For this varied audience just a note about what Skyrunning is. The name is gives a big clue, and as another has put it, “Skyrunning is the brave and burly cousin of trail running.” There are rules about what makes a Skyrunning course, but essentially it means running on trails at high altitudes with a whole lot of climb and descent expected. At some points, the runner might leave the trails entirely and end up using hands as well as feet to cross more difficult sections. It is about as far from a road marathon as you can imagine, taking you to beautiful places and is a lot more fun.
The International Skyrunning Federation coordinates a series of events around the world, and it works much like a tennis or cricket series. With relatively big prize money for this sport, and funds to get the best athletes to races, it is attracting a lot of attention, elevating the level of the sport. For Nepali runners, there is some opportunity here. There are the kinds of Skyrunning events which are explained at the bottom of the page.
So to the race.
There were two main running events here, 28km Skyrunner SKY and 50km Skyrunner ULTRA.
Nepal took first places in both 50km events. Samir Tamang and Mira Rai (both unsponsored**), beat a field of very talented runners. (Santosh Tamang lost the way and a lot of time but completed the course.)
In the 50km women’s, Mira Rai from Nepal wins the championship, finishing in 05:39:31. “I just heard that I was ahead of many strong men, I am very happy. I am happy with my result and thanks Michael Maddess of Action Asia Events, the organizer that invited me. I really enjoyed my experience and loved this MSIG Sai Kung 50 course,” said Rai. (KI)
The course was beautiful, but hard, a lot of short steep climbs and descents on some difficult, loose trails. Mixed in were sections of road (around the dam) and white sandy beach. It challenged all of the runners. Some from Europe contrasted this course with some European trail courses which have fewer much longer ascents and wider, more defined trails. Some called this “a true Skyrunning event”.
Samir arrived in Hong Kong with great confidence. A journalist asked him what his strategy was, “To win,” he replied, looking as if was a dumb question, and followed up by mentioning his target time of 4:30 or thereabouts. The second place competitor Yan Long-Fei of China (Salomon) is nothing short of awesome, with a 2:15 marathon time to give perspective. He lost the way at one point and a few minutes, and perhaps has tired legs from the Vibram HK 100 some weeks back, but this does not detract from the fact that this was Samir’s race. Congratulations to him.
Mira Rai has not yet finished her first year of trail running. She completed her first 50km on March 21st 2014.
“A chance is like a leaf on a stream, you have to grab it quick, or it’s gone forever.”
This is Mira’s statement, and she has consistently put everything she has into every opportunity. Within 11 months she’s listened, watched, learned, trained and succeeded. Luke Nelson of the Patagonia team described her as “a beast” which is a big noun for a petite 50kg woman. She finished 8 min ahead of him. Others praised her descending skill, and yet others her ascending power. Photographers commented on her relaxed style, clearly enjoying the running. We thought she’d made her mark last December in the race with Stevie Kremer, but evidently it has taken another great performance, this time with much wider media attention, to make an impression on the international trail running community.
Marcus Warner of ultra168.com says of Mira, “What an incredible athlete and a real privilege to share the trails with her over the weekend in hong Kong. She is going to shake up the global trail running community with her climbing speed!”
If you have 5 minutes, read this. Roger explains why helping support runners like Mira is important. If you have less time, read just the fourth paragraph.
Thanks must go to all the people who’ve supported Mira and Samir and other Nepalese runners. We hope you will continue your support and enjoy their continued successes in future. Thanks to AAE / Michael Maddess and MSIG for putting on a great event.
* There are three categories of Skyrunning races:
- the Vertical Kilometer, or VK, during which competitors gain 1,000 metres of elevation over the distance of five kilometers;
- the Sky Distance or SkyMarathon races, which feature distances approximately between half-marathon (21.1 km) and marathon (42.2 km);
- and finally Ultra SkyMarathon, which encompasses all races longer than 50 km.
** only Dawa Dachhiri Sherpa (to my knowledge) has had that opportunity.