The 9 Dragons Ultra 2019

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 –The 9 Dragons 50/50– and a further 250 will compete in either the 50 Miler(82km) or 50km race.

 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.

History

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.

RACES

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 Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp near Yuen Long, and finishes at Tai Po Tau Playground, 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 Tai Po Tau Playground, an 8 minute walk from Tai Wo MTR (East Rail line) in the New Territories and finishes at Shing Fung Studios 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.

50/50 

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

Ultra Trail Mount Fuji preview

Asia’s answer to the TNFUTMB is the UTMF 100, a mountain 100 miler that circumnavigates the ancient volcano of the title name. It has over 9000 metres of elevation gain so it is not for the feint hearted.

utmf_map

The ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI is an unparalleled event that challenges the human spirit through the outdoor sport of trail running. By connecting mountain trails, local footpaths and forest roads around the foothills of Mt. Fuji, this 161km course allows participants to enjoy majestic 360 degree views of Mt. Fuji while experiencing the stunning natural beauty and culture of this region.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki has been instrumental in this race and after his experiences at the TNFUTMB, he was sure that Mt Fuji was the only place in Asia possible to offer a race on a par with the iconic 100 miler that has its home in Chamonix. In actual fact, TNFUTMB race director, Michel Poletti is toeing the line at UTMF just two weeks after finishing the 28th edition of the Marathon des Sables.

2012 review

The 2012 and inaugural edition of the UTMF had initially had an incredible start list that had included Scott Jurek, Mike Wolfe, Sebastien Chaigneau and Tracy Garneau. However, all mentioned did not turn up and race. This opened up the race and Salomon athlete, Julien Chorier topped the podium in a time of 18:53:12. Running his first 100 miler, Arc’teryx athlete, Adam Campbell placed 2nd (listen to Adam on the latest Talk Ultra episode HERE) and Kenichi Yamamoto placed third.

The 2012 ladies race was dominated by Salomon athlete Nerea Martinez Urruzola in 24:05:04 with Hiroko Suzuki second almost three hours later and Nora Senn third.

What does 2013 have in store?

MEN

Well, from a European and Australian perspective we will see a quality race at the head of the race. The success of the 2012 UTMF has encouraged Julien Chorier, no1 to return and defend his title.

Sebastien Chaignea TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

Sebastien Chaignea TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

Certainly Julien is the pre race favourite, he has knowledge of the course, understands the demands required and of course he is the title holder. However, TNF athlete, Sebastien Chaigneau will almost certainly have a different outlook on how the race unfolds… he had a mixed 2012 and ultimately it was a year to forget by his standards. He came into 2013 motivated and his stunning performance at Transgrancanaria will mean Julien will need to be looking over his shoulder or maybe even ahead of him for this race.

Gary Robbins, no 102 (Salomon) from Canada is also going to be flying and ready for this race. Gary has an incredible story (listen to his interview on Talk Ultra HERE) and after being sidelined for almost two years, he returned in the latter half of 2012 and not only dominated but set a new CR at Hurt 100. He has a new outlook on his racing… he is going to race less, but when he races, he will make it count. Definitely my hot tip for the win.

Brendan courtesy of Inov-8

Brendan courtesy of Inov-8

Inov-8 athlete Brendan Davies, 1061 fresh from Tarawera ultra will be confronting the 3,776 m Mount Fuji and he will revel in the task ahead of him. Brendan has plenty of speed but will he have the climbing legs to be up at the front. He has said on his blog that he his in the form of his life. (listen to Brendan Davies interview HERE).

Christophe Le Saux - MDS 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Christophe Le Saux – MDS 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Christophe Le Saux, 1099 (Hoka One One) only last week finished in the top ten of the Marathon des Sables. He will be lining up to test himself. Logic says that fourteen days between ‘MDS’ and UTMF is not enough, but, Christophe loves the hard, technical and gnarly courses as he has proved at Tor des Geants in the past.

In addition to the above, Grant Guise, 108 from Australia, Jeremy Ritcey, 111 a Canadian who lives in Hong Kong and of course many of the local Japenese runners will figure.

LADIES

Nerea Martinez Urruzola is not returning to defend her title, so, this does mean the ladies race is wide open… arguably though, the competition has greater depth for the second edition of the race.

Krissy Moehl, 1106 (Patagonia) from the USA needs no introdction to the ultra world. Her reputation is well established and as such, her twelve years in the sport and her TNFUTMB win will all come into play in helping her make the top of the podium here. She was fourth at the renowned Hardrock 100 in 2012 and of course this will set her up perfectly for the 9000m of vertical at UTMF.

Hong Kong based Brit, Claire Price, 173 (Salomon)will have a great perspective of what is required on this demanding course. She recently won Hong Kong 100 and although this is the first time racing in Japan, the distance may be her stumbling block. She will need to respect the distance and the terrain. She finished Western States in 2012 but didn’t have a great race.

Shona - image courtesy of Inov-8

Shona – image courtesy of Inov-8

Finally, Inov-8 athlete Shona Stephenson, 1062 will be racing in her first international 100 miler ahead of what is a daunting year of races. She has already raced at Tarawera and Northburn 100 and will be racing at TNFUTMB and also participating in the Skyrunning ultra series in 2013. Shona has trained in the Blue Mountains and although she has great speed, will this lack of high mountains allow her to perform to her best in and around Mount Fuji?

Of course, local competition will have an advantage on this course. So expect some surprises!

STATISTICS

DATE Friday, April 26, 2013. Starting at 3:00 pm.
DISTANCE 161km
CUMULATIVE ALTITUDE GAIN 9,000m
TIME LIMIT 46hours
# OF RACERS 800
START / FINISH Yagisaki Kouen, Kawaguchiko, Fujikawaguchiko-cho, YamanashiPrefecture

Race website: HERE