Extreme fitness
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Ferdinand Clovis Airault sets the Hong Kong ‘Everesting’ record. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong ‘Everesting’ record set by departing Frenchman, saying farewell to trail community with magical challenge

  • Ferdinand Clovis Airault climbs up and down Sunset Peak 21 times to accumulate the height of Everest from sea level
  • The solo challenge becomes a community event and a chance to say farewell for now but not goodbye

Ferdinand Clovis Airault set Hong Kong’s “Everesting” record, but the result was less important than the experience and the chance to say goodbye to friends.

The Hong Kong-based Frenchman is departing at the start of June, destined for a move to New York. As a final challenge, he ran up and down Sunset Peak 21 times, accumulating the full height of Everest from sea level.

Airault, a magician in his spare time, completed the 8,852 metres of accumulative elevation in 14 hours and 24 minutes – the fastest “Everesting” completed in Hong Kong.

“There isn’t big competition for this record – I know that if Wong Ho-chung [Hong Kong’s top trail runner] comes, he will explode the record,” Airault said. “So it was not just about the record, but I felt the competition was a driver.

The challenge was about the community and saying farewell to a magical place, not just about the record, Ferdinand Clovis Airault said. Photo: Handout

“I came prepared, with an idea of the time I wanted and all the advice I could get. I knew all the laps would need to be 40 minutes and I couldn’t take breaks. But I would have finished it even if I was far from the record.

“The experience was the main thing – I pushed my limits, body and mind, to accomplish some kind of magic trick. The motivation was really the experience in such an iconic place like Sunset Peak. I saw the sunset and the sunrise and I was looking for the magic of the place. The competition was just a booster.”

Hong Kong runner plans to shut up the sexists by ‘Everesting’ Castle Peak

The magical experience was added to by the company. Groups of trail runners came to ring cow bells and cheer Airault on at the bottom of each lap. Some joined him for a lap or two. He was joined by friends from his team at Lantau Base Camp, Hong Kong Sports Clinic and T8, and also from his rival team Gone Running Joint Dynamics.


“It’s a great way to say goodbye,” Airault said. “What is good with Covid-19 is we created these little challenges to show Hong Kong is still alive. There are still restrictions but we can make trail running evolve through these challenges and adventures.”

One of the runners who joined was Jeremy Ritcey, the former record holder.

Ferdinand Clovis Airault’s last sunset on Sunset Peak. Photo: Handout

“Jeremy gave me all the tips to beat it,” Airault said. “I found that super-cool. The idea wasn’t to keep it for himself. He said we had this time as a group and we will improve it. I was just there to represent the community that day and if someone else comes along, I can help them improve the record by sharing too.”

Airault thinks he could have gone faster had he picked another mountain such as The Peak, with flat concrete roads. But he wanted to respect Covid-19 restrictions by going somewhere less busy. Besides, it was the location of the previous record, he wanted his friends on Lantau to join him and he wanted to be in a beautiful location.

Ferdinand Clovis Airault had companions for part of the challenge but was solo from 2am to 5am. Photo: Handout

From around 2am to 5am he was all by himself.

“At the start, I was very enthusiastic, so even on the ferry I was full of energy,” he said. “After, when people were coming and I knew people were there to say goodbye, I began to realise that I would not see these people again, that this was my last sunset at Sunset Peak.


“At sunrise, I said, ‘This is my last sunrise, it’s time to push.’ On the last five laps, I did my fastest laps. One of my final five laps was in the 10 top fastest ever laps of Sunset Peak. I think I really had this energy of knowing it was the last time.”

Airault added that it was farewell for now but not goodbye. He hopes to return to run the TransLantau in October.


“When I arrived in Hong Kong, I knew nothing about running,” he said. “I was smoking and drinking. Hong Kong changed me and I hope the US will change me too. Trail running will stay with me, but who knows what else I will find.”