Taipo Mountain Marathon Report, Dec 16, 2007
16 December 2007. Sunny and breezy with temperatures between 22-27C.
(Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong)
Great Turnout on a Packed Weekend
The list of events this weekend included the Hong Kong 15 km, the Kadoorie Farm Race, the Mountain and Stream Race, and, of course, the KOTH Taipo Mountain Marathon. Oh, and just to really pack the weekend, Action Asia decided to move their race from the second weekend in December that they have traditionally laid claim to, to the third weekend in December. Despite all the races to choose from, we were delighted to see 250 or so turnout for one of the toughest races in Hong Kong’s longest running off road racing series.
Full Marathon – Introducing the Lai Chi Wo 2007 Course Variation
We were shocked this past summer to learn that AFCD would not grant a permit for the usual course route around Plover Cove Reservoir. After all, we’ve raced this route since 1984 without incident.
Their excuse was that racers would disturb their grass replanting efforts on eroded slopes. This made sense to us until we learned that the route would only be closed to races, not hikers in hard soled boots, carrying large backpacks and torsion sticks and walking over the same ground everyday throughout the year.
However, AFCD’s bureaucracy proved impenetrable so we had to find a new route. Luckily, the terrain north of Plover Cove is also gorgeous and it has the added benefit of going through some of the most beautiful historic villages remaining in Hong Kong. Still, we were nervous about replacing a classic route and waited a bit anxiously for the racers to return with their verdict.
First across the line was William Davies who pronounced himself delighted with the new course – particularly the flat section following the relentless first half. William widened his lead considerably on the flat section to Lai Chi Wo and then held on to win comfortably and with enough energy to sprint the uphill stair finish. In a post race interview, William humbly thanked Stone for not competing.
Cosmo Boy Law Chor Kin finished second with a fine effort that included the fastest split time on the final section from Kuk Po back to Bride’s Pool. Peter Lee was third overall and the second member to finish from this year’s Bonaqua Trailwalker Team.
Predictably, a flood of super M-45’s followed. KK Chan abandoned his usual strategy of starting slowly and charged from the get go to comfortably beat fellow age group stalwarts Li Cheuk Ming and Chan See Kau into 5th and 6th place respectively overall.
Rob James finished 7th, was the first M-40 to finish and the third member of the Bonaqua Trailwalker Team to cross the line. It would be 22 minutes before another M40, Steve Harris crossed the line and 5 more minutes before the 3rd place M40, Tim Hallworth, crossed the line in the heartbreaking time of 5:00:01. (Editor’s note: Tim, we know you have those 2 seconds in you, just keep training for next year.)
While waiting for the second M40 runner, several more open runners, another M45, Wong Tze Wan, and the first M50 runner, Ho Hon Ming, all crossed the line. Ho has spent more time running on the trails of HK than almost anyone we know so when he gave the new course the thumbs up, we were quite pleased. Only a couple minutes behind Ho in the M50 category was Li Wai Leung, followed by Ho Ping Kun.
In the M55 category, everyone’s ambition is to beat Whitehead. This proved easy to do this time since he wasn’t in the race, but the satisfaction remains. Tom Walker teamed with Whitehead on the Action Asia race the day before to form one of the oldest teams on the planet. While Bob skipped KOTH, Tom however, had the energy to race and win the M55 age category in Taipo. Second place went to Yeung Wing Kai who is actually over 60, but races like he’s only 55. Fellow M55 Li Ping Lung finished third, less than a minute back.
Cosmo Girl Ida Lee cruised to an easy victory in the women’s race. Ida completed Trailwalker in 14:08 this year, setting a mixed team record in the process. Our 36 km Taipo course was probably a bit too short for her, but she enjoyed herself none the less.
Second place went to F40 Maggie Ma Yan Wah in quite a strong time. She was followed in order by fellow vets Carolyn Kng, Chun Luen Lai and Lui Chi Ho in a very good showing by the mature runners. Jane Mason and Debera Yu took home the remaining prizes in the younger category.
