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

Hong Kong 100 to get Rammed

One thing about the trail running community: they (you) are a pretty spirited and, usually, community minded bunch. There’s appreciation of fellow trailites, pointy end or back of pack, mutual respect, and while competition and the will to win comes into play for some (but not all) of us, at the end of the day the A-types and the But I just love to run trail types have something in common: a love of running wild.

Yet some of us – and no matter where in the world you are, you will find ‘us’ running trails, locals and travellers alike – are less equipped to reach for our dreams beyond our backyard bush.

Like Ram & Ram. They need a little hand. This weekend. Now.

And here I turn over to Trail Running Nepal’s missive put out today. Lend that hand if you can.

From desk of Trail Running Nepal:


(The photograph below) looks like a holiday photo, but it is just a normal day in Kathmandu with two extraordinarily talented runners hanging out at a backstreet stupa.

ram_and_ram_in_kathmanduThey’re running at the Vibram Hong Kong 100km race this Saturday. We want to help them with their travel costs. For these Nepali runners, travelling to Hong Kong is damned expensive and there is no prize money in this event to gamble on covering it.

Please read on …

Last week I (Richard Bull) met up with two Rams, two of four Nepali runners heading to Hong Kong this weekend for the fourth Vibram 100km race.

Ram Kumar Khatri, 27, and Ram Bhandari, 30, are both from the Nepal Army Club and hope to fill two of the top spots on the podium.

We went to a local Buddhist / Hindu concoction of temples to sit out of the way of traffic and general city noise and talk about their upcoming trip.

Both seem confident, speculating that one of them will be second and the other in first place, though both are aware that it will be excruciatingly hard work to win. “We will only know when we’re over there who is the danger,” says Khatri. He was captain of the team that set a new Trailwalker record last November, so perhaps has right to be a little bit confident.

The first issue they have is cash, an all too common problem in Nepal, specifically for the flights. Dragon Air in Kathmandu is in its third year of helping out with flights for runners to travel to Hong Kong. Without their help the small band of Nepali runners would probably not have taken Hong Kong’s big races by storm. But the tax needs to be paid on the tickets and that’s approximately US$800 they have to pay. (Heads up readers, we’re going to ask for a donation in a moment!)

ram_and_pam_and_pigeonsIn Nepal where professional salary starts around $150 per month, and with inflation somewhere around 12%, it’d be a year of saving to afford the tax on the ticket. Both attended Kathmandu Ultra Trail’s short 11km event last Saturday for a taper run (1,1oom climb!), which won Khatri two well-used 1000 Rupee notes, about US$20 which was a not great deal of help.

It’s a pretty crappy situation that two hot contenders for the podium have to beg for money just to get there, but so it goes.  See Trail Run Mag Asia Editor Rachel Jacqueline‘s article on pre-race contenders HERE.

OK, that’s enough for the email. Please read on and find out why they don’t eat GU and how they fly through pigeons here:

Or jump in a make a donation HERE

If we have 80 people donate $10 then the cost of flights a few GUs will be covered. The generous race organizers and Nepali residents in Hong Kong will cover the accommodation and dal bhat.

And if you donate, you’ll have an interest in the race on Saturday! Exciting!

With sincere thanks on behalf of the Two Rams.”