Extreme fitness

Elite runners Max King and Courtney Dauwalter offer advice as runners gear up for Asia Lantau 50 – Asian Skyrunning Championships

  • Elite runners from Asia will take part in the punishing 50-km course on Lantau
  • Course will reach 3,500 metres of elevation as race begins at 6.30am
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 10:47pm

The Action Asia Lantau 50 – Asian Skyrunning Championships kicks off early on Sunday morning. The starting gun for the 50 kilometre race will fire at 6.30am, followed by the 27 kilometre race an hour later and the 16 kilometre race at 7.45am.

Competing in the race will be a number of elite runners from Asia, including Hong Kong’s David Ng Wai-hei and Karen Cheung Man-yee, as well as John “Stingray” Ray Onifa from the Philippines, Tomohiro Machida from Japan, and last year’s winner Yuichi Miura, also from Japan, among others.

The punishing 50-kilometre course will take competitors all around the island of Lantau and over a total of 3,500 metres of elevation gain, with much of the serious climbing up Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak coming towards the end of the race. That means runners will have to make steep ascents up to a height of over 900 metres above sea level with 30 kilometres already behind them.

Max King, an elite ultra runner from the United States and the 2014 winner at the IAU 100km World Championships, is registered to compete in the 50-kilometre race.

Lantau 50: Taiwanese runner out for redemption to make up for poor 2017 showing

But a fall on the Lantau boardwalk while out for a run on Thursday has left him with a painfully swollen leg, and as of Saturday afternoon he has yet to decide whether he will have recovered enough to toe the line on Sunday.

“I really want to do the race,” King said. “It’s such an exciting course, challenging and pretty.”

King has been in Hong Kong this past week as part of a week-long camp organised by the Salomon Youth and Ultra Running Academies. He is coaching young athletes from around the world alongside two other elite runners, Courtney Dauwalter of the United States and Laura Orgue of Spain.

Dauwalter, who will not be competing, drew from her wealth of racing experience and offered some words of advice to competitors.

Cristofer Clemente and Mira Rai take top spots in the Skyrunning Asia Championship Lantau 50

“Take it out nice and comfortable, but in race mode,” she said. “Remember that every time you top out there’s going to be a downhill. Work on the way up, and enjoy the ride down.”

“Enjoy the views when you get to the top of those peaks,” she added. “But not for too

long.”

With many competitors who are unfamiliar with Hong Kong’s climate and terrain lining up for Sunday’s race, the race director, Michael Maddess, offered some words of warning and advice.

He described how neglecting to properly fuel the body during the race ultimately led to the American runner Joseph Gray’s undoing a few years ago. By contrast, said Maddess, Gray’s competitor Yan Longfei, one of China’s top trail runners, stopped at every checkpoint, taking his time to eat and stuff food into his bag.

“This course will eat you if you don’t eat,” said Maddess.