In this month’s column we bring you news from the opening rounds of the Ultra Trail World Tour in Hong Kong and New Zealand.
The UTWT series has twelve events spanning five continents and ranging from 100km to 100miles. The third race in the series is in the Canary Islands – Transgrancanaria.
Hong Kong 100
Fresh from winter training and a lay off of a couple of months (was it really that long?) the UTWT season opener in Hong Kong was likely to be hot and humid but weather conditions this year surprised everyone! With think frost turning into ice the race was rerouted and eventually stopped early.
Francois D’Haene was out in the lead pack with second place Yan Long Fei from China. These two would leap frog each other interchanging as each technical section switched to a flatter one with Long Fei marathon speed dominating on the flatter sections. D’Haene eventually raced out ahead taking a new course record in the process. Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius had a super solid race running in third place comfortably ahead of Pau Capell of Spain by thirteen minutes.
China’s Dong Li commanded the women’s race leading from the start and taking out the win in a very respectable 12:05:32 and over twenty-five minutes ahead of Italy’s Lisa Borzani. Spanish runner Silvia Trigueros briefly held second place and lost out to Borzani over the final kilometres finishing just four minutes behind.
Hong Kong – 100km
For the second round of the UTWT we headed off to New Zealand for 100km of warm rain. Sweden’s Jonas Budd and New Zealand’s Fiona Hayvice were the ones who took top spot on the podium.
Jonas Budd was to lead from start to finish closely tracked by Australian David Byrne but Budd’s devilish speed enabled him to push ahead at around 72 kilometres and from there it was a sure fire victory. Byrne finishing twenty-two minutes back was exhausted but pleased with his performance given that this was his longest ultra to date. South Africa’s Ryan Sandes, after a terrible 2015 recovering from over-racing in 2014, came with back with a bang and took a creditable third place.
American’s Jason Schlarb and Michael Wardian were sixth and seventh respectively.
Ruby Muir was the pre race favourite but dropped after suffering with quad issues but succumbing to stomach problems at around 80 kilometers. Fiona Hayvice took advantage and had been tracking Muir and then took full advantage with twenty kilometres to go. Australian’s Melissa Robertson and New Zealand’s Fiona Eagles grabbed second and third respectively.
Tarawera – 100km
The next event in the UTWT calendar is Transgrancanaria on the Canary island of Gran Canaria off the coast of North West Africa. A challenging event of 125km traversing the island from North to South along it’s mountainous spine and finally reaching the beachfront of Meloneras. It is usually hot and dry, so the conditions will test the runner’s heat acclimation and hydration. Some have fallen due to the early season heat. It looks like there is a stacked field so watch out for our pre-race guide to the top runners bidding for success at Transgrancanaria.