Sai Kung Mountain Marathon, 21 Nov, 2004
The KOTH Season Series Kicks Off on a Great Day
Twenty years since the first running of the Sai Kung Mountain Marathon, Hong Kongs trail running denizen gathered in Sai Kung for the first King of the Hills race of the season. Besides the usual familiar faces, old friends such as Rayson Wong, back from a 5-year hiatus working on his golf game, and Bob Nipperess, back from a year off recovering from surgery, showed they haven't lost their hill running legs. Also welcome was a whole host of new (and talented) faces crossing over to the sport from road running and triathlons as well a new generation of energetic hikers pushing their own personal athletic frontiers.
The Full Marathon- "You're joking. Did I really win?"
The Sai Kung full marathon well deserves its daunting reputation. Compared to other courses in the series, it's not particularly hilly, but boy is it rough. Unsurprisingly, many chose to enter the half marathon for this race instead and in the end only 34 intrepid souls completed the course. First in was a frankly startled John McKinven. John led the full marathoners the entire way, but had mistaken some of the half marathoners for full marathoners early on and assumed that he was well behind course record holder Choi Kau (out with injury) and most of the Cosmo Boys. John was stunned speechless when told
that he had won.
In fact, John was closer to second place than he realized as Mak Ping Yin ran his usual controlled first half before picking up the pace in the second half. Mak was 9 minutes off the pace at the half marathon finish, but then pulled back 7 minutes on the second half and was gaining steadily at the end. Mak, who is 47, just completed a 3rd place Trailwalker performance and ran a personal best Sai Kung Mountain Marathon this year. Clearly his best days are still ahead of him.
Bob Whitehead lowered his own v-55+ course record to 4:41:46, coming in an amazing 4th overall. In the women's race, JoeJoe Fan Sui Ping was the first woman across the line in Trailwalker this year and also in the Sai Kung Mountain Marathon, though her 4-minute margin of victory over Kin Keibun was considerably smaller than the margin she enjoyed in Trailwalker. Jenny Tang barely made it to the starting line on time in the morning, but was still the first ladies vet across the line.
Half Marathon - Tait and White and no competition in sight
Neil Tait had always said that his Sai Kung Half Marathon course record, set 2 years earlier on an uncomfortably hot October's day, was the softest of his records. With new competition this year in the form of uber triathlete Gary Mandy and Adrian King, fresh off a Power Bar Sprint victory, the record looked set to fall so Neil made the decision to defend his record rather than make his long promised step up to the full marathons.
For those who have seen Neil run hills before, the result was predictable. After opening up a 3-minute lead at the 14 km mark, Neil put on the afterburners and put 3 more minutes between himself and second place Gary Mandy in the final 5 km. His 1:28:28 finish knocked nearly 9 minutes off his own course record and equates to an incredible average of 4:39 per kilometer over a course that gains and loses 840 meters in cumulative altitude and includes stream crossings, sandy beaches, rocky paths and low hanging tree branches.
Gary Mandy, running in his first King of the Hills race, made a great adjustment to the rough terrain to beat out Adrian King by a minute. Both Gary and Adrian also finished in under the previous course record time.
4th in overall was Chris Wardlaw who easily set a new mv-45 course record of 1:40:11. It is great to have someone with his running curriculum vitae doing our races and be so appreciative of the course beauty. At 54, Chris may no longer be an Olympic marathoner, but he certainly seems to have never met a hill he didn't feel compelled to run up and we can only surmise that a few years ago he could have been the one to show Neil Tait a clean pair of heels.
Men's age category records were also set by Tim McCosker (v-40+) and Peter Wong Chung Tung (v-55+) on a day that saw a lot of fast times and personal bests.
Equally as impressive as Neil Tait, was Gia White who also made a seamless switch from triathlons to mountain trail running. Gia complained at the end that she wasn't in shape for the hills and would have to get with the training, but that just makes her 1:50:26 demolition of the previous course record that much more impressive. In the meantime, cheer and pity poor Grace Balintong who also ran sensationally to break the previous course record, but still finished 5 minutes back of Gia. Third in was old friend Amelia Varley back visiting from the UK. Clearly having a baby and a year of British fell running has been good for her training. Edwana Joanna Estolatan led a spirited contingent of ladies vets across the line.
The next race in the series starts in Taipo on December 12th. With the half marathon course going over Cloudy Hill and the Pat Sing Leng, and the full marathon continuing around Plover Cove, this is a much hillier course than the one just run in Sai Kung. Please see www.seyonasia.com for details.
Results - Full Marathon
Male Open: 1) John McKinven, 4:14:52; 2) Rob Parks, 4:34:07; 3) Tada Ryusuke and Kazuhito Nakajima, 4:48:18
MV: 1) Lo Chi Wai, 4:54:05; 2) Billy Chan, 5:41:55; 3) Chan Chi Fai, 6:32:07
MVX: 1) Mak Ping Yin, 4:16:40; 2) Ho Hon Ming, 4:42:47; 3) Paul Keeler, 6:01:02
MS: 1) Bob Whitehead, 4:41:46; 2) Lam Ngok Kam, 5:05:07; 3) Mike Barker, 5:21:17
Ladies Open: 1) Fan Sui Ping, 4:48:44; 2) Kin Kibun, 4:52:03; 3) Wong Suk Wah, 5:34:38
Ladies Veteran: 1) Jenny Tang, 6:07:14; 2) Hui Wai Ling, 6:58:45; 3) Chau Siu Ching, 6:58:46
Results - Half Marathon
Male Open: 1) Neil Tait, 1:28:28; 2) Gary Mandy, 1:34:31; 3) Adrian King, 1:35:25
MV: 1) Tim McCosker, 1:42:48; 2) Peter Northam, 1:47:53; 3) Peter Faarbaek, 1:51:08
MVX: 1) Chris Wardlaw, 1:40:11; 2) Dean Lewis, 1:52:53; 3) Guillo Philippe, 2:00:54
MS: 1) Wong Chung Tung Peter, 1:59:59; 2) John Tanner, 2:15:13; 3) Robert Pardoe, 2:15:40
Ladies Open: 1) Gia White, 1:50:26; 2) Grace Balintong, 1:54:29; 3) Amelie Varley, 1:59:01
Ladies Veteran: 1) Edwana Joanne Estolatan, 2:28:24; 2) Leung Oi Yim, 2:36:03; 3) Wu Wai Yee, 2:43:13