Running a race in Hong Kong is a unique experience! Failure to do your research will no doubt results in a painful and potentially traumatic experience. Heat, humidity and steps – hundreds if not thousands of steps hurt the legs and mind to an overwhelming experience.
No other place in the world (that I know of) has soaring skyscrapers and city life so close to a myriad of trails that weave in and out of the landscape providing endless possibilities. It is why Hong Kong’s is such a popular destination, and let’s face it, trail, mountain and ultra-running is booming here. Each weekend there and multiple opportunities to race.
I was in HK for The 9 Dragons Ultra organized by Race Base Asia – a trio of Steve Carr, Michael Ormiston and Nic Tinworth. After just two editions, word was out that The 9 Dragons was a brutal race – statistics proved it, the DNF rate as high!
Comprised of two races, a 50-mile race and a 50-km race, 9 Dragons is an action packed weekend of trail running. However, the real challenge was the 50/50. Open to just 250 people, the opportunity to run 50-miles one day and then wake up the next and complete 50-km was of course the ultimate test.
Ultra-runners love a challenge!
The 50-mile race starts as the clock counts down on Friday evening and with the chime of midnight, runners depart for a night and day of running. Of course, the faster you finish, the more rest you get. Cut-off time is 1900 at the Tai Po Tau Playground.
The following morning, the 50-km race starts where the 50-mile race finished at 0730. The finish is at Shing Fung Studios and all runner’s must finish before the cut-off of 2000 hours.
Both races weave in, out, up and down Hong Kong’s network of trails and in the process runner’s must slay the ‘8 Dragons’ climbing 8620m – 5070m for the 50-mile and 3550m for the 50-km. The respective male and female winners (combined time) become the 9th Dragon!
The 8 Dragons are Kowloon Peak, Tung Shan, Tate’s Cairn, Temple Hill, Unicorn Ridge, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill and Crow’s Nest. The 9th Dragon was a title given to the Emperor himself and herein the story of The 9 Dragon Ultra was created.
View images from the race HERE
The 50-Mile Race
Darkness provides its own challenge and as runner’s departed on the stroke of midnight, it was clear that the challenge ahead had not be missed by every runner – there was no shortage of anxious looks. Temperatures were a little chilly and a strong wind swirled. One unique element of the 9 Dragon’s is the race within a race. The 50-mile would have a 50-mile winner, but at the same time, it would have a 50/50 winner. Pre-race discussion and been all about Hong Kong trail running legend and 2018 9 Dragon, John Ellis. However, just a couple of weekend’s ago he had run at HK100 and then the following weekend he had competed in the ‘King of the Hill’ series. It is here that he picked up a calf injury – would a week of rehab get him fit for the start? Well, the answer was yes! He is a master of pacing and from the off he settled into his own rhythm and he allowed the rabbits to run off into the night. Julien Chorier from France and Kazufumi Ose from Japan dictated the 50/50 pace and Justin Robert Andrews took the reigns in the 50-mile race.
Eventually, Chorier opened a gap and started to pull away from Ose. Ose has experience of the 9 Dragon’s course and he commented after the race that Chorier managed to run when others have walked. Ose managed to yo-yo to Chorier but it was in the final 20-km that the Frenchman opened a 9-minute gap on the Japanese runner. John Ellis despite his injury relentlessly battled the terrain with his usual 100% commitment rounding out the podium. Their times, 10:47:51, 10:56:15 and 11:21:15. Remarkably, the top three 50/50 runners all ran faster than the standalone champion, Justin Robert Andrews who concluded his journey in 11:46:56 ahead of KurtErik Evans in 12:22:42.
For the women, Magdalena Boulet dictated the race from the front and although her lead was slender at times, by the time she reached the finish in 13:45:51 her margin of victory was convincing over race revelation JCY Ho who finished in 14:17:52. Boulet, who is a remarkable ultra-runner, was way out of her comfort zone on the HK trails. She notably said post-race that the trails were the hardest she has ever run and of course, the stairs would haunt her for weeks and months to come. “It has been stair 101 for me,” she said with a laugh. Christine Woon Chze Loh was the 3rd woman.
