Vibram Hong Kong 100 Preview - Who Will Win in 2019?
Posted on January 14 2019
The Vibram Hong Kong 100 kicks off the Ultra Trail World Tour this weekend, with another red hot field looking to draw first blood in the 2019 points series to determine the world’s best runner for the year. We preview all the elites here!
Photo credit: Hong Kong 100
In recognition of the increasingly strong line ups, this year's event has been promoted to a higher scoring Series race in the World Tour,. Another new development is that the route has extended slightly, increasing from 97km and 4,700m D+ to 103km and 5,300m D+, and adding an expected 40 minutes for the winners.
The race largely follows Hong Kong's longest major hiking route, the famous Maclehose Trail. The first half takes runners on a scenic loop around the Sai Kung coastline and, with no hills over 400m and total elevation of 2,000m D+, will suit the faster flat runners. The course change is the last 9km of Maclehose Trail stage two, adding a steep 300m climb up Ngau Yee Shek Shan (“Cow’s Ear Rock Hill”) before a runnable downhill back to the new CP2 Hau Tong Kei (34km) and then reconnecting with the original course shortly afterwards.
From CP5 Kei Ling Ha at 57K, the quad burning starts with consecutive climbs over Ma On Shan (580m), Tate’s Cairn (577m), Beacon Hill (457m), Needle Hill (532m), Grassy Hill (647m) and Hong Kong’s highest peak, Tai Mo Shan (957m), before a 4km downhill finish. With 3,300m D+ of climbing, it is a seriously back-loaded course and, as demonstrated by 2017 winner, Yan Yunqiao, who put 25 minutes on the leading pack with a late surge, it is all about finishing strong.
The course features single track, paved footpaths, road, beaches, some magnificent mountain and cityscape views, gel-grabbing monkeys and, most of all, stairs aplenty. Runners who have not been working on their stair technique, both up and down, start at a big disadvantage.
With around 2,000 runners from 57 countries, including some of the world's best ultra-trail runners, it's sure to be an exciting event. You can catch all the action on the grTV livestream from 7am on Saturday 19 January (UTC +8). Tune in at http://www.Hong Kong 100-ultra.com/Hong Kong 100-tv.html or https://facebook.com/gonerunninghk for English, or Zuicool for Mandarin.
So let's have a look at the race favourites for Saturday - and we apologise for any runners we have missed!
Unfortunately for trail fans, Caroline Chaverot and Azara Garcia both succumbed to injuries and were late pull outs, but it's still a strong field, with Adidas really backing the event with the top four highest ranked ladies all sponsored by Adidas. There are probably half a dozen runners with realistic shots at the title.
Jasmin Nunige (Adidas Terrex, Switzerland, ITRA-756) – With the high profile late drop-outs, Davos-based Jasmin probably moves to favourite for Hong Kong 100. Aside from a CCC DNF, her only ITRA race finishes have been 9 wins and 2 seconds over 2016-18, but distance could be the wildcard as most of her wins are at 40-90K. Best recent results include 2nd Ultravasan 45K and 2nd Swissalpine Irontrail 88K in 2018. A marathon PB of 2:39 at Berlin in 2013 and 5th at Comrades in 2017 shows she is quick!
Photo credit: IOL
Ekaterina Mityaeva (Adidas Terrex, Russia, 733) - A prolific racer and coming off a very strong 2018, including 1st Ultra Pirineu 110K, 5th Transvulcania 73K and 3rd Transgrancanaria. Versatile runner with wins over 18-110K and some good results in Spain means she should cope well with Hong Kong's humidity. Great chance for the win.
Photo credit: Skyrunner World Series
Abby Mitchell (Adidas Terrex, USA, 710) – Versatile runner based in Boulder, Colorado, who can race 50K to 100M. Claimed victory at Silver Rush 50M and 2nd at Funtrails 100K in 2018, plus 1st at Blue Sky Trail Marathon and 7th TNF Endurance California 50M in 2017.
Photo credit: infinitetrailswch (Youtube)
Corrine Malcolm (Adidas Terrex, USA, 709) – Based in Bellingham in Washington state, Corrine has raced 50K to 100M over the past three years and is a regular top 10 finisher. Best 2018 results were 4th TDS, 9th WSER and 7th 2018 Way Too Cool 50K. Also finished 4th Leadville in 2017, plus wins at Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon and Cayuga Trails 50M in 2016.
Lou Clifton (Australia, 707) - Experienced Australian-based runner with international race experience in Europe and the US, but generally better results in the longer races. Lou has a great running CV, which includes victories at the Alpine Challenge 100M and Hounslow Classic 68K in 2018, which followed 1st Great North Walk 100K, 3rd Ultra Trail Australia 100K, 5th Tarawera 100K and 8th Eiger, all in 2017.
