Hong Kong Mountain Marathon Report, Jan 28, 2007
KOTH Hong Kong Mountain Marathon 28 January 2007
Another glorious day for running: 12-18 degrees with 40% humidity and a cool breeze. On a day with several other running races going on simultaneously, approximately 300 runners chose probably the prettiest and most challenging option in Tai Tam Country Park.
Full Marathon - A Good Day for Birmingham
Former King of the Hills Alex Morgan returned to HK this week for holiday together with 3 of his mates from the Halesowen Athletic Club. One of those people, Bill Nock, brought the most impressive resume (30:30 for 10 km, 48:35 for 10 miles), but professed to being slow on down hills. Bill took over the lead just before the climb up General Rock to Mt. Parker and never looked back, wining in a MV-40 record time of 3:10:33. Similar to his entire week in Hong Kong, his first beverage at the finish was a beer.
Cosmo Boy Law Chor Kin passed Alex Morgan on the way up the Twins for a fine second place finish. This course is bit short for Trailwalker stalwart Law, but with his economical running form he was able to conserve his energy until he needed it on the Twins. Alex Morgan was third overall (second veteran) and considered it mission accomplished to break the previous veteran record and for his teammate to win the race.
In an exciting battle for 4th place, Jan Littlewood edged out Peter Lee by just one second, becoming the second and third male open finishers respectively. Tim McCosker then rounded out the male veteran podium finishers.
In the MV-45 category, Chan Kwok Keung continued his KOTH resurgence with a fine victory, 3 minutes ahead of Patrick Ford with Li Cheuk Ming finishing third. KK and Patrick were very much neck and neck until the decisive climb over the Twins. The series title remains very much wide open between these 3 racers.
KOTH newcomer Law Kwong Chow put in a decisive display of veteran running to win the MV-55 category in just over 4 hours. Perennial podium placer Lam Ngok Kam was second with John Cable, a man who seems to relish the exquisite joys of pain and suffering, finishing third. Hopefully Bob Whitehead will rebound from injury in time for an interesting final race.
Jeannette Holmes-Thomson locked up the Queen of the Hills title with her third consecutive victory. She had to work hard for this one as Grace Balintong moved up to the full distance and set the early pace. Congratulations to Jeannette for another fine race and bravo to Grace for completing her first KOTH full marathon and finishing second to boot. Sung Sau Fun finished third, still appearing quite fresh at the finish.
In the female v-40 category, Monica Ng won her second consecutive race in a very competitive time of 4:31:41. Chuen Luen Lai and Lui Chi Ho finished second and third respectively. The final race should now be a showdown between Monica and Ann Miles as each has won 2 races in the series to date.
Half Marathon - A Double for Hopper
Peter Hopper only had 2 goals: beat his MV-45 record time from the previous year and hold off fellow age group competitors Derek Irwin and Leung Ping. It was only at the finish line that he learned that the lead runner, Gary Mandy, had gone off course and that he was the outright winner for the second year in a row, in addition to accomplishing his 2 prior goals.
A somewhat hobbled Adrian King was second across the finish line to win the open division. Just behind him MV-40's Rob James and Peter Northam had a virtual photo finish line crossing. However, the cruelty of the system dictated that one of them had to beat the other and the judges gave Peter the victory by a whisker. Another mv-45, Derek Irwin, was next across the line (5th overall), followed finally by the second open runner, Chuck Cosman, before another mv-45, Leung Ping, and the third open runner Jeremy Ritchey. Overall it was a dominating day for the mv-45 age group with 4 finishers in the top ten, including 1st, 5th, 7th and 9th. Anthony Davies finished 13th overall to secure third in the mv-40 division.
In the mv-55 division, Peter Wong once again had things his way, winning easily in 2:17:54. Cho Yan Kwong finished second for the second race in a row and a surprised, but pleased, John Antweiler finished third.
Claire Price had a good hard run at the ladies, course record, only to finish one minute short, while still winning the women's race. Claire is better known for her desert exploits so perhaps the weather was a bit too cool for her?
