Hong Kong Mountain Marathon - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012
The North Face KOTH Hong Kong Mountain Marathon
(Repulse Bay, HK, Sunday 3 March 2013. Temp. 13-18 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. Fast times decided the overall series winners as well.
Full Marathon: Ritcey’s Revenge
Following a season of second place finishes, Jeremy Ritcey was not to be denied. With a determined burst of speed, Jeremy caught Kota Kinabalu Climbathon ace Safrey Sumping with a short distance to go to win the race in 3:01:51. Safrey must have faded badly after that because he lost over 3.5 minutes to Jeremy over the final distance and was even passed by Wong Ho Chung. Coming in second was good enough to secure Chung the KOTH title, though Jeremy will forever be suspicious that Chung and Safrey raced as a team in what is an individual event; Jeremy would have won King of the Hills had Safrey finished second and Chung third. We will change the series format next season to make sure that this type of controversy is eliminated. Eric LaHaie came in 5th on the day, giving him 3rd place overall in the series.
Peter Lee continued a season of M-40 dominance with a fourth consecutive win while bagging 6th place overall. Michael Orniston was second in the category and Pak Hung Chung third. For the series, Peter Lee was the champion, followed by Law Sze Kong and Rupert Chamberlain.
Arnaud Picut returned to KOTH with a convincing M45 win over Yip Chun Fai, who won the overall series title. Steven Peel came in third on the day and third in the series, with Tim Hallworth taking second in the series despite staying in bed.
Hau Ping set a new course record in the M50 division (3:38:42), securing the series title over second place Chan See Kau in an interesting battle that saw Chan win the first two race and come in second in the last two races while Hau had two seconds followed by two firsts. Wong Tze Wan came in third on the race and third in the series.
In a day of great performances, Ho Wai Ming had one of the best, setting a new M55 course record (3:37:08). Chim Yiu Cheung came in seond on the race and second in the series, while Lee Chi Ming came in third on the race and third in the series. Chan Hoi Nam already had the series locked up and apparently also chose to stay in bed.
Olya Korzh left no doubt that she deserved Queen of the Hills for a second year in a row, with a victorious time of 3:38:30. With former world trail running champion runner, Kami Semick, also racing, Olya had no choice but to hammer and in the end it was her downhill prowess that saw her through.
This was Kami’s first KOTH race and the terrain is clearly a bit more technical than what she’s used to. Still, Kami had no trouble setting a new F40 record of 3:40:05. Aya Noyes (3:41:25) finished third female in the race, second in the F40 category and second overall in the Queen of the Hills stakes.
In the female open category, Tam Kar Bik finished second in the series to Olya and Valerie Lagarde finished third. Tsang Woon Ming took second in the F40 series following a third place finish on the day, and Joanne Eades took third in the series after placing fourth on the day.
Half Marathon: Stone ends Dumont’s Run
Stone Tsang and Clement Dumont engaged in a brilliant battle that pushed both of them to the limits. Finally Stone pulled away with a few km to go win in 1:42:20, the second fastest time ever run on the course (only 23 seconds off Neil Tait’s2003 all time record). Clement finished second in 1:43:35, good enough to secure top honors for the series.
Lee Quane came in third on the race in another great time of 1:45:53 (that would have won it most years) to clinch second place in the series. Michael Hazen finished 6th in the open category on the day, but locked up third place overall in the series.
Mark Western had a “seize the moment” day. With normally dominant M45 rival, Jo Koster, fatigued following the Standard Chartered Marathon last week, Mark stormed to 6th place overall and first in the category. This allowed him to take second overall in the “death” category. Jo still managed second on the day and first overall for the series. J.B. Rae-Smith enjoyed his first taste of the podium this season with a fine triumph over backache that had hobbled him earlier in the week. Race day no show, Andy Thomson, grabbed third in the series.
Seth Fischer returned to the trails after a prolonged love affair with road running and showed that he still remembers how to dodge the rocks. Seth broke Breon Gravatt’s string of consecutive M40 victories, relegating Breon to second (but first for the series.) Dwyfor Evans finished third on the day and second in the series, while Jeremy Sutch finished fourth on the day and third in the series, just ahead of departing David Higganbottam on tiebreaker points.
Ken Fowler and Wong Kwok Leung battled it out in the M50 race with Ken gaining a narrow victory. Neither participated in three KOTH races so the series title went to the absent Leung Ping who recorded two firsts and a second. Mark Adams finished third on the day, propelling him into 2nd place in the series, ahead of third place Mike Scantlebury.
Martin Cubbon made it a clean slate with four consecutive M55 victories. This one tasted the best to Martin as he finally finished in front of perennial M60 champ Wong Peter Chun Tong. Martin earned a lot of good karma in the 2011-2012 series when he sacrificed his race to help an injured runner. It is nice to see that good karma manifesting itself in a perfect season for Martin this year. Ronald Barcach finished 2nd on the day, with Terrence Tao third and second overall in the series. Lee Cheung Yau was third in the series.
There was never much doubt that Wong Peter Chung Tong would win is 4th consecutive M60 race this season. The only question was whether or not he would break his own course record. In the end he fell about 30 seconds short, but left no doubt who the fastest M60 on the trail was. Law Kwong Chow finished second in the race and second in the series in a great year for him. Likewise for third place Cho Yan Kwong, who also finished third M60 overall.
Another candidate for race of the day was Claire Chapman’s half marathon time of 2:01:01, which knocked over 4 minutes off of the previous record. Training partner Jeanette Holmes-Thomson pushed Claire the entire way and set a new F40 record (2:02:19) for her efforts. For the series, Claire Chapman won the female open category, while Jeanette finished second in the F40 category behind Claire Price.
Denvy Lo returned from the ski slopes to finish second in the female open race and second for the series, with Mathilde Heaton finishing third both in the race and for the series.
Yeung Mei Lun won the F50 race in 2:32:28, somewhat slower than her 2011 course record effort. Tammy Mak King Foon finished second and clinched the series title. Absent Poon Yuk Pui came second in the series, while Lai Ho Chui finished both third in the race and third overall in the F50 series.
Finally, a word of admiration for John Lane, 76-years young, who completed the half marathon in 4:01:46. We’ve invented a new M75 category to keep a record of this achievement.
The annual KOTH awards dinner takes place on Thursday, 14 March at Amici Restaurant in Wanchai. Registration can be completed online at www.seyonasia.com.
This series could not have taken place without the generous support of title sponsor, The North Face, 2XU and Swire Coca-cola. All the racers and I are also grateful to the fabulous marshals who supported and encouraged throughout.