25 June 2019
In cryptocurrency trading as well as trail running, the start is full of hope and optimism. Photo: Reuters
In cryptocurrency trading as well as trail running, the start is full of hope and optimism. Photo: Reuters

10 things amateur cryptocurrency trading and trail running share

I recently participated in TransLantau100, a race of more than 100 kilometers across Lantau Island, starting at 11:30 p.m. on Friday and ending for me at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Throughout the 28 hours of hiking, running, and almost collapsing, I had the time to reflect. It dawned on me that amateur running has much in common with a beginner’s cryptocurrency trading. Here’s why.

1) Fools rush in. Yes, even at the start of a 100km race, people sprint despite knowing the hard ups and tortuous downs to come. It’s like crypto trading: everyone buys in a frenzy at the start. Got that new coin for the chemical industry? How about the one that is the future of the shipbuilding sector? Buy now! It will revolutionize everything!

2) Good looks go a long way. Acquire a couple of pieces of trail running gear, and you look the part.  Maybe the new swag can even get you through the race. Much like in amateur crypto trading: once you spend a bit of time buying on an exchange, you are qualified to talk to anyone like you are an expert.

3) The beginning is smooth. What is FAPcoin? How about GanjaCoin? The variety is fun, wondrous almost. On the first 20km of a running race, it’s all smooth sailing and you enjoy the quirks of the route. In cryptocurrencies, one also enjoys the novelty of it all, before the pain comes…

4) Ups and downs are part of life. You go to bed and your portfolio is looking amazing. You wake up and it’s tanked. What goes up must come down. And on most trail races, when you go down, you must go up later as well. Lucky cryptocurrencies follow the same rules: if they go down, don’t freak out, they’ll be back up. In running, downs are considered easier than ups, while the opposite is true of cryptocurrencies. Enjoy your new schizophrenic existence.

5) Pain is a badge of honor. After about 40km you will start feeling a bit of pain. It’s like when you lose money on cryptos – you feel as if this is a necessary agony on the way to the final triumph. Face it, if you like cryptocurrencies or trail running, you might be a masochist into fifty shades of pain. Before the TransLantau100 I believed it was possible to keep up that 6km per hour pace over 5,800m elevation through 100+km. Indeed, most investors believe one day they will be sitting on a deck chair, tweaking their portfolio, drinking piña coladas, and making tons of cash.

6) You will feel sick at some point. For me, the point came 50-something kilometers at the fishing village of Tai O. After 13 hours on the move and the sun beating down like it was a summer day, my body started its complaints. These type of afflictions may also come when you realize how much you have lost on that coin you bought because of “XYZ” reason (but really as a result of your own greed).

7) You resolve to continue. Despite the sickness in Tai O, I staggered up from Tung Chung to the cable car station at Ngong Ping (in a very slow fashion).This was a low point for many of the runners as well, but they mostly kept going. In desperation, hope remains. Much like with a mediocre coin portfolio, you’ll persist because cousin Greg is now a billionaire living like a surfer in Bali after he bought Bitcoin in 2012.

8) Regret sinks in. Around 23 hours and 80ish km into the race I was sitting at the foot of Sunset Peak in the fog and dark having not slept for 36 hours, trying to eat congee and not projectile vomit in front of the other victims, I mean, racers. The queasiness you feel is not unlike that nauseating feeling of witnessing your whole crypto portfolio nosedive. You have come so far but still wonder if you will fail, much like how you envisage your potential gains being regulated out of existence by a government or financial body banning digital currencies just as you are about to turn a profit.

9) Realizing you can’t quit. I inched up the mountain, and saw how you could not be rescued off Sunset Peak even if you wanted to be. It’s dark, inaccessible and with one meter of visibility – you have to keep going (no wonder they ask you to have an emergency blanket, whistle, torch, phone and food), particularly as there is no rescue party coming your way. At this point, you might reflect on your cryptocurrency trading – knowing that there is no savior from your bad choices. Surely you will be OK if you persevere, and get away from the desolation of the cold mountain, portfolio losses, or both.

10) Relief at the finish. You’ve made it! As I crossed the finish line there was little elation, just a sense of relief. The feeling is not one of happiness, but freedom from the utter exhaustion you have felt, almost like an emptiness away from the pain. If you have successfully cashed out, broke even, or even made some profit, good for you. Be grateful you are still alive, and promise never to do it again.

The next morning, you’ll wake up and think: Now, should we give it another whirl?

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