French team's 11 hours, 12 minutes breaks Trailwalker record
Team leads home two others in Trailwalker, all under 12-hour mark set by PLA in 2010
Ada Lee and John Carney
A record was set in the annual Oxfam Trailwalker last night when a jubilant team of runners crossed the finishing line in Yuen Long after taking just over 11 hours.
The French team - Julien Chorier, Francois d'Haene, Michel Lanne and Andy Symonds - tackled 20 hills and mountains in the 100-kilometre race in 11 hours and 12 minutes, beating thousands of other competitors.
The team, known as Salomon France, was 47 minutes faster than the 2010 record set by the People's Liberation Army. It was their first attempt at the race on the MacLehose Trail, which raises money for aid charity Oxfam Hong Kong.
The second and third teams also arrived in record-breaking time. A total of 4,800 competitors in 1,200 teams took part.
At the finish, Symonds, an engineer, said: "It was a hard day. It was quite hot and it was hard - that last part was very much concrete. There was no rest, really."
He said the Trailwalker was the team's last competition in the season and they "did not really prepare for it". Their previous race of 71 kilometres in France was three weeks ago, he said.
Chorier won the 156-kilometre Ultra Trail Mount Fuji in Japan in May, while D'Haene claimed the title of the 104-kilometre Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc across the Alps in August.
The second team, Salomon Bonaqua Racing - Michael Maddess, Jeremy Michael Ritcey, Samir Tamang and Ram Kumar Khatri - arrived just four minutes behind. The North Face team of Ryan Blair, Tsang Siu-keung, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki and Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana, arrived 36 minutes after Bonaqua.
The champion PLA teams that dominated the Trailwalker for the past three years did not defend their crown. "Every year, whether we can take part in charity activities depends on the individual situation and our work circumstances," a spokesman said.
The Trailwalker began in 1981 as a Gurkha-led training exercise for soldiers. Since opening to the public in 1986, it has raised more than HK$365 million.