Lantau Base Camp extended its reach with an inaugural all-female race in January, and its annual Valentine’s dash continues to attract a passionate following. Samantha Wong reports.
The first LBC Valentines Race in 2014 saw the then organisers Jeremy and Valerie Ritcey get engaged at the start, but it’s not exclusively for lovers. Open to teams of two, there are three different categories – mixed, male and female. All partners must finish the course à deux, making it a trust, as well as a physical exercise, and a great way to work up a sweat together.
“We have a permitted limit of 250 couples,” says Shane Early of Lantau Base Camp. “Romantic couples are about half the entrants. The rest are friends out there to have fun – some are very competitive.”
The race, which starts and finishes at Nam Shan Picnic Area on South Lantau Road, is categorised as a fun run but it’s not an easy 13 kilometres. “It has hills on the second half and a total elevation gain of 800 metres. It is not for beginners,” Shane says.
In 2014, Olya Korzh and Tsang Chun Kit finished the race in a record 1:27:11 but competitors can take their time on February 11, thanks to a generous cut off of 4.5 hours. Lovers and buddies can sign up for the race (HK$350 per team) online by February 1.
The LBC’s motto is ‘Get out there! Have fun! Enjoy the trails!’ With this in mind, Shane is constantly expanding the LBC racing portfolio to make it more inclusive. The LBC Lantau Ladies Run/ Hike, the first Hong Kong trail race designed exclusively for women, was a great success on January 21, with 400 ladies taking part in either the 20-kilometre or 10-kilometre race.
“We would like to encourage more women to be active on the trails,” Shane says. “Presently the average for female participants is 20-25% in races in Hong Kong. We would love to see that number increase. We plan to make this an annual event and grow it.
“When I designed the course, my thoughts were to make it challenging for top local runners, like Zein Williams, but very doable for women who wanted to hike it,” Shane adds. “The highest point (275 metres) was within the first 6 kilometres, after that it was just rolling trail.”
As an added incentive for competitors, the LBC Lantau Ladies Run/ Hike supports the Hong Kong Cancer Fund – this year, runners had the option to donate as they enrolled. “Cancer has affected friends and family close to all of us,” Shane says. “In life we face our trail challenges together – the Hong Kong Cancer Fund helps make sure no one faces cancer alone.”
Image: Anya Belcher