it down, a tactic I later learn that front-runner Eunuch had also employed.
At the reservoir a check is marked over the dam, and then there’s the rambo 3 / wimp split, the wimp trail reaching the dam by the same simple path it started on. Rambo 3 is indicated left. I know this place, I’ve set runs here. That way only goes up and up and ever more steeply up, until it reaches the ridge, which is a roller-coaster. The wimp trail is indicated along the waterworks road – this will be a couple of kilometres before a descent to Tai Tong. Goodbye climbing, hello tarmac.
Goodbye tarmac, hello steep sandy descent. Way below I can see what looks like Hoover and Golden Jelly picking their way gingerly down. I can do this stuff, and I set off on my shuffle-run, flying down the fell. But what is that echo approaching me from the rear. Suddenly Eunuch stampedes past, Ghurka-like, almost ending up in a bush as he does so. Now the descent has finished and I’m at the nullah. It’s a simple plod up the road to the finish, where the hare is icing his ankle. Setting a run like that’s probably not the best way to recover from a twisted ankle when there’s a mountain to climb in a week, but thanks for a really interesting trail.
There are still nine out on the rambo 3 trail, and they trickle in over the next 30 minutes, all looking knackered. The last back is a dehydrated Radio 1 in over two hours. Amazingly, Penile Dementia manages the full triple-rambo on poles. In the glade, Golden Jelly makes a fire to drive away the voracious mosquitoes. Eunuch’s loony son Piss In Bucket has nabbed my folding stool and appears to be trying to insert it into a hole in a tree. There’s organic cider, red wine, white wine and beer. Unusually for the NNT, the softies disappear very quickly – but Eunuch provides reinforcements. After all, he’s got plenty. – Golden Balls
Runners: Stunt Double, Penile Dementia, Golden Jelly, Cannot Finnish, Beer Tits, Radio 1, Velcro Lips, Easy Rider, Hoover, One Eyed Jack, Fartypants, Creme Brulee, Mango Groove, South Side Pushover, Geriatric, Luk Sup Gow, See No Weevil, Golden Balls, Eunuch, Dram
Read Tymon Mellor’s article, Tin Mine at Tai Tong