Taipo Mountain Marathon Report, 18 Dec, 2005
18 December 2005. Sunny with temperatures between 12-16 degrees.
(Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong)
HK Athletes Bypass Wanchai, Head for the Hills
On a glorious day for running, well over 200 runners managed to bypass Wanchai and enjoy a perfect day on the trails. The WTO chaos caused the temporary closure of the Central Harbor Tunnel and meant that a few runners barely made the starting line, but after that, it was time to attack the hills!
Chased by Tsang Siu Keung,Neil Tait bettered his previous full marathon course record by 3 minutes. In doing so he managed to take a few spills and left a bit of blood on the trail, but with 2 consecutive wins he is now in a commanding position to retain his King of the Hills title. To give some perspective on how dominant Neil has been since he began running King of the Hills, he now holds concurrently all 5 of the full marathon course records and 4 of the half marathon course records.
Stone Tsang became the only person other than Neil to ever run the course in under 3.5 hours, but admitted at the end of the race that at the moment he has no answer for Neil's uphill speed and power. His best chance appears to be on the down hill as he became the fastest full marathoner to ever do the kamikaze plunge from Shun Yeung Fung to Brides Pool.
Adrian King had probably his best ever KOTH race and finished in 3rd overall with a fine time of 3:39, several minutes ahead of Peter Lee.
For the second race in a row, Michael Maddess was completely focused on trying to set a V-40 course record. This time he succeeded, with an excellent 3:53 result. John McKinven was disappointed with his performance, but was still the second V-40 across the line, with Peter Faarbaek reaping the benefits of his track training to pass someone on the final dam and take third.
The old time, mountain running metal of Hong Kong dominated the MV-45 category. Mak ("the Monster") Ping Yin turned in yet another age-defying sub-4 hour performance, about 7 minutes faster than his time the previous year. Li Cheuk Ming was second, followed by Ho Hon Ming, with both of them also improving on their times from the previous year.
Bob Whitehead stormed to an MV-55 course record, well clear of long time rival Lam Ngok Kam. Lam was disappointed to finish so far behind Bob, but equally delighted with his margin of victory over 3rd place Mike Barker (who still had enough in reserve to head off to run the hash later that afternoon.)
While the men inevitably get more press because of their faster times, one woman, JoeJoe Fan Suiping, has quietly put together a string of victories and course records every bit as dominant as the boys. With another course record in Taipo today, JoeJoe now holds concurrently four out of the 5 KOTH full marathon records, 1 KOTH half marathon record, the Green Power 50 km record, the Lantau Trail Record and the Care Action 30 km record.
One-time Queen of the Hills Chisato Kawasaki ran her first full marathon since becoming a mother last year and managed a fine second place performance, ahead of Leung Wiwin.
At one point during today's race, Ann Miles probably regretted the last cigarette and beer she had the night before, but when she still managed to finish 2 minutes inside the female veteran course record, she promptly rewarded herself with a cold lager at the finish line. Ann is truly a throwback to the swashbuckling, nutrition-be-dammed athletes of old. Cholly Chan finished second but looked to be struggling more than we are used to seeing from her.
The main reason that Neil Tait is missing one course record is that Gary Mandy has stamped his authority all over the Taipo Half Marathon course. The first time he ran it in 2004, Gary set a course record of 1:33:54. That seemed like a truly remarkable time until he knocked almost 3 minutes off that time today. His new benchmark time is 1:31:08 and this doesn't look like an easy one to beat.
Gary accomplished the victory through a strong surge over the middle section of the course up Wong Leng. Once he hit the ridge, it was pretty clear that no one was going to catch him. And just to make sure, he set a new interval record for the final plunge from Shun Yeung Fung to the finish, knocking 1 minute off Choi Kau's time for this kamikaze downhill.
Second across the line was the amazing Chris Wardlaw in fine V-55 record fashion. It was actually a tale of 2 races for Chris on the day. He was probably the only runner to run up every hill during the race, but he was probably the single person who slowed up most on the slalom downhill at the end.
Any chance that Mark Williams had of chasing Gary was lost when Mark made a wrong turn by Hok Tau Reservoir. However, he still recovered to finish third overall, winning a tight final sprint with the first V-40 runner, Peter Northam.
Jan Littlewood was third home in the open category while Rob James and Andy Thomson rounded out the podium places among the V-40s.
Paul Keeler fell only 22 seconds short of Philippe Guillo's MV-45 course record, but was happy to collect his free pair of shoes for winning. Newcomer Chan Kam Hung ran a fine race to finish second in the category ahead of Dean Lewis.
Peter Wong Chung Tong was once again second to Chris Wardlaw in the MV-55 category while Bob Nipperress made a welcome return from injury and illness to finish third in the category.
Grace Balintong dominated the women's half marathon from the beginning, taking the lead before Cloudy Hill and never relinquishing it. She also came within one minute of the female course record.
Recently engaged Aya Tanaka managed second place and still found the energy to sweep the second half of the course a couple of hours later. Recently married Melissa Lo finished third.
Last season's female veteran champ Edwana Estolatan returned to good form with a solid age group victory. Old friend Wu Wai Yee finished second, followed by Japanese visitor Hiromi Suzuki.
Chris Botsford from one of our principal sponsors, ADM Capital, also deserves a mention for narrowly eking out a victory over his dog who set a canine half marathon course record.
The Taipo race is the most logistically challenging of all the KOTH races to stage due to the remote nature of the checkpoints and water stops. Special thanks go to the marshals who hiked to these points carrying heavy loads of water and to Mark Doel who helped the race director to carry 60 kg of Bonactive to 2 checkpoints the day before the race.
The litter situation on the trail was also considerably improved from the previous race. Thanks to all for their ecological awareness and to Wilson Ng of Power Bar who numbered all Power Gels and swept the first half of the course.
The next race in the series takes place on Lantau on 8th January. Happy new year to all.
(further details available on www.seyonasia.com)
Half Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Gary Mandy (1:31:08); 2) Mark Williams (1:47:41); 3) Jan Littlewood (1:52:41)
MV-40: 1) Peter Northam (1:47:47); 2) Rob James (1:53:15); 3) Andrew Thomson (1:58:42)
MV-45: 1) Paul Keeler (2:00:56); 2) Chan Kam Hung (2:05:05); 3) Dean Lewis (2:09:10)
MV-55: 1) Chris Wardlaw (1:46:30); 2) Wong Peter Chung Tung (2:11:27); 3) Bob Nipperess (2:43:53)
FO: 1) Grace Balintong (2:00:40); 2) Aya Tanaka (2:05:14); 3) Melissa Lo (2:14:57)
FV-40: 1) Ma Edwana Estolatan (2:36:08); 2) Wu Wai Yee (2:44:35); 3) Hiromi Suzuki (3:07:48)
Full Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Neil Tait (3:15:21); 2) Tsang Siu Keung (3:28:24); 3) Adrian King (3:39:32)
MV-40: 1) Michael Maddess (3:53:42); 2) John McKinven (4:06:32); 3) Peter Faarbaek (4:11:44)
MV-45: 1) Mak Ping Yin (3:58:55); 2) Li Cheuk Ming (4:12:11); 3) Ho Hon Ming (4:22:48)
MV-55: 1) Bob Whitehead (4:30:59);2) Lam Ngok Kam (5:08:47); 3) Mike Barker (5:15:31)
FO: 1) JoeJoe Fan Sui Ping (4:13:36); 2) Chisato Kawasaki (4:48:43); 3) Leung Wiwin (5:34:17)
FV-40: 1) Ann Miles (5:02:40); 2) Chan Kwok Lin Colly (6:03:28)