Hong Kong may not seem the ideal city for an avid runner, but if you look beyond the tall buildings and honking taxis you’ll find a variety of routes, whether you’re into race training or are just running for fun. The three routes I’ve chosen below are the most easily accessible to those who live and work on the northern part of Hong Kong Island, and are the ones that I use in preparation for all my races. They also provide a welcome escape from the more congested streets of the city center.
ROUTE 1—LUGARD ROAD (3.5KM)
If you want to mix in iconic views of Hong Kong with your run, look no further than Lugard Road located on The Peak. The hardest part will be getting to The Peak, which you can do by taxi, bus or tram or, should you be so inclined, by hiking up. Once there, the run starts from the Peak Tower—follow the Lugard Road signs for a trail that is shady and cool from the trees and vegetation. While vehicles aren’t allowed on the path, you will likely be navigating through clusters of tourists and Instagrammers admiring the panoramic views, which can extend far into the Kowloon side on a clear day. For an unobstructed run, avoid peak times, such as the weekend and the lead-up to sunset. The loop around Victoria Peak should take less than half an hour at a leisurely jogging pace.
Other running options start from The Peak, including the well-marked 50km Hong Kong Trail, which is also popular with hikers. You can run this in eight bite-size stages, should you want a more challenging session than Lugard Road on its own, or to incorporate some trail running into your routine. Follow the wooden signposts at 500m intervals. There are exit points along the different trail stages so you can decide the distance you want to do.
ROUTE 2—BOWEN ROAD FITNESS TRAIL (8KM)
Ask any runner to recommend a route, and chances are they’ll point you towards Bowen Road. It’s a flat, mostly vehicle-free path just minutes away from Central by taxi or mini bus. From Central, head up Magazine Gap Road and make a left onto Bowen Road. About 50m in, you’ll see the first of a set of distance posts 1km apart. The tree-lined path offers views of residential highrises and landmark skyscrapers, from the edge of Central to Happy Valley to Wan Chai. It extends 4km to Stubbs Road on a mostly flat, asphalt surface, and totals 8km there and back. You’ll encounter other runners and running groups along the way, especially before or after work. And, depending on time of day, you may also see people doing tai chi, dog walkers, families with baby strollers and the occasional celebrity. With access to toilets, water fountains, public exercise stations, challenging training hills and eclectic people watching, Bowen Road is certainly one of the more popular places to run.
ROUTE 3—VICTORIA ROAD BETWEEN LE MÉRIDIEN CYBERPORT AND KENNEDY TOWN (9KM)
For a glimpse of the western part of Hong Kong Island, you may want to consider the winding, scenic roads of Victoria Road. This starts at Le Méridien Cyberport, where you make an immediate right onto Cyberport Road then head up the slight incline for about 0.5km, until you reach a fork in the road. Continue along the right-hand path of Sha Wan Drive for another 0.5km, then make a sharp left onto Victoria Road. Following this initial climb, you run through a series of bends and get terrific views of the western coast. As it’s a major road, you’ll have vehicles whizzing past you until you reach the turning point at the end of Victoria Road, which also marks the beginning of trendy Kennedy Town (a fun place to visit under less strenuous circumstances). Of the three routes, this run is less populated with runners, and slightly less user-friendly due to its location and lack of shade. On a strenuous training session like this, drinking coconut water keeps me hydrated.
Fall, winter and early spring are the most comfortable for running. In the stifling summer heat and humidity, check the pollution index using an app (such as the China Air Quality Index) and head for the trail runs on the Island, and further north in the New Territories. You’ll find these hidden gems on the Hong Kong Government’s Enjoy Hiking app. Wear trail running shoes and take mosquito repellent.
Hong Kong Harbour Runners, a social running group for English and/or Cantonese speakers, organizes a different run each week. Find details on their Facebook page. The local Nike+ Run Club offers more structured training runs.
What’s your favourite route through Hong Kong? Share your tips with #momentumtravel!
Photos: Edward Chui and Alamy