Down Under runners rank highly in HK100

Trail Run Mag Asia Editor, Rachel Jacqueline, reports in from the recent Vibram Hong Kong 100, where the Aussie and Kiwi contingent ranked well, and the Nepali runners showed they are a force to be reckoned with on the tail.

The Ultra Trail World Tour kicked off last week in Hong Kong with the Vibram HK 100 2014.  The Nepalese well and truly stamped their dominance among Hong Kong’s hills for a 1-2 finish from Tirtha Bahadur Tamang and Bed Bahadur Sunuwar.

In third was none other than the boy from Down Under, Vlad Ixel (below left), at home amongst the hilly terrain despite living in dead-flat Perth. Storming down the hill behind him and only seconds apart was Vajin Armstrong and Scotty Hawker, rounding out the top five – and making it a proud day for Aussies and Kiwis!

Photo 4_Vlad IxelAlthough a smoking course-record breaking day was expected, a combo of burn out, unseasonably hot weather and perhaps a little too much pollution combined to see a lot of carnage over of the course of the day. By half way, Claire Price, Lizzy Hawker and other Hong Kong elite, Olya Korzh, had all pulled out.

Interestingly, the three top Hong Kong male runners – Stone Tsang, Jeremy Ritcey and William Davies – were all a good twenty minutes off from last year’s time. Maybe a sign Hongkongers are having a little too much of a good thing with all the races that have popped up in the last year?

I (Rachel – Asia Ed.) caught up with The North Face’s Jez Brag  (10th) who gave a nice little summary of how the day played out from the front (while I was busy running somewhere a little further back!!!). Thanks Jez!

Photo 3_Bed Bahadur SunuwarIt was a fast start at the front, and the pace along the road to the dam at support point 1 was pretty smokey! Not too surprising given the depth of field, but it suggested there would be some casualties, which of course there were. I did my usual thing of running steadily and consistently throughout. I was with the leaders for the first couple of sections, but then continued a little more conservatively thereafter, to save some juice for the latter climbs. My climbing speed wasn’t really up to scratch hence I wasn’t quite able to mix it up with the lead guys, but that’s not something I’ve really focused on in training since UTMB, but I will start to more as the season gets going. I decided to approach this race in a fairly relaxed manner; it was a relatively short trip over, and running a course blind is never too easy.

The journey around the course was however amazing. Photo 1_StartI shared some spells with various guys, but a lot of it I spent on my own, with plenty of time to absorb the amazing views of the beaches, forests and city skyline. Oh, and lots of monkeys ready to swipe your gels given half the chance. I’m not sure there’s anywhere else in the world where you can experience such contrasts, so close to major world city. Watching the sun set over the city from the top of Tai Mo Shan 95 km in to the race (high point of the course at 957m) was a real highlight.

Photo 2_Champion, 1st Runner Up and 2nd Runner UpThe Hong Kong trails are also pretty unique under foot. I had heard what the course was like beforehand, but I think until you’ve actually seen all the steps and hard surfaces, it’s hard to imagine. It’s not necessarily a negative, it’s just how it is locally, but quite hard attack without practice. The main difficulty with the course is the fact the climbing is mostly back loaded – in the 2nd half – which is always going to be tough after a fast, flat, first half. I’m not going to lie, I had to dig deep for my performance, like many did I’m sure. It’s a tough race, no doubt, which the results only confirm.

I felt it was a really positive opening to the UTWT calendar. It needs time to develop and find it’s feet as a series, but in terms of promoting and developing world class trail courses around the globe, it was very fitting to open the show in Hong Kong. It was a competitive race with a classy international field, and certainly bodes well for the year ahead.

WomensAs far as race experiences go, the HK100 offers a lot more than you may first think. In the space of four days I met an amazing array of runners from all over the world, experienced incredible views of Hong Kong from all different angles and ran some epic sections of trail through seemingly remote, rural areas. Definitely a trip to remember.

Are you going to add the Vibram HK 100 to your race calender next year?

Read more about the race:

Click here for full results

Rachel’s preview & post race report here

Scotty Hawkers’ blog.

Top 10 Men

1.     Tirtha Bahadur Tamang (Nepal) 10:02:04

2.     Bed Bahadur Sunuwar (Nepal) 10:06:37

3.     Vlad Ixel (Australia) 10:11:53

4.     Vajin Armstrong (New Zealand) 10:18:29

5.     Scott Hawker (New Zealand) 10:18:56

6.     Ram Bhandari (Nepal) 10:19:35

7.     Shunsuke Okunomiya (Japan) 10:28:45

8.     Dave Mackey (USA) 10:36:46

9.     Tsang Siu Keung (Hong Kong) 10:40:08

10.Jez Bragg (Great Britain) 10:58:39

Top 10 Women

1.     Francesca Canepa (Italy) 12:59:19

2.     Chow Pui Yan (Hong Kong) 13:32:48

3.     Lo Ching Ling (Hong Kong) 13:55:34

4.     Nerea Martinez (Spain) 14:30:16

5.     Mathilde Heaton (France) 14:43:21

6.     Rachel Jacqueline (Australia) 14:44:19

7.     Leung Wan Yee (Hong Kong) 14:53:58

8.     Nora Senn (Switzerland) 15:06:39

9.     Chan Man Ha (Hong Kong) 15:23:51

10.Charlotte Luck (Great Britain) 15:26:06

New editors join Trail Run Mag

As The North Face 100 crowds gather atop the Blue Mountains under blue skies, tension mounts as everyone plays the schoolyard “I’m just out for a social run” game, knowing full well everyone will leave it all out on the trail come tomorrow’s TNF100 and 50km ‘fun run’, as it’s been affectionately dubbed.

