We’re off, we’re running again. All eyes of the trail and ultra running world are these days on Hong Kong, where the first race ever of the new trail running circuit, the World Trail Majors, is going to take place; the Hong Kong 100.
The start is small on January 18 2024, with The Third, a 33 kilometres race, that starts on the east side of Hong Kong’s New Territories, in Pak Tam Chung. From here the trail winds around the coast of the Sai Kung peninsula along coastal paths, across beaches, along the High Island Reservoir, through ancient villages, over hills and through valleys before returning to Pak Tam Chung.
The race might be only 33 kilometres long, but it does have 1.400 metres of altitude, including 2 serious climbs; the last one just before the finish.
January 19 it’s time for The Half, a 56k race with 2.010 metres of altitude. Where The Third stays close to the High Island Reservoir, the half leads the athletes to Pak Tam Au. There they will start the climb up Ngau Yee Shek Shan (Cow’s Ear Rock Hill), which rises to almost 400 metres above sea level and offers great views over the surrounding islands.
The reward for the hard climb is the fast descent on the soft and bouncy Cheung Sheung Country Trail leads to Tai Tan village. After this a technical, rocky section follows, with lots of big roots. As the last part of the trail is fast, and the last hill not very challenging, this is the section for those who want to win to leave the competition behind.
Hong Kong 100
The Hong Kong 100, on January 20, is a deceptive one., as the athletes will have to do most of the 5.300 metres of climbing in the second half of the race.
After 5 kilometres of classic Hong Kong winding country trails, the runners hit a fast section of 5 kilometres of sealed roads. They connect the dams that are built to form reservoirs, and lead to the first refreshment point at East Dam.
From here it goes up Sai Wan Shan (314m) and over the Maclehose Trail to Pak Tam Au, and up Ngau Yee Shek Shan. This is the same route as that of the 56k race. However, after refreshment post 4 the real climbing starts, with the 399 metres high Kai Kung Shan (Rooster Hill). After this hill Beacon Hill, Golden Hill, the steep Needle Hill (532m) and Grassy Hill (647m) the hills must be conquered.
But that’s not all, because just before the finish Hong Kong’s highest peak, Tai Mo Shan (957m) awaits the runners. After that, it’s all downhill.
For those who think 100 kilometres is not enough, there is the Grand Sam. Doing The Third, The Half and the Hong Kong 100 on consecutive days. Some of the athletes who have their eye set on that title are Francesca Canepa and Sangé Sherpa.