It was a big weekend of running over in the Eastern part of the world. So much so, quite a few in the Western world decided it was worth staying up all night for/making the big trip over here to report on the race. The great news is that running in Asia and down under is booming, and even more so is the fact that our runners can compete on a level playing field with some of the best in the business. China and Nepal are producing some fine runners right now, while Ruby Muir proved that she is probably a leap or two ahead of most women in Australia and New Zealand with a fine performance at Tarawera. For me the performance of the weekend to beat Nuria Picas, regardless of whether she trained or not. You turn up to race, you’re in the game – no excuses.
And we’ll start with a quick wrap of Tarawera, which saw both the mens and ladies records smashed to bits. As mentioned, Ruby ran a breathtaking 9:02 to beat the old course record by a staggering 85 minutes. Ruby had a fantastic tussle with fellow Kiwi, Ruth Croft who is based out of Taiwan. Ruth caught up to Ruby in the latter stages of the race, only for Ruby to surge ahead and put 12 minutes into Ruth in the final few kilometres. Given all of Ruby’s recent injury woes, this whacks her straight back onto the map, as it does Ruth Croft who is a name to keep a close eye on now. Spanish legend Nuria Picas came in third to round out the podium.
In the mens race, our pre-race favourite, Yun Yan-Qiao of China led out from the start but couldn’t keep the ferocious pace, dropping around the 60km mark. That’s when Dylan Bowman took control and smashed a new course record by 45 mins in a time of 7:45. In all fairness, this race is made for made for the flatlanders and speedsters of trail running, particularly with a very flat last 40kms. That’s where Jorge Maravilla came into his own for a very good second place, with Japanese favourite Yoshikazu Hara rounding out the podium for a well-paced third place.
Over in Hong Kong, an equally star-studded line up came together for the MSIG 50km Ultra, billed as the Asian Skyrunning championships. There’s a 26km and 50km race, with some quality runners lining up in the 26kms race. See our preview here. Dave Byrne flew the flag for Australia with a very credible fifth place in a stacked field, although I’m sure he’ll be wanting better than that.
In the 50kms, Nepalese runner Samir Tamang blitzed the mens field by over thirteen minutes to take the title, while his fellow compatriot, Mira Rai smoked the ladies field to win by over twenty minutes from Chinese runner, Dong Li. For the Aussies, Blake Hose showed his class and huge potential to finish just off the podium in fourth in a time of 5:18, while a few of our other Aussie boys fell a little bit by the wayside writing cheques their bodies couldn’t cash. Blake ran a cracking race and along with Ben Duffus, these two are the future of Aussie mens trail running, along with a certain Scotty Hawker whom I think is going to have a great year if he remains injury free.
Then finally down at Cradle Mountain, the race that every man and his dog wants to get into, but there are only 60-odd spots, Stu Gibson and Gill Fowler took the honours by some distance from their nearest rivals. In fact Gill finished second overall, again showing her class over the really technical stuff and the strength she has from her rogaining background.
For Stu, this race is a good precursor for Six Foot Track where he’ll be up against the likes of Andrew Tuckey, Mark Green, Alex Matthews and Tony Fattorini. There could be one or two late additions to that list depending on which princesses decide to make a late call to run, but right now, my money is on Stu.
That provides a quick wrap of the weekend’s running, it’s been a great start to the year and there’s plenty more racing to come!