‘Crazy and amazing’: Sebastien Chaigneau braces for Hong Kong’s toughest ultra test
North Face 100 boasts 6,300 metres of positive elevation gain
He may call the rugged French Alps home, but ultrarunner Sebastien Chaigneau is bracing himself for Hong Kong’s “toughest” ultra this weekend.
The North Face 100 Hong Kong starts tomorrow and boasts 6,300 metres of positive elevation gain over 100 kilometres, which kilometre for kilometre is one of the toughest ultras in the region.
“The stairs here are crazy and amazing,” he joked on his Facebook page, along with several toothy photos from his training runs in the Lantau hills this week. “The quadriceps will certainly like it.”
The French athlete is among top runners who have journeyed to Hong Kong to tackle the 100km ultramarathon, including reigning champion China’s Yun Yianqiao.
He will face competition from Australia’s Vlad Ixel, a Hong Kong resident, and local runners Jeremy Leung and Wong Kai-wai.
The race is renowned for getting harder, not easier, as the kilometres wear on: after 70km runners face a scramble up Hong Kong’s 957-metre Tai Mo Shan “the hard way” before a final hike along mountainous Pat Sing Leng under certain starlight.
Yun won last year in 12 hours, 10 minutes – a long time by ultra running standards – and crossed the line saying he “almost failed to make it”.
Race director Keith Noyes is excited by the calibre his home-grown race has attracted in its third year.
“It is always a thrill when internationally famous runners come to Hong Kong to do one of my courses. Sebastien is an outstanding example and I will be anxious about his verdict on the course and our logistics after the race.”
Noyes is also excited to see the increased level of competition this year: Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kaburaki will go head to head with Hong Kong’s “king of the hills” Stone Tsang Siu-keung and Wong Ho-chung, last year’s 100km first runner-up.
“In the first two years, the field was much deeper in the 100km race, but this year both the 50km and 100km races feature some stiff competition,” said Noyes.
The 50km and 100km races set off from Tai Me Tuk at 8am and 1,000 runners are expected to take part.