On Sunday, 4 August 2013, Christopher S. Huang will attempt to complete Racing The Planet’s 2013 roving race in Iceland ( The Racing the Planet events require competitors to traverse 250 kilometers of rough country terrain over seven days with only a place in a tent and water provided each day; everything else must be carried in a backpack throughout the race.




In completing this race, Christopher hopes to raise funds for the Children’s Medical Foundation (“CMF”), a Hong Kong based charity with a mission to develop and implement sustainable health care solutions for children in Asia, with a focus on helping underprivileged children.  CMF’s current programmatic focus is on improving the health care available to newborn babies in China where the infant mortality rate in rural areas is amongst the highest in Asia and where they have established strong historical institutional relationships.



“If you would like to support me in this race by making a donation to this wonderful cause, please access the link below.  None of the donations will go towards race fees, travel or equipment; I have covered all of these costs personally. CMF’s Board of Directors is a 100% giving board where their contributions cover 100% of CMF’s administration costs. 100% of your donation will go towards CMF’s programs helping underprivileged children.

Thank you for your support. Run, walk, or crawl, I will do my absolute best to get across the finish line!”

— Christopher S. Huang


Donation by Paypal (this button will take you Paypal’s website):

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You may enter any donation amount in “Item Price” field.

HK$100 buys 1 training manual

HK$1,000 trains 1 nurse

HK$8,000 saves a newborn life


About Christopher

Born in New York, and raised in San Francisco, Christopher has lived and worked in Asia since 1996. He is a Managing Director in Morgan Stanley’s Asia Pacific Investment Banking Division, and currently splits his time between Beijing and Hong Kong.  Outside of work, Christopher enjoys outdoors activities including hiking and skiing, and participating in endurance events including marathons, ultra-marathons and triathlons.


Updates from Christopher


We woke up Friday morning to cold and windy weather. The overnight rain had stopped, but the ground was muddy and wet. I was feeling good – well rested and only moderately sore after the full recovery day. My feet were in decent shape with only a couple of small blisters. I ate an energy bar and oatmeal for breakfast, and prepared my daily nutrition for the last time – one gel and one half bottle of lemon lime NUUN water. We then boarded a bus for Grindavik, the start line venue for the race’s shortest and final stage of 9.3km to the finish at the famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. I decided I would try to push the pace today, as there were 4 racers bunched within 5 minutes of me. With a good performance on the last stage, there was a possibility I could advance one or two slots from my 68th place ranking through the first 5 stages. We started at 10am running on a horse trail up and down several small hills. The surface was made up of dirt, mud, rocks, and grassy Icelandic moss. Despite the technical terrain, most of the runners were pushing hard, laser focused on the ground beneath them for fear of turning an ankle. After 6km, we transitioned to a relatively smooth rolling pebble and dirt road, providing conditions for a sprint finish. I turned it up a notch and fought hard to sustain the pace for the remaining 3km of the race. Once I spotted steam flowing from several geysers and a geothermal power plant in the distance, I knew we were close. Then I saw a volunteer who yelled that there were only 200 meters to go, and sprinted to the finish line at the Blue Lagoon to a chorus of cheers. Once across the line, I received the finisher’s medal and then a series of hugs and high fives with fellow racers. I also treated myself to three bowls of Icelandic Lamb Stew and a Mountain Dew for much needed race recovery, while I cheered on other runners. Once everyone was in, we made our way to the locker rooms for a shower and a soak (with cocktails) in the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most visited tourist attractions. The Blue Lagoon is a massive open air hot spring made up of geothermal seawater originating 2000 meters beneath the ground at an original temperature of 240C, before cooling naturally as it rises through the earth’s magmatic intrusions, picking up silica, salt, and other natural minerals along the way. The complex also includes a spa with massage and skin treatments, multiple steam and sauna rooms, hotel, and fine dining. I finished the final 9.3km stage in 59 minutes, placing 59th for the day. This brought my cumulative time for all stages to 38 hours 25 minutes, helping me move up one slot to 67th in the total standings out of 270 starters and 228 finishers (42 racers dropped out along the way). I am now in NYC for a couple days and recovering nicely. In my current state, I don’t think I want to see my RTP bag, sleeping bag, or Raidlight bottles anytime soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in several months, I start browsing the 4Deserts website for the 2014 race calendar… Atacama Crossing anyone?



The night before the long day was cold, wet, windy and miserable.  We retired to bed mentally prepared to tackle the longest stage unrested with wet socks, shoes, and clothes.  We woke at 5am and the weather was as expected – rain, wind, and near freezing temperatures.  I put on every layer, ate a double portion breakfast, and braced myself for the difficult 63km long stage.

