The eyes of the Ultra-Racing world will be firmly affixed to Hong Kong on Sunday, February 17th as the eagerly anticipated Fast 100 is ready to host a showdown between Jim Walmsley and Rob Krar — albeit, with a few new wrinkles.
The world’s best trail runners are known for their ability to deal with adversity on the course, so it seems only appropriate that the Fast 100 Ultra grapples with some of its own. On the race’s official site and in a letter addressed to participants, organizers revealed a new starting point and shortened distance.
Photo Credit: Rob Krar
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are forced to hold all events on Sunday, February 17th and to modify the course,” Trail Hub’s Valerie Lagarde and Jeremy Ritcey said in the statement. “Local residents opposed the use of our start/finish line overnight and thus, we have no choice but to shorten the 100km course to 80km (50 miles) in order to finish by 10pm.”
Alterations to the course include a new starting line at the Wah Fat Playground, with most of the cut sections after Shing Mun. Instead, the course will now loop around Shing Mun reservoir without going down towards Eagle’s Nest.
With the site now referring to the race as “The Fast 50 Miles,” participants are being assured that the race will remain the fastest 80 race in Hong Kong — and it won’t be a typical one, with roughly 2500m of elevation gain and hardly any stairs along the route to ensure more running than hiking.
This is particularly exciting for Ultra-Racing fans, as this new race sets the stage for Jim Walmsley (this year’s 100-mile Western States record-setter) to square off against Rob Krar (2014 Western States winner and two-time conqueror of the Leadville Trail 100). Walmsley is reportedly eyeing a long-term transition to marathon running, with a goal of participating in the Olympics.
Photo Credit: Jim Walmsley
“I’ll go over [to Hong Kong] and look at taking care of business first,” Walmsley told the South China Morning Post (https://www.scmp.com/sport/outdoor/trail-running/article/2168776/jim-walmsley-race-rob-krar-hong-kongs-fast-100-western) this past October. “The exploring and travelling will come after the race. A competitor like [Krar] keeps your training honest. It’s about being a professional and doing a job.”
Sunday won’t be the first time the two athletes have met each other on a course — Krar won the Moab Red Hot 55km, and each has beaten the other since — but with the two men firmly on top of their sport, the Fast 100 (aka Fast 50 Miles) has set the stage for an exciting showdown.
Auburn’s Formidable Mixes Scenery with Sweat
As any ultra-runner knows, there are few things as exciting as race day — the gathering at the starting line, the camaraderie between participants, the limitless promise of that first step. Which is just one reason that pulses are quickening with the February 16th arrival of the Fourmidable 50k, presented by Singletrack Running.
Sometimes jokingly referred to as “FourMUDable,” this event boasts 6000 feet of climbing through often back-breaking conditions; indeed, it is billed as the most challenging 50k in the picturesque Auburn/Cool area of California. With less than a mile of road at any time, the race begins with the forebodingly-dubbed “Cardiac Hill” — and from there it gets tough.
STR’s motto is “If you are going to do something difficult, you should never find just the easy way,” and Fourmidable puts those words in action, utilizing uncommon trails that most runners never get to experience. The name itself, meanwhile, comes from the four climbs that put would-be challengers to the test:
Cardiac Hill: Known for its sharp drops and switchbacks, the hill pays off with a scenic run along the American River. But that water run-off can also follow the trail and result in muddy conditions, and runners also must contend with a drop of nearly 800 feet in an eighth of a mile going down the mountainside.
K2 (aka Training Hill): Beautiful wild flowers are peppered throughout this difficult trail, as is the occasional waterfall and creek. But it’s also steep enough to ensure that runners feel the burn.
Knickerbocker Canyon Trail: Located at the site of the ill-fated Auburn Dam (known as “the dam that wouldn’t die” for its near-40 years in development), Knickerbocker features spectacular views, multiple waterfalls and an unrivaled physical challenge.
Overlook Hill: Picturesque Overlook Park is known far and wide as a popular place for hikers, runners and other athletes to start (or finish) their adventures, and for good reason. Just make sure you can run faster than the mama bears protecting their cubs.
This year’s Fourmidable entrants will be utilizing state of the art live-tracking equipment so friends and family can keep up on their movements, aid stations staffed by volunteers eager to keep everyone strong with gels, salt tablets, boiled potatoes and more — and of course, a post-race party that promises to be as epic as the run itself. Also, the event is proud to be environmentally-friendly, encouraging each participant to bring their own collapsible water containers so Fourmidable can remain cupless and keep their trails as beautiful as possible.
With the arrival of race day upon us, Singletrack Running’s Fourmidable promises to host a formidable day of sweat, scenery and successes. The event’s logo is a multi-colored skull, which seems only appropriate — soon enough, the city of Auburn will be home to many aching bones.