Any runner will tell you that it’s easier to get out of bed for a half marathon or 50k trail race than a light 10k on a Tuesday morning. The hardest part about long-distance running isn’t the physical effort – it’s the monotony of routine. That’s why it’s so important to have a great group to run with, a network of like-minded people that motivate you to get out the door.
If you’ve ever walked by the ferry piers at night – or, more likely, visited the Beer Bay for an adult beverage or two after work – you’ve no doubt seen groups of runners manoeuvring their way through the crowds. Same with Bowen Road pretty much any time of day, especially on weekends. Our melting pot of a city has become a hub for the running community, with loads of great groups that hit the trails, tracks and pavements everywhere imaginable, from Aberdeen to Kowloon to Lantau. These are some of the best of them.
RECOMMENDED: If you aren’t into running, you can still enjoy Hong Kong’s abundance of nature on one of these great hikes.
Running clubs in Hong Kong
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The proverbial Granddaddy of Them All, the Gone Runners have amassed a loyal following of athletes with goals in mind. That doesn’t mean you have to be an aspiring Gebrselassie to join. Whether you’re looking to compete in your first 5k or set a fresh PR in a 100-miler, this group will help you get there. They organise social runs every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and they can get you access to track sessions and tempo runs on Tuesday and Thursday. If you’re serious about running but want to have fun, too, consider signing up for a membership to enjoy the group’s full benefits. Like, for instance, getting a free beer or coffee from Fineprint for every 20k you run, a perk that more than makes up for the $88 monthly fee.
How to join: Sign up for a membership here, or check the Facebook page for news about upcoming social runs.
Appropriately enough, the Harbour Runners do traverse the harbourfront over the course of their weekly Wednesday night runs, but they’re not limited to the waterfront. The harbour is just a launching pad for exploring Hong Kong, the driving philosophy of this group of creatives who express a deep fondness for both the cityscape and the sport. Sometimes, they run from North Point to Braemar Hill; other times, from the clock tower in Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom and back. Whatever the route, the group will run about 7km at paces that generally range from five minutes to six-and-a-half minutes per kilometre.
How to join: Check the group’s Facebook page for updates and news about upcoming Wednesday night runs.
Somewhat remarkably, you can join a different hash every day of the week in Hong Kong. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, here’s the gist: you meet up at a predetermined location and, together with your fellow ‘hounds’, try to find the correct route that the ‘hare’ has created; at the end, there’s beer – lots of it – and many extremely NSFW jokes. It’s a blast. In Hong Kong, there are two women-only hashes on top of several ‘gentlemen’-only groups, including the oldest branch of the Hash House Harriers in the city, the H4.
No, you don’t have to be a woman to join this long-standing club. Its mission is simply to encourage women of all ages to get out and run. Founded in 1979, the HKLRRC organised the first women-only race in Hong Kong, held at Black’s Link back in 1980. The makeup of the group has changed since then. Since 2000, men have been welcomed as members, and today the club boasts a diverse group from a wide range of professional and athletic backgrounds (founding member Winnie Lai Chu Ng ran a blistering 2:42 in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics). The HKLRRC organises races, social runs and hikes, weekly track sessions, swimming classes in the summer months and year-round fitness and stretching classes.
Hong Kong is blessed with one of Asia’s most extensive and accessible trail networks. This group wants you to take full advantage of it. Hong Kong Trail Runners is a social, community-oriented group that organises regular runs on some of the SAR’s best trails, including routes up to Namshan on Lantau, Lion’s Rock in Kowloon and Black’s Link on Hong Kong Island. Keep in mind that this is an amateur group; all runners are responsible for their own safety.
Despite the name, you’ll find this group hitting the pavement at a more reasonable 7.30pm every Tuesday night. Starting at Pier 3, the Midnight Runners shuffle over to Sun Yat Sen Park, taking a few breaks for Tabata-style bodyweight exercises along the route. The paces range from quick to reasonable – between four minutes and six minutes per kilometre – and you have the option of running 6k or 10k. There’s music to keep you moving, as well as the promise of post-run drinks. Carrot and stick? Maybe. But this new and energetic group, a branch of the global movement launched in London, is proving to be hugely popular. Crowds of up to 70 regularly participate.
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Run HK isn’t a running club, per se. It’s a non-profit that rehabilitates vulnerable refugees through running; other sports like hiking, self-defence and swimming; and auxiliary programmes that include leadership-based initiatives. The refugees involved in Run HK organise and lead a couple of noteworthy fundraising events, such as an annual trail race (this year held at Tai Tam Country Park on November 9) and the Great Refugee Challenge, a fun day out inspired by The Amazing Race that teaches participants about the refugee experience in Hong Kong. Want to get involved? You can donate, join one of the events or help raise funds for the races.
How to join: To learn more about the programmes or sign up for the trail race or Great Refugee Challenge, visit here.