Ringing in the Chinese New Year of the Dog, the 7th edition of the renowned annual Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC) will be held from 16 – 18 February 2018. The 298km trail ultra marathon consists of running each of the four long distance trails in Hong Kong, namely the Maclehose trail (100km), the Wilson trail (78km), the Hong Kong trail (50km) and the Lantau trail (70km) in a single, non-stop effort. This year there’s some serious challenges to the crown of the first woman to finish the challenge, namely Aussies Meredith Quinlan and Tamyka Bell.
For those of you who don’t Meredith, I’ve had the privilege of spending many hours on the trail with her over the years and she’s made of nails. Indeed, our nickname for Meredith was just that, nails. by her own admission, she’s not the quickest runner out there if we’re talking pure speed, but she has such wily determination to finish these massive events. For a bit of background, Meredith is an Aussie 24hr track rep, who won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth 24hour track championships back in 2011. She’a also a former winner of the Great North Walk 100km as well as finishing second, twice in the miler there too.
Also running for the Aussies is Queenslander, Tamyka Bell, also known for her passion for the stupidly long stuff. She’s completed an equally crazy amount of longer races, with the Alpine 100 miler ranking as one of her favourites, along with a couple of 48hr races to boot as well. Both ladies have what it takes to push through the 298kms of trail, the question will be weather or not they come under the 60hr time limit to be regarded as ‘finishers’.
“2018 will be the breakout year for female athletes and we expect nine women to start, and hopefully many to complete the distance, a feat only accomplished by two women over the past several years” according to Andre Blumberg, Founder of HK4TUC.
Runners must be self-sufficient along each of the four trails which feature a cumulative elevation gain of approximately 14,500 meters. Trails are to be run in reverse of the normal direction and there is no course marking for the event. There are also no aid stations and no outside support such as pacers or crew are permitted on the trails. Participants can have support on the sections and for transport between the four trails whilst the event clock keeps ticking non-stop. “The HK4TUC is a low key, extremely difficult event that requires an elevated level of hardship and endurance.
Self-reliance, determination, navigation skills and dealing with sleep deprivation are the focus of the Challenge. The essence of the HK4TUC is about you and you alone in your battle with the trails over a very long, sustained period” outlines Blumberg. “This is not a competition, there are no prizes, no medals and no rankings.”
Participants who complete the course within 60 hours are declared Finishers, and those who complete within 75 hours (the final cut-off time) are declared Survivors. There have only been four finishers in the history of the Challenge which was first held in 2012. Nine former participants are returning this year including one finisher and two survivors. HK4TUC became widely recognised internationally through the documentary Breaking 60 which features four of the participants in the 2017 challenge (see www.breaking-60.com). The film has been touring the world due to its selection in multiple film festivals including the famous Banff Mountain Film Festival where is was awarded as a finalist.
The Challenge starts on the first day of Chinese New Year, Friday 16 February 2018 at 8:00 in Tuen Mun and finishes at the green post box at the Mui Wo ferry pier on Lantau island on Sunday, 18 February at 20:00. Participants must kiss the green post box to designate the completion of their journey. Each runner will be equipped with a modern GPS location tracker and their progress throughout the Challenge can be followed on a live map at www.bit.ly/18HK4TUC. Furthermore, acclaimed sports photographer Lloyd Belcher of www.lloydbelchervisuals.com will cover the event with images being uploaded to www.HK4TUC.com live throughout the Challenge.