We started up a runnable upward sloping dirt road through a geyser region passing a geothermal power plant. Iceland together with Chile, Philippines, and Indonesia, has some of the world’s richest geothermal energy resources.  The rain was beating down hard and I tried to distract myself from the cold by conversing with some of my fellow runners.  We ran up a mountain side with a flat rock and black sand surface and descended the other side down terrain made of thick Icelandic moss and hidden “ankle breaker” rocks. We followed a narrow horse track through tall grass and lava fields and then down a steep hill with loose gravel to checkpoint 2.  

We then ran a 2km asphalt road towards the ocean head on into nearly 60-70kph winds.  I saw a large man with a big pack speed walk/running with poles and bridged the gap to tuck in behind his slipstream.  I sat on his heels (he didn’t seem to mind) to conserve energy.  I have read that at 40kph, the first person behind a draft can conserve approx 20-30% energy while the second person behind the draft can save as much as 35%.  Looking behind me, I noticed other runners forming draft packs.  After about 1km, I offered the man in front to switch turns but he was pooped and decided to walk while I ran ahead.  

We then came to a beautiful dreamy black sand beach.  The wind was now at gale force and at our backs.  The surface of the sand was firm enough to run. I downed an espresso flavored 2x caffeine shot and ran hard with the wind for the next 5km along the ocean.  I was feeling good and flying; I must have passed 6-7 runners during this stretch.  On the topic of gels and nutrition, I am operating at around 2,300 calories per day comprised of a pack of oatmeal and a fruit roll up bar for breakfast, 1 espresso and/or vanilla bean GU shot per hour, 1 pack of Perpetuem, and one cliff bar on the course, one pack of Recoverite and half cup of noodles for recovery, and one high calorie i.e. 900cal expedition freeze dried meal for dinner.

After the beach, and a run through a small town, we came to a series of lava rock cliffs along the coast where we were forced to navigate on and across.  This required a fair bit of skill and balance as many sections were very slippery due to the rain, ocean spray, and strange seaweed/algae substance flying from the ocean.  This section slowed some of my fellow racers, and I was able to advance several more places. We then got to the checkpoint 4 where the volunteer advised we had just half a marathon to go.  We ran along a dirt road up a grassy slope and past a memorable lighthouse, and then along an undulating rolling asphalt road for the rest of the way.  During this stretch, I committed to running to the finish and must have hit the wall multiple times and found myself deep in the abyss of the pain cave.  I dug deep and every time I thought I could dig no deeper, I surprised myself by finding additional reserves to keep me going. One foot in front of the other…

I finished the Long Stage at around 6pm in just around/under 10 hours, placing 53rd overall.  This was my best relative performance of the week.  Fortunately, RTP organized to have our final camp in a local gymnasium sheltered from the wind and rain.  They also allowed us to have a treat of a hot shower and access our drop bags for the first time in the race in order for much needed dry clothes.  We couldn’t be happier.  The last of the racers didn’t get in until around 3am this morning. I just couldn’t imagine being out there for that long. 

Today is the rest day and we are biding our time exchanging experiences.  There are over 300 racers and volunteers spread out on the gym floor resembling a disaster recovery zone.  I am sure there will be interesting photos on the 4deserts website.  I am looking forward to the final day where it will be just a 10km run along the ocean to the finish line and dip in the Blue Lagoon.  Blue Lagoon is a large natural hot spring and one of Iceland’s most visited attractions.  I can’t wait.

Thank for the blog comments, emails, and CMF contributions. I look forward to seeing everyone soon.



I went to bed last night with my shorts laid out hoping for warm weather and still winds, but woke up with shattered dreams and the reality of cold temperatures, overcast skies, and wind. We started off running downhill on a very technical slope comprised of rocks and very peculiar carpet of Icelandic moss.  When you run on this grassy like terrain, your foot sinks about 8-10 inches without breaking the surface and then you feel this trampoline effect as your foot springs forward. The tricky part of this is that there are also big rocks and holes lurking beneath which is disguised by the grass.  Soon afterwards, we were told to drop our packs and directed into a 300 meter long Lava tube. This is a small and tight cave tunnel where we had to scramble on all fours in pitch darkness with dripping water.  For safety reasons, the Lava Tube was a “no pass” zone due to the technical nature of the route where it served as a bottleneck in the race.  Fortunately, my strategy of pushing hard for the first several KM to the Lava tube to avoid the mad rush worked and I got out of the tube with no material delays.

