Vibram® Hong Kong 100 2014 – 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 (Ultra Trail World Tour) will have many eyes upon it as this new series starts. The announcement of the UTWT at the 2013 TNFUTMB gained very mixed responses from those who attended the press conference. I for one questioned the inclusion of races like Marathon des Sables and Western States. However, although the initial press conference left many question marks, the UTWT have progressed and started to assemble not only a solid of list of races but also an ever expanding list of racers who will take part. In real terms, runners who are looking to participate in the UTWT series of events are currently limited. If we look at HK100 this ultimately comes down to: Dave Mackey, Jez Bragg, Francesca Canepa, Lizzy Hawker and some members of the WAA Team. However, a series must start somewhere and the next race in New Zealand, Tarawera, will see a more international runners and ever expansive field. It will be interesting to see how UTWT progresses.

Hong Kong 100 course_profile

So let’s look at the action for Hong Kong 100

Participant list – HERE

1608 runners are listed for the 2014 edition of the race with a very strong contingent from running8.com and Vibram. As you can image, going through the list, many names are unknown to me, so, if I have missed a ‘local’ runner to the Hong Kong race scene that may well show a presence at the front, please let me know and provide some additional stats.

Below I have listed the ‘key’ runners in alphabetical order.

Fabrice Armand (Salomon) –  Has raced well at the Dodo Trail 50k placing 2nd and 3rd in 2011 he placed 10th at Diagonale des Fous however recent results are a little sparse.

Vajin Armstrong (Macpac)  Had a great 2013 with 2nd 2013 Kepler Challenge, 2nd at Swiss Alpine Marathon 2013, 2nd at TNF 100 Australia, 3rd at Tarawera. He did race at TNFUTMB but that didn’t quite go to plan. Without doubt HK100 will suit Vajin. Expect to see him up front.

Pascal Blanc (Hoka) 3rd at Mafate Trail Tour, 3rd at Diagonale des Fous, 5th at Extreme Dodo Trail has all the required skills and ability to race well at HK100. Certainly the race profile in the latter stages will suit him and his Diagonale des Fous experience will be invaluable.

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Jez Bragg (TNF)  this time last year was running from the top-to-the-bottom of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail. His 2013 season was very much influenced by his ability to recover from such a supreme effort. However, Jez did place 11th at UTMB and 17th Cortina Trail. Jez decided to miss TNF50 in December which was probably a wise move. Pretty sure Jez will be focused on doing well here.

Francesca Canepa - Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa – Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram) One of my runners of 2013. Francesca is just an animal and I mean that in the nicest way. Francesca not only races a lot (maybe too much?) but she also knows how to win. Without doubt she likes races that are tough, technical and involve lots of climbing. The latter half of HK100 will suit Francesca and most certainly, as other ladies fade with the effort, Francesca will just be getting warmed up! Expect her to release a supreme effort in the latter 30% of the race. After checkpoint 8 she will move up embracing Needle Hill, Grassy Hill and the finish at Tai Mo Shan. Her results from 2013 speak volumes: 1st Andorra Ultra Trail, 1st Tor des Geants, 1st Trail de Vulcain, 1st Eiger Trail, 3rd Ice Trail Tarentaise, 4th UROC. Hot favourite!

Cyril Cointre (WAA) Cyril has some great results and he may very well show a presence in the top-10 if he has a good day? His 2013 results are significant: 1st Ultra Trail du Vercors, 1st Defi de L’Oisans, 3rd at Ultra-Trail du Pay Mary Aurillac, 9th at UTMF, 8th Transgrancanaria.

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Vincent Delebarre (WAA) had a mixed 2013. Top drawer performance at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then mixed performances at other races. I got to see him up close at MDS and UTMB and on both occasions he had some real tough patches. However, he came out the other end and survived. He has the potential of a good race at HK100; it’s just difficult to predict. 2013 results: 3rd at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubaki, 1st Le Quecha Tour de Fiz, 8th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 31st at MDS and 145th at UTMB

Antoine Guillon (WAA) Without doubt will like the HK100 course. Another quality performance at Diagonale des Fous and his 2nd place at TDS set him up well for the HK100. Like Francesca Canepa, I expect to see Antoine remain strong in the latter stages of the race, so, expect to see hime work up through the field. Results: 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at Diagonale des Fous 2012 and 4th in the 2013 edition behind Francois d’Haene, 7th at UTMF and 2nd at TDS.

