New Zealand’s Ruth Croft became the first female runner to win the overall title in the MSIG HK50 Series after storming to victory on Hong Kong Island on Sunday. Croft completed the 50km course in a blistering five hours, 17 minutes and 26 seconds to beat Australian John Ellis by just under 18 minutes, with Frenchman Jonathan Thery third. Kenya’s Gladys Jepchirchir Cheruiyot crossed the finished line in 5:55:55 to claim second in the female category. “I have participated in Hong Kong’s races quite a few times, such as MSIG Lantau 50. I enjoyed the course today since I always prefer runnable race rather than too technical ones,” said Croft. “I have been doing some technical races earlier, but this race is different as it takes longer and comprises slower climbing, so it’s more runnable. “The scenery was great, although it is really hot today with humidity. The most enjoyable part is when I was up to the 40km from the start since it’s so runnable up to there, but the last 10km was tough. Jacky Leung relishes challenge of Asian Skyrunning Championships “Comparing with the trail race in Taiwan, the route there was shorter, steeper and less runnable than MSIG HK50.” In the 24km category, Australian Vlad Ixel claimed the title after stopping the clock at 1:56:52 to beat Austrian Michael Skobierski by 47 seconds. “I definitely felt the humidity. I think today is as humid as the Lantau 2 peaks race,” said Ixel, who won the Lantau 2 peaks. “It’s tough because the humidity takes away all my energy. “The 50km last year was a lot harder and it was hot as well. I remember struggling in the 50km when the race was falling on hot days. Peak performance: Vlad Ixel and Zein Williams conquer Lantau 2 Peaks “The first half was OK, and the second half was tough. This is the trail that I run on as my training which I have run on for hundreds of times.” Japanese runner Megumi Matsui grabbed the overall 24km female title in 2:25:20.