Runner in Hong Kong's Lantau 2 Peaks race escapes with broken arm after tree stops him plunging down slope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 October, 2015, 7:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 October, 2015, 8:27am

A runner in this year's “Lantau 2 Peaks – A Skyrunner World Series Event” was saved by a tree, escaping with a broken arm, when he slipped off the trail and plunged down a slope near Ngong Ping in the stormy weather on Sunday morning.

The 45-year-old Belgian, identified only as Michel by police, was running on Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail when he slipped at about 11.30am, with the wind reaching gale force at times. He is said to have fallen about four metres down the slope before the tree halted his fall.

Rescuers took about two hours to reach the runner and a similar time to free him. He was first taken to Ngong Ping cable car station on a stretcher before being taken by ambulance to Princess Margaret Hospital.

Another runner who had joined in the rescue effort said the morning had been “bad” for the competitors, referring to the heavy downpours brought by Typhoon Mujigae, which made the tough 23km race even more challenging for the 1,000 runners.

The weather dampened the spirits of some other runners, who decided to quit. One of them said on a Facebook page: “To quit require more guts [than to run], before such kind of weather conditions, I really have to quit.”

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 Another runner said a stream on Sunset Peak had turned into rapids, while another said it hurt when the driving rain hit his body and he had to grab onto grass to balance himself in the wind.

 Organisers said they had consulted the runners on whether to continue the race about an hour after the start when the weather worsened. About 90 per cent said they wanted to keep running.

 Race director Michael Maddess  said the event was one of the most extreme mountain events in the city.

“It’s not a walk in the park … there is danger in many things that you do, but you know that is part of life. People want to live life to the most passionate experience  ... otherwise life would be extremely boring,” Maddess said.

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Before the slope accident, a 53-year-old male runner slipped and sustained minor head injuries near Wisdom Path at about 10am. He was taken to a clinic in Tai O.

The race started 7.30am from Tung Chung Citygate, covering Wong Lung Hang Road, Wong Lung Hang Country Trail stairs, Sunset Peak (807m), Pak Kung Au Water CP1 (331m), Lantau Peak – Fung Wong Shan (934m), Ngong Ping Water CP2 (458m), Nei Lek Shan contour trail (564m),  360 Rescue trail, and ended back at Tung Chung Citygate.