Darren Benson wins battle of former champions

Winner of the 2010 China Coast Marathon stepped up the pace at the 20km mark

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 11:13pm

Two former champions battled for supremacy in the 32nd staging of the Gammon China Coast Marathon yesterday, but 2010 winner Darren Benson took home the victor’s spoils in the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong-organised event.

The Australian athlete found himself on the start line with three-time champion Gunnar Rethfeldt, and the pair, along with the leading half marathon runners, set a speedy pace over the scenic, but challenging course that winds its way through Sai Kung Country Park and turns back at the Hong Kong Geopark.

Benson increased the pace at the 20km mark.

The only positive thing about this was the fact we would have a tail wind on the final 10-kilometres back to the finish
Darren Benson

“When we got to the Geopark we met a very cold and very strong headwind,” said 39-year-old Benson, who works in the commercial property business.

“The only positive thing about this was the fact we would have a tail wind on the final 10-kilometres back to the finish.

“I haven’t done much road running recently as I have concentrated on trail events. As such I decided not to step up the pace until the second half.”

Benson crossed the finish line in two hours 48 minutes and 10 seconds for victory while Rethfeldt coasted home for second in 2:51:11.

Rethfeldt, who recently returned to Hong Kong with his family in August last year, said: “I’m not too disappointed with my second place finish as this is my first race since returning to Hong Kong.

“I very much enjoyed the challenge today on what must be one of the most scenic race locations in Hong Kong.”

The 44-year-old Rethfledt had the consolation of winning the John Lane Memorial Trophy, which was presented to the first 40-plus AVOHK member to finish the full marathon.

Chan Kit-yee ran the race for the first time and found herself at the front of the women’s field holding the advantage over three-time former champion Peggy Chan Pui-shan.

Chan Kit-yee, the older sister of Olympian Maggie Chan, stretched her lead over the second lap of the course and ended up with a five-minute victory, finishing in 3:22:38.

“I was hoping to run around 3:18 today, but the head wind at the far end of the course made things very difficult indeed,” said 41-year-old Chan, who will next month compete in the Standard Chartered Marathon.

“The temperature was fine for distance running, but we could have done without the strong wind,” she added.

Adrian Lowther (1:15:43) won the men’s half marathon event while Zein Williams (1:33:59) claimed the women’s title.