We then ran along the beautiful tall grassy fields that resembled the kind featured in the opening scene of Gladiator, as Russell Crowe brushes the top of the grass blades with his right hand in his country home.  At checkpoint two, we entered a muddy region surrounded by a lake sheltered from the wind. For whatever reason, these conditions attracted a massive group of mosquitoes and flies. For the next 500 meters, I had to run with nearly 100 of these flying insects swarming around my head.  I couldn’t see or breathe and just shut my eyes and ran hard. I was so distracted by this attack that I accidently put my grape flavored NUUN electrolyte tablet into my Perpetuem bottle instead of my just filled water bottle.  The resultant Grape fizzy Perpetuem mix was edible, but I won’t be writing to Hammer Products suggesting a new flavor. 

We then ran through local farms and began our ascent of “Cold Mountain”, totaling nearly 900 meters of elevation gain.  As we ascended, temperatures dropped while the wind speeds became more intense, reminding me of the frigid conditions of Days 1 and 2. Halfway up the mountain, we passed several lakes with incredible aqua/teal green water, similar to a lake I once visited in Tibet. Once we summited the mountain, we were greeted by a region of natural geothermal lakes and hot springs. There were some race staffers reminding us to be careful to avoid the waters for fear of burning considering the water temperatures are approximately 100C.  At this stage, I felt lightheaded and could feel my blood sugar running low, when I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a hardboiled egg by the same staffer. They had cooked raw eggs in the geothermal steams.  The egg was cooked to perfection and really hit the spot as it gave me the energy to power on for the next 5km to camp.  En route, we were confronted with the first of several unavoidable river crossings, and I had multiple full of foot dunks. At least this came at the end, when blister prevention is still possible. I was able to avoid foot dunks in the earlier river crossings with a bit of dexterity and balance.

I finished a very difficult Stage 4 in just over 7 hours, placing 73rd overall, similar to my Day 2 position. I generally feel good, but the temperatures are dropping and the rain has begun. I am thankful that I was able to avoid the rain, but half the camp was still out there when the rain commenced.  This will make an already challenging course even tougher. The bad news is that rain and cold temperatures are forecast for tonight and tomorrow, the big daddy of them all – The Long Day. What a back to back combination! The RTP stages remind me of getting into the ring with a prize fighter for over 6 rounds.  The first three rounds, you are absorbing a series of face jabs and body blows, leaving you with bruises and a bloody lip, in the fourth round you take a big uppercut, and the 5th round they bring out the roundhouse punch.  If you don’t get KO’d in the 5th round, you should be okay and cruise the 6th.  Will I prevail? Stay tuned for tomorrow…



In light of the brutal winds and blistering cold, the race organizers decided to improvise a bit by moving Camp 3 to a different site with more shelter. We camped next to a farm where organizers converted a horse stable into a mess hall. The positive aspect of this was the entire group could socialize for the first time in a sheltered setting, while the negative was we had the scent of fresh horse dung lingering in the air while we ate and conversed. Nevertheless, it was a good forum to meet new people and exchange more war stories from the first two stages.  We retired at 9pm and woke up at 5am, to bus to the starting line for Stage 3. The weather was glorious with crystal blue skies and zero wind.

Within 5km of the race start, nearly half the runner population needed to stop and shed layers of warm clothing, wind breakers and wind pants. I stripped down to one thin top layer, compression pants, and switched my ski cap to a visor. Hopefully, we will enjoy weather like this for the balance of the week and I can wear shorts tomorrow. Unlike the first two stages where I started fast and gradually slowed over time as the pain crept in, today was different. The pain demons visited me from the first 10 minutes and stuck with me throughout the race. Stage 3 was designed as a longish recovery day of moderate difficulty where the terrain was relatively straightforward comprised of winding, rolling sand, dirt, and grassy trails for the first 30km.  However, the cumulative soreness in my muscles and joints over that past several days made running a struggle. Well, this is what happens when you try to run three mountain marathons of 42km+ in three consecutive days! I paired up with Vanessa, a doctor from Singapore, for nearly 20km and this helped kill the monotony and suffering of the run. She is a Sahara veteran and a tough runner.  We exchanged stories of our different RTP desert experiences and why in the world we sign up for these events. The landscape and scenery was simply amazing – we passed awesome black rocky mountains half covered with grass and a beautiful lake with an amazing backdrop of snowcapped mountains and glaciers.