View images from the race HERE
The 50-KM Race
Morning came all too quickly and as light rain dampened the 0730 start, heat and humidity soon became the order of the day. Unsurprisingly, the 50/50 runners eased into the day allowing the 50-km runners to speed off at a breakneck pace. In particular, Guomin Deng looked set to blaze a trail all the way to the line. He had company early on but from cp1 he opened up a gap and never looked back. At each checkpoint he was ahead of the old course record and at the finish, he smashed it by an amazing 40-minutes ahead of Yuta Sudafed and Blake Turner. Deng’s time a remarkable 6:09:21.
In the 50/50 race, Julien Chorier looked to be running a smart and sensible race early on and coming from a cycling background, he no doubt used the tactic of marking the 2nd placed runner Kazufumi Ose knowing that his 9-minute margin, if held, would provide him overall 50/50 victory. However, unlike day-one, the heat and humidity was relentless. It soon became apparent that Ose was handling the conditions better and with just over 20-km to go to the finish he had managed to break away and take 3-minutes from Chorier’s lead – could Ose break the Frenchman? Chorier pushed, but the more he pushed, the hotter he became… The intense humidity and countless steps conspired against him and at the finish, Ose managed to claw back the lost 9-minutes from day-one and win by 3-minutes. It was an epic battle and one that will go down in the history of the race. John Ellis despite incredible pain, somehow, managed to hold on for 3rd place in the 50/50 in 19:27:15 combined time. As he ran the final meters, he was doubled in pain and at the finish he collapsed, racked with pain. His result only confirmed his legendary status to the HK trail community. Ose’s combined time was 17:34:28 to Chorier’s 17:38:19.
The women’s race had a similar feel to the men’s with the solo 50-km runners setting of at a relentless pace; a pace they would hold to the finish. Whereas the 50/50 runners would ease into the day and take on the challenge, one stride at a time. Charlotte Taquet was a convincing winner in 7:07:11 ahead of Sandi Menchi and Kim Mathews.
Magdalena Boulet had recovered remarkably from her day-one efforts, no doubt all her multi-day experience coming to the fore. She looked fresh and strong all day and although the local HK trail community hoped that JCY Ho would use her local knowledge to reel Boulet in, the Hoka One One runner was just two strong. Boulet crossed the line first once again in the 50/50 runners and became the 9 Dragon for 2019. Ho finished 2nd in a flood of tears and emotion. It was a huge day and weekend of running for this women who only started running a few year’s back. Christine Woon Chze Loh once agin placed third and secured the final 50/50 podium slot. Combined times for the women were 22:18:04 for Boulet and 24:24:41 and 25:32:23 respectively for 2nd and 3rd.
View images from the race HERE
I see many races and I have to say, The 9 Dragon Ultra race and team excelled from beginning to end. The HK trail running scene is like a huge family. It is more than running, it’s like a huge social experiment that brings people from all walks of life together, for one common goal. The Race Base Asia team headed by Steve, Michael and Nic really know how to put on a race and make it go like clockwork. There are so many things to praise, from the detailed documents that explain how a checkpoint should look, to the incredible burger (veggie option available) and beer that is offered at the finish-line. I only wish that all races could be like this.
Many thanks to Steve, Michael and Nic for making my stay slick, enjoyable and fun. We had some great times in our week long adventure. Hannes was my man with a motorbike for the 50-mile and he did a stunning job of getting me around in the dark. Janine and Mo hosted me for the week and well, it was just a pleasure – I cannot wait to return, And finally, thank you to everyone who came and said hello. You made my HK adventure a pleasant one and I am keen to return.
Images are available at www.iancorless.photoshelter.com
An epic weekend of racing took place in Hong Kong over two days for the third edition of the 9 Dragons Ultra.
The main event, the 50/50 offers the brave two races, a 50-mile and 50-km event where the combined times provide a female and male 9 Dragon champion.
Many congratulations to Kazufumi Ose and Magdalena Boulet who produced two incredible runs to be crowned the 50/50 9 Dragon champions.
The 50-mile event was won by Julien Chorier and Magdalena Boulet. The 50-km event was won by Guomin Deng in 6:09:21 obliterating the old CR by 40-minutes, Ch Chaa was the female winner.