Scott Hawker (Hoka One One Australia) I don’t know much about Scott and his results are very much Southern Hemisphere based, so, it’s difficult for me to say how he will stack up against the competition. One to watch for sure… 2013 results: 1st at Six Inch Trail 46k, 5th at Great Ocean Walk 100km, 1st at Kep Track 100km, 1st at Truth of Consequences.

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Lizzy Hawker (TNF) Needs no introduction, in 2013 Lizzy was 1st Annapurna 100km, 1st Mt Everest 60km and 5th at Swiss Alpine Marathon, however, she was plagued by injury early in 2013, tried to get ready for UTMB and then got injured again. So, post August Lizzy had to recover and get well. Spending time in Morocco with Frosty, Lizzy then moved over to Nepal and has spent months in the mountains, walking and hinking but recently she has been back out running. Her form for the HK100 is unknown? It may very well be a first race back and a test, however, should Lizzy be in form, expect a great battle with Francesca Canepa and last years winner; Claire Price.

Ram Kumar Katri was 3rd at the 2013 HK100 and therefore must be a hot tip for this year’s race.

Olya Korzh (Salomon) placed 3rd in the ladies race at HK100 last year and also had some great results with a win at TMBT and 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50. Local knowledge will be a big advantage and of course her previous podium will provide her with confidence to race hard.

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Christophe Le Saux (WAA) races all over the world week-in and week-out, always in or around the front of the race you can expect him to do the same at HK100 but I don’t see him threatening top-3.  2013 results: 9th at MDS, 13th at UTMF and 16th at Transgrancanaria

Dave Mackey (Hoka One One) Arguably the big hitter at HK100. Dave is one of the best 100k runners around. Although he has performed well at the 100-mile distance (particularly WSER) he has never quite nailed the distance like the 100k. Dave was one of the very first runners to sign up for UTWT, so, not only will he be looking for a top performance at this race, he will also be looking for consistency in the series. 2013 results: 1st at Rodeo Valley 50k, 2nd Bandera 100km, 5th at Lake Sonoma and 8th at TNF50

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) like Francesca Canepa loves hard races. A definite contender for overall victory and without doubt a top-10 finisher should all go well. Another lady who races a great deal and I can’t help but think some performances are affected by this? In 2013, racing regularly served Nerea well: 1st Transgrancanaria, 1st UTAX, 1st royal Raid Mauritius, 2nd Tor des Geants and 2nd at UTAT. Impressive!

Fabrice Perrin (UTWT) gets a mention here, not because he will contest the front of the race but because he is the UTWT Manager. He has finishes in previous years at: UTMF, UTMB, CCC and Grand Raid des Pyrenees amongst others

Claire Price (Salomon) last years HK100 winner and new course record holder; a record previously held by Lizzy Hawker. Crtainly to have Lizzy, Claire and Francesca in the same race is very exciting. I just hope they are all in good form! Clare is a consistent performer has her 2013 results show:  1st 2013 atHK100, 2nd at TDS and 8th UTMF

Jeremy Ritcey (Salomon) has the potential to do well at HK100. In 2013 he was 2nd at Lantau 100, 5th at HK100 and 16th at TNF100. Experience is always a big factor in any race… I wonder if he can improve on 5th?

Cassie Scallon (Salomon) another USA entrant who had some excellent results in 2013. Her recent 5th place at TNF50 in December obviously means that she is in good shape. However, Cassie’s wins at Tussey Mountainback 50, Ice Trail 50 and in particular, Lake Sanoma 50 mean that she has great potential (and speed) to push all the other ladies. Another great sign is Cassie’s 8th place at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler proving she has endurance too.

Siu Keung Tsang (champion Sysyem Adventure Team) 2nd HK100 in2013 and1st Lantau 50 must be a hot tip for this years race. However, I was told by a friend that he may well be not 100% at the moment, so, we will have to see. In 2013 we expected ‘Stone’ to do well at UTMB, he placed 18th, so, the jury is out on how his 2014 HK100 will go.

Results 2013:

  1. YanQiao Yun 10:16:06
  2. Siu Keung Tsang 10:19:43
  3. Ram Kumar Katri 10:19:59
  1. Claire Price 11:58:04
  2. Chiaki Jjelddahl 13:04:10
  3. Olya Korzh 13:10:40
  • Race Dates:18th – 19th January
  • Cut off : 32-hours

Race website: HERE

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