Run 1894, 12 December, Tai Po

The Pub Run

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Tai Po, with its 45 pubs, is the drinking capital of the New Territories and the perfect venue for the Christmas pub run, an event eagerly anticipated every December and trained for all year in madcap circles and subsidiary sessions. Would the pack be able to challenge the incredible record of 25 pubs set in 2011 by the hard core of Serbian Bomber, Stingray, One Eyed Jack, BOF and Golden Balls? Would the hostelries of Tai Po be thronged once again with carol-singing merriment and bonhomie? In short, no. The excuses were starting to wear a bit thin.

Luk Sup Gow: Sorry, I’m in the Philippines still suffering post-wedding stress.

Serbian Bomber: I’m still fighting the after-effects of virus.

One Eyed Jack: Got an upper respiratory tract infection.

Bunter: Stuck in TST for a dinner.

Back To The Future: Won’t be able to make it tonight.

At least there were a few names from the past on the starting line at the King’s Belly. But no. “Too old to run'” said Chilly Willy. “Injured,” moaned Gloria. “We won’t be joining you,” sniffed Victim and North & South. Then a missive from No Rough Stuff: “I can’t join tonight, I need to do OT at the office.”

“Who’s OT?” demanded Mango. “Lucky guy. Any relation to QT?” To which NRS shot back “If OT was a guy he’d be the unlucky one.”

And then, in a post dripping with bitterness and sarcasm from Mango: “Apologies, I will be present and I shall bring the chalk.”

Thus it was that on a cold cold night the Magnificent 6 gathered at the King’s Belly for the 2018 Pub Run, the run we train for all year. It’s such a tough event that the attrition rate had indeed been alarming, but Golden Balls gamely set off with the chalk to live-hare the first leg to pub 1, followed two minutes later by the pack of Geriatric, Liberace, Mango, Stingray and Eunuch, moving with fluency and co-ordination through the icy canyons. The first leg included a hill section half way to Wan Tau Kok Lane before dodging back down to the mazy alleys of town and a check at the pedestrianised zone. This flummoxed the pack, who weren’t used to such cryptic signs on a pub run but eventually they found their way to the taxi rank on Po Heung Street and — another check! “Outrageous!” the pack chorused, but trail was soon found leading to a lift in a building where GB was waiting on the second floor in a newish place called Free House, unknown to most of the runners. A WhatsApp came in from QT, who had arrived late and was following trail from the Belly: “Which complete and utter half wit set trail to the first bar?”

Second leg was set by Stingray, a straightforward trot through howling winds over Kwong Fuk Road to Bar Pacific, where QT was waiting having picked up trail on Kwong Fuk Road. The party was now the Magnificent 7 and things were shaping up for a quick traverse to the Tai Po Centre cluster of pubs with a pleasingly symmetrical return to the Tai Po Market group as the night progressed. But Liberace wrested control of the chalk from Stingray and set off on an idiotic meander back the way we’d just come, towards the Bobby London cluster. Outrage was expressed by QT as we passed one pub after another without being directed in, until we reached triad joint 6V Bar. Mango took over and avoided the sharp edge of QT’s tongue by going round the corner to identical triad joint Bar King, where Eunuch failed abysmally to do magic tricks with a deck of cards, then Geriatric set a mazy trail to the 133. Things were picking up pace as Eunuch took the reins, popping a few doors down the road to the Bobby London where we reminisced about such Bobby legends as Nick Griffin, Jim Nicholson and Steve James. It was time for QT’s leg, and he didn’t disappoint, hardly passing a pub on his way to pub no. 7 — whose name I forget — in Tung Fat Square just behind the Bobby. We were on a roll, holding form and looking good.

Stingray reclaimed the chalk and took us 150m up Kwong Fuk Road to another new pub, Double In, before GB crossed Kwong Fuk Road again to set trail to the Japanese half of the Gili Galu. Trail was edging once more towards the Tai Po Centre cluster as Mango grabbed the chalk and set off on a trail that only a man with no sense of direction could set, chalking arrows initially towards Tai Po Centre and then away, along the desolate tracts of Po Nga Street towards Tai Wo and its exactly zero pubs. After several faffs and short circuits, trail finally homed in on…a Seven-11. A quick tinnie later local resident QT rescued the run, getting us back on track to Tai Po Centre, all nudgers up, swift striding and clear-eyed. But not yet even half way to the record. QT’s leg ended at a pizza pub, the name eludes me –— Tapas, perhaps? — where a surfeit of greasy chips and other equally healthy snacks were devoured by ravenous runners. We then all declared ourselves too stuffed to do any more, and there, at station 11, the pub run ended.

Was it a failure? Certainly, like the great Ernest Shackleton, we had endured the icy wastes. Like Shackleton, we had failed in our stated objective and, like Shackleton, had prevailed against the odds, enduring almost unbearable hardships without the loss of a single man!!!

A glorious failure.

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Hares & runners Stingray, Golden Balls, Mango Groove, Liberace, Eunuch, Geriatric, QT

Next week’s run Creme Brûlée, Fo Tan

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