Hong Kong and the Lantau 2 Peaks – First Impressions

 

©iancorless.com_Lantau2Peaks2015-3966Hong 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!

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 2015 – Race Preview

Hong Kong 100 Logo

The Hong Kong 100 course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the east side of Hong Kong’s New Territories and winds its way west along coastal paths, across beaches, through ancient villages, over hills and through valleys before finishing after the descent of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak (at 957m). The 100km journey climbs over 4,500m and much of the climbing is in the second half of the course.

Hong Kong 100

The first race in the new UTWT 2015 calendar (Ultra Trail World Tour.) The UTWT have progressed in 2014 and they have started to assemble not only a solid of list of races but also an ever expanding list of racers who will take part. Francois d’Haene and Nuria Picas were crowned 2014 champions and nobody would doubt the credibility of either athelete or the impressive results they both had last year.

A series must start somewhere and HK100 may not have a stacked field but the next race in New Zealand,Tarawera, will see a more international runners and ever expansive field.

Hong Kong 100 course_profile

Current course records are held by Ryan Sandes and Claire Price; 9:54:57 and 11:58:04 respectively.

Ladies (alphabetical order)

Liza Borzani – incredible double at TDS and Tor des Geants

Francesca Canepa – Ever consistent performer, hot favourite for HK100 and looking to make amends after that DQ at Tor des Geants

Stephanie Case – Is a little unknown really in terms of recent form, she had a good UTMB in 2013 but other than that?

Dong Li – won the recent MSIG Lantau 88k.

Marie McNaughton – is from New Zealand and I have been told by many Southern Hemisphere friends that she is one to watch. I have to say, I know little about her. Marie did place 2nd at TNF100k a month or so ago.

Claire Price – Current course record holder and a hot favourite with Francesca Canepa. Claire raced at Mont Blanc 80k  in 2014 and seemed to struggle? However, this is home soil and she knows how to race here.

Nora Senn – Won the race in 2012 and that makes her podium material again this year.

Men

Sondre Amdahl – is a real rising star. He has had some incredible results recently, highlights being two top-10 finishes at UTMB and Transgrancanaria. He is a little intimidating to watch though… I have never seen anyone have such determination in their eyes.

Cyril Cointre – is the first of the ever present WAA trio (Christophe Le Saux and Antoine Guillon the other two) and although he wont win he will be up there (top-5?) You have to respect the quantity of races this trio do!

Jordi Gamito – has all the potential to rock the apple cart and place top-5. He is relatively unknown and that will play into his hands.

Antoine Guillon – as above

Yoshikazu Hara – Is a mystery, on paper a raw talent who could quite easily win the race. However, his 2014 was troubled apart from an incredible 24-hour which was not that long ago. Jury is out – 1st or 10th?

Vlad Ixel – would have been my tip for the win but he recently rolled an ankle so I am not even sure he will race. If he does and he is 100% in form, he could very well blitz this race! Keep an eye on him.

Dave James – I know Dave well. I have seen him race in Costa Rica looking fit, mean and dedicated and then I have seen him struggle. His 2014 was troubled with injury so HK100 is a question mark. He has the speed and is great at 100-miles, so, if he can string it together he is one to watch.

Christophe Le Saux – makes up the WAA trio. He will make his presence felt but not podium potential.

Jeremy Ritcey – On a good day he could win this race. However, his current form is unknown and leaves a question mark.

Stone Tsang – was 2nd in 2013 and for me, along with Vlad (if fit) is a potential winner.

There is a plethora of local talent, both male and female who will mix it up so expect plenty of surprises.

Race website HERE

UTWT HERE

 

Stuart Air heads to Honk Kong for the MSIG Sai Kung 50

Stuart Air at Ice Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air at Ice Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Brit, Stuart Air (Scott Running) heads to Hong Kong this weekend to participate in the MSIG Sai Kung 50. Stuart had an incredible 2013, new to Skyrunning, he performed exceptionally well at the very tough Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims with a 13th place. Stuart then followed this up with a top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise against world class competition.

Post Ronda dels Cims ≠©iancorless.com

Post Ronda dels Cims ≠©iancorless.com

Not content with two tough races, Stuart placed himself on the start line of Tor des Geants. Placing well overall, Stuart set a fastest time for any Brit at the event.

Stuart’s participation at MSIG Sai Kung 50 starts 2014 on the right foot, arguably, Stuart has an incredible year ahead. Hardrock 100 awaits… yes, Stuart was extremely fortunate to be drawn out of the hat and will now line up against one of the most competitive fields ever assembled at the race.

Stuart very much considers himself an Alpinist; embracing the opportunity to go to the mountains, fast and light, Stuart loves vertical and technical terrain.

Coming from a relatively mild but wet UK winter, Stuart feels prepared for the challenge ahead, ‘Training has gone well in the Lake District and Wales’ Stuart said in an interview by Michael Maddess, ‘I have clocked up 60-70 miles and 4000m of vertical per week. The weather has been a challenge, but strong winds, rain and snow all help with the training.’

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