Taipo Mountain Marathon Report, 26 November 2006
26 November 2006. Drizzle turning to sunny with temperatures between 22-27 degrees.
(Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong)
Fire Services Assert Hill Dominance
It started as a cold, rainy morning, but ended up a steamy sunbath. This weather combined with wet, slippery conditions underfoot led to generally slower times this year and several under-prepared runners pilfering the water supplies of the slower runners (more on this below). Of course, these conditions were no impediment to this year's second place Trailwalker team, the Fire Services.
A team that finishes second in Trailwalker in hot weather in less than 13 hours - like the Fire Services Team did this year - is unlikely to be fazed by tough conditions and, sure enough, they dominated on this day. Tsang Siu Keung was first across the line, chased the entire way by his teammate Wong Ka Wai who was never more than 2 minutes behind. Patrick Li, a visiting 2:30-something marathoner from Beijing managed third and was duly impressed by the relentless pace our firemen set.
Cosmo Boy Law Chor Kin finished 4th, before Fong Ming Fai, another Fire Service Team Member and the first MV-40+ crossed the line.
The MV-45+ category came down to a sprint finish across the Plover Cove Dam. Ex-Cosmo Boy and current Powerbar Dude, Li Cheuk Ming finally had the better of it to edge out Cosmo Boy Chan Kwok Keung. Another former Cosmo Boy, Mak Ping Yin, was third, just behind the other two.
The MV-55+ race looked very much like that of year's past with Bob Whitehead besting Lam Ngok Kam with newcomer Leung Kam Yuen third. This category is just waiting for someone to grow up and give Bob a run for his money.
Ann Miles not only won the female veteran division, she won the female race outright and became the only full marathoner to set an age or category record on the day, shaving one full minute off of her time the previous year. Nice way to give yourself a 50th birthday present Ann! Monica Ng and Carolyn Kng pushed the pace early, but were unable to match Ann on the downhill and finished second and third in the age category respectively.
Melissa Lo returned to the full marathons after several years' hiatus and was rewarded with first in the female open category and second overall for her efforts. Cheng Yuk and Ma Yan Wah were second and third respectively.
The rain the previous week effectively killed any chance of a half marathon course record as the downhill from Sheung Yung Feng to the finish was extremely slippery and probably took 5 minutes longer on average than in previous years. Add on the heat and humidity and John Power's 1:49 winning time looks extremely impressive. John was on this year's third place Trailwalker team, but clearly excels over the shorter distances. Adrian King came in second which was a good thing since he had a 1:15 PM flight to catch, while Gary Mandy, who had just gotten off a flight a day earlier, was third.
Peter Northam led a veteran's assault that resulted in his taking 4th overall (MV-40+ first), Rob James 5th overall (MV-40+ second) and Andy Thomson 6th overall (MV-40+ third). Not just older, but better!
Leung Ping (MV-45+ first) was next in, besting the previous age group record by 6 seconds in the process. In fact, the MV-45+ers also acquitted themselves quite well with Choi Fu Loi (MV-45+ second) and Derek Irwin (MV-45+ third) also coming in the top 14 overall.
Peter Wong Chung Tong was happy not to have Crhis Wadlaw there and once again claimed the MV-55+ title. Former AVOHK Trailwalker teammate Antony Wood was second, followed by Bob Nipperress.
Jeannette Holmes-Thomson continued her run of good form that began with South China KOTH in August to win the women's open race. Lucy Marriott was second, followed by Rita Hanninen.
Louise Dorman led a strong lady's vets contingent that also included Jane Ford and Rowena Berroya.
There were 2 other items worth bringing up for discussion within our trail running community. The first was the incidence of faster runners taking more than their allotment of water from the checkpoints. This resulted in there not being enough water leftover for the slower runners. If these checkpoints were road serviced, this would not be a problem and the onus would be on the organizer to ensure enough water during the race. However, 3 of the checkpoints on the Taipo course are completely remote and all the water has to be hiked in ahead of the race. Needless to say, this is not easy.
In the early days of King of the Hills, everyone wore Camelbaks and was largely responsible for their own water requirements. We have tried to make it easier to get by carrying less weight by setting up additional water stops. However, this water is intended for all the racers who need it - equally - not just those at the front. In the pre-race briefing, the amount of water available at each water stop was clearly stated so it is a bit disappointing to learn that some runners took 3-4 bottles of water for themselves at the remote checkpoints while others got none at all as a result. KOTH does take place in quite remote territory and runners do need to think about and manage their water requirements during the race.
The second item is that we found several numbered Powergel wrappers on the trail. We will be contacting the individuals whose numbers correspond to these gels as littering will not be tolerated on KOTH races.
On a more positive note, many thanks to everyone who helped with our recycling efforts and who disposed of their litter properly. It was also great to see such a huge turn out and participation on day that started with rain and finished with steamy sunshine.
The second race in the series takes place on 17 December in Sai Kung Country Park and features a fast and popular half marathon course and a re-designed full marathon course. If you ever wanted to set a course record this may be your best chance (further details available on www.seyonasia.com).
Half Marathon Results:
MO: 1) John Power (1:49:31); 2) Adrian King (1:52:41); 3) Gary Mandy (1:54:43)
MV-40: 1) Peter Northam (1:54:44); 2) Rob James (1:56:31); 3) Andrew Thomson (1:56:49)
MV-45: 1) Leung Ping (2:00:27); 2) Choi Fu Loi (2:03:24); 3) Derek Irwin (2:05:03)
MV-55: 1) Wong Peter Chung Tung (2:16:16); 2) Antony Wood (2:51:25) 3) Bob Nipperess (2:56:47)
FO: 1) Jeanette Holmes-Thomson (2:06:57); 2) Lucy Marriott (2:24:25); 3) Rita Hanninen(2:26:29)
FV-40: 1) Louise Dorman (3:01:02); 2) Jane Ford (3:06:27); 3) Rowena Berroya (3:16:37)
Full Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Tsang Siu Keung (3:35:34); 2) Wong Ka Wai, (3:37:24); 3) Patrick Li (3:50:24)
MV-40: 1) Fong Ming Fai (4:06#7); 2) Wong Tsun Yin (4:4431); 3) John McKinven (4:53:22)
MV-45: 1) Li Cheuk Ming (4:28:10); 2) Chan Kwok Keung (4:28:26) Mak Ping Yin (4:35:30)
MV-55: 1) Bob Whitehead (4:51:43);2) Lam Ngok Kam (5:18:35); 3) Leung Kam Yuen (5:36:10)
FO: 1) Melissa Lo (5:18:53); 2) Cheng Yuk (5:51:53); 3) Ma Yan Wah (6:20:20)
FV-40: 1) Ann Miles (5:01:11); 2) Monica Ng (5:41:08); 3) Carolyn Kng (5:47:51)