The Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is an ultra endurance point-to-point race, that takes place every year in January.
The 8th edition starts on 27 January 2018 at 8 AM.
How it all started
Janet Ng and Steve Brammar were busy lawyers when they started running to balance out their stressful job.
“I just needed that exercise and release almost,” Janet says.
Short runs turned into hours, and hours turned into days.
Now they run multiday races like Marathon des Sables, a 250K 6-stage race in the Moroccan desert, and Petite Trotte à Léon, a 300K nonstop race in the European Alps.
But in Hong Kong there were no long distance solo races, so they decided to organize their own.
In January of 2011 the first edition of the Hong Kong 100K was held and 175 runners toed the start line.
During this first year of organizing and laying the groundwork, both Janet and Steve were still working long hours as lawyers, treating the race as a second job.
But just like anywhere else in the world, trail running and ultrarunning exploded in Hong Kong, and the race grew quickly.
In 2017 there were 5,300 people on the ballot for the available 1,800 spots.
“I want to keep it international, it is in the DNA of Hong Kong. This is an international, cosmopolitan city and we want people to get the chance to meet,” says Janet. “I mean, you’re all on this 100k journey. It is so rare that you get to see so many people doing something you love at the same time. Why not share it and welcome everybody from around the world?”
The mix of ethnicities and cultures and running levels creates a melting pot of a race, Janet claims, which she loves and looks forward to each year. “We love it because we see it as an opportunity for us to share other people’s views and experiences, and hear how things are done in other countries,” Janet says. “We love the elites to come, but we also want the weekend warrior to test themselves.”
The Hong Kong 100 race course
The 100K course is following Hong Kong’s famous Maclehose Trail, with some diversions to make sure you’ll see its most scenic sections, and will finish with the descent from Hong Kong’s highest peak (Tai Mo Shan).
You’ll start in Pak Tam Chung on the Sai Kung Peninsula and will enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in Hong Kong, including remote and unspoiled beaches, ancient forests, nature trails, reservoirs and steep hills.
At night, the bright lights of Hong Kong will alight the darkness.
The Hong Kong 100K course is rocky, uneven and sometimes steep; a mix of roads, trails and many stairs.
It has a cumulative elevation gain of over 4500 meters.
The first part is quite flat, but the second part is very challenging.
Normally the temperature in this sub-tropical climate is in January around 19 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit).
“There are a lot of monkeys. We have to tell people not to take your bananas and oranges out with you because they will grab them from you!” race director Janet Ng says.
Hong Kong 100 2018
This year 1998 participants (467 women, 1531 men) from 60 countries are expected at the start line.
The percentage of female participants grew to 26% in 2018 and includes female elite runners Andrea Huser, Marie Mcnaughton, Yao Miao, Mira Rai, Dan Yuji, Lisa Borzani, Nicole Kalogeropoulos and Melanie Rousset.
The list of male elite runners is also pretty impressive, including big names like Eric Tsang, Harry Jones, Alex Nichols, Zach Bitter, Sangé Sherpa, Erik-Sebastian Krogvig, Yoshikazu Hara, Qi Min, Yang Jiagen and Liang Jing.
There is no requirement to have completed any other particular event in order to participate in the Hong Kong 100. You do, however, need to be an experienced trail runner and must be sufficiently skilled and trained to undertake the event. The course is very tough and demanding with remote sections that can result in slower first aid/rescue response times. There are some very steep sections and parts are rough underfoot. You must also have the ability to deal with difficult climatic conditions, including strong winds, low temperatures, and heavy rainfall. Ensure that you are in good health and that you do not have any illness that will hinder your ability to complete the event. It is your responsibility to monitor your health and condition during the event and to withdraw from the event if you are no longer fit enough to continue.
Hong Kong 100 is a qualifying race for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® (UTMB):
Completion of the full course rewards you with 5 (new) ITRA points.
Arriving at CP9, CP8 and CP7 when the race was stopped gives you 4 (new) ITRA points.