Midway between checkpoints 2 and 3, Vanessa and I parted ways and I ran the rest of the way solo. The last 10km offered amazing scenery, but offered the worst terrain we have encountered since starting this race.  We were forced to progress along a nearly un-runnable treacherous and windy road made up of small and medium sized sharp stones.  In sections where I attempted to run, I nearly twisted my ankle twice.  Whether I chose to run or walk, I was constantly jolted by sharp pains in the base of my feet for every stride.  This felt a bit like the most painful foot massage I have ever experienced multiplied by 5.  A brief comment on shoe selection.  I brought two pairs of Salomon trailrunning shoes to Iceland: 1) Sense Ultra a la Killian Jornet, and 2) XT Slab 5.  The difference between these two pairs of shoes is the weight, thickness, and durability of the sole and the heel to toe drop.  The Sense Ultra is extremely light and a near flat shoe, but has very little protection, while the Slab 5 is much thicker and more durable with a 12mm drop.  Thankfully, I decided to wear my Slab 5s.  I can’t imagine the pain I would be in today if I went with the ultra-light “Killian” version (I doubt he weighs more than 50kg).

I finished today’s 44km stage in approximately 7hrs flat, ranking 91st.  This is a similar position as Day 1, and 19 slots behind my Day 2 performance.  Oh well – I am satisfied with the result considering the pain and suffering and happy to emerge without any material injuries or blisters. I am now getting ready for my next freeze-dried dinner and early sleep to recover and prepare for the next two stages.  Stage 4 is the only stage with sections described as “most difficult”, as we are likely to see some serious mountains tomorrow.  This will be followed by the killer “Long Day” of approximately 65km.

Thanks you for the emails, blog comments, and CMF contributions. Keep them coming. Halfway done!



Last night, after a freeze-dried Chicken Korma dinner courtesy of Expedition Meals, and some exchanging of Day 1 war stories with my tent mates, I turned in at the reasonable hour of 8pm.  I slept a bit better the second night (that’s what 45km of running will do to you), but still had to get up several times.  The first time was 11pm as nature called and I was struck by the beautiful red sky as the sun was beginning to set.  The second time, I awoke feeling a strange tapping feeling on my head, as the strong wind gusts were causing the canvas panels of our tent to flap violently against my head. The third time, an unknown tent mate unintentionally kicked my legs and jolted me awake. Last night was my turn to sleep next to the tent entrance. (Note to self, this is worst position in the tent.)

We woke around 6am to near zero/sub-zero temperatures again and very strong wind. Thankfully, at the race briefing we were told yet again we would not be forced to confront any river crossings.  The course commenced with a very runnable trail along rolling hills with a net downward slope with the strong wind at our backs.  The wind must have added close to 2kph to my running pace.  I then entered a long section of technical terrain with a mix of soft moss, black sand, mid-sized rocks and pebbles, and dried riverbeds.  I tried my best to run most of this terrain, but took very short strides requiring a high degree of concentration. One wrong step and your race could be over. In fact, there were several racer casualties on this section.  I then crossed a raging river (by bridge) and then climbed our first significant hill of the race against an extremely strong headwind of nearly 80-90kph. I saw groups of runners forming pelatons by sticking closely together trying to draft in the leader’s slipstream, while alternating turns upfront, but with winds this strong, this had little effect.  As I climbed, I passed a very interesting and picturesque rock feature where local Icelanders throw rocks through for good luck.  After a brief stop at checkpoint 3, which was 3/4s up the hill, I ascended the summit where the wind speeds were approaching 100kph and I struggled not to get blown off the mountain.  As I descended the backside of the mountain, I was greeted with the awesome sight of a massive glacier named Langjokull that runs out into a huge lake at the base of the mountain.  The course then ran along the black lava and sand coast alongside the lake to a large beautiful flat plain with snow capped mountains in the background.  By the time I got to checkpoint 4, I was fully spent. I still had 10.5km to go of a runnable rolling dirt road in this 46km stage, and I dug deep and willed myself to run the entire stretch.  This was literally a deadman’s shuffle where I was being passed by several fast walkers with poles.  In any case, it felt good not to give into the temptation of stopping to walk despite my body and legs screaming for a rest.  

I finished the Stage in approximately 7 hours 9 minutes, ranking #72 out of 270 runners.  This was a 20 slot improvement from Stage 1 where I was #92.  I am feeling good and the knee is fine, and I hope to make additional gains over the next few days, but I am realistic to know that further upside will likely be limited. Unlike my first RTP event – Gobi 2012, where most contestants are newbies to the RTP races, the Roving Races attract many RTP veterans. Over 50% of this year’s competitors have raced at least 1 RTP event, and a number of them have done the entire 4 Deserts Series.  I am now heading for the hot water to make my freeze dried meal this evening – Chicken Tikka, and mentally bracing myself for another chilly night in Iceland.

Finally, thanks to those of you who have left blog comments and/or made contributions to CMF (Children’s Medical Foundation).  Also, if you have time, check out the photos of the amazing Icelandic scenery on the RacingthePlanet website (