Sham Tseng Mountain Marathon Report, Feb 29, 2004
The Dog Days of Summer?
The day started out muggy but encouragingly overcast. However, when the sun poked through about 90 minutes into the race, we knew some of the runners would be in for a long day. Not surprisingly, the half marthoners had the better of it and posted some very good times, while the full marathoners melted their way to generally slower times.
The Full Marathon - That Elusive Course Record
Ho Hoi To set off with the intention of breaking Rob Park's course record. For the first couple of splits he was right on pace, but then began to suffer cramps on the steep climb up Tai Mo Shan and fell of the pace. In the end, Ho was a bit lucky to hold on for the win as Daniel Brown quickly closed the gap on Tai Mo Shan and appeared to be the stronger runner on the latter half of the course. In the end, Daniel was done in by a couple of wrong turns (day dreaming?) while Ho had practiced the course the week before (the day after running the 50 km Green Power HK Trail Race - no wonder he cramped up!) and was able to avoid making any wrong turns. This was enough to give Ho an 8 minute victory over Daniel. Adrian King ran his best race of the series to finish a strong third.
Despite having already locked up his age group title, KK Chan wanted to finish the season on a winning note, managing to win the MV-40 division and capture 4th overall. Hard charging Li Cheuk Ming was hot on his tail, only 15 seconds behind, after running a classic start slow and accelerate race. Employing the same strategy in the MV-45 category was Mak Ping Yin who showed admirable patience while his age group rivals shot off early and then picked them off one by one to win his category for the race and finish the season in second for the series, behind only legendary Choi Kau was skipped the race because of injury.
Lam Ngok Yam was the first MV-55, ahead of Wong Pak Kun and John Fowler. This finishing order exactly reflected the finishing order for these gents for the series behind Bob Whitehead who had already wrapped up the series and chose to road race on the day.
JoeJoe Fan led the women's race from start to finish, despite her customary disciplined start. By the end, however, she was flying past the guys in front of her and didn't even appear to be sweating at the finish. Wong Suk Wah managed second in the race for the second straight year, while Chung Hau Ying got her first taste of a top 3 finish. Yau Lan Kiu returned from a bit of hiatus to capture the ladies vets category with Hui Wai Ling a game, but distant second.
Half Marathon - Another Course Record for Mr. Tait and an Unexpected Women's Course Record
Its official now, Neil Tait owns all of the KOTH half marathon course records. After missing the race due to injury last year, this was the course record that Neil wanted, especially because it was previously held by his Trailwalker teammate Alex Morgan. Now its all Neil's after lowering the record by 5 minutes. About the only blemish on an otherwise perfect race was that for the first time this year, someone actually ran the final interval faster than him. This allowed Mike Gault to claw back 2 minutes and finish 'only' 13 minutes behind Neil.
Hui Yee Man also ran a fabulous race to finish third overall. The fact that he's also an MV-45+ vet and set a great new benchmark time for his age group only makes it more impressive. Philippe Guillo had been battling Hui for the age group title all season, but had to concede first place to Hui after his marvelous run. Philippe managed second with Dean Lewis third.
Tim McCosker finished just behind Hui to win the MV-40 race, comfortably ahead of Peter Hopper and Mkie Jones. Peter did just well enough in the race, however, to earn enough points to edge out Babs Bukunola for the age group title for the series.
John Tanner flew over from Taiwan just to make sure he completed his third qualifying race for the series. The trip proved successful as John won the MV-55 category and locked up first place in the series at the same time. Jim White solidified his hold on second place with another second place finish and Bob Pardoe captured third place in both the race and for the series.
The other great performance of the day came from Grace Balintong. Before the race, most expected Rachel Sproston to win the race and the season series, however, Grace had been practicing the course the previous week and had other ideas. She took it out fast forcing Rachel to make the decision to follow or hold back. Rachel followed, but Grace just kept upping the pressure until she had broken free. Then, even more impressively, she sped up some more and broke Chiaki Fjelddahl's 3-year old course record by a minute. Grace thus becomes the first woman other than Chiaki or Rachel to set a women's overall course record in the past 3 years. The battle for third place was also exciting with an in form Becky Kong besting Melissa Lo by just under a minute.
Marie-Helene Arnauld won the ladies vets half marathon easily as usual. Chan Kwok Lin was the surprise runner up after inadvertently following the half marathon course out of checkpoint 2 when she had intended to run the full marathon. Edwana Estolatan was third with Sarah Pearson 4th.
This wraps up another season of the King of the Hills Mountain Marathon Series. Those who participate know that one of Hong Kong's great attractions is that we have the best trail running of any major city in the world. The annual awards dinner will be held on Friday, March 12th. See www.seyonasia.com for further details.
Results - Full Marathon
Male Open: 1) Ho Hoi To, 4:07:49; 2) Daniel Brown, 4:15:19; 3) Adrian King, 4:17:46
Male V-40: 1) Chan Kwok Keung, 4:22:35; 2) Li Cheuk Mng, 4:22:50; 3) Lo Chi Wai, 4:32:12
Male V-45: 1) Mak Ping Yin, 4:27:46; 2) Leung Wing Leung, 4:37:53; 3) Ho Hon Ming, 4:46:55
Male V-55: 1) Lam Ngok Kan, 5:34:54; 2) Wong Pak Kun, 5:47:45, 3) John Fowler, 6:09:34
Ladies Open: 1) JoeJoe Fan Sui Ping, 4:48:53; 2) Wong Suk Wah, 5:35:06; 3) Chung Hau Ying, 5:38:31
Ladies Veteran: 1) Yau Lan Kiu, 6:01:42; 2) Hui Wai Ling, 7:27:19
Results - Half Marathon
Male Open: 1) Neil Tait; 2:04:26; 2) Mike Gault, 2:17:38; 3) Peter Winn, 2:27:26
Male V-40: 1) Tim McCosker, 2:26:02; 2) Peter Hopper, 2:33:17 ; 3) Mike Jones, 2:33:33
Male V-45: 1) Hui Yee Man, 2:21:30; 2) Philippe Guillo, 2:39:05; 3) Dean Lewis, 2:40:25
Male V-55: 1) John Tanner; 3:01:41; 2) Jim White, 3:02:44; 3) Bob Pardoe, 16:12
Ladies Open: 1) Grace Balintong, 2:29:19; 2) Rachel Sproston, 2:43:27; 3) Becky Kong, 2:57:25
Ladies Veteran: 1) Marie-Helene Arnauld, 3:00:37; 2) Chan Kwok Lin, 3:12:18; 3) Edwana Estolatan, 3;15:57