XIANG Fuzhao (探路者飞越队, China, 707) – Will be targeting another top finish here, after claiming 3rd in 2018 and 4th in 2017. Also has a number of excellent wins in China last year, including Loushan Warrior 50K, Super Salmon 50K, Mt Xiwang 60K, Pujiang International 100K, plus 20th at UTMB.
Photo credit: Dogs or Caravan
LEUNG Ying Suet (Mizuno, Hong Kong, 705) - This former road runner has shown massive improvement on the trails over the past 24 months and represented Hong Kong at the Trail World Champs in 2018. Ying Suet looks a great chance for a podium given her local experience on Hong Kong trails. Best results include 1st mixed team (CR) and 2nd overall at Oxfam Trailwalker 100K in 2017, plus solo wins at Totem 43K, TNF 50 Hong Kong and the recent Hong Kong Trail Champs. She placed 6th here in 2017 and has improved massively since then.
LEUNG Ying Suet left, and WONG Ho Chung right. Photo credit - HKAAA
Lisa Borzani (Team tecnica, Italy, 695) - Very experienced ultra-trail runner with an amazing race CV. Victories range from 35K to 340K. Has a great track record here with 3rd 2015 and 2nd 2016, and a race PB of 12:30. Best results include wins at Tor de Geants in 2016 and 2017, plus 3rd Madeira Island Ultra Trail, 8th Transgrancanaria, 3rd Lavaredo and 1st Andorra UT 170K in 2017.
Mariya Nikolova (Bulgaria, 675) - Has had a big couple of years, and a whopping five ITRA race wins in 2018, including Cappadocia 110K in October and 1st at Persenk Ultra 50K, only two weeks before finishing 9th at UTMB. Last year also saw her take 2nd at Andorra UT 170K. 100K should suit her and she is a genuine top five chance.
Laia Diez-Fontanet (WAA, Spain, 671) – Spain seems to produce so many quality trail runners and Laia is no exception – and also trains newly crowned UTWT championi, Pau Capell! She had another strong year, including 15th CCC, 1st Trail Menorca 56K and 7th Transgrancanaria.
Photo credit: NacioDigital
XU Meiling (China, 666) – First time to race Hong Kong 100 but Meiling is a prolific winner with 13 victories in Chinese ITRA races in 2018, highlighted by TNF100 Moganshan (3rd overall), Laoshan 100K, TNF100 Qinling and TNF100 Beijing.
Meghan Laws (The North Face, USA, 663) – At 57 years young and still racing so well, Meghan is an inspiration for all of us. She doesn’t race as much these days, but is still getting some great results, including 10th Lake Sonoma 50K and 15th Transgrancanaria in 2018, plus 3rd Waldo 100K and 9th WSER in 2017.
With 6 runners above 850 ITRA scores, and another 14 above 800, it looks like a very quick field. However, many of the northern hemisphere elites will be out of season and could struggle with all the stairs, so expect the local Hong Kong and Chinese runners to punch above their weight.
Dylan Bowman (The North Face / Red Bull, USA, 905) - Clearly one of the hot favourites. Picks his races and pretty much wins them all. Would have been three wins in three races in 2018, except for an official pointing him the wrong way at TDS, costing him six minutes. His year still included wins at UTMF and Tarawera, plus runner-up at TDS, so not a shabby year. Great on the flats as well as the climbs and generally finishes strong.
Photo credit: Red Bull
Gediminas Grinius (Team Vibram, Lithuania, 888) - Started trail running in 2013 and won the Ultra Trail World Tour in 2016 with great consistency. A trail favourite here in Hong Kong with his annual training camps but current fitness could be a question mark as he has had some recent injury niggles. Gediminas was 5th MDS, 1st Gaoligong 100M, 1st Trojmiejski 65K in 2018, plus 4th Madeira Island UT and 5th Tarawera in 2017 and 3rd Hong Kong 100 in 2016.
Photo credit: Alexis Berg
Tom Evans (Adidas Terrex, UK, 882) - Exploded onto the trail scene in 2017 with a stunning 3rd at MDS, and a late overtake of HONG KONG 100 2018 champion, QI Min, saw him take the win at CCC last year. Other big results have included 3rd at the Trail World Championships in Penyagalosa and 1st South Downs Way 50M in 2018, and 3rd CCC and 4th Eiger in 2017. Definitely a contender.
Photo credit: Beet It
YAN Long Fei (Salomon, China, 869) – Despite a lower ITRA score – courtesy of two years of injury rehab – Long Fei is arguably the favourite here. He already has a HONG KONG 100 victory (9:52 in 2015) and unlucky runner-up to Francois d’Haene (9:37 in 2016) to his name. He is unbelievably quick on Hong Kong terrain, smashing the course records at Lantau 70 by 80 minutes and TNF 50 Hong Kong by over 40 minutes, both in the last four months. He has won his last six races and will be hard to beat.
