Yan Longfei continues to dominate Hong Kong trail running scene ‘without running seriously’ at North Face 50
- Chinese runner breaks more records as he easily wins the 50k race
- He plans on competing in Sunday’s Shenzhen International Marathon
China’s Yan Longfei broke yet another Hong Kong course record at the North Face 50 with a time of four hours, 45 minutes and five seconds, shattering the previous record by more than 40 minutes at Tai Mei Tuk.
It was the third Hong Kong trail running record broken in less than two months for Yan, who smashed the Lantau 70 record back in late October and did the same in the TransNT back in November. And once again, he did so “without running seriously.”
“Yan Longfei is ridiculous, he’s just a phenomenal athlete,” said the North Face-sponsored Vlad Ixel, who finished second with an impressive time of 5:26:55. “I knew that I was racing for second place from the beginning.”
It was the first time running the North Face 50 trail for Yan, who said he enjoyed taking in the scenery and saying hello to hikers.
“I just treat these races as practice,” explained Yan, who elected to run the 50 instead of the 100 because he is running the Shenzhen International Marathon on Sunday. “Hong Kong’s trails are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I had done the Lantau and Hong Kong trails before but it was my first time doing this course. I really enjoyed it.”
He plans to return to Hong Kong for the Vibram Hong Kong 100 Ultra next month, where he promises he will actually push himself to the limit.
“I expect that to be a difficult race, and I am going to go all out,” the 33-year-old, sponsored by Solomon, said.
Yan’s very best will probably leave Hong Kong’s trail running community in even more awe.
It was a similar story for Leung Ying-suet, who won the women’s 50 with a time of 6:26:02, who said she also treated Saturday’s race “as practice”.
The veteran Leung, a former Hong Kong representative as a roadrunner, is currently a Mizuno employee. She will be running her company’s race – the Mizuno Hong Kong Half Marathon Championships on December 30, to determine whether she can make the Hong Kong team again.
“This is my last chance to represent Hong Kong as a runner, so I used this race today as practice. I’m going to put everything I have into that race.”
Joint Dynamics runner Ryan Whelan finished third in the men’s with a time of 5:37:56. Angelika Hahn finished second in the women’s with a time of 6:47:34.
Whelan’s Joint Dynamics teammate and SCMP contributor Mary Hui did journalists everywhere proud, finishing third with a time of 6:57:21.
Nepal’s Purna Tamang narrowly defeated Philippines’ John “Stingray” Onifa in epic finale in the Northface 100.
Tamang , who set the course record back in 2013, broke his own record with a time of 11:59:57. Onifa finished with a time of 12:17:34.
“It was a crazy race and I am happy to have won,” said Tamang, who is a running coach for the Nepalese army. “I got lost at one of the checkpoints because there was no time, so that cost me about five minutes. Still, John is an excellent runner, and he really pushed me to perform my best.”
Tamang, whose team came second in the Oxfam Trailwalker last month, is ready for some much-needed rest. He plans to come back to HK to race again within the next couple months, but he’s not sure when.
The Northface-sponsored Stingray is a former fisherman who became a full-time trailrunner in 2016, after several failed attempts to join the Filipino army. He capped off a successful year with what he said was his “best performance yet.”
“I really enjoyed the back-and-forth battle [with Tamang],” said Onifa, who said he runs for his deceased mother. “I am only 27 and I am only getting stronger.”
Austrian Michael Skobierski, who was part of the Oxfam Trailwalker champions this year, finished third with a time of 12:40:36.