In the words of Mo Devlin, who placed 6th in the 50-km event:
9 Dragons…this race really is something special.
In our world of ultra running words like epic, legendary and awesome get thrown around like confetti at a wedding but 9D is the real deal. It’s a unique race that deserves every accolade it gets.
This year only added to its reputation and growing status in the Ultra calendar with international Elites like Julian Chorier, Magda Boulet, and Ben Duffus rubbing shoulders at the start line with our own Elites such as John Ellis, Guomin Deng and Kazufumi Ose…what a line up!! We even had the renowned Ultra photographer and host of Talk Ultra Ian J Corless in town for the race.
Congratulations and Thank You to Steven Carr, Michael Ormiston, Josianne Robb and Nic Tinworth. You have created a monster of a race that is unlike anything else in Hong Kong, provides an unforgettable experience for everyone who is involved and should be on everyone’s Bucket List….
Race summary and report to follow
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IMAGES 50-MILE EVENT
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The 9 Dragons Ultra presented by HOKA ONE ONE is a challenging, multi-day trail and ultra-running event taking place on the 1st to the 3rd of February 2019, in Hong Kong.
The first race, starting at midnight on Saturday, consists of an 89km (50 mile) trail run with a an elevation gain of 5,070m. Sunday features an entirely different 50km course with a further 3,550m of elevation gain.
250 places will be available to runners who hope to aim to complete both events over the weekend –– and a further 250 will compete in either the (82km) or .
Elite runners, Julien Chorier from France, Magdalena Boulet flying in from the USA and Frncesca Canepa from Italy will trade blows with local talent that includes, Ben Duffus, John Ellis, Kazufumi Ose, Chor Kin Law, Jeremy Ritcey, Hisashi Kitamura and Jacky Leung. For the women, Corinne Williams, JCY Ho and Ruth Theresia will provide the competition at the from of the race.
A transliteration of the Chinese 九龍, gau lung, or “Nine Dragons”, Kowloon is named for the eight mountains which rear up behind the plateau—and one final dragon besides.
Legend goes that Kowloon was named in the year 1278 by the boy Emperor Bing, of the Southern Song Dynasty. Noticing the eight hills of Kowloon (Kowloon Peak, Tung Shan, Tate’s Cairn, Temple Hill, Unicorn Ridge, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill, Crow’s Nest), the emperor was pleased to name them the “Eight Dragons”—but a quick-witted courtier pointed out that the emperor was a dragon himself, making it nine dragons.
What was Emperor Bing doing counting mountains at the southern tip of his empire? Well, he had nowhere else to go. For the whole of the 13th century the Mongols had swept down from the steppes, moving south through China and crushing the ruling Song Dynasty. First Genghis and then his grandson Kublai Khan stormed south, pushing the Song back, and back, and back.
By 1278, Emperor Bing’s older brother, 10-year-old Emperor Duanzong of Song, had been pushed out of Fujian province and fled south to Guangdong. After Duanzong died from an illness contracted while running from the Mongols, the throne passed to 7-year-old Emperor Bing. The child was crowned at Silvermine Bay, on Lantau Island.
But Bing’s reign was not to last. The Mongols pressed onwards and just one year after the emperor’s coronation, the Song Dynasty made its final stand against the invaders. At the naval Battle of Yamen on March 19, 1279, a Mongol navy of some 50 warships smashed the Song flotilla of more than 1,000 ships to pieces. There was nowhere left to run. Lu Xiufu, the emperor’s most loyal general and statesman, picked up the 8-year-old king and leaped into the sea, in search of an honorable death. Kublai Khan had unified China under his fist, and the sun dawned on the Yuan Dynasty.
You can visit the “Terrace of the Song Kings,” in the Sung Wong Toi Garden park in Kowloon City. It’s home to a rock carving which commemorates the two-year reign of the Song kings in Hong Kong.
But the legacy of the last emperor of the Song doesn’t lie in a rock, but in those eight dragons: The boy emperor who named a city.
The 50-mile event will begin at 11:59pm on Friday 1st of February 2019 at the Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Holiday Camp near Yuen Long and finish at Tai Po Tau Playground. The cutoff is at 19:00pm on Saturday 2nd February.
