One month after participating in the Hangzhou Mountain Marathon, an informal small numbers foreigners dominated event organized as a training opportunity for those living in this part of China and preparing for the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100k I returned to Hangzhou for some more walking and running.
Stayed in a different guest house, right at the foot of the Northern most tip of the hills: Shi Hu Yi Zhan, opened just six months ago by Ju Dha and his wife CC, both ironman enthusiasts. A Crossfit gym in-house and in a retrofitted former factory building, part of a small compound of creative businesses. Great base for exploring these trails closest to Shanghai.
Given the owners and their motivation for starting their guesthouse I expect them to develop signed routes of varying lengths, FKTs competitions, and other stuff to make the most of their location. They already manage to fill up their 21 rooms during the weekends by word of mouth only (in and through the Shanghai tri and running scene).
The outdoors is booming in China and (trail)running too. Over the last couple of years number of runners, running groups and races/events has exploded (I am told). And like everything in China, once something takes off, it takes off big time. Ju Dha told me he expected European trail races to see many Chinese participants in the coming years. World: here they come.
In the Hangzhou hills, many trails have been paved, mainly by rough stones and staircases, but there are still quite a few single-tracks to be found. And those are often technical, steep, and slippery, wet or dry doesn’t matter much. Five-fingers slow one (me?) down considerably. But possibilities for a variety of trails (different lengths, technical difficulty, pos/neg altitude) are great. The best way to think of the area is as a large urban park, and the tea-plantation landscape and the temples, add to its attraction. But don’t underestimate this little hill area, the route in the above pic has nearly 2000 meters of positive altitude over just 28k (the last 7k were flat).