I opened up my training plan and it said 18km for Wednesday. I knew just the running group to help me get through this long run on a school night after a stressful day (I was pretty low on motivation).
The running club is called 台灣操山馬, which roughly translates to “tough marathon training in Taiwan mountains”. The founder of the group is Mr.Gao Zhiming (高志明), a very well respected and elite ultra marathon runner here in Taiwan.
The size of the group may vary from 1-2 runners for bad weathers to between10-20. On Wednesday, 16 runners showed up. Team captain Zhan Shuntang (詹舜棠) has never missed a week since the club’s inception. Last November he celebrated his 100th run and the streak is still alive. According to legend, there were a few Typhoon Wednesdays when he was the only one crazy enough to brave the howling winds and pouring rain.
The route (all on paved roads) begins at a parking lot at the bottom of JianNan Rd (劍南路) in the Neihu Area (內湖). It starts off with a 2km climb (fairly steep) and 2km downhill, which drops down to ZhiShan Road (至善路) near The National Palace Museum. Then it’s a mild 1km climb to ZhongShe Rd (中社路), and get ready for a steep 4km climb to the top. Turn around and head back the same way to complete 18km with three climbs. (The group usually takes a 5-minute break at the turn around for group photos)
Many runners and bikers consider this rout a classic. There were also 4-5 trailheads that I saw along the way, so you can make this a much longer run with trail segments as well.
Watch out for a few packs of dogs (not too aggressive with humans, but gets pretty wild with other dogs) and snakes on wet days. For female runners, I would suggest that you stick with other runners since it gets pretty dark at spots.
It’s a friendly group with runners from intermediate to elite levels. If you stick with the fastest runners, you are sure to get a great work out.
What I liked about the club:
-Knowledgeable runners that are good at pacing
-Easy access (it’s in the middle of the city)
-You can turn up the intensity if your training calls for it or take a easy and focus on time on foot.
-Healthy snacks and beverages at the end.
-The quirkiness. There is a white separation line at the parking lot and some curved stone benches at the turnaround. They have measured on their GPS watches that if you start and finish at the white line and do a run around at the stone benches, it’s exactly 18km. So everyone religiously follows this routine.
This is the group’s Facebook Page.