The 50 Mile course starts at the near Yuen Long, and finishes at , an 8 minute walk to/from Tai Wo MTR (East Rail line). It crosses Kowloon and the New Territories in Hong Kong from West to East. The route uses a variety of trails including the MacLehose and Wilson trails, and has an accumulative vertical gain of 5,070m.
The 50km event will begin at 07:30am on Sunday 3rd February at Tai Po Tau Playground and finish at Shing Fung Studios. The cutoff will be at 20:00pm on the same day.
The 50km course starts at , an 8 minute walk from Tai Wo MTR (East Rail line) in the New Territories and finishes at in Kowloon, running from North to South. The route uses a variety of trail including the Wilson and MacLehose among others, and has an accumulative vertical of 3,550m.
250 places will be available to runners who hope to aim to complete both the 50 Miler and 50km events over the weekend – The 9 Dragons 50/50.
50/50 – Men
- Julien Chorier
- Ben Duffus
- John Ellis
- Kazufumi Ose
- Chor Kin Law
- Jeremy Ritcey
- Hisashi Kitamura
- Jacky Leung
50/50 – Women
- Magdalena Boulet
- Corinne Williams
- Francesca Canepa
- JCY Ho
- Ruth Theresia
Talk Ultra needs your help!We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Episode 132 of Talk Ultra and we talk ‘The Road To Sparta’ with Dean Karnazes. Mike Wardian tells us how difficult it is to cover 20-miles at Barkley and Janine Canham tells us about multi-day running, the Hong Kong run scene and the 9 Dragons race.
I am going solo this week. Karl is on the road and has been for sometime promoting his up and coming movie on his Appalachian Trail FKT (info HERE) and Niandi is busy with work…
So here I am, recording solo literally just before I jump on a plane and head for Morocco and the 32nd Marathon des Sables.
Just a little info on Niandi – the cam boot is off and slowly but surely she is moving around more. Pool sessions daily and strength work in the gym are all falling into place and we have set ourselves a little 3-day fast packing for early May as a target. Running may be a way off yet, this fracture was more serious than the one a year ago.
Me? Well, I had a weekend off work with Niandi in Paris which was pretty awesome and then I followed that with a trip to Norway to work as a stills photographer on a feature film. Something new for me and I loved it… I am a real fitm fan so to work behind the scenes with the crew and actors was just incredible. I will be back in Norway at the end of April for 2 more days on set
Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Well the big news is all about a little race in Tennessee that usually nobody finishes. This year one person did, John Kelly. The 15th finisher. However, his incredible victory in many ways was overshadowed by what first looked like Gary Robbins missing the 60-hour cut-off by 6-seconds. The reality was, Gary had gone off course and navigated his way back to the yellow gate the wrong way – he would have been a DQ even had he been inside the 60-hour time. It all makes for a great story and you can read more HERE. However, lets celebrate John Kelly being the 15th finisher of what is arguably, the toughest race in the world.
If you need clarification on ‘toughest’ – I caught up with Mike Wardian who got lost on lap-1 and eventually finished the first 20-mile loop outside the 12-hour cut-off.
INTERVIEW with MIKE WARDIAN
Georgia Death Race
Avery Collins won the 74-mile race ahead of Kyle Boykin and in the process obtained a Western States slot. What has followed is a Tweet/ FB storm as Dave Mackey has called Collins out for smoking dope (a banned substance on WADA’s list). There has been much chatter with in the community and this will rumble on. Bob Shebest was 3rd.
Aliza Lapierre won the ladies race ahead of Jackie Merritt and Alondra Moody – 14:00, 14:24 and 14:58 respectively.
Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.
Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.
Jon Olsen and Gina Slaby took top honours running 154.58 and 142.38 miles respectively.
American River 50
Scott Trummer beat Zach Bitter by 13-mins 6:03 to 6:13 and Rich Hanna was 3rd. Vanessa Taylor was top lady ahead of Melissa Penwell and Kelly Cronin – 7:29, 7:37 and 8:26.
El Reventon Mountain Race
Aritz Egea is back taking a win ahead of Miguel Heras by 12-min – 3:48 to 4:00. Cristofer Clemente placed 3rd. Dominique Van Mechgelen won the ladies’ race in 5:09.
The racing scene in Hong Kong is growing and growing and I caught up with Brit, Janine Canham who has lived there for 25-years. She has witnessed the run scene grow and she tells us about her running, multi-day running and the recent 9 Dragons race.
