Nugo Yamanath Limbu was the first finisher in the mammoth Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC). The Nepalese runner reached the fabled postbox in Mui Wo, which marks the end of the race, in 54 hours 26 minutes.
The 298km HK4TUC, which started at 9am on Saturday, connects all four major trails in Hong Kong – the MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau Trails. Runners are not allowed any support on the trails, and there are no checkpoints. Although, they can have help between the trails. They are deemed “finishers” if they complete the run in under 60 hours, or “survivors”” if they reach the end in under 72 hours.
Limbu kissed the postbox and held a Nepalese flat aloft as event organiser Andre Blumberg sprayed him with champagne. Limbu was so emotional and shattered he could barely speak, hugging everyone around him. Throughout the event, Limbu had an irrepressible smile across his face.
“First of all, my success, my dream, is because everyone supported me,” he said. “Always in my mind, as I run, was this postbox.”
Not far behind Limbu was Stephen Redfern, 48, from Australia, who finished in 54:46. Redfern heard about the HK4TUC two years ago when fellow Aussie, Meredith Quinlan, survived the challenge.
“It was everything I expected,” Red said. “I used every part of me running the trails, nutrition, digging deep.
“Coming down the final hill, all the emotions hit me,” he added. A small crowd had gathered to cheer the first finishers. “Having this crowd was something I'd never had before. It is something that I'll remember forever.”
Abimanyu Shunmugam, 49, from Singapore, was running the event for the third consecutive time. He is a two time survivor, but was determined to be a finisher. He reached the end in 56:06.
“It's not relief, but I have been dreaming about this moment since I first heard about the HK4TUC,” he said. "“The difference was I just thought about nothing else but the trail I was on, and not the ones I had to come, which was very difficult.”
“I was crying when I finished. I couldn't hold back,” he added. “For three years, I've did not have a social life.”
Takashi Doi, from Japan, finished in 56:25, and there are still a host of other competitors out the trail who seem set to survive over the coming night.