Sai Kung Mountain Marathon Report, Dec 17, 2006
17 December 2006
(Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong, sunny and breezy with temperatures between 13-17 and 40-50% relative humidity)
King of the Hills Sai Kung Mountain Marathon - Top Performances on a Perfect Day
Cool, dry and clean: Perfect conditions for a day running in the hills. The weather was in fact so nice that several half marathoners actually switched to the full marathon on the day! As a result, some amazing times were run. This year also marked the unveiling of a new full marathon course to avoid the wildly overgrown Taimunshan section. In general, the new course proved very popular, though some found the last few km a bit of a sting in the tail. The ever-popular half marathon course remained unchanged.
Full Marathon - "Like a Rolling Stone"
Tsang Siu Keung Stone set the tone with a commanding start to finish full marathon victory, leaving all in his wake. In a performance reminiscent of Neil Tait, Stone took off at the beginning and never looked back. He beat all full and half marathon runners to the first checkpoint in Yung Shue O by 4 minutes thanks to some nifty downhill running and steadily increased his lead from there. Had he stopped at the halfway point, he would have won the half marathon. But that would be too little exercise for Stone. Instead, he charged through the remainder of the new course and with his Trailwalker buddies not racing on the day, won by an astounding 30 minutes.
To Chi Shing finished a distant second, holding off a fast charging Rupert Chamberlain at the end. Chan Kwok Keung returned to KOTH form he hasn't shown in a while to win the MV-45+ category, relegating former Cosmo Boy teammate Li Cheuk Ming to second place and setting up a battle with Li for the remainder of the series. Li finished the race with a nasty gash on his head, the result of an unfortunate encounter with a tree branch, suffered near the beginning of the race. Full credit to him for persevering and to the medical team for patching him up a couple of different times. Ho Hon Ming was the third MV-45+ and is also still within striking distance of winning the category.
The MV-40 division also became more interesting with John McKinven and Wong Tsun Yin swapping places from the previous race. This time it was John's turn to win out and he appears to be rounding back into form following an early season foot injury. Jonathan Rodda surprised himself by coming in third and then rewarded himself by making a beer disappear considerably faster than his best 100-meter dash time.
In the MV-55+ category, we have grown accustomed to Bob Whitehead winning. However, on the verge of his 60th birthday, Lam Ngok Kam had a great race and beat "The Whitehead" Perhaps Mr. Lam should reconsider his decision to retire from competitive running at the end of this season (we think he will-trail running is in his blood). Bob finished second with a bit of a leg injury, but this did not stop him from going off to join the hash run later in the afternoon. So Wai Kwong finished third, just ahead of a visiting Italian runner, Luciano Scienza. Luciano told us that he does many mountain races in Italy (from where many of the worlds' top hill runners hail), but that he had never seen such crazy hill runners as here. In Italy, most of the hill runs are to the top only, or if they descend also, they descend on beautifully manicured paths. He couldn't believe the trails we charge down. (Editors note: Imagine what he'll say if he runs the KOTH Lantau Full Marathon!)
Jeannette Holmes-Thomson felt so good approaching the halfway point that she decided to switch to the full marathon. It turns out that she has been longing for a real endurance challenge ever since her team had to withdraw from Trailwalker due to her husband being sick. Dragging her TW teammate Rob Mackenzie along, she charged through the second half of the course, the first of the fairer sex and 9th overall, to finish. She was followed by Aya Tanaka, who once again pushed too hard on a day she wasn't 100%, and ended up puking voluminously at the finish. Ma Yan Wah was third, just ahead of Leung Wiwin.
Ann Miles won the FV-40+ category again, but this time she was hotly pursued by Carolyn Kng and Monica Ng, both of whom are hoping for a breakthrough victory over "Marlboro Lady" before the season is over.
Half Marathon - The Chris and JoeJoe Show
An exciting half marathon finish, saw Olympian Chris Wardlaw roll back his 56 years to edge open entries Adrian King by 19 seconds and newcomer Chuck Cossman by a further 8 seconds, breaking his own age group record and winning the race outright in the process. Chris credited the fine weather for his PB time, dashing the hopes of those of us who want to believe that we too will get fast when we grow up. Just to show how much Hong Kong trail running has improved in the past few years, Chris' time of 1:38:12 would have beaten the overall course record prior to 2002, when Neil Tait started running KOTH.
Barely a month after his 3rd place overall finish at the HKDRC Tai Mei Tuk Half Marathon, Adrian King was in fine running form and lowered his own course PB by nearly a minute. Adrian commented that it was one of the 2-3 nicest days for running he had seen in four years of running the KOTH. His fast time allowed him to make his afternoon flight with plenty of time to spare. Chuck Cossman has not been in HK long enough to experience the full range of temperature conditions that cause wildly fluctuating time performance here. However, at just 24 years old and with a background in competitive gymnastics, the Canadian ex pat has a bright trail running future.
