New challenge for heels and wheels
Runners and bikers looking to go beyond the beaten tracks will have three new races to add to their calendars as Hong Kong prepares to host its first major off-road duathlon and triathlon races later this year.
But race director and course designer Michael Maddess hopes the new Gatorade Action Asia Off-Road Series will also draw more new athletes to the outdoors.
'We encourage everyone who has a mountain bike to go out and find a runner to partner with,' said Maddess.
The first race on September 18 will be a 13km run and 15km bike team-relay race. It will be followed by a solo duathlon of the same length on October 16 and a triathlon that adds a 300m swim leg on November 20. All three races will take place at the 15km long Chi Ma Wan trails of Pui O beach on Lantau Island.
Maddess said the idea for the races originally came from athletes competing in the more gruelling Action Asia Challenge. 'With the AAC now regularly filling to capacity in under three weeks there was a lot of request from triathletes and road runners to do more warm-up style events leading up to the AAC HK in December to get everyone prepared,' he said.
A similar event - the Powerbar Action Sprint in Hong Kong in the spring- was also introduced two years ago to help athletes prepare for the running sections of the Macau leg of the AAC in May.
While many of the big names from the AAC - Mark William, Daniel Brown, Pedro Pinto Ribeiro and Adrian King, for example - have already signed up for the races, Maddess hopes the series will also spark interest in occasional athletes and those new to the sport.
'We are trying to discourage - although it is happening now to some degree - advanced racers who both have mountain bikes teaming up. The idea is to have them meet and partner with new people,' he continued.
'Many people in Hong Kong have run 10kms on road before, so they'll think, 'I can do 10kms off-road',' said Maddess,
Racers can register right up until race day, but the fee goes up from $200 to $400 four days before the event. There are no caps on the number of racers.