Congrats to everyone that ran the TransLantau last weekend. It’s a brute of a course and Race Director Clement Dumont clearly enjoys inflicting pain - as well as some stunning views and beautiful trail - so just finishing the race, whether it was the 15, 25, 50 or 100, makes you a winner.
We spoke to some of the TransLantau champions to see what tips they had to offer us mere mortals.
TransLantau 50 – Men’s winner Justin Andrews
Photo credit: Daniel Chung
In the 50km, American Justin Andrews showed his class with a start-to-finish win in 5:42:31, a massive improvement from last year’s detour-affected 8th place and 6:38:32.
Gone Running: So Justin, kudos on the win. What did you learn from last year?
Justin: I learned that it pays well to take it easy early on. But when it's flat or runnable, you’d better be running. For uphills and stairs, power-hiking is the way to go for sure. Running uphill, especially up stairs, is almost always a bad idea unless you're an especially strong climber. I honestly didn't run anything uphill that was longer than 30 meters.
Gone Running: What about downhills? What was your strategy there?
Justin: Though trail erosion is a valid concern, I tried to stay off the stairs as much as possible when there was the option of a sloped dirt path, saving energy and less pounding on the descents.
Gone Running: Did you have an overall race strategy?
Justin: I kept it relaxed through to CP2 (Pak Mong village) then pushed hard up Sunset Peak to open up a gap on some runners. I slowed down on the stairs down to CP3 (Pak Kung Au) to save my legs because being able to run that 10km from CP3-4 is invaluable. I have run 1:12 for a half marathon, so I have the ability to run the flats with most other top guys.
Gone Running: Were there any low points?
Justin: That last 5km was harder than I wanted it to be, but I found that when I was able to pass other runners from the 15, 25 and 100km, and it served as encouragement to finish strong!
Gone Running: Do you have any tips for the other runners?
Justin: Take care of the little things: protect your ankles by scanning the trail well ahead of your next foot placement, hydrate and fuel early and often, and then later on, stay mentally strong and don't forget to drink and eat. If it's your first time out there, do some recce runs if you get the chance. Last year I took a few wrong turns.
TransLantau 100 – Men’s winner Vlad Ixel
Photo credit: Assaf Arbiser
Gone Running: Congratulations on yet another victory, Vlad. It’s starting to get a bit boring. What did you learn today?
VIad: I think what I have learnt from TransLantau, and all the races I got lost on, is that I need to spend more time prepping and learning the race course. You can train for 8 hours a day but you not going to win if you take the wrong turn.
Gone Running: We found it interesting that 3 of the top 4 finishers were using poles, including your good self for the first time. What did you think of them?
Vlad: I like them and will use them more often. I started using them after about 5km but only on the uphills. I used them a little on the steep uphill after Tai O but it was hard getting them in the trees.
Gone Running: Any tips for race recovery?
Vlad: Start moving right away, long walks and small runs. Get the blood flowing, which will speed up your recovery. I’ve been running every day since TransLantau and am feeling great!
TransLantau 25 – Women’s winner Oksana Riabova
Photo credit: Lloyd Belcher
Gone Running: More Hong Kong silverware for you Oksana – well done. How did you find the course today?
Oksana: The 25km route was very enjoyable for running. The uphills are not too steep and the downhills are pleasant to run, except one with stairs.
Gone Running: We’ve heard a lot about the importance of pacing in the longer races. What was your strategy for the 25km?
Oksana: On this course, it’s good to push yourself from the beginning, all the way until the end. Only on the sections with uphill stairs was it better to walk for me.
Gone Running: What about nutrition and hydration?
Oksana: I drank water while running and at the checkpoints and, about fuelling, I only ate 4 pieces of GU energy chews and it was more than enough.
TransLantau 50 – Women’s winner Irene Montemayor
Gone Running: Fabulous run, Irene. Was winning always the plan today?
Irene: All I wanted this year was to beat my time from last year, so winning was not in my head. Crossing the finish line smiling and dancing is all I wanted.
Gone Running: So not putting too much pressure on yourself and enjoying the race and atmosphere was the key?
Irene: What I've learned from today is to believe in yourself, be happy, say a word or two to the runners or stop to help if others are feeling uncomfortable. Keep encouraging them not to stop as we already know it's a tough race but it will help them a bit. I've been doing all these things during my past races because i was having fun and enjoying it.
Gone Running: Wow, that's a fabulous attitude, Irene, well done!
TransLantau 50 – Men's runner up Majell Backhausen
Travelling all the way from Australia, Majell just pipped local star Ying Tsang in a sprint finish to take second in the 50km race in 5:50:44.
Photo credit: HK Run
Gone Running: Congrats on a first up podium in Hong Kong. What did you think of the race?
Majell: That was one sweet race. I got stared down by the stairs but loved the views. Second place was great after a tough day out. Get to the Hong Kong trails!
Gone Running: Any tips for the other runners?
Majell: In terms of advice, the main thing I would recommend is to get out on the course and run the route. There would be nothing better than knowing that course well. It will also provide good hill training, which is needed, and that also includes the downhills and the stairs. Hydration is pretty key too. It wasn't too hot for us, but there was still a huge need for water and hydration!
Thanks again to Justin, Vlad, Oksana, Irene and Majell for their tips and we hope to see you next year at TransLantau.
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