A combination of cool weather and lack of any conflicting distance
races on the same day brought out a record crowd for the Sham Tseng Mountain
Marathon. The result was a competitive and spirited field and several
new course/age category records.
Showing no ill effects from a previous ankle injury, fireman KK Chan
returned to top form. After toying with the field for the first half of
the race, KK sped away to a new course record 4:04:57 victory. Justin
Searle showed great determination to stay within 4 minutes of KK until
the final checkpoint before fading. By coming in second in the race, Justin
secured the vital points needed to capture third place in the series.
James Varley finally made his first trip to the podium with a strong third
place finish ahead of the Cosmo Boys.
Veteran Mak Ping Yin locked up another series title with a v-40 course
record 4:19:08 victory. Hui Hok Fong came in second and had the fastest
second half time of all competitors following an intentionally slow start.
Ho Hon Ming came in third in front of fellow veterans Ian Roper and Bob
Whitehead. John Lane jetted into town and won the v-55 category in record
style. Lee Kwok Kwong and John Fowler followed.
Having locked up the female open half marathon title already, Rachel
Sproston decided to try her luck at a full mountain marathon. The result
was victory with Asahi Super Girls Kin Keibun and Kawasaki Chisato following.
Long time Coca-Cola Team running stalwart Fung Yuk Ling reappeared on
the trail running scene for the first time in ages and promptly set a
new women's v-40 course record. Super steady Virginia Unkefer followed.
Some of the day's most exciting racing took place in the half marathon.
Having clinched the full marathon series title already, Alex Morgan decided
to take a 'rest' and run the half marathon. Unfortunately for Alex, a
visiting hotshot from Seattle named John Fewster had decided to enter
and had also had time to practice the course the week before. 90 minutes
into the race near the highest point on the course, Alex found himself
in the unaccustomed position of trailing by 3 minutes. Fortunately for
Alex, mountain marathon courses also have rough down hill sections and
he was able to draw level. A classic battle of uphiller versus downhiller
took place over the next section of the course over the short, steep hills
of the power line trail. Alex surged ahead on every downhill and John
caught up on every uphill. Finally, a longer downhill allowed Alex to
open up some distance (the last third of the course includes a net altitude
loss of almost 450 meters) which he built on with the final downhill plunge
to the finish. The resulting time of 2:09:44 was an incredible 9 minutes
faster than the previous course record. Our Seattle visitor finished second
in an impressive 2:12:37 with Jimmy Thompson third.
In the v-40 category, Andy Pickles had opened up a seemingly comfortable
lead over his closest rivals when he made a wrong turn and ran an extra
couple of kilometers in the wrong direction before righting his mistake.
This allowed Benny Hagberg and Philippe Guillo to get in front and take
first and second place respectively. In the v-55 category, Peter Widmer
led from start to finish and lowered his own course record time by a full
minute with John Tanner and Bob Nipperess following.
Ladies vet Marie-Helene Arnauld ran her third ladies v-40 record setting
race in a row. Having now seen her sprint past me on the flats several
times, I can attest that she is fast. Her closest female competitor was
Melissa Frauenfelder who uncharacteristically didn't get lost, instead
wining the female open race. Veteran Caryl Hartwright was next in.
Many thanks to all helpers and participants.