Half Marathon- That Cruel Last Hill
By all rights, Jeremy Ritchey should have had the race won. He reached the top of the last hill with a comfortable lead and only 2.5 km to go. However, Jan Littlewood ran a lights out, kamikaze final downhill and passed Jeremy shortly before the finish line to win the race. Such is the cruelty of trail running – Technique and sometimes share courage can win out over aerobic capacity.
Everyone was shocked to see Stone Tsang finishing third. He had won the previous day’s adventure race and had a cold. However, in previous years he would have raced the full marathon and injured himself. This time, he hesitated briefly and then wisely chose to live with third in the half marathon, making Jeremy and Jan part of a very exclusive group of HK runners who have beaten Stone on a trail running race the past couple of years.
M40 Tim McCosker was 4th across the line and first in his age category, followed closely by M45 Leung Ping. Open category newcomer Stefano Passarello was next, followed by the second M40, Anthony Davies and the second M45 Yip Kam Shu. Peter Faarbaek and Phil Ward filled the final places on the podium for these age categories respectively.
Chris Wardlaw won the M55 category again, but lamented at how many people passed him on the final downhill. If you look at Chris’ splits, he’s still just about the fastest person in the race uphill, but definitely gives a lot of time back on the technical down hills.
Wong Peter Chun Tong was second in the category again with Cho Yan Kwong nipping at his heels.
Lucy Marriott once again stormed to a dominating victory in the female division. However, as she crossed the line, the first thing she said was that she had missed the female course record by a couple of minutes. Chiaki Fjelldahl remains the only woman to have broken 2 hours on the KOTH Taipo Half Marathon.
Katharine Lee finished second despite attending a big wedding party the night before, with Rosanna Wan third.
Roushana Sjahsam is enjoying life as a veteran, winning in 2:38:10. Joey-Lynn Musselman was her closest pursuer, followed by fellow hasher Joanne Vonlanthen.
The third race in the series takes place on 6th January on Lantau and features a fast and popular half marathon course and a truly testing full marathon course (further details available on www.seyonasia.com).
Half Marathon Results:
MO: 1) Jan Littlewood (1:45:37); 2) Jeremy Ritchey (1:45:51); 3) Tsang Siu Keung (1:48:01)
MV-40: 1) Tim McCosker (1:49:59); 2) Anthony Davies (1:53:13); 3) Peter Faarbaek (1:57:34)
MV-45: 1) Leung Ping (1:50:26); 2) Yip Kam Shu (1:54:39); 3) Phil Ward (2:02:53)
MV-50: 1) Tsang Sing You, (2:06:39); 2) Wan Wai Hong, (2:32:53); 3) Cheung Yat Sing, (2:36:45)
MV-55: 1) Chris Wardlaw, (1:59:29); 2) Wong Peter Chung Tung (2:11:46); 3) Cho Yan Kwong (2:13:43)
FO: 1) Lucy Marriott (2:00:56); 2) Lee Ming Sze, (2:28:19); 3) Rosanna Wan, 2:30:54
FV-40: 1) Roushana Sjahsam, (2:38:10); 2) Joey-Lynn Musselman, (2:49:37); 3) Joanne Vonlanthen, (2:556:47)
Full Marathon Results:
MO: 1) William Davies (3:47:32); 2) Law Chor Kin, (3:55:53); 3) Peter Lee (4:05:03)
MV-40: 1) Rob James, (4:23:30); 2) Steve Harris (4:55:11); 3) Tim Hallworth (5:00:01)
MV-45: 1) Chan Kwok Keung (4:15:03); 2) Li Cheuk Ming, 4:22:34); 3) Chan See Kau (4:22:45)
MV-50: 1) Ho Hon Ming, (4:55:02); 2) Li Wai Leung, (4:57:07); 3) Ho Ping Kun, (5:17:54)
MV-55: 1) Tom Walker, (5:12:18); 2) Yeung Wing Kai (5:33:54); 3) Li Ping Lung (5:34:30)
FO: 1) Lee Bik Sai, Ida (4:55:47); 2) Jane Mason (6:14:20); 3) Debara Yu (6:57:56)
FV-40: 1) Ma Yan Wah, (5:23:48); 2) Carolyn Kng (5:48:16); 3) Chuan Luen Lai (5:49:05)