Hong Kong Mountain Marathon - Sunday, January 26, 2003
Mostly a Great Day
Despite warm and muggy conditions, the largest field yet started the Hong Kong Mountain Marathon. Impressively, 201 of the 211 starters completed either the full or the half marathon. There were some great times and some gritty performances under tough conditions. It would have been a great day instead of mostly a great day except that we continue to be plagued by competitor littering problems. The KOTH series is about running in beautiful natural surroundings. When we hand out water bottles at checkpoints, we expect that if competitors take a bottle that they will be responsible for holding onto it until they can throw it in a trash cbin. In road races it is common practice to dispose of used cups, bottles, etc. along the side of the road. The same does not apply to our country parks! In future races we will disqualify those found littering and may have to resort to restricting bottle usage to within the checkpoint area.
Full Marathon: Choi Claims Another Record
The race started out with quite a bit of tactical running. Peter Lee and Adrian King led a tight pack that included Choi Kau, Alex Morgan, Rob Parks and Wong Wai Kin. Then just at the start of the steep and slippery Mt. Parker climb/scramble, Choi made his move. Bounding effortlessly up the hill Choi managed to put 2 minutes on the field in less than 1 km. From there he put the peddle down and slowly increased his lead and was on pace to break the course record by over 5 minutes by the stream checkpoint. As seems to happen every year in this race, however, the sun chose to come out to do its baking just as competitors started up the 1,000 stair hell climb up the Twins. Even Choi was forced to ease off the pace, though he still managed to break the course record by 10 seconds and Geoff Peck's v-40 record by 14 minutes.
Alex Morgan finished comfortably in second and first in the open category, followed by Peter Lee, Rob Parks, Adrian King and Wong Wai Kin. KK Chan was the second among the v-40's followed by Lo Chi Wai who enjoyed by far his best race of the series.
In the v-55+ category, Bob Whitehead ended Lam Ngok Kan's string of victories with an impressive course record time of 4:04:25. Given that times were generally slow this year, Bob's achievement is doubly impressive. Lam Ngok Kan finished in second, followed by Lee Kwok Kwong. John Fowler also ran very well and is making a strong claim for adding a v-65 category as his 4:46:36 would certainly be a record.
The women's race also saw a tight and hard fought battle. Rachel Sproston and Claire Price took it out fast with Kawasaki Chisato hanging just behind, knowing that she was faster than the other girls on the downhills. Claire eventually had to pull out feeling ill, but Rachel and Chisato continued to battle all the way up the Twins. Finally Chisato broke free to beat her sometimes teammate by 2 minutes. JoeJoe Fan started conservatively, but finished strongly to beat out Amelia Varley for third place. Yau Lan Kiu again won the f-40+ category, though special mention must go to Chang Kwok Lin who completed her first full mountain marathon.
Half Marathon - Neil Tait Turbo Trailrunner
Before the race, Neil Tait was looking more nervous than normal. Asked why, he replied that road running ace Mark Williams was also in the field that day. Mark has been able to beat Neil on the roads this year and took the early lead in this race. However, Neil surged past on the Violet Hill climb and had opened a 3-minute lead by the half way water stop. Neil surged on to another record smashing finish while Mark eventually made a wrong turn and fell out of contention. Neil has now won the first 4 races in the series and like Choi has the chance to become the first person win every race in the series in the same season.
Newcomer Lai Kat finished a strong second. We understand that he is another roadie, but he clearly has a talent for trail running and we hope that he will come again. Third place went to Gregor Anderson who battled on bravely after taking a tumble and suffering a cut to his arm that eventually required 16 stitches. Addressing concerned on lookers at the end, he calmly said, "It's a mountain marathon. If you want to push the speed, you have to be prepared to suffer a few falls and scrapes." Well said, though we still prefer that people don't leave skin, bone or blood on the trail.
Babs Bukunola had originally signed up to run the full marathon, but dropped down to the half marathon and broke the v-40 course record by 2 minutes. In a hard fought battle for second place, Ross Dawson managed to sneak past Philippe Guillo near the end for second place. Mike Cooke won over a deep field of v-55's that included Bob Pardoe (2nd), John Tanner (3rd), and Peter Widmer (4th). In all 9 v-55's completed the half marathon. Thanks for the inspiration guys.
If you are Chiaki Fjelddahl and you already have most of the female course records, what do you do to challenge yourself? The answer is break your own records - which she did by 3 minutes. Always happy and smiling, Chow Pui Yan was a distant second followed by hard working Grace Balintong who managed to hold off Miki Burlage by 1 minute for third place. In another encouraging sign for the development of the sport, a total of 23 women completed the half marathon in the open category and another 9 did so in the veteran's category. Tops among the veterans was Everest-aspirant Sissel Smaller, followed by Brigitte Zeltner-Widmer and Leung Oi Yim.
The last race in the series takes place in Sham Tseng on 23 February and the annual awards dinner will take place at L16 in HK Park on 14 March. Please see www.seyonasia.com for details.
Results - Full Marathon
Male Open: 1) Alex Morgan, 3:24:55; 2) Peter Lee, 3:36:28; 3) Rob Parks, 3:37:18
Male Veteran: 1) Choi Kau, 3:15:11; 2) Chan Kwok Keung, 3:45:41; 3) Lo Chi Wai, 3:55:48
Male Senior: 1) Bob Whitehead, 4:04:25; 2) Lam Ngok Kan, 4:18:44; 3) Lee Kwok Kwong, 4:32:05
Ladies Open: 1) Kawasaki Chisato, 4:03:45; 2) Rachel Sproston, 4:05:37; 3) JoeJoe Fan, 4:08:33
Ladies Veteran: 1) Yau Lan Kiu, 4:45:36; 2) Chang Kwok Lin, 5:22:20
Results - Half Marathon
Male Open: 1) Neil Tate, 1:41:57; 2) Lai Kat, 1:51:58; 3) Greger Andersson, 1:57:43
Male Veteran: 1) Babs Bukunola, 2:03:50; 3) Ross Dawson, 2:12:16; 3) Philippe Guillo, 2:12:50
Male Senior: 1) Michael Cooke, 2:19:55; 2) Bob Pardoe, 2:28:26; 3) John Tanner, 2:39:35
Ladies Open: 1) Chiaki Fjelddahl, 2:09:28; 2) Chow Pui Yan, 2:21:19, 3) Grace Balintong, 2:29:51
Ladies Veteran: 1) Sissel Smaller, 2:32:43; 2) Brigitte Zeltner-Widmer, 2:48:10; 3) Leung Oi Yim, 3:07:30