INTERVIEW with JANINE CANHAM
Recently I was in Bulgaria with Dean Karnazes and it was just too much of an opportunity to pin him down and talk about his up and coming book The Road To Sparta which is currently being released worldwide and will be available in the UK from late April. Read more HERE
INTERVIEW with DEAN KARNAZES
UP & COMING RACES
Australian Capital Territory
Brussels Capital Region
British Virgin Islands
Cape Cod Trail Race – Run Forward. Give Back – Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website
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I’m Ian Corless
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“MIRA” is a gem among the many ultrarunning movies that are currently available. It’s a simple story that pulls at the heart, inspires and at all times remains humble. The movie, like Mira started small and has grown.
In 2014, Mira was unknown, but through the insight of Trail Running Nepal, Richard Bull and Lizzy Hawker, Mira found a home and a story started to unfold. Like any flame, if you provide the right conditions, the flame will grow, increase and yes, even rage.
In February 2015, Lloyd Belcher started to work on this project. Like any project of this nature, it was a risk. Would Mira perform, would the film find the funding required to complete it. Lloyd sums it up so well when he recently said:
“Thank you to all who believed in the value of this project when we started filming in Feb 2015 without any money but a vision of how we wanted to reach girls in Nepal with Mira’s inspirational story. So many have joined us on this journey and given in so many ways.”
The film is the story about Mira, a Nepali village girl on her pursuit to becoming a world-recognised mountain runner while racing primarily in the 2015 Skyrunner World Series.
I have to say, I have been more than fortunate to witness Mira’s growth, not only from the outside looking in but also on the trails as I have documented in words and images her inspirational rise in the sport.
The ridges, mountains and technical trail of Tromso, the stunning Italian Dolomites and the Spanish mountains in and around Ultra Pirineu. Mira inspired through her humility, her no-nonsense approach and a very simple approach to life. When you watch MIRA you realise why.
Unlike many other running movies, MIRA is just a great story. It’s inspiring and at times heart breaking. A fascinating watch, Mira’s life journey is told on film; from growing up in remote Nepalese countryside with poverty, a 2-year stint in the army and a brave solo move to Kathmandu. Victory at an impromptu 50km race made Richard Bull, stop, ask questions and suddenly help Mira (along with Lizzy Hawker) take the first steps on a compelling story to competing with the best in the world.
MIRA is a film for all, runner or not, it’s just great story telling!
Watch the trailer
But most importantly rent and watch the movie. Proceeds will directly benefit initiatives to empower Nepali girls to participate in sports.
The movie ‘Mira’ is now available online here
Episode 97 of Talk Ultra has an interview with Andy Symonds about his return to running and top results after prolonged injury, we speak with Remi Bonnet rising star of the VK and SKY distance and Mariepaule Pierson is back from Atacama and tells us all about it. We have Talk Training, the News and Speedboat Karl.
00:01:30 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE
LANTAU 2 PEAKS
1 – Remi Bonnet 2:14:07
2 – Manuel Merillas 2:24:29
3 – Tadei Pivk 2:26:39
1 – Yngvild Kaspersen 2:42:04
2 – Laura Orgue 2:49:58
3 – Maite Maiora 2:51:19
UTAT 105km/ 6500m +
1 – Andy Symonds 13:41
2 – Julien Chorier 14:20
3 – Omar Bouhrim 15:32
1 – Andrea Huser 15:47
2 – Francesca Canepa 19:34
3 – Geraldine Leroy 23:08
Other races are 68km, 42km and 26km
Max King 2-years in a row wins $30,000 – F***!
CROWN OF THE CONTINENT TRAVERSE
Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote run an incredible 600-mile FKT from Missoula to Banff. We will have both Mike’s on the next Talk Ultra to tell us all about it. Read HERE
LAKE TAHOE FKT
Krissy Moehl 47:29 new record by 2-hours Read HERE
1 – Brian Rusiecki 20:24
1 – Amy Rusiecki 23:36
FLAGSTAFF SKY RACE ULTRA
1 – Dan Kraft 5:49
2 – Gabe McGowan 5:54 ?
