The second edition of TTP was held on April 16 in Mount Kuocang of Linhai County, Zhejiang Province. The 2016 edition added a new distance category of 82km with a total ascent of 6,000m, traversing technical natural terrain along the ridges and in the forests, making it the toughest 50 Miler in China, and perhaps the most beautiful one with significant historic background as well.
Tsaigu-Tangsi Plus Race, April 16th 2016
By Zhao Xiaozhao
Sitting on the hilly southeast coastline, Linhai enjoys seasonal winds from the Pacific, between spring to autumn, making it a climate well appreciated by the outdoor enthusiasts. It is noted that there is almost zero heavy industry in that area.
Linhai is famous for both its scenery and history. The race route includes the Rice & Wave Peak (1,300 m from the sea level), the highest point of Eastern Zhejiang as well as being the first place to receive sunlight in the 21st century of East China. Along the route, runners would pass through very thick plants, such as bamboos and other sub-tropical species. Seasonal winds bring sufficient precipitation, forming crystal creeks which run through rocks of various shapes in the mountains. In the mornings when the sun shines after a humid day, the peaks and ridge lines emerge gradually from the clouds and fogs, like rocks revealing themselves as the tide ebbs out.
In the Chinese history, Linhai once played key roles in the Chinese maritime and agricultural sectors. The county also traded frequently with Japan, Southeast Asia and Arab countries, making the local merchants very rich with some even owning private armed forces. The race started from a stronghold that was built in the Ming dynasty. The stronghold claims to be one of the most integrated ancient coastal forts in China and is popular among the tourists.
Besides the 82km category, there were also shorter distances of 30km (less competitive and suitable for entry-level runners), and 62km. In the 62km category, runners had to run 7km from the top of Rice & Wave Peak to the sea level, through a very steep zig-zag and technical downslope which was covered with sand and blade-like rocks.
The race director and local runner (a finisher of UTMB and UTMF), Yu Tsai (Kein), wanted to design a challenging race and incorporate as many natural elements as possible along the route. He said that the most difficult part about the route design was to be able to have a one-direction route of which more than 90% was covered with natural terrain.
The 2016 race was held in moderate rain, making the race more challenging and shrouded in natural mystery. Despite of risk of stepping on slippery rocks, runners were happy to have experienced the amazing view of fog and rain in southeast China, which has been described as a symbol of romance in Chinese ancient poems and novels, without worrying about getting lost on the well-marked route.
Along the route, runners could see famers working in the tea garden in the traditional way, against a backdrop of rain dripping from pink flowers, youngest untouched bamboo shoots emerging from the soil, moss-covered rocks and thunder roaring in the remote sky. Deep in the forests, one could even hear the most subtle sounds like the bushes grazing your skin when you pass much too close to them.
The 2016 edition has attracted many international runners including Swedish female runners working in Hebei province and Shanghai, British tough nuts from Hong Kong, Greek and German runners from Jiangsu province, a Belgium manager working in Shanghai and can speak Chinese proficiently and a runner from Singapore. With such an international crowd, what better opportunity is there for Chinese runners to practise their foreign languages?
It was the local runners who swept both the men’s and women’s podiums, with Zhaohong Hua and Yanxing Ma (female champion of 2015 Asia Trail Master series), who walked away with the men’s and women’s titles respectively in the 82km category.
We spoke to the female first runner-up, Lijie Qu after the race, and she commented that, ““In all the races I tried, the TTP has the most various kind of terrain, I like its challenge with great view. It is a perfect combination of racing and tourism.”
For the overall winner Hua, his win was sweetened by the agreement of his girlfriend to marry him when he proposed to her moments after crossing the finishing line, amidst the applause of all who were there to share the happy moments with the couple.
In the 82km category, 76 (6 female) out of 192 (32 female) runners finished within the cut-off time of 21 hours. In the 62km category, 99 (15 female) out of 200 (45 female) runners finished within the cut-off time of 16 hours.
TTP is the 4th race in the calendar of 2016 Asia Trail Master series (www.asiatrailmaster.com). Finishers of 82km and 62km all scored points for the 2016 Asia Trail Master championship, and those who finished the 82km also collected 1 point for their individual Grandmaster Quest.
Results – 82km
Top 3 men
Top 3 women
Results – 62km
Top 3 men
Top 3 women