Taipo Mountain Marathon - Sunday, December 15, 2002
King of the Hills Competition Heats Up
On a beautiful and clear, but warm day some turned out for a leisurely run to enjoy the spectacular views that the course affords, while others were looking for fast times. With just about the deepest and most competitive field to ever start one of the mountain marathons, some close finishes were expected. The winners of the Sai Kung half and full mountain marathons, Neil Tate and Choi Kau, had other things in mind, however.
The Full Marathon: Fireman Choi Douses the Field
After Choi Kau won the Sai Kung Mountain Marathon, he was told that he hadn't really proven himself since King of the Hills '02 Alex Morgan wasn't on hand. This time Alex was on hand looking to defend his course record and title. The two raced together to the first checkpoint, but Choi pulled away after that, gradually increasing his lead on ups, down, flats, and rough ground. Choi set a new course record of 3:39:31 and left Alex 15 minutes behind and shaking his head in admiration. Comparing the two, weather was clearly a factor. Choi drank a total of 1 liter of water over the entire race, while Alex drank about 6 liters and ate 10 salt tablets. Each suffered minor cramping problems.
Peter Lee was also very much in the thick of the race until the halfway point and managed to hold on for 3rd place overall (open 2nd). Law Shing Yan passed Franz Nel with less than 200 meters to go on the finishing dam for 4th place (open 3rd). Franz finished 5th(v-40 2nd), just ahead of Cosmo Boys Lau Yu Chun and KK Chan(v-40 3rd).
Kin Hang once again dominated the M-55+ category. Lam Ngok Kam finished first and Lee Kwok Kwong third, with only new-to-the-category Bob Whitehead breaking things up with a 2nd place result. John Fowler came if 4th.
The women's marathon saw a bit of an upset. Chiaki Fjelddahl had been expected to win yet again, but was a bit under the weather and could only manage 4th place. Instead, Kawasaki Chisato ran bravely to snatch victory in 4:37:43. Kawasaki really pushed it on the tricky down hill sections of the course, gaining all of her time differential there. Her faster downhill splits was just enough to hold off a fast charging Claire Price who finished less than 2 minutes behind. Cosmo Girl JoeJoe Fan, fresh off winning the Lantau Trail Race the previous week, was 3rd. Yau Lan Kiu ran very well to win the women's v-40+ competition and beat most of the younger girls.
Half Marathon: Who is Neil Tait?
Who is Neil Tait? That question was on everyone's lips after he came out of nowhere to win the Sai Kung Half Marathon in record time this past October. Because the Sai Kung half is relatively flat and fast, some speculated that Neil might be a roadie and not able to deal with real hills. Unfortunately for everyone else, Neil proved in Taipo, that his is equally proficient on steep ups and downs. Once again he set a new course record (1:40:00) and once again he blew away the competition by a wide margin. Marcus Giles managed to finish in second place, just ahead of Simon Phillips. Who is Neil Tait? He's a guy who's going to win every race in the series and break every course record unless the rest of the field finds more speed soon.
Ian Roper won the mv-40+ division, but was disappointed not to finish under 2 hours and break his own course record. Babs Bukunola was close behind, followed by recently minted forty year old, Ross Dawson. John Tanner wan the ms-55+ division ahead of Peter Widmer who had 2 daughters visiting from overseas to cheer him on. Wong Pak Kun rounded out the top three.
Recently engaged Rachel Sproston beat her fiancée as well as the rest of the women's field to capture first place. Grace Balintong showed the same form and determination she did in Sai Kung and was rewarded for her efforts with second place ahead of Rosanna Wan. Aspiring Mt. Everest ascender Sissel Smaller won the v-40+ division ahead of Brigitte Zeltner Widmer and Leung Oi Yim.
The next race in the series starts at Nam Shan Campsite on Lantau on January 5th. This is a good opportunity to work off some of the holiday lard. The full marathon course is a particularly daunting proposition, while the half is the easiest and shortest half marathon course in the series. Please see www.seyonasia.com for details.
Results - Full Marathon
Male Open: 1) Alex Morgan, 3:54:23; 2) Peter Lee, 4:05:47; 3) Law Shing Yan, 4:08:13
Male Veteran: 1) Choi Kau, 3:39:31; 2) Franz Nel, 4:08:26; 3) Chan Kwok Keung, 4:12:09
Male Senior: 1) Lam Ngok Kan, 4:52:33; 2) Bob Whitehead, 4:59:20; 3) Lee Kwok Kwong, 5:10:57
Ladies Open: 1) Kawasaki Chisato, 4:37:43; 2) Claire Price, 4:39:21; 3) JoeJoe Fan, 4:49:44
Ladies Veteran: 1) Yau Lan Kiu, 5:29:01.
Results - Half Marathon
Male Open: 1) Neil Tate, 1:40:00; 2) Marcus Giles, 1:52:07; 3) Simon Phillips, 1:52:54
Male Veteran: 1) Ian Roper, 2:02:59; 2) Babs Bukunola, 2:03:30; 3) Ross Dawson, 2:04:25
Male Senior: 1) John Tanner, 2:16:52; 2) Peter Widmer, 2:24:28; 3) Wong Pak Kun, 2:26:14
Ladies Open: 1) Rachel Sproston, 2:04:02; 2) Grace Balintong, 2:13:18, 3) Rosanna Wan, 2:33:33
Ladies Veteran: 1) Sissel Smaller, 2:36:01; 2) Brigitte Zeltner-Widmer, 2:38:47; 3) Leung Oi Yim, 3:04:04