OXFAM TrailWalker – HONG KONG Race Preview – Team Salomon France Interview

This weekend sees the running of the annual OXFAM TrailWalker in Hong Kong, and while most participants aim to walk and jog to the finish for the last few years a number of gun teams have chased the podiums and fastest time. This time round we see a real opportunity for records to tumble as Salomon France have pulled together an all star team to have a crack at the course record and The North Face have also assembled some incredible talent (interview with TNF team to follow)

Our team on the ground has been capturing the atmosphere as this event has suddenly grabbed attention all round the world as elite teams rarely target these types of races for a number of reasons including the logistics of bring 4 runners together.

Lloyd Belcher, a local trail runner and photographer/film maker is writing for ultra168 and caught up with the team before this weekend to ascertain their chances:

Team Salomon France – Andy Symonds, Julien Chorier, Francois D’haene, Michel Lanne – image courtesy of Lloyd Belcher
Salomon France Team Media Conference with Andy Symonds, Julien Chorier, Francois D’Haene and Michel Lanne
1. What do you know about the course?

Andy Symonds: “To be honest, before today we knew very little about the course. We knew it was 100km and we knew how much climbing was involved and that it was next to Hong Kong. What was quite amazing for us today was that we were in a taxi for 40 minutes and then we were in nature. Then we come back here and it’s just these massive buildings so it’s a big shock but it’s amazing that you can be so close to nature in a big city. This morning we spent 2 or 3 hours running along some part of the trail and we discovered that it was really nice trail with nice views, lovely beaches and nice noodles afterwards.”

2. What does your training involve for the trailwalker?

Michel Lanne: “It is the end of the year so we are a little bit tired. We have many, many kilometres in the legs. For each of us, we have ran many different types of races. For Andy and me, it is a little bit shorter than Julien and Francois but the preperation has involved many, many hours and we shall see.”

3. So what time are you predicting for the Trailwalker ?
François D’Haene: “It’s a difficult question because we have only run little parts of the trail today. But we know that Ryan Sandes won a similar race at the beginning of the year in just under 10 hours and that’s why we think that it is the end of the year and as a team race we think it is very competitive because everybody can be tired at any moment. We think if we can put around 11 hours then it would be a very good time. We don;t want to take a lot of risks at the beginning of the race because if we go too fast then one or two runners may be too tired at the end. That’s why I think if we don;t take the risks then the run will be very good.”

4. Who do you see as your biggest competitors/rivals?
Julien Chorier: : “It’s a very difficult question too because we don;t know all the competitors. We know the past years that the Chinese army team wins the race. We think they are a very good team and I see that this year that two teams: North Face and the Chinese Army will be very good competitors. Maybe there are other good teams but we don;t know. We will start the race slowly and then see later in the race but we don’t know”

5. What do you concentrate in terms of team work?

Andy Symonds: “To be honest, we don’t live very close to each other in France so it’s quite rare that we run together and we never do races like this. I think it is very good to do a race like this together especially at the end of the season. For me it’s a long race so it’s really nice to share it and make the time pass easier. It also means that if one or two of us are struggling then we can just help each other mentally and give each other a little push. For me it’s unfortunate there aren;t more races where you can run as a team because it’s a nice way to share the experience.”

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7 thoughts on “OXFAM TrailWalker – HONG KONG Race Preview – Team Salomon France Interview

  1. The PLA record is just under 12 hours for this Trailwalker course. Ryan Sandes sub 10 hour record was for the Vibram Hong Kong 100 which shares the majority of the same route. It will be interesting to see how close to the 11 hour mark this North face team will do. My pick to watch is Team 2XU with Eric Lahaie, Dan Parr as past Racing the planet winners and team mate Peter Lee podium in Racing the planet Jordan this year. Peter has completed trailwalker 14 times . All four members have completed it at least twice and are local runners.

  2. This year’s OTW will indeed be epic with many strong teams participating and, thus far, a favourable weather forecast with 21 – 24 C and slight chance of rain. Salomon France, Salomon Hong Kong, North Face team (including Tsuyoshi Kaburaki), the Nepalese team (including HK100 podium finisher) are all likely to feature in the Top 5. China’s Army (PLA) is not registered at this stage, unless they make a surprise appearance. The current course record is around 11:58 if I recall correctly, that record will fall. Sub-11 will be a stretch but possible. I don’t think sub-10 is a possibility. We need to remember it’s a team event and the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. We have seen significant improvement in times at this year’s HK100, so in general we will likely see many more teams that finish in under e.g. 16hrs. I’ve spent some time with the French team yesterday and they certainly are relaxed about it and enjoying their time in Hong Kong. Julien Chorier is considering to make an appearance at the new Lantau 100k on 16 March 2013. Overall great promotion for Hong Kong’s great trails.

  3. Also a very good chance of the woman’s record falling with Kami Semick, Claire Price, Janet Ng and Jeanette Holmes Thomson running as team S38 the ‘Blister Sisters’. It will be a very interesting race.

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