Sai Kung Mountain Marathon Report, 27 November 2005
A Great Start to the King of the Hills Season
(Sai Kung, Hong Kong 27 November 2005. Sunny with temperatures between 20-24 and the pollution index at 71 on Tap Mun.)
Full Marathon - Records Fall on the Last Running of the Current Course
Neil Tait already had all of the KOTH full marathon course records except Sai Kung, which he correctly surmised would be the toughest to break since no one runs rough trails like Choi Kau. Neil pushed hard on the faster ground on the first half to come through the halfway point in 1:35, seven minutes ahead of Choi Kau's pace at that point. He knew he needed this time in reserve for the rough Mosquito Hill section coming up. At the Mosquito Hill CP he was down to 5 minutes ahead of record pace and by Tai Cham Koi he was down to 3 minutes ahead and not liking his chances on the final rough downhill. He held on, however, to finish in 3:37:34, one minute inside the previous course record.
Chasing Neil the entire way was Stone Tsang, the latest in a long line of HK firemen to lap up the trails. Anyone who saw how strong Stone was during Trailwalker would not have been surprised that he set an under -35 course record in his very first KOTH race. Peter Lee finished third in 3:59:17, joining a very short list of people who have ever completed the Sai Kung course in under 4 hours.
Michael Maddess had Bruce Fletcher's V-40 course record in his sights at the halfway point, but suffered cramping going up Tai Cham Koi. He managed to hold on for the age group victory, but not the course record, and then found the energy at the finish to carry his beautiful baby around to meet all the runners. Chasing Michael were John McKinven (v-40 second place) and Peter Faarbaek (v-40 third place).
Evergreen Ho Hon Ming won the MV-45 category in fine style, ahead of Lo Mei Kuen and Graeme Deuchars. Ho credits his training with the Cosmo Boys and Kin Hang for keeping him so consistently fit all these years.
The MV-55 category provided a bit of déjà vu with Bob Whitehead once again beating Lam Ngok Kam with Mike Barker finishing in third.
The women also had a sensational day on the final running of the current course. After missing Chiaki Fjelddahl's course record by just one minute in 2004, JoeJoe Fan was determined to have another go this year. She was pushed along by Claire Price who started slowly, but then caught JoeJoe at the last checkpoint. Both Claire and JoeJoe finished in record time with JoeJoe eking out a one-minute victory. Both ladies should be commended for their sensational efforts on such a rough course. Both had lots of cuts and scratches to show for their hard work. Yeung Mei Yiu finished third.
Ann Miles moved to Hong Kong from Singapore earlier this year. Anyone who has seen her after a hash run smoking and drinking would be surprised if told that Ann would set a female veteran KOTH course record. Yet, that is exactly what she did, beating Jenny Lee's previous record by 5 minutes, despite being 9 years older at the time of doing it. What amazing genes this woman must have! Jenny Tang, fresh off a very strong Trailwalker performance, was second, followed by Chan Kwok Lin who only decided to switch from the half to the full marathon on the morning of the race.
Half Marathon - Almost a Photo Finish
HK triathlon champion Daniel Lee and Andy Naylor swapped the lead several times during the race with Daniel gaining time on the ups and downs and Andy making it back on each straightaway. Daniel was less than 10 seconds in front entering the final village of Tai Tan with only 0.5 km of slightly up hill road to go at the end of the village. Unfortunately, Daniel then missed a turn arrow and headed off cross country. As Andy came off the final technical bit, he glanced up and suddenly there was no one in front of him! So instead of the all out finishing sprint he had psyched himself up for, he cruised to the finish in 1:31 (the second fastest time ever run for this course) and enquired if anyone had seen a missing triathlon superstar.
Daniel recovered from his mistake to take third overall and second in the men's open category. We understand that Daniel is just recovering from injury so we are pleased to see him running so well and look forward to seeing more of him on the trails.
Second place overall went to Chris Wardlaw in an imposing MV-55+ record time of 1:40:38. Unless Chris breaks his own record next year, this record should be safe for quite some time. Peter Wong had to settle for second place in this age group, but had the consolation of losing to an Olympic marathoner. St. John Flaherty in his first ever KOTH race was third.
Johann Zobrist finished third in the open category and 4th overall, followed by Ryan Blair.
Tim McCosker drew first blood in the MV-40 category, just over 1 minute ahead of Peter Northam with Siu Man Kit third.
Mark Leeper sprinted past Paul Keeler and John Douma in the final 500 meters to claim MV-45 line honors.
Grace Balintong ruled the roost in the ladies half marathon, running almost exactly the same time as the previous year. Jennifer Ho So Han was several minutes behind in second, followed by the first female veteran, Janet Quigley, who missed breaking Marie-Helene Arnauld's FV-40 course record by an agonizing 5 seconds. Edwanna Estolatan was the second female veteran home, followed by Wu Wai Yee.
One of the themes of the day was female athletes returning to the trails after giving birth. Chisato Kawasaki was the 4th woman across the finish line one-year after giving birth. New mum Jeanette Thompson was 7th across the line while Cosmo Girl Margie Maddess accomplished a unique breast feed/run/breast feed duathlon with her 8-month old. Margie's previous trail race had been in Sai Kung one year earlier with baby in utero. This time she ran solo. The future of trail running is secure with the genes these ladies are passing on to their children.
Another theme on the day was Operation Santa Claus. ADM Capital is making a donation to Operation Santa Claus for every finance industry person who runs in the Sai Kung or Taipo races this year.
Other than the pollution, about the only negative that I could find on the day is that too many runners are still discarding used gel packets and other crap along the trail during the race. We may need to number the gel packets in the future to find out the guilty parties.
The next race in the series takes place on 18 December in Taipo and includes spectacular and mountainous terrain in Pat Sin Leng and Plover Cove Country Parks. See www.seyonasia.com for further details.
HALF MARATHON WINNERS:
Andy Naylor (1:31:12), Lee Chi Wo, Daniel (1:41.47), Johann Zobrist (1:42:31)
Tim McCosker (1:46:08), Peter Northam (1:47:25), Siu Man Kit (1:58:19)
Mark Leeper (1:57:05), Paul Keeler (1:57:43), John Douma (1:58:23)
Chris Wardlaw (1:40:38), Wong Peter Chung Tung (2:06:01), St John Flaherty (2:36:46)
Grace Balintong (1:59:01), Ho So Han Jennifer (2:06:43), Chisato Kawasaki (2:13:30)
Janet Quigley (2:09:22), Ma Edwana R. Estolatan (2:20:58), Wu Wai Yee (2:42:00)
FULL MARATHON WINNERS:
Neil Tait (3:37:34), Tsang Siu Keung,Stone (3:45:27), Peter Lee (3:59:17)
Michael Maddess (4:18:34), John McKinven (4:26:46), Peter Faarbaek (4:30:10)
Ho Hin Ming (4:41:21), Lo Mei Kuen (5:17:26) Graeme Deuchares (5:22:03)
Bob Whitehead (4:58:16), Lam Ngok Kam (5:16:55), Mike Barker (5:41:34)
JoeJoe Fan Sui Ping (4:29:57), Claire Price (4:30:32), Yeung Mei Yiu (6:33:38)
Ann Miles (5:17:08), Jenny Tang (5:48:40), Chan Kwok Lin Colly (6:06:29)