Post HK100 Interview with Purna and Suman
Purna Tamang and Suman Kulung competed at last weekend’s HK100 ultra. This was the first HK100 appearance for Purna – he just missed out on the podium and finished in 4th place in 10h11m16s. For Suman this was the second HK100 attempt. Suman improved significantly on his 2015 performance and after very strong finish after CP8 he climbed to 7th place in 10h38m26s.
We sat down for some dinner and tea and beer and some post HK100 conversation with Purna and Suman. Here is the transcript of our talk.
Q: Purna, Suman, can you both tell me what was your original plan/strategy for the race?
P: My plan was to finish in top 3 and I was hoping to finish within 9h45min – 9h55min.
S: My original plan was top 10 and to finish within 10 hours, that was the original plan. But because of pace set by the Chinese runners the race became very fast. I had problems between CP6 and CP8 with tight hamstrings. This affected my overall timing.
Q: So after the start you did not follow your own planned pace but you tried to follow the pace set by the Chinese runners, right ?
P: Actually I did not feel the early pace was too fast. I ran according to my coach instruction to keep in 4-5th place but after CP7 I had a bit of an muscle issue and that slowed me down a bit.
S: I agree that at the beginning the Chinese were pretty fast and I tried to follow them. But also the long road sections at first part of the race made muscles a bit tight.
Q: And then after CP5 came the hills. Did you think that you could catch up with leading Chinese guys on the hills or did you believe that at that stage there is no chance to go after them?
P: I did not have any negative feelings after CP5. I had confidence I could at least follow them and get close to my target time. So with that confidence I kept going on. But after CP9 my muscles started to feel a bit tired and I could not catch them. That is where I lost the time.
S: After I passed CP5 I felt I can keep going on and get close to my target time at least. But then I lost time on the road.
Q: And then we could see that something happened after Shing Mun. You were way back down at 15th place after having your troubles but then you finished at 7th place. So you passed lots of people and you gained lots of time after Shing Mun.
S: Until Shing Mun due to the road surface I faced some problems but after Shing Mun when going up the Needle Hill I had confidence I could still do well. Uphill downhill that is my strength thanks to my training in Nepal. It gave me opportunity to catch some runners. That’s why on the way up Needle Hill and down the Grassy Hill I overtook some runners. That’s where I had some advantage.
Q to Purna: We could see on the official video that while climbing Tai Mo Shan you were very close to the Chinese runner who at the end finished 3rd. You had maybe only 100 meters between you. But then at the end you finished few minutes behind him. So at what stage did you see that you can’t catch him?
P: I was perhaps 70m behind him and I tried my best to catch him and also hoped to overtake him. But as I was pushing, pushing my muscles did not really help me out. So later on because of muscle pain I had to slow down. That’s why I could not catch him.
Q: So overall you both finished in top 7, right 🙂 so what is your overall feeling about the race – are you satisfied, disappointed – how do you feel after the race.
P: Well I hoped to complete the race within 9:45 – 9:55 however I did my best and I am happy with the result because this was my first HK100 as an individual, so I am satisfied. And I want to thank AWOO for sponsoring us, to help us to come and to make our race successful.
S: I am very very happy that I improved my HK100 time compared with my first run in 2015. I improved my time and improved my result from 19th to 7th place. So I am very very happy and satisfied with the time and top 10 finish. I am also very grateful to AWOO for providing the necessary sponsorship and also to Ramesh for providing the training in Nepal.
Q: Anything else you want to say about the race ? Any other comment on other runners or the race itself? How did you enjoy the race compared to some other races you took part in?
P: In my opinion I expected that the both the men and ladies they would win the race. I competed against them in China and saw how strong they are. And when I saw them here I was pretty confident that they would win both the races. That’s what I thought. But overall I really enjoyed the HK100 race. Except for not meeting my time target I am very happy and satisfied with the result and performance.
Q: Purna, what do you think – which one is harder – Trailwalker or HK100 ?
P: HK100 is a bit harder.
Q: Why? Because of the first half, the second half, or ?
P: In my opinion I consider HK100 harder because at Trailwalker you have group of 4 runners who work together, help each other, pace each other. Whereas HK100 is an individual race where all the depends on you only. Individual stamina, individual willpower, individual talent, ability to recover. I think HK100 is more difficult.
S: When we came for Trailwalker in 2015 we hoped to win but because marshals sent us the wrong way and there one of our team members injured himself. That set us back and overall we could not show our talent. So also because of this I think HK100 is easier than Trailwalker – it is an individual effort so it depends on me whether I want to slow down or speed up – this I think makes HK100 easier than Trailwalker.
Q: 🙂 different opinions 🙂
Q: Can you also tell us about your nutrition during the race?
S: Two hours before the race we had light breakfast – rice and dhal (lentils) – that kept us going for few hours. Then we had some gels, some energy bars. Then at some checkpoints – CP2, CP5 and I think CP8 we were given congee by our support crew. In between checkpoints we had gels, energy bars and water. That was our main food during the race.
Q: And what did you use from the food/drinks supplied at the checkpoints?
S: At some checkpoints I had a cup of Coke, some banana, rice balls and at some I also had sandwich – that was my checkpoint food mix.
Q: And how about you Purna?
P: Before the race I had the rice and dhal (lentils) then at the checkpoints some Coke, some bananas. Our support team provided us with congee at 3 checkpoints – CP2, CP5, CP8. Then also energy bars and gels during the race.
Q: And was the race nutrition sufficient in your opinion:
S: I think it was good to keep us going.
P: In my opinion also it was adequate, sufficient enough to keep my body going.
Q: So how many gels did you finish each ?
P: I think I had around 9 gels
S: I took 5
Q: And energy bars?
P: I had ate 4
S: I also ate 4
Q: Did you like them ?
P, S: Yes, very good, very good
Interesting note: After we switched off the recording we continued on with a casual conversation. It came up that thanks to that fast pace set by the Chinese runners Purna and Suman arrived in CP5 about 10-15 minutes faster than their pre-race plans/estimations.