Peter Northam was the 4th runner across the finish line and set a new MV-40 course record in the process. Peter is moving up to the MV-45 category next season, so this was a fitting way to leave his mark on the category.
Male open Erich Felbabel was next in (3rd open), before a couple of MV-45's asserted themselves. Speedster Derek Irwin ran a highly credible 1:43:18 to finish 6th overall, just ahead of MV-45 Peter Hopper who was fresh off a sub-3 hour marathon the previous month. Although Taipo winner Leung Ping prefers hillier courses, he still ran well enough to capture third place in the category. This category is also shaping up to be quite competitive and interesting the rest of the season.
Peter Wong also took advantage of the fine weather to finish the course in less than 2 hours for the first time and finish second in the MV-55 category. Cho Yan Kwong followed.
In the ladies division, it was considered fait accompli that Gia White's 2004 course record was unassailable. Gia, as everyone knows, was a former US Olympic team candidate in triathlon and has been methodically breaking all of HK's road running records this season. However, our own Queen of the Hills, JoeJoe Fan has through relentless training become a sub-3 hour marathoner (and she has always been able to run rough trails). JoeJoe loves a challenge and had noted all of Gia's 2004 split times ahead of the race. Her strategy was to try to match Gia's splits on the faster, earlier sections of the course and then hope that she had enough left to take advantage of her fantastic balance on the rough, last section. She executed the plan to perfection, running 1:45:19 and setting a new ladies' course record in the process. She finished 8th overall. If we could just coax Gia back off the roads next year, this could get really interesting! Linda Russell and Kim Yu rounded out the ladies open podium placements. Kim, however, was more excited about beating her fiancée in the race, than finishing 3rd.
In the ladies veterans division, Janet Quigley broke Marie Helene-Arnauld's long-standing course record in a fine 2:06:02. Janet loves the Sai Kung course and does it every year. Now we just need to talk her into trying a few of the hillier courses…Louise Dorman (2nd) and Anne Knecht-Boyer (3rd) also claimed prizes on the day.
2006 has been a terrific year for trail running in Hong Kong in general and KOTH in particular. We are receiving tremendous support from our sponsors, ADM Capital Foundation, Sunhing Millenium, Swire Coca-cola, Powerbar, Protrek/Montrail and MBT and are getting record attendance for almost every race. While we need to remain vigilant on the litter front, the situation has improved considerably and for that I am grateful to all of the racers and to the marshals who are doing a fantastic job sweeping up.
The next race takes place in Lantau on Sunday, 7th January. We will have registration both on the 0830 ferry from Central and at the Nam Shan starting area. This is a good chance to begin purging your holiday excesses. The half marathon course is the easiest in the series, while the full marathon course, despite a slight change in the descent to trail to Tung Chung, remains the roughest and most testing in the series. See www.seyonasia.com/koth for further details.
Half Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Adrian King 1:38:31; 2) Chuck Cossman, 1:38:39; 3) Erich Felbabel, 1:41:58
MV-40: 1) Peter Northam, 1:41:23; 2) Chiu Man Shing, 1:51:04; 3) Tony Flynn, 1:51:19
MV-45: 1) Derek Irwin, 1:43:18; 2) Peter Hopper, 1:43:30; 3) Leung Ping, 1:45:30
MV-55: 1) Chris Wardlaw, 1:38:12; 2) Wong Peter Chung Tung, 1:56:45; 3) Cho Yan Kwong, 2:10:26
FO: 1) JoeJoe Fan Suiping, 1:45:19; 2) Linda Russell, 2:09:52; 3) Kim Yu, 2:14:20
FV-40: 1) Janet Quigley, 2:06:02; 2) Louise Dorman 2:13:33; 3) Anne Knecht-Boyer, 2:18:15
Full Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Tsang Siu Keung 3:26:56; 2) To Chi Shing;, 4:05:52; 3) Rupert Chamberlain, 4:08:49
MV-40: 1) John McKinven 4:18:05; 2) Wong Tsun Yin, 4:30:00; 3) Jonathan Rodda, 5:04:30
MV-45: 1) Chan Kwok Keung , 4:14:19; 2) Li Cheuk Ming, 4:37:30; 3) Ho Hon Ming, 441:20
MV-55: 1)) Lam Ngok Kam, 5:19:41; 2) Bob Whitehead, 5:33:44; 3) So Wai Kwong, 5:35:52
FO: 1) Jeannette Holmes-Thomson, 4:33:13; 2) Aya Tanaka, 4:46:55; 3) Ma Yan Wah, 5:36:07
FV-40: 1) Ann Miles, 5:01:20; 2) Carolyn Kng, 5:05:25; 3) Monica Ng, 5:05:55