Jacky Leung relishes challenge of Asian Skyrunning Championships

Hong Kong runner will be flying the Hong Kong flag in December as he faces a world-class field headed by world women’s champion Caroline Chaverot

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 6:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 8:43pm

Jacky Leung Chun-keung will be flying the Hong Kong flag as he contests a world-class international field for the second running of the Asian Skyrunning Championships in December.

The talented Salomon team runner will need to capitalise on his home turf advantage as Lantau hosts this year’s championships, which comprises of the MSIG Lantau VK (vertical kilometre) and the MSIG Lantau 50 (includes a 27km SkyRace and a 50km Ultra SkyMarathon) starting on Friday, December 2.

Tangled with a technical trail and home to Lantau Peak (934 metres) and Sunset Peak (898m), the second and third highest peaks respectively in Hong Kong, Lantau will most definitely challenge even the highest calibre athletes.

Coming to town: World skyrunning champion Caroline Chaverot excited for Asian debut at Lantau 50 Ultra Skymarathon

But Leung, who will be running shoulders with some of the world’s top skyrunners, including women’s world champion, France’s Caroline Chaverot, said he was looking forward to the massive challenge ahead.

“The course is technical for an international skyrunning race,” says Leung. “The experience of joining Matterhorn Ultraks in Zermatt, Switzerland gave me insights about fast uphill and downhill ability along technical trails at high altitude. For the HK MSIG series, there is a mixture of terrain including soft trails, rocky trails, stairs and pavement. Athletes need to be all-rounded and skilled on running on different kinds of terrain.”

But all eyes will be on Chaverot, the 2016 Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) winner, along with fellow countryman Ludovic Pommeret, the 2016 UTMB men’s winner, who spearhead the star-studded international field.

Chaverot, who will compete in the VK and Ultra SkyMarathon, will be racing in Asia for the first time. But Pommeret is no stranger to the region, having notched wins in Japan previously.

“I have run twice in Japan, winning the 50km Kanna Mountain Run in 2015 and the 71km Hasetsune Cup in 2010. I am hoping again for a good result at the Asian Skyrunning Championships MSIG race on Lantau in December,” says Pommeret.

Other international elite runners include Julien Chorier, who was part of the winning team for the 2012 Oxfam Trailwalker 100km race in Hong Kong, fellow Frenchmen Nicolas Martin, Greg Vollet and Maud Gobert, Spain’s Cristofer Clemente (2016 Skyrunner Ultra Series champion), Jan Bartas from Czech Republic, Norwegians Eirik Haugsnes (winner of the 2014 Tromso Skyrace) and Rolf Einar Jensen (top 10 in VK), Kenya’s Haron Kiprugut Bor and American Cody Lind (runner-up in the US Skyrunning series).

Nepal’s Samir Tamang, defending Asian Skyrunning champion, headlines the pack of elite Asian runners who have confirmed participation in this year’s race. Tamang won last year’s inaugural Asian Skyrunning Championships 50km Ultra SkyMarathon held in February in Sai Kung, Hong Kong in 4 hours 58 minutes 40 seconds. Other Asian runners to look out for include Dong Li, one of the fastest female trail runners in mainland China.

They will be joined by two young Taiwan runners Kuo Wan-ting (women’s champion of 2015 MSIG Taiwan Action Asia 50) and Chen Hsiu-ching (women’s champion of the 2016 Action Asia X-Trail Taiwan 17km race) as well as Singapore’s Lynn Woo (first local woman in the MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50km race).