Hong Kong’s Wong Ho-chung had quite the race through the picturesque French Alps last weekend, however you can’t fault him if he doesn’t remember what the stunning backdropped looked like at points. The city’s top trail runner, who is now on his way home to do 21 days of quarantine – Wong left for Europe before the snap restrictions came into place and was expecting just seven days – detailed what was an extraordinary race for him at this year’s 171km UTMB. “I’m really happy with my result because at one point during the race on Grand Col Ferret I was really struggling with the cold and also had some problem with my eyes and it became difficult to see,” said Wong, who works as a Hong Kong firefighter but will be leaving the profession to focus on racing full-time. Wong kicked off his race at 5pm on Friday evening local time in France, and about halfway through the race at 5am while he was summiting Col Ferret (the highest point of elevation in the race at 2,570 metres above sea level) his vision started to deteriorate. “I suffered a lot going up and down the highest point on the racecourse and also started to lose my eyesight,” said the 34-year-old. “Luckily, I recovered enough after sunrise to keep fairly steady until the finish and just tried my best.” Wong finished the gruelling single-stage ultramarathon in a time of 23 hours, 17 minutes and 40 seconds to place 11th. The course follows the Tour du Mont Blanc hiking path that is usually completed in about a week by hikers. “The rest of the race, the downhills were very challenging for me as I still could not see clearly and was losing time,” Wong said. “However, overall I still I enjoy the UTMB so much as the local hikers and spectators along the way give us so much support, more than I ever experienced before when racing.” Incredibly, Wong climbed from 84th at the first marker, which was about and hour and a half in for him, to 11th spot by the end of the race. He said that was his race strategy. “This was all part of the plan, that was to run halfway on my 2019 sixth place pacing and be patient. The biggest mistake in UTMB is starting too fast, and I expected to move up in the field if I kept calm and steady.” Wong was the top Asian runner at the last UTMB race in 2019 as well, where he became the first Hong Kong racer to place in the top 10. In a decorated career, Wong has won a number of Asian competitions including Korea’s DMZ stage Ultra, the Philippines’ North Face 100 and Hong Kong’s King of the Hills. He will now undergo 21 days of quarantine in Hong Kong, even though when he left for France he was originally expecting to complete just seven days. North Face Adventure team director Ryan Blair said this could lead to injury for Wong down the road as it will severely impede his recovery. The UTMB was struck by tragedy this year as a Czech runner died while competing.