3 – Josh Arthur 6:00
1 – Ashley Erba 6:47
2 – Meredith Edwards 7:39
3 – Jen Benna 7:47
FLAGSTAFF SKY RACE SKY
1 – Martin Anthamatten 3:59
2 – Joe Gray 4:06
3 – Tim Parr 4:39
1 – Megan Kimmel 4:29
2 – Kristi Knecht 5:04
3 – Corinne Malcolm 5:12
TNF CHALLENGE WISCONSIN
1 – Tyler Sigi 5:55
2 – Dylan Bowman (went of course) 6:28
3 – John Knudson 6:49
1 – Molly Culver 8:10
2 – Christine Murphy 8:18
3 – Emily Kratz 8:22
LAKES IN A DAY
1 – Kim Collison 9:12:07
2 – Marcis Gubats 10:27:48
3 – Stuart Dickson 10:49:05
1 – Helen Leigh 11:00:10
2 – Sabrina Verjee 11:29:59
3 – Lucy Spain 11:58:48
02:11:42 TALK TRAINING
TALK TRAINING – BASIC STRENGTH TRAINING read the document HERE
UP & COMING RACES
New South Wales
Ned Kelly Chase 100km – Wangaratta Fitness Fun Addicts | 100 kilometers | October 25, 2015 | website
Rowbotham’s Round Rotherham International Trail Event | 50 miles | October 17, 2015 | website
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Hong Kong is a cacophony of noise, colour and experiences. Add heat and high humidity and it provides a very unique setting for the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series.
The race run by Action Asia Events starts and finishes in Tung Chung on Lantau Island and as the name suggests, takes in the 2 peaks; Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak. In just 23km’s the races climbs and drops a total of 3975m. ‘Steps’ offer unique terrain that signifies a Hong Kong race and ones’ ability to go up and down is taken to a new level by this demanding terrain.
Two days of great Hong Kong weather unfortunately deteriorated the day before the race and many of the elite runners’ worst fears came true on race day when rain continued to fall accompanied by gale force winds that were rated as a level-3 typhoon. It’s not that elite runners don’t like running in the rain; not all. However, slick stone steps with a layer of water are a potential accident waiting to happen in any scenario, add ‘racing’ to the max and pushing the pace require a leap of faith. The wind was so strong at times you would be lifted of your feet and thrown like a piece of rubbish on the trail.
Yes, the 2015 Lantau 2 Peaks was one to remember!
The race was ultimately about the rising of two stars; Remi Bonnet and Yngvild Kaspersen. Young guns having some fun with a smile and a passion. They really did show the rest of the field a master-class in running in the extremely tough conditions.
Runners had arrived in Hong Kong a couple of days before the race to check out the course, adjust to the humidity and explore a little of what Hong Kong has to offer. Two days of excellent weather unfortunately turned sour the day before the race as storms came in from the sea, torrential rain and the possibility of a typhoon!
The island of Lantau provides a very different race experience to what one can expect in Europe. Stairs (stone steps irregularly placed) provide a key element of the course not only going up but coming down. The wet adds an additional element and one that would test each and every runner on race day.
Starting in Tung Chunk at 0730, the runners had a fast and furious start over 2km’s before the climbing would start to the first peak of the day, Sunset Peak. The predicted typhoon hit in a force 3 making conditions ‘off-the-scale’ as rain flooded down the mountain creating impromptu rivers and waterfalls. Add to this gale force winds that would lift you off your feet and the stage was set for an epic battle.
For the men, Remi Bonnet pushed the pace from the gun ahead of Manuel Merillas and Aritz Egea, in pursuit Tadei Pivk, Marco De Gasperi and the remainder of the elite runners were spread out over the mountain. Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi set a blistering pace at the front, behind Laura Orgue pursued and then Elisa Desco and Maite Maiora.
Over Sunset Peak (3rd highest in Hong Kong) steps provided a sharp and sudden drop to CP1 and the 2nd climb to Lantau Peak at 934m. The hard steps, slick conditions and fierce competition made the course extremely challenging.
Pushing upward to Lantau, the trail closed in, opened up and then intersperses steps once again. The course requires a unique style of running (or hiking) as the irregular height and depth of the steps makes finding a rhythm awkward.