Photo credit: Pixwe.com
SHEN Jiasheng (Columbia, China, 862) - An emerging talent with 8 ITRA race wins last year, including UT Ninghai 50K, Dali 50K, Lijiang Skyview 65K, TNF100 Beijing, Gaoligong 124K, plus 6th at CCC. Decent shot at a podium here.
Photo credit: Picdeer
Patrick O'Leary (The North Face, Ireland, 852) - Had a strong 2018, which included 6th Lavaredo, 26th Penyagolosa and 3rd Chuckanut 50K, which followed 5th TNF California 50M in 2017. Can do the short and long stuff, and has speed to burn – his 2:20 marathon was the 11th fastest by an Irishman in 2018.
DUO Ji (Kailas, China, 842) – SShould handle the Hong Kong terrain well with plenty of strong performances in China, including 3rd Ultra Kora 50K and 1st UT Mt Siguniang 100K in 2018 and 3rd Yading Skyrun 33K and 3rd Devil's Ridge 2017.
Scotty Hawker (Vibram, New Zealand, 840) - Part of the Mile 27 coaching team and based in Australia, Scotty had a rough 2018, as he worked through stomach issues, which forced an unlucky DNF from a top 6th place late at UTMB. Previous years were better, including 3rd UT Cape Town, 11th UTMB, 5th Eiger in 2017, and 5th Lavaredo, 6th UT Australia and 33rd Trail World Champs in 2016.
Photo credit: Corriendo Do Lavida
Mathieu Blanchard (Salomon, France, 837) – Another great podium shot, Mathieu has some excellent results over 50K to 100M, only last month finishing runner-up at Transmartinique 140K. He took his running to another level in 2018 with wins at Quebec Mega Trail TVX 90K and QMT 100K, plus 13th at UTMB.
Josh Eberly (Adidas Terrex, USA, 836) - Generally prefers the shorter stuff so 100K could be pushing his limits. Had a solid 2018, which included 2nd Funtrails 50K, 1st Aspen Backcountry Marathon and 1st Silver Rush 50M. First time to race in Hong Kong.
Tim Olson (Adidas Terrex, USA, 824) – It’s a treat to see this trail running legend in Hong Kong. Tim is a two-time winner of WSER, plus Hardrock and 4th UTMB in 2013, and has his own line of Ultimate Direction backpacks. This “mindful mountain ultra-runner” now includes daily meditation as part of his routine. Post-comeback results have included 28th UTMB 2018, plus 1st Penyagolosa Trails and 10th Transgrancanaria in 2017.
Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana (The North Face Adventure Team, Thailand, 821) – One of Asia’s top runners, “Jay” has a real shot at top 5 here. He’s in great form and runs the local terrain well. Best 2018 finishes were 1st CM6 130K, 5th UTMF 100M and 1st UT Koh Chang 100K.
Sange Sherpa (Team instinct, Nepal, 815) – Possibly the world’s most prolific international ultra-trail runner, often doing over 1,500km per year and regularly finishing in the top 10. Race highlights include 2nd Maxi Race China 105K in 2018 and 1st Shinetsu Five Mountains 100M in 2017. Based in France, Sange will run his 4th consecutive Hong Kong 100, with recent finishes of 18th in 2018, 12th in 2017 and 16th in 2016.
YU Yunhui (鲣驰战队, China, 814) – Despite ranking outside the top 10 ITRA scores in 2018, Yunhui ran hard from the start, gradually losing time in the back half, but held on for 3rd in 10:04, a big improvement from 13th in 2017. 2018 results also included 11th CCC, 2nd UT Ninghai and 1st 9 Loong Lake 50K.
Photo credit: iRunFar
Justin Andrews (WAA, USA, 809) - Based in Chengdu but spends his school holidays in Hong Kong and a proven performer here. Main concern is recovery after a recent injury. Finished 10th and 14th in the past two years at HONG KONG 100, plus 15th Transgrancanaria in 2018, plus 1st MSIG HK50, 17th CCC, 17th Eiger and, possibly his best result, 5th Ultra Trail Australia in 2017.
Photo credit: Southwest Health
Tao Luo (Adidas Terrex, China, 809) – One of China’s super-talented young guns and, as you’d expect, has raced sparingly to date. His only three ITRA races in 2017-18 were all wins and 820+ scores - Mt Xiwang UT 60K, Pujiang International 50K and Shengzhou Trail 50K. How he handles the step-up in distance will be the big question.
Roberto Delorenzi (Team Vibram, Switzerland, 806) – Another emerging talent at only 22 years old, Roberto finished 2nd at UT Lago D’orta 60K in 2018 and also at UT Lago D’orta 58K in 2017. Italians tend to deal with Hong Kong terrain well, but he might struggle with the longer distance.