Hong Kong 100 is also a qualifying race for the 2018 Western States Endurance Run.
Participants who finish the race within 23 hours do qualify for WSER.
The qualifying period for the 2019 Western States will be from November 6, 2017 through November 4, 2018. The lottery will be held on December 1, 2018 and the race itself will be run on June 23, 2018.
The Vibram® HK100 is part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT) Pro Series.
Ultra-Trail World Tour is the unique international circuit for ultra trail running races of more than 100k, on diverse terrains with various difficulties for runners of all levels, on several continents.
Zero waste, cup-free race
To go green, the 2018 edition will NOT be providing any disposable cups, bowls, forks or spoons. There will also be NO cup noodles served. To enjoy the different beverage and food items at checkpoints and the finish, please make sure you have your own utensils.
A record amount of HK$909,972.10 has been raised through the 2018 edition and donated to Blind Sports Hong Kong, Food Angel; Free to Run; Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation; and Ultra Sports Science. The remaining HK$27,972, plus additional amounts to be raised in the coming months, will be allocated to Hong Kong St. John Ambulance, Oxfam Hong Kong and the Scout Association of Hong Kong.
Review HK100 2017
Over 5000 entrants from 51 countries joined the ballot in 2017. About 37% runners came from Hong Kong, 27.5% from Mainland China and 35.5% runners from everywhere else, including a sizeable presence from Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Malaysia.
900 volunteers helped to make this race possible.
All charity slots were taken up in less than 30 minutes after registration opened.
From the 1866 people that eventually took part, 1577 (84,4%) crossed the finish line (79% men, 21% women).
Male winner Yan Qiao Yun from China finished Vibram Hong Kong 100 strong in 09:35:11, beating his own record of 2013, when he won the race with 10:15:57. It was his third time (he finished 5th in 2012) and he used his course knowledge to pace the 2017 race perfectly.
Yan Qiao Yun finished 26 minutes ahead of Daniel Jung (10 hours 1 minute), but he was not able to break the 2016 record of François D’Haene, missing out by just 2 minutes. Sage Canaday claimed the third place on the podium in 10 hours 3 minutes.
Female winner Nuria Picas from Spain finished in 11:18:57. She smashed Claire Price’s course record by 40 minutes and looked like she could go round again.
China’s Linming Chen was second in 11 hours 53 minutes. Linming also broke the existing course record and led for the first half of the race, even though it was her very first attempt at the 100km distance. With a background in road running and a marathon best of 2:48, her switch from road- to trail running is very impressive.
Hong Kong resident New Zealander, Marie McNaughton, finished third in 12 hours 26. Only 4 women had ever finished under 12:30 six years history of the HK100, so 2017 the top 3 results show the strength of the field and the day’s fast conditions.
Visually impaired runner Lee Chun Fai, completed the event in 23 hours 20 minutes.
After not finishing the race in 2014, Chun Fai returned and met his target time of sub 24 hours, and received the bronze “dude”. His mission was to inspire other visually impaired participants to meet life’s challenges positively by setting an example, “to strive, to yearn and to fight for my own life and of other visually impaired people”.
Race Directors: Steve Brammar and Janet Ng
Email: hk100ultra at gmail dot com
Resources / further reading
Race report Hong Kong 100 2017
Hong Kong 100 2017 race results
Preview Hong Kong 100 2017
History of the Hong Kong 100 ultramarathon
Interview with Janet Ng, co-founder and co-race director of the Hong Kong 100 ultramarathon
Meet the winners of the Hong Kong 100 ultramarathon 2017
Air pollution Hong Kong didn’t bother HK100 participants in 2017
Participants list Vibram® Hong Kong 100 Ultra 2018
Interview with female champignon of Hong Kong 100 2016 Dong Li
HK Trailrunner race review Vibram HK100 Ultra 2017 (100km)
HK100 2017 Images
Ultra-Trail World Tour 2018
Video by Asia Trail magazine
Also published on Medium.