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 9.36.12 PM

TRM’s new Asia Editor, Rachel Jacqueline runs in the Vibram 100 in Hong Kong. IMAGE: Vibram HK100 Kit Ng

But as Richard Bowles – he of the Te Araroa, BNT and of late Israel National Trail triumphs – says:  “We should never use the word ‘just’ .You’re not ‘just‘ doing the fifty kay. You’re DOING the fifty kay. Five, ten, fifty or one hundred – every run is an achievement.You’re never ‘just’ doing any of them. You DO them.”

Well, Trail Run Mag has two soldiers out to diesel their way through the century version of the TNF: co-publisher Adrian Bortignon is backing up his recent 100km at Northburn with another on home soil and our now roving editor Mal Law is roving, true to form in the 100km, too. The AU Ed, Chris Ord, is one of those sprouting ‘social run’ nomenclature in the fifty (and getting a spray for it). But we have another new Trail Run Mag trailite, one of two new members joining the Trail Run Mag editorial team, out on trail, this weekend.

Trail Run Mag will soon extend its coverage reach into the Asian region with the new appointment of an Asia Editor, while the sideways stepping of Mal Law to concentrate on bigger projects has seen the appointment of a new New Zealand editor.

Operating out of Hong Kong, Rachel Jacqueline, takes up editor responsibilities covering a region bigger than any other TRM editor. But one that is booming as much, if not more, in terms of the trail running action.

Jacqueline believes nothing is impossible. Be that running 100km, or the brutally harder challenge of making a living as an adventure writer. The latter she does for South East Asian media including the South China Morning Post; the former she ticked off the bucket list on home soil at the 2013 Vibram Hong Kong 100. Now she’s combined her two loves into one role: writing and trail running as the Asia Editor for Trail Run Mag, covering everything form her home city where trail and ultra events has proliferated, to keeping an eye on adventure and multiday outings and the characters who are out there running trails just for the sheer hell of it. When Rachel is not capturing the best of Asia’s trail stories, she can be found running on one of Hong Kong’s many trails with her dog, MacLehose.

“I’m super pumped to be running this weekend,” she says of her 50 outing, “And I look forward to being a part of Trail Run Mag team!”


TRM’s new NZ Editor Vicki Woolley, making her feelings about trail running very clear. Love it.

Meanwhile, Trail Run Mag has already stamped a dirty shoe on the New Zealand scene from our beginning more than two years ago, with trail Godfather Mal Law keeping the words and imagery from New Zealand flowing onto our pages. One of Mal’s running partners, and another who has great respect in the trail running community, is Vicki Woolley. As Mal steps down from ongoing coordination of New Zealand content (but has promised to keep flinging some words and imagery our way), Vicki takes up the reins, and with gusto.

“As newly-appointed Trail Run Mag NZ Editor, I have to do a bunch of stuff that I LOVE doing while pretending I’m “working”.  Stuff like… run around in wild, remote and rugged places.  Talk to people: those who live for challenge and adventure, those who are at the top of their game, those who are in it for the love (I LOVE talking!).  I get to do a little research into trail running from both scientific and spiritual perspectives (I LOVE research!!). And – the icing on the cake – I have to go home and write about all the fun stuff I’ve heard/seen/learned.”

“Don’t get me wrong – its not going to be easy: I’m stepping into very muddy, very tough, and very big shoes.  For the past two years Malcolm Law has added shape and flavour to TRM with his boundless enthusiasm for adventure, his pure love of the trail and enduring passion for encouraging people to take one step beyond their comfort threshold.  Mal always – always – sets the bar high: he and Chris have worked tirelessly to establish a point of focus for a sport that is experiencing a popularity explosion.  Going forward, my goal is to engage readers in an e-conversation via TRM, encouraging experience- and information-sharing, contributing to the building of an exciting, inspirational and adventurous trail running community.”

Trail Run Mag would like to publicly thank Mal Law for all his sweat, tears and possibly a bit of blood in being a cornerstone of building the title to what it is today. Quite simply, without Mal, Trail Run Mag does not exist. Thus we have reserved a lifetime of being shouted beer (or drinks of his choice) at the bar whenever with any of the TRM team (our version of a lifetime pension for hard yards put in), and an ongoing title of Roving Editor. Which really just means he does as and what he wants and flings us some stories and commentary every now and then, but we love him for it.

Thanks Mal. You are a doer. The best kind.

Speaking of doing…(without a ‘just’ in sight) Mal, Rach, Adrian and Chris have some doing to be done in the Blue Mountains. Vicki, alas, is holding fort in NZ where we believe she is, as always, out on trail.

Good luck to all those running both the TNF100 and the Wilsons Prom 100 this weekend, and in NZ, those running the Stephen Hill Te Mata Terrific Tui or the Xterra Auckland Trail Run Series race 1.