DENG Guomin (Salomon, China, 806) – Another year of trail experience should see Guomin significantly improve his previous HONG KONG 100 placings of 16th in 2018, 19th in 2017 and 47th in 2016. He’s a proven performer in Hong Kong and regionally so a top 10 looks a good bet here. Best 2018 races include =1st at TransNT Hong Kong 57K, 3rd 2018 Lantau 70K, 10th UTMF and 1st 2018 WAA Hong Kong NE50.
Photo credit: Strava
LIANG Jing (探路者飞越队 / Toread, China 801) - Burst onto the scene at last year's Hong Kong 100, beating eventual winner Qi Min in a sprint finish but, unfortunately, being disqualified for receiving support outside of the checkpoints. It’s great to see him return and another performance close to his 9:28 finishing time (adjusted for the course changes) will likely get him a podium. Other good 2018 results included 3rd Super Salmon 100K, 1st Long Ji Terraces 90K, 1st Pujiang 100K and 1st Ultimate Tsaigu 100K.
Photo credit: SCMP
Takashi DOI (Japan, 802) – Finished an unlucky 2nd at TransLantau 100 in March after losing an hour to course marking sabotage, but has had a strong 2018. Best results included 7th UTMF and 2nd Trans Jeju, and will be hoping to improve on his 12th in 10:56 from last year.
LI Kuo (Columbia, China, 797) – Based in Chongqing and doesn't really have a bad race. His best Hong Kong 100 finish was 11th in 10:52 last year. His 2018 victories include Three Gorges 110K, Yungiu Mountain 50K, Chongli 100K and UT Huang Shan 100K, as well as 23rd at UTMB.
Jeff Campbell (WAA, Canada, 788) – Hong Kong’s Male Trail Runner of the Year in 2016/17 and undisputed fastest runner up to 50K, but new to 100K other than a sensational first-up team win at Oxfam Trailwalker (team). The distance will be the big question mark but will realistically target a top 10 finish with sensible pacing. 2018 included 7th Cortina Trail 48K, 2nd WAA Hong Kong NE50, 11th Transgrancanaria 64K, and 1st TNF 50 Hong Kong in 2017.
WONG Ho Chung (The North Face Adventure Team, Hong Kong, 776) - This firefighter is possibly Hong Kong's strongest ultra-runner on current form after cruising to victory at the Hong Kong Trail Champs last month and is also the reigning Hong Kong Male Trail Runner of the Year. He focused on the multi-stage 4Desert series races last year, taking 1/1/1/2 for the Grand Slam win and his best Hong Kong 100 placing was 8th in 10:39 last year.
John Ray Onifa (The North Face Adventure Team, Hong Kong, 776) – Don’t be fooled by his ITRA score as "Stingray" is a great shot for a top five finish here. Relatively new to ultra-running but has speed to burn and has tasted success in Hong Kong, including 1st Moontrekker 50K, 2nd TNF 100 Hong Kong, 1st Rebelwalker 100K, plus 5th STY and 1st TNF 50 Thailand in 2018.
Photo credit: GreenRace
Brian McFlynn (Gone Running-Joint Dynamics, Ireland, 763) - One of Hong Kong's emerging talents at just 29 years old, and set for another big result here after finishing 9th in 10:47 last year. Has had a stellar 12 months, including 1st Trailwalker, 1st 9 Dragons 50K, 2nd Moontrekker 50K and 1st TransNT.
Photo credit: Formosa Trail
Michael Skobierski (Uglow-HKSC, Austria, 763) - Consistently strong over long and short over the past two years, and simply doesn’t have a bad race. Maybe it’s the Austrian sandwiches? His best Hong Kong 100 finish was 20th in 2017, but has improved significantly and is a genuine top 10 chance this year. Recent big results have included 1st Oxfam Trailwalker 100K and 3rd TNF 100 Hong Kong 1st 2018.
As always, it’s going to be an awesome event so tune in to the grTV livestream from 7am on Saturday 19 January (UTC +8). Tune in at http://www.Hong Kong 100-ultra.com/Hong Kong 100-tv.html or https://facebook.com/gonerunninghk for English, or Zuicool for Mandarin.
And it's a mug's game to try to pick the top fives given such a competitive field but our tips are, in no particular order, Jasmin Nunige, Ekaterina Mityaeva, XIANG Fuzhao, LEUNG Ying Suet and Corrine Malcolm for the women, and YAN Long Fei, Dylan Bowman, SHEN Jiasheng, Tom Evans and John Ray Onifa for the men.
Thanks to Andre Blumberg and Pig Chan for the help with compiling these lists and best of luck to all the runners, supporters and volunteers this weekend! #GoneRunning #HK100 #UTWT