Race Review - Wulong Trail 2019 110km
By Jean-Marc Philippe
19-April 2019 – I took off at 7am from Singapore with Silkair MI972. Wulong city is at roughly 2hours train ride from Chongqing in Sichuan (China). It was my first trip in China since more than a decade so it looked like I was going to re-discover China starting from the most populated city in the world since ChongQing has more than 30 millions inhabitants.
The arrival at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport was uneventful and I was able to catch a metro train directly to the North railway train station. Once I figured out how the train system works, I managed to convert my Trip.com electronic ticket in a proper train ticket: it was at time comical as the staff English was as bad as my mandarin was.
The K687 train left on time to reach Wulong city 2hours at 2:50pm to reach Wulong at around 5pm.
From Wulong train station, spotting local runners, I figured out easily that I had to take a minibus for one hour ride to the Wulong “Fairy Mountain” tourist area where the race would start from and where I had booked the YunZong hotel (via trip.com again). Despite the total lack of English (like everywhere else in Wulong as far as I experienced), the manager was super friendly and helpful: I slept there before the race and kept the room for the night of the race in order to have a place to clean up and crash once I’m done. It was super convenient and literally at 100m from the race start.
Enough of travelling, let’s talk about the race! Here are some technical infos:
- Elevation: 4,825m,
- Cutoff time: 26hours (it took me 23hrs4min – ranked 52nd…),
- 10 checkpoints with plenty of drinks and food,
- Weather: Rain, rain and some more rain except for the last 3 hours,
Terrain: A real mud fest – I fell twice – except whenever we were running on road
More than 300 runners (176 finished) and I don’t remember seeing any other Caucasian
Race pack collection was super smooth: it’s worth noticing that it’s the first race where I got provided with a GPS tracker.
20-April 2019: After the previous night of continuous rain, the race started under heavy downpour so it was on a very very wet ground that few hundreds joyful but fully covered runners embarked on a 110km journey at 7am.
The course is very scenic for the first 20-25km when we went through the Wulong karst geological to a deep canyon, passing under enormous natural bridges and waterfalls. However, the weather clearly was detrimental to the overall experience. It wasn’t much fun later on despite the occasional village crossing. There were several sections of forest trail without much interest and the worst part were the hours spent through several lengthy sections of bamboos forest where you end up running bent at 90 degrees because of the short height of the bamboos blocking the path. I’m sure that with better weather, the course could be much more enjoyable but it seems that at this time of the year, heavy rain is very common.
About my race itself. I was not shooting for a great performance but I was really in pain from km30 to km50. Somehow I started to feel much better after 80km and I finished the race in a weird auto-pilot bliss, which allowed me to overtake quite a few runners during the last part of the race. I may had that because of the terrain condition, my poles proved super useful and I relied a lot on my arms in ascents.
21-April 2019: As it is not a very crowded event, there were many times where I ended up walking/running alone in the middle of the night but I never felt lost as the markings were very visible. I crossed the finishing line at around 6am, the square was very quiet and mostly empty… So once I confirmed that my timing had been correctly recorded, I headed straight to the hotel. After some long and thorough cleanup and packing, the hotel manager was super kind to drive me to the bus stop. And I made my way back step by step: bus to Wulong, train to Chongqing North railway station, metro train to Chongqing airport and Air China PN6357 flight at 6:30pm to reach Singapore shortly before midnight.
Overall, it was a fun experience. Despite the language barrier, the people in Wulong and the runners were super friendly and helpful. I have to admit however that the weather makes it a hard sell.