Pre race, Laura Orgue had said, “Hong Kong will be an absolutely different race to what we are used to.” She was correct. The combination of mixed terrain and inclement weather on race day all made for a unique challenge.
Remi Bonnet and Yngvild Kaspersen were leading the respective men’s and ladies’ races with two master-class performances, one could even say they made it look easy! At the summit of Lantau Peak, barring an accident they both would be crowned 2015 champions. But with a huge drop from the summit and slick conditions to contend with, the final rankings were still open.
With 23km’s covered and 1987m of vertical gain and more importantly maybe, 1988m of vertical loss, Remi arrived triumphant at Citygate in Tung Chung, a circular trip completed taking in the Lantau 2 Peaks in a time of 02:14:07. Manuel Merillas fought a hard battle for 2nd and Tadei Pivk took 3rd place ahead of a charging Greg Vollet. Artiz Egea who had run in 3rd place earlier dropped to 5th.
Yngvild Kaspersen won the race for the ladies in 02:42:04 and Laura Orgue held on to 2nd. Maite Maiora in the closing stages overhauled Elisa Desco on the descent and placed 3rd. Stevie Kremer placed 5th having struggled with jet lag having only landed in Hong Kong the night before the race after 24-hours of travel.
- Remi Bonnet 2:14:07
- Manuel Merillas 2:24:29
- Tadei Pivk 2:26:39
- Yngvild Kaspersen 2:42:04
- Laura Orgue 2:49:58
- Maite Maiora 2:51:19
Sky Series ranking provisional results (after Lantau 2 Peaks & US Continental Championships)
1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) Crazy Idea – 366 points
2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) Mammut/Compressport – 332 points
3. Tom Owens (GBR) Salomon- 268 points
3. Ionut Zinca (ROU) Valetudo – 268 points
5. Aritz Egea (ESP)E MF – 252 points
1. Laura Orguè (ESP) Salomon – 364 points
2. Elisa Desco (ITA) SCOTT Sports/Compressport – 350 points
3. Maite Maiora (ESP) La Sportiva – 322 points
4. Megan Kimmel (USA) Asics – 300 points
5. Stevie Kremer (USA) Salomon – 254 points
Full results HERE
Hong Kong, it’s a place I have wanted to visit for sometime! The noise, the bustle of life, it has an energy that is far removed from many places that I visit. Nepal I suppose in some ways come close but only on a noise level, here everyone has the latest phone, computer, camera and so on
It’s a long way from the UK or anywhere in Europe. A short 1 –hour flight to Amsterdam, a couple of hours’ stopover and then a 10.5-hour flight through the night and of course 7-hours time difference. You arrive mid morning but you feel like you be wrapped up in bed.
Once you leave the air conditioned confines of the airport or train station, the heat hits you. It’s like someone just turned a hair dryer on and the humidity? It’s uncomfortably high.
Most normal people would get a couple of hours sleep. A little RnR maybe? No, not us. The Salomon team were on my flight; Greg Vollet (team manager), Remi Bonnet, Laura Orgue, Martina Valmassoi and Yngvild Kaspersen. It’s a multi-national bunch with France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Norway represented.
Active people don’t like being compressed in a cylindrical tube for any length of time, especially 10.5-hours. So it was a quick turnaround at the hotel, check-in, drop luggage in room, shower and go for lunch before heading out on the Lantau 2 Peaks course. Lunch was an interesting navigation of what felt like a lucky dip. We ticked boxes on a menu card and hoped for the best. Some of our choices were excellent, some average and the less we discuss the pork balls, the better!
Lantau 2 Peaks by Action Asia Events after all is why we are all here. Lantau is the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series for the SKY distance and the top male and female honours are all to play for.
Our early arrival in HK affords an opportunity to check out the 2nd section of the course, from Cp1 to the finish; it is one we seize. I get to look at some possible photo spots and loosen off from the travel, the Salomon team get a 13-14k mountain run in.
Running is easy! Navigating our way across Hong Kong via 2 trains, no ‘blue’ taxi’s meant that a bus was the only option. As it turned out it was a great adventure.
So here we are.
We have consumed food, used public transport, christened the trails and as darkness falls the place is coming to life in a glow of neon lights and sounds.
Hong Kong is an exciting place!