Hong Kong Mountain Marathon - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012
The North Face KOTH Hong Kong Mountain Marathon
(Repulse Bay, HK, Sunday 26 February 2012. Temp. 12-16 degrees and overcast.)
Enormous turnout for final KOTH race of the season
The rain held off and the trail runners showed up in force – well over 500 in total. The annual Tai Tam route continues to be the most popular race in the series based upon number of participants. That so many people did the race after completing last week’s Ultra 100km race speaks volumes about the popularity of trail running in HK and the mental and physical toughness of our participants.
Once again the course marking was subject to malicious sabotage. It is sad when one person thinks it fun to screw up an event for all, but thankfully one of our marshals, Denvy Lo, foreran the course early in the morning and was able to point all the arrows back in the proper direction. Although the trail was a bit slippery, several new course records were set as good weather and good competition make for fast times.
Full Marathon: The King and I
Champion Systems Adventure Team likes to cycle its athletes around Asia to compete in different events. This time Thai trail ace Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana returned to HK for his second KOTH race. In Taipo he won the half marathon; this time he set his sights on the full marathon and produced one of the fastest times in the history of the course to win going away.
Several of the people who might have offered up a challenge were still recovering from the previous week’s Ultra 100km race. Nevertheless, Jeremy Ritcey pulled off the impressive feat of being the first HK resident to finish last week’s race as well today’s KOTH. By coming second overall, Jeremy wrapped up enough series points to reclaim the King of the Hills title he last held in 2009. Fellow 100 km survivor William Davies placed third in the race and second for the series, while Eric LaHaie was fourth in the race and third for the series.
M45 Michael Maddess came in an impressive 5th overall, tied with Wong Kam Cheong after an exciting beach sprint finish. Michael was the only veteran to crack the top 10 in an unusually weak result for the senior runners. M40 Peter Lee finished eleventh overall and wrapped up the age group title for the series with the victory. Next in was M45 Arnaud Picut, perhaps taking it easy after wrapping up the title in his category a few weeks earlier in Lantau.
Leung Ping stepped up to complete his first KOTH full marathon after dominating the M50 half marathons for several years. In his first race over the longer distance he set a new age group course record, over a minute ahead of trail running legend M50 Chan Kwok Keung. Chan See Kau was third in the category on the day.
Lucy Marriott started her first KOTH race of the season after telling anyone who would listen that she had done no training and was 3 kg overweight. No one was fooled by the possum routine and there was no surprise when Lucy went on to win the women’s race and just miss out on sneaking past Chan Kwok Keung at the finish.
M40 Rob Parks locked up second place in his category for the series by coming in second in his race category, just ahead of yet another Ultra 100km finish, MO Vince Natteri.
F40 Janet Ng completed her first KOTH full marathon in fine form, establishing a new age group course record in her very first go. Fellow vets Aya Noyes and Nadia Koucha followed a ways behind.
M55 Ng Chau Yan and Claus Rolff battled closely with female open runners Kim Jinhwa, Jeanette Wang and Olya Korzh. In the end, Ng took the M55 race with Claus book ending the three ladies in the above order. Olya also completed the Ultra 100 km the previous week and was deservedly crowned Queen of the Hills after winning two series races and finishing 2nd in a third race.
Half Marathon: Stanley Bound
Pre-race favorites MO Darren Benson and M45 Joe Koster, who have been dominant in their categories this season, led from the outset and then inexplicably decided to turn toward Stanely rather than Violett Hill (with Michael Bucek following). This mistake was all their chasers needed. MO Lee Quane found himself in the front and never looked back. He not only won the race, but claimed the overall series title based upon the last race tiebreaker. Darren Benson finished second for the series after recovering enough to still finish the race in the top five.
M40 Jacques Labbaci finished second overall in his first KOTH race. Seth Fischer finished third and collected enough points to finish third for the series in the open category.
M45 Mark Western finished fourth overall and crucially beat out Joe Koster for the series category win based upon the last race tiebreaker. Joe collected second prize and second M45 for the series.
M50 Peter Hopper left the roads for a weekend to return to trail running and showed that he still has his mojo (he won the half marathon outright in 2007) with a new age group course record. Peter’s training partner, JoeJoe Fan Suiping, had similar success returning to the trails, winning the women’s half marathon outright and cutting 10 seconds of Rachel Sproston’s female course record to boot.
M40 Al Chalabi finished second in his category and secured enough points to lock up the series crown. M55 Ho Wai Ming finished next to complete a trio of dominant age group category victories in a row and easily claim the series title. M55 Chu Fu Loi finished second in the category both in the race and in the series, and M55 Wong Kam Ming finished third both in the race and in the series.
Despite being squeezed out of third place in the age group on the day, by M45 Luis Baraona Duarte, M45 JB Rae-Smith managed to secure third place for the series.
M50 Wong Tze Wan came in second in the race and second for the series, while M50 Derek Irwin came in 4th in the race, but third for the series.
FO Linda Russell finished second on the day, but won the women’s half marathon series overall, followed by second overall FO Emma Bruce who finished third on the day.
Peter Wong beat his own course record by nearly 5 minutes to claim line honors in the M60 race. With three consecutive M60 victories, Peter wrapped up the series. Fellow M60 Law Kwong Chow finished second in the race and for the series while M60 Leung Kam Yuen finished fourth in the race, but third in the series.
Sherrin Loh won the F40 race ahead of Emma Darke and Imi Bond. Yeung Mei Lun comfortably won the F50 race and wrapped up the series title for the second year in a row.
The annual KOTH awards dinner takes place on Thursday, 15 March at Amici Restaurant in Wanchai. Registration can be completed online at www.seyonasia.com.
Podium finishers were pleased with the excellent prizes provided by title sponsor, The North Face, 2XU and Key Sun Zinke. All the racers and I are also grateful to the fabulous marshals who supported and encouraged throughout and for the beverage support provided by Swire Coca-cola..