Sai Kung Mountain Marathon Report, 8 Jan 2012
The North Face KOTH Sai Kung Mountain Marathon
8 January 2012. Overcast becoming warm and sunny; temperatures between 14-20C.
(Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong)
Sabotage fails to disrupt a fine race
At the end of the climb out of Sham Chung on the first half of the course, some jerk decided it would be funny to change the direction of a course arrow from right to left and to remove a series of ribbons from the correct trail and put them instead on a trail up a hill to nowhere. Many runners went of course here and spent several minutes going in the wrong direction before returning to the correct trail. Luckily, runners made the wrong turn in packs and the rankings were not seriously affected, though times were a bit slower.
On a more positive note, nearly 500 people turned up for a fine day of trail running. This included a large contingent of overseas runners who came to Hong Kong for their holidays, not just for shopping or dim sum, but also to run King of the Hills. The international field included visitors from Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan, England and Russia. Steve Kite managed to squeeze in two KOTH races, flying in from England the night before December’s KOTH Taipo race and heading to the airport immediately following yesterday’s Sai Kung race. Hong Kong Tourism Board take note! Long time KOTH runner Peter Faarbaek also completed his final KOTH race and will soon head to Dubai.
Davies unfazed by course sabotage
Will Davies recovered best from the altered and earned a well-deserved victory in a time of 3:49:06. At the finish Will joked that he had a lot of experience going the wrong way and was just glad that it wasn’t his own fault this time.
3 minutes behind Will was super 45-year old Arnaud Picut, setting an age group course record. This makes two races in a row that Arnaud has broken the age group record for KOTH courses.
Jeremy Ritcey claimed to be having a bad day, but looked pretty smooth crossing the finish line third overall and second in the open category. A short while later three more open category runners crossed the line with Yung Wai Huen a bit ahead of Nicol Boyd and Ben Broussard, visiting from Taiwan.
This group preceded a veteran onslaught. Michael Maddess was 7th overall and 2nd M45, followed by M45 Anthony Davies, M40 Peter Lee (first in the category) and M50 first place Chan See Kau in an impressive 4:21:48.
F40 Aya Noyes held off cramping long enough to win the women’s race (4:30:46) and then sat at the end suffering. Kisses from her kids at the halfway point gave her motivation, but her husband’s kisses at the end did nothing to help the cramping.
Olya Korzh finished just behind Aya to reverse the results of the Taipo race. After the Taipo race Olya still had the energy to do a hash run. This time she headed home for a massage.
M55 Chan Hoi Nam won his category, but was 3 minutes slower than his course record of the previous year. Raymond Li Yiu Cheung was the second M50 and Clauss Rolf was the second M55 finisher while actually being an M60. Jeanette Wang was the third woman across the line, followed by Tam Kar Bik and F40 Aurelia Bunao.
Half Marathon – Benson escapes the hot pot
Darren Benson stamped his authority all over the Sai Kung course with a take-no-prisoners time of 1:34:49. Darren was far enough in front by the Hoi Ha checkpoint that only a lingering memory of the previous night’s hot pot dinner motivated him to push quickly through the last shiggy section.
Evergreen triathlon ace Joe Koster finished a stunning second overall and first in the M45 category. Close behind was Michal Bucek looking as comfortable on land as he always does in the water. Fast charging Lee Quane was next, just ahead of Bertrand Petit.
Newcomer Dwyfor Evans claimed victory in the M40 category in a fine 1:45:57 while finishing 6th overall. M45 Mark Western was next across the line, followed by Seth Fisher and then M55 Ho Wai Ming in a blazing 1:47:09 to win his age category.
M50 Leung Ping was 10th overall and first in his age category, just ahead of fellow M50 Wong Kwok Leung in a spirited race.
M40 Al Chalabi finished second in his category to continue his run of good form. Choi Fu Loi was the second M55 across the line and M45 JB Rae-Smith finished third in his category, a bit ahead of M50 Wong Tze Wan finishing third in his category.
Emma Bruce (2:02:32) won the ladies race and showed off her form with an excellent sprint finish. Linda Russell did well to come in second and Anne Cheng-Echevarria finished third.
Peter Wong turned the tables on Yiu Kam Sang to reverse last year’s Sai Kung result and claim the M60 title. Peter ran 2:07:32 and could easily be mistaken for a man 20 years younger. Law Kwong Chow finished third in the category.
Imi Bond was the first ladies F40 finisher and Jacqui Donaldson was the first ladies F50 finisher.
74-year old John Lane trotted around in a respectable 3:47:39 and then headed off for an afternoon of hash running and an evening of dancing. John plans to run the China Coast Marathon next week.
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.
The next race in the series takes place on February 12th, 2012 on Lantau Island. See www.seyonasia.com for details.