Ching Chou and Lisa Ries captured the XTERRA Kenting 26-kilometer trail run with winning times of 2:16:27 and 2:55:31, respectively, on a hot and windy day around Kenting National Park on Sunday, March 31, 2019.
In the men’s elite race Chou, who is Taiwan’s fastest trail runner and current ITRA points leader, took off fast from the start with XTERRA elite triathlete Doug Hall from the UK and Remy Gils from France but as soon as the course met its first climb, the 28-year-old from Taipei pulled away and was never to be seen again.
“I had a good run today, and I’m really happy for the win,” said Chou, who won the inaugural edition of this race in September of 2018. “It’s a really good trail and I enjoyed the experience.”
More than 450 runners from 10 countries took part in the race, which started at Leofoo Mountain Village then went through Shiniu Riverbed, uphill to South Beach, down Chihniuling to Menma Luoshan, along the Liangluan River. All told, runners climbed more than 1,000 meters up and down the mountain trails along the route.
Hall, who finished 7th at the grueling XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship off-road triathlon on Saturday in two hours and 45 minutes, turned in a time of 2:26:58 to take second-place in today’s trail run.
“I stayed with Chou up until the first climb and felt like my heart was in my lungs, I was dying,” said Hall. “I can’t wait to see the video footage of him going downhill and maybe learn a thing or two. So, once he got away I just enjoyed myself running in the jungle.”
About halfway into the race Gils caught up to Hall to make it interesting, but the Brit found another gear to pull away and finished more than two-minutes ahead of the Frenchman.
“This run had all the best parts of Kenting National Park rolled into one run,” said Hall. “Some sections were dry, some were rocky, there were parts where you were hanging on to trees to pull yourself up or stop yourself from falling down, places that were simple where you could chill, relax, and take your nutrition and things. It’s like a dream course, honestly one of the best runs I’ve ever done, and just happens to be a race at the same time.”
Gils held on for third in 2:29:25 and was thrilled to make the podium.
“Last year I got chased down right before the finish chute and missed out on the money, so I’m happy to make my goal today,” he said.
There was $30,000 NTD in prize money split between the top three men and women in the 26K today.
In the women’s race Lisa Ries, a 28-year-old from Kaoshiung, sprinted out with the top men and led the race the rest of the way, crossing the line nearly three-minutes ahead of runner-up Chiao-Chu Yang.
“Normally I’m a road race runner and we always go out fast,” said Ries, one of Taiwan’s most accomplished road runners who has found her passion on the trails. “I really love being in the nature and running trails. I want to be a professional trail runner and see the world with trail running. I’d love to go to Hawaii for XTERRA Trail Run Worlds, I’ve seen the videos and know they shot the movie Jurassic Park there, it looks incredible.”
Menghan Tsai finished third in 3:14:23.