This weekend sees one of Asia’s premier races take place, the Hong Kong 100 and it comes with a pretty star-studded line up of some of Asia’s best runners toe’ing the start line come Saturday morning. The HK100 really is a race of two halves. The first is relatively flat with a mix of concrete (or bitumen as we say in Oz) and single track, while the second half is packed full of hills and stairs. Ryan Sandes, a man well-known to the ultra running crowd of Australia is the course record holder here, clocking a speedy 9hrs 54mins, while UK ex-pat and all round big smiler, Claire Price holds the ladies record with a time of 11hrs 58mins.
So who’s in the running for the prizes this weekend? For the ladies, we pick out three of the leading contenders and the news that Claire Price is one again lining up following her TNF100 win in Hong Kong just over a month ago. She also won the TransLantau 50 back in 2014 and is ever a solid and consistent performer. She had to pull from last year’s race, but given her record at this race and locally in Hong Kong, it’s hard to not see her pick up the line honours again.
She will however be chased hard by two Italian ladies. 2014 winner, Francesca Canepa and Lisa Borzani. Starting with Francesca, whom had a strong last twelve months of racing. She finished second at the 2014 Trans GranCanaria, second at the 2014 Lavaredo Ultra Trail, and a win at the 2014 Eiger Ultra Trail. It really should be some close competition between these two up front.
Lisa will have something to say about that however and has equally had an immense year, winning seven of the 14 races she entered in 2014. She also had a very credible second place at the Tor des Geants. She’s battle-hardened and I think could be a dark horse for the title here given her mountain experience which will come into play in the second half of this race. Watch out also for Dong Li from China who won the MSIG Lantau 88k last month.
In the mens we feel it’s all about the Nepalese runners. First and second placed runners from the 2014 race, Tirtha Bahadur Tamang and Bed Bahadur Sunuwar are back again for the 2015 edition. This year, Tirtha won the 2014 Dali 100k in China while Bed took first in the Dali 50km. It could be anyone’s guess which of these will finish in front of the other.
From the US, Dave James is a big name that sticks out, although he’s been severely injury prone the last few years. But that won’t stop a man of Dave’s calibre, a guy who won back to back USATF 100-Mile Trail National Championships in 2011 and 2012. If fit and on form, Dave is a serious contender.
There’s also a good splattering of Japanese runners taking the field, with Yoshikazu Hara perhaps the best known. Hara is an athlete of unquestionable quality, coming off the back of a massive 288kms in 24hrs at Soochow/Taipei 24-Hour Ultra. Shunsuke Okunomiya finished seventh in this race last year and is another to keep an eye on for a potential podium.
For the Aussie’s, perhaps our best-known athlete is Hong Kong based runner Vlad Ixel, whom you’d think would be right in the running for a podium or potential win at this race, given his history here. However seeing a picture on Facebook of Vlad’s ankle yesterday, I’m not so sure the guy will be even starting. That said, if he toe’s the line, you know he’ll be giving it 100%.
Then there are two very talented runners from Western Australia in James Roberts and Thomas Bakowski. Both should feature among the top ten I would have thought and it will be great to see them pitch their wares against some of the high calibre international talent this weekend.
Norway’s Sondre Amdahl is a very talented runner, probably best known to Aussie runners as the guy Andrew Tuckey held off at UTMB for sixth place. Sondre had a great 2014, finishing sixth at Trans GranCanaria and is a real podium shout for this event if the Nepalese go off like headless chickens in the first half of the race.
As you might expect for a race on the UTWT, France brings a good contingent of quality runners, listing Cyril Cointre, Antoine Guillon, and Christophe Le Saux among the start line for Saturday morning.
That sums up the quick fire who’s who of the HK100 this weekend. Our picks our Claire Price in the ladies and the Nepalese runners taking out all before them, but whom will finish first from them is up for grabs!