Shannon Cutting was the second lady across the line. She was also the first female veteran and also only missed the female course record by 1 minute. Lucy Marriott was third across the line (open second), followed by Jessica Baker (open third). Anne Knecht-Boyer finished second in the vets category again, with Anne Charon third.
One unfortunate incident to report is that we suffered our first case of deliberate vandalism in the history of the King of the Hills races. AFCD was notified and approved that course marking signs would be posted on the Friday prior to the race and taken down by our course sweeps less than 48 hours later. Unfortunately, some do-good hikers on the Saturday before the race saw fit to remove everyone of the course marking signs over a 5-km section from Mt. Parker Road to the turn up General Rock. Our runners found these signs deposited in a trashcan along the trail. Many full marathoners got several extra kilometers of exercise as a result and we feel bad about that.
Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about it. The course covers a very large area with numerous trail junctions and turns. We also do not have (and should not have) exclusive rights to the trails and can do nothing about hiking groups that choose to congregate at intersections, blocking all of the turn signs.
One runner, William Davis was in second place overall 70% of the way through the race before missing a critical turn that was well sign posted (but probably obscured by resting hikers). We can only repeat the advice we give to runners to avoid such mishaps: 1) Practice the course ahead of time if possible, 2) Download the course map from the website and review the critical junctions mentally before the race, and 3) Refer to the list of critical turns on the website as they reflect the places where other runners have historically had problems.
Within the parameters of providing a safe racing environment, King of the Hills strives to maintain the feeling of adventure and self-reliance to create an enjoyable trail running experience. We are not a road race and will not be putting up blockades any time soon to close off wrong turns on the course. Inevitably those who daydream and tune out during the race will be at a disadvantage to those who do their homework on the course and stay vigilant for turn markings, but that is the way we want it.
The final race in the series takes place at Sham Tseng on Sunday, 11 February. This course is a real beauty and features the best contour trails and forest running in Hong Kong. We still have lots of prizes to give away and final series standings to decide so come out for the excitement. The KOTH awards dinner has also been set for Friday, 9 March. This is a great chance to see some of your trail mates in a different environment. Information about both the Sham Tseng race and the awards dinner can be found on www.seyonasia.com/koth.
Half Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Adrian King, 1:53:33; 2) Chuck Cosman, 2:00:28; 3) Jeremy Ritchey, 2:03:44
MV: 1) Peter Northam, 1:54:07; 2) Rob James, 1:54:08; 3) Anthony Davies, 2:07:36
MVX: 1) Peter Hopper, 1:52:31; 2) Derek Irwin, 1:57:39; 3) Leung Ping, 2:00:30
MS: 1) Wong Peter Chun Tung, 2:17:54; 2) Cho Yan Kwong, 2:26:31; 3) John Antweiler, 2:45:48
FO: 1) Claire Price, 2:07:34; 2) Lucy Marriott, 2:19:33; 3) Jessica Baker, 2:21L01
FV: 1) Shannon Cutting, 2:14:13; 2) Anne Knecht-Boyer, 2:40:18; 3) Anne Charron, 2:48:17
Full Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Law Chor Kin, 3:18:21; 2) Jan Littlewood, 3:27:11,; 3) Peter Lee, 3:27:12
MV: 1) Bill Nock; 3:10:33; 2) Alex Morgan 3:20:07; 3) Tim McCosker, 3:28:25
MVX: 1) Chan Kwok Keung, 3:31:14; 2) Patrick Ford, 3:34:38; 3) Li Cheuk Ming, 3:43:13
MS: 1) Law Kwong Chow, 4:05:43; 2) Lam Ngok Kam, 4:37:34; 3) John Cable , 6:06:48
FO: 1) Jeanette Holmes-Thomson, 3:43:24; 2) Grace Balintong, 3:49:37; 3) Sung Sau Fun, 4:20:13
FV: 1) Monica Ng, 4:31:41; 2) Chun Luen Lai, 5:23:50; 3) Lui Chi Ho, 5:35:40