PLA and Athlete team battle down to wire in HK's Trailwalker 2011

PRESS RELEASE - November 21st 2011. Hong Kong

The North Face – Flight and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) battle down to wire in world’s biggest 100km trail race.


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) edged out The North Face – Flight team in one of the closest finishes ever in OXFAM Trailwalker, Hong Kong's legendary 100km footrace. The event, celebrating its 30th year anniversary, saw 4,800 people line up to attempt to finish the incredibly difficult course across Hong Kong's New Territories. The race requires a team of four to climb over countless steep peaks, taking in a total of 14,000 ft. of elevation gain before finishing with a knee-jarring 1+ hour downhill road run and another 10 km on single-track trail. Hong Kong's tropical climate always adds to the challenge, with this year's extremely high humidity level slowing down finish times and creating one of the most difficult races in the last decade.

Klayten on Trail 

The North Face sponsored an impressive international team which included world-class Japanese ultra trail runner Tsuyoshi Kaburaki and 3 members of the Asia-based adventure sports team, Champion System Adventure, including: top local Chinese trail runner and past Trailwalker champion, Stone Tsang, American adventure racer Ryan S. Blair, and former professional Australian cyclist turned multi-sport athlete, Klayten Smith. For the PLA, Trailwalker is the only race each year they join and involves an extremely focused training and selection effort that ends with the strongest eight soldiers forming two teams for the competition. They have been Trailwalker champions since they entered the race 3 years ago with their best time amazingly over 45 minutes faster than the legendary international Ultra runner Scott Jurek (7-time Western States Champion) and his USA Montrail team achieved in the two occasions they won the race. However, this year the PLA’s rein nearly ended with The North Face – Flight chomping through the two PLA teams 15 minute and 7 minute gaps they had built over the first 80 km of the course, setting the stage for a nail biting finish.

PLA & TNF prestart

Ryan S. Blair, captain of The North Face – Flight, revealed, “the pace the PLA set from the start was incredibly fast and with the extreme humidity we thought they would slow down closer to the finish and we might have a crack at catching them. Despite having one teammate who had been throwing up for 4 hours we pushed so hard to catch the second placed PLA team and almost got within headlights view of their first team but just ran out of racecourse in time to catch them.”


The PLA finished the race in 12 hours 22 minutes with The North Face – Flight less than 3 minutes behind. Team Salomon finished 3rd overall 30 minutes later. Stone Tsang added, “The PLA has an amazing level of focus, determination and support to do well in this event every year, and their group of soldiers that have won this race the last three years are phenomenal.”

Kaburaki, normally a solo racer who himself has finished as high as 3rd place in Europe’s prestigious 168km UTMB, mentioned, “the PLA were too strong today. We pushed very hard. This was my first team race and a great experience. I am amazed how beautiful the trails in Hong Kong are and how close to the city.”

TNF-Flight Team 

Trailwalker Hong Kong has raised over US$ 40 million for anti-poverty projects worldwide, and has inspired several other Trailwalker events globally including in Japan, UK, Spain, and Australia. No other 100km trail race in the world gets such a high participation as the Hong Kong event and the organizers, OXFAM, must resort to a lottery system as the event is over-subscribed each year.

Shatin pass with camera 

The Champion System Adventure Team consists of a small group of endurance sport champions based in the Asia Pacific region. Team members strive to live out their passion for adventure, travel and international competition, while helping to promote the value and protection of Asia's spectacular outdoor areas. The team is managed by Asia Pacific Adventure, and sponsors include: Champion System, The North Face, Specialized Bikes, High Performance Sports, Garmin, SportsWorld, Feelfree Kayaks, Paradigm, Pure Fitness, Chung Yung Cycle Co., Active Nutrition, Sports and Spinal Physios and Sports Plus.


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