This weekend saw a rather huge weekend of racing over at the Tarawera ultras, which included races over 50km, 102km and the big one, the miler. While over in Hong Kong was the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge.
Lots of pre-race talk about some Aussie young guns going up against some of the more ‘established’ order of ultra running. And, in the end much of our race predictions came true.
The mens race in particular was a salivating line-up of some rather solid US runners, a couple of Aussie guns and the odd smattering of internationals. While the ladies race was perhaps little more predictable with Courtney Dauwalter headlining, winning in 9hrs 28mins, Australia’s Steph Auston made a real fist of it too for second place, finishing in 9hrs 49mins. In third place for the ladies was Angtlique Plaire in 10hrs 39mins.
The men’s race was explosive. We had pre-race Ballarat’s Ash Watson locked in as a strong favourite, but he unfortunately pulled from the race just past the midway point. That left it to Cody Reed and another Aussie gun runner, Reece Edwards to battle it out. With 14km to go, Reece, in his first 100km race blitzed past Cody to take out the win in a time of 8hrs 22mins. Cody finished second in 8hrs 29mins, while a strong finish from the UK’s Harry Jones saw him finish just 50 seconds behind Cody.
In the miler, much of the talk pre-race was on superstar Camille Herron. Despite there officially being two races, people do naturally talk about an ‘overall’ win, which technically doesn’t exist. However, my preferred view would be to talk about the fastest time of the day.
In the end however it was a moot point. Camille won the ladies race with ease in 17hrs 20mins, while Jeff Browning also won the men’s race at a canter in 16hrs 18mins. Massive pat on the back to South Island legend, Grant Guise for grabbing second place, and a 100 mile pb in a time of 19hrs 24mins. It just goes to show that if you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything!
Second place in the ladies went to Katie Wright in 23hrs 43mins and third was Lesley Park in 24hrs 7mins. Third place for the men went to Akio Ueno in 19hrs 51mins.
In the 50km, the ladies race was won by Mel Aitken in 4hrs 58mins, while for the men Gene Beveridge won in 4hrs 18mins. Second in the ladies was Anja Neumann in 5hrs 1mins and third Amanda Basham in 5hrs 3mins.
For the men, second went to Sam Clark in 4hrs 30mins, while just 23 seconds behind him was Vlad Ixel.
Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge
The race, now infamous for founder, Andre Blumberg’s opening line of ‘Are you mad?’ You certainly have to be to take on this beast. 298kms of Hong Kong’s finest four trails in under 60 hours is the goal. Crack sub 75hrs and you’re dubbed a ‘survivor’.
The challenge was memorable for two things this year. First, was the first ever woman finisher i.e. running under the 60 time limit. Nikki Han a British, Hong Kong resident completed the course in 58hrs 20mins.
The second memorable moment was the outstanding effort by quickest person over the two and a bit days, Kristian Joergensen. He ran the course in 55hrs 52mins, but struggled with some severe chaffing from pretty much day one. Kristian, as he took to social media to tell us, got a little friendly with his razor blade ‘down under’. Any one who’s done that a few days prior to a race will understand the pain and suffering that goes on down there 🙂 Well done Kristian for toughing it out!
Not to be outdone however, there was a third and final finisher this year with Tomokazu Ihara of Japan recording an excellent time of 57hrs 42mins.
There were also six ‘survivors’:
Abimanyu Shunmugam, Singapore, 63:03
Lau Chun Man, Hong Kong, 65:26
Chris Kwan Yee Ting 關綺婷, Hong Kong, 66:10
Leon Jiang Liang Jun 蒋良君, China, 66:52
Habiba Benahmed, France (based in Hong Kong), 68:54
Knattapisit Krutkrongchai ณัฐพิสิษฐ์ ครุฑครองชัย, Thailand (based in Hong Kong), 73:28
Congratulations all who finished, survived or even attempted this beast.