Near-perfect conditions and a strong field of runners is a record-breaking recipe for this weekend's Vibram Hong Kong 100, say race directors.
More than 1,600 runners will take part in the 100-kilometre hilly race starting tomorrow.
Since partnering with the newly established Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT), the race has drawn top athletes from the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of Asia to compete against Hong Kong's finest for the biggest showdown in ultrarunning the city has seen.
Race co-director Steve Brammar is confident of the women's record of 11 hours 58 minutes being broken, either by record holder and local Claire Price, or late additions Lizzy Hawker, of Britain, and Italian queen of the mountains, Francesca Canepa.
The men's record of nine hours 54 minutes set by Ryan Sandes in 2012 seems safe he says, given Sandes' smart pacing that day.
"With the strength of the field and if the weather holds, it too could go. It's going to be amazing to see how the race unfolds. I can't wait," says Brammar.
"When you've got a lot of good runners together it helps to push and lift the standards, so I wouldn't be surprised [if the record is broken]," says New Zealand's Vajin Armstrong.
"The local runners are really looking forward to learning … what is the quickest one can do?" said race co-director Janet Ng.
But for most of those taking part, the focus will be on Hong Kong's unique trails. "I never think in terms of breaking records," adds Canepa. "When I get into a race I try to do my best and enjoy it."
Adds Price: "[The competition] may push you to do that bit more, but it's about the camaraderie and the atmosphere."
"I'm looking forward to exploring all of the 'green spots' on the map," says American runner Dave Mackey.
Since the inaugural Vibram HK100 in 2011, entries have exploded from 250 to more than 1,600.