Extreme fitness

The French agree – Tai Mo Shan Ultra is one of the toughest races in the world

  • French duo finish second and third in Sunday’s 162km race
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 9:06pm

Two Frenchmen – Baptiste Puyou and Fabrice D’Aletto, finished first and second runners-up in the Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan 2019 with times of 24:23.24 and 25:03.56, respectively, on Sunday. They also became friends in the process.

Puyou, who has lived in the city for several years as an IT consultant, is a Hong Kong trailrunning veteran.

He is supported by Hong Kong Sports Clinic and has run “pretty much all” of the city’s 100-kilometre races, but it was his first time running the TMS Ultra, which is 162km.

Law Kai-pong battles the elements to win Hong Kong’s toughest race at the Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan 2019

“It is so much tougher,” Puyou said of Sunday’s race. “You have to run twice as long as a 100km race, and this race in particular has a lot of stairs, and a lot of elevation. This is not an ordinary 100 miles.”

He was pleased, however, to have experienced the race’s “unique” trails.

“It was nice to finally see some new scenery, I’ve raced pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong and I actually got to see some new trails. I definitely think this is the most difficult race in Hong Kong by far. I don’t envy the people who took even longer [to finish].”

D’Aletto, on the other hand, was racing in Hong Kong for the first time. He is a “100-mile specialist” – having run dozens of 100-milers across Europe, Asia and around the world. But he said he had “never experienced anything close” to the TMS Ultra.

Curbs imposed on Hong Kong trail running ‘to protect country parks’

“I have never run a race with so many stairs and so much concrete,” said D’Aletto, who said his body felt “crushed” after the race. “I was not expecting my first race in Hong Kong to be so difficult.”

He added, however, that Hong Kong has some of the best scenery he had ever seen, and he hopes to race here again, albeit on a slightly easier trail.

“I was enjoying myself at first, but after the first 100km my climbing pole broke and I was really struggling with the peaks. Hong Kong is an awesome city and I hope to be back.”

Puyou hopes to do more racing in Europe, having seen everything Hong Kong has to offer and hearing about his new friend’s experiences.

“With all my experience in Hong Kong trails, I think the other races should be easy.”