The story of the 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k looks to be that of another set of breakout international performances for mainland Chinese ultrarunners. While past years have showcased the likes of Long-Fei Yan, Dong Li, Yiao Mao, and Min Qi, this year’s race could be the rest of the world’s first notice that race winners Yangchun Lu and Jiasheng Shen are forces to be reckoned with.
While not a scorcher weather wise, it was warm and humid and a bit toasty when the sun cracked through the cloud layer for an hour or two midday. That combination was enough to challenge many runners, especially those coming from cooler climes. Still, the highly varied, yet unrelenting course was the true test. Both during and after the race, some runners would highlight the difficulty of the highly runnable sections early in the race, while others would wince at the challenging cement stairs that dominated the climbs and descents. Read on below to find out how the race played out up front.
Thanks to Kailas for sponsoring our coverage of the Vibram Hong Kong 100k.
2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Men’s Race
What a fun race to watch! I watch many races every year and this was one of the most exciting I’ve seen in a while. Through the first third of the race, 2015 champion Long-Fei Yan and first to cross the line in 2018 (but later DQed) Jing Liang (post-race interview) led the race with Tom Evans chasing not far behind. Zhenlong Zhang and Jiasheng Shen (post-race interview) ran two and two-and-a-half minutes back at 34 kilometers, as the only other runners within five minutes of the lead with only two more within 10 minutes of the front. Honestly, it looked like a three-man game between Yan, Liang, and Owens.
At 57km, Liang and Yan were racing at breakneck speed in the front, both pushing hard. And Evans… he was out, withdrawn for a yet-unknown-to-me reason. So, seemingly one of two men, racing hard at the front, would be the day’s victor. But, that Shen guy was flying, too, and only two minutes back. The next four runners were all Chinese, but none was within nine minutes of the front.
Not much later we get a note and confirm via GPS tracking… Yan is walking with an injury. He pulls out at the next checkpoint. It’s now one man at the front.
At 70km, Liang holds the lead. Could redemption be his after last year’s finish-line disqualification? Ah, but Shen runs by just 30 seconds later.
At 82km, Liang’s doubled that lead to a full minute, but Shen looks the fresher of the two. What’s this? GPS shows Liang’s off course? Yes, and Shen’s in the lead for several hundred meters? Oh, what heartbreak Liang must feel, but he quickly turns around and closes in. Ah, but it’s not to be. Jiashen Shen builds his lead to four minutes over Liang at the final checkpoint with 10km to go and, then, extends that lead to nearly 14 minutes by the finish.
Zhenlong Zhang and Guo Min Deng ran in third and fourth respectively from the race’s midpoint on, once you take eventual DNF Long-Fei Yan out of the picture. The two runners came to those positions a bit differently, with Zhang running closer to the front in the race’s first third, while Deng wasn’t in the top 10 at 22km.
Running on his birthday, Scotty Hawker ran in the back half of the top 10 for the race’s first half before moving into and sticking in fifth from about 30km to go. Gediminas Grinius was a bit more back and forth, starting very conservatively, moving up, and, then, bouncing around a bit positionally before crossing the line in sixth.
2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Men’s Results
- Jiasheng Shen (Columbia Montrail) – 10:22:02 (post-race interview)
- Jing Liang (Toread) – 10:35:50 (post-race interview)
- Zhenlong Zhang (Toread) – 10:41:46
- Guo Min Deng (Salomon) – 10:52:19
- Scotty Hawker (Kailas/Vibram) – 10:53:34
- Gediminas Grinius (Vibram) – 11:11:10
- Kuo Li (Columbia Montrail) – 11:40:06
- Bo Li (Hoka One One/Vibram) – 11:47:19
- Paddy O’Leary (The North Face) – 11:51:37
- Ho Chung Wong (The North Face) – 11:52:39
2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Women’s Race
On the women’s side, the race was all Yangchun Lu (post-race interview) of mainland China, who was making her 100km debut. Lu had a 30-second lead on Switzerland’s Jasmin Nunige after the speedy first 12km. Lu’s gap on Nunige grew to four minutes at 22km and 10 minutes at 34km. Lu looked in control all day, often stopping for a few minutes to calmly eat and drink in the checkpoints. After the race, she credited her conscientious fueling to advice she receive a day before from last year’s champion Yiao Mao. That advice paid off Lu won by more than half an hour, while never seeming to falter along the way.
Nunige would continue to follow Lu in second until shortly before the 50km mark when last year’s third-place woman Fuzhao Xiang (post-race interview) took over second, a position she wouldn’t give up the rest of the day. Nunige would slowly lose positions through the remainder of the race, eventually finishing sixth. China’s Guangmei Yang would gradually move in the opposite direction through the race until she passed Nunige to move into third between 51 and 57km. Also from China, Meiling Xu ran in fifth for much of the race until she, too, passed Nunige, thereby moving into her fourth-place finishing position. Running in fourth early, Ekaterina Mityaeva dropped to sixth around mid-race before moving up into fifth roughly around the 90km mark.
While there were significant drops at the top of the men’s field (including Tom Evans, Dylan Bowman, and Long-Fei Yan), the women’s field held together with (as best as I can tell) no woman running in the top 10 from the 12km mark on withdrawing from the race.
2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Women’s Results
- Yangchun Lu (Adidas Terrex) – 11:43:20 (post-race interview)
- Fuzhao Xiang (Toread) – 12:17:32 (post-race interview)
- Guangmei Yang (Toread/Vibram) – 12:43:19
- Meiling Xu (The North Face) – 13:02:24
- Ekaterina Mityaeva (Adidas Terrex) – 13:03:46 (pre-race interview)
- Jasmin Nunige (Adidas Terrex) – 13:19:21
- Mariya Nikolova – 13:51:08
- Ying Suet Leung (Mizuno) – 14:01:22
- Lou Clifton – 14:33:33
- Lucy Cant (Gone Running) – 14:50:53
Many thanks to Andre Blumberg, Paper Pongsubkarun, Koichi Iwasa, and Brandon Wong for their assistance in covering the race!