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Japan sweeps Asian Skyrunning Championships

Nepal’s Sunmaya Budha takes the gold and from Japan, Takako Takamura silver and Kusuda, bronze at the Asian Skyrunning Championships in the SKY discipline. © Action Asia Events

It’s been an intensive skyrunning season with no less than three World and four Continental Championships, concluding with the Asian Skyrunnning Championships in Hong Kong, China on Saturday, December 2, 2023. Japan swept the board taking medals in the men’s and women’s podiums in both the SKY and SKYULTRA disciplines – eight out of the 12 medals at stake.

Nepal pocketed a gold and a bronze medal with just two representatives and host country, Hong Kong, China, took a silver and a bronze.

Nepali Sunmaya Budha, gold medallist in the 2016 Asian Championships, set the course record and nailed another the gold for the SKY discipline. “A very hard and technical course with beautiful views of Hong Kong. I’m really happy to get the gold for Nepal and it’s great seeing other strong countries participate.” Fellow countryman Arjun Rai Kulung took the bronze in the men’s race. All the other podium places went to Japan.

On his way to the silver in the Launtau 27k for the SKY discipline, Shoma Otagiri from Japan. ©Action Asia Events

Japan also dominated the SKYULTRA, with the men’s and women’s gold going to Kanako Edamoto and Hiroki Kai respectively. Hong Kong locals however, clinched a silver and a bronze.

The two events were open and included some 500 athletes from across Asia participating in the Bupa Global Lantau 27K with 1,922m vertical climb for the SKY discipline and the Bupa Global Lantau 50, 54 km long with 3,240m vertical climb for the SKYULTRA.

The fourth edition of the biennial Asian Skyrunning Championships saw official teams participate from Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines and new entry, Mongolia. Mongolia made an impressive launch in their first year on the international skyrunning stage taking medals at both the Youth Skyrunning and recent Stairclimbing World Championships.  No medals this time but with two athletes in the top five overall in the SKY category, it’s a result to be proud of.

The strong Japanese team swept the podiums at the Asian Skyrunning Championships in Hong Kong, China, Lantau Island. ©Action Asia Events

Japan came into the Asian Skyrunning Championships with a strong team of talented runners – a total of 12, six per discipline – an advantage over the other official nations participating, built on consistent growth over the years taking a high number of top spots in the various championships and holding many races on home ground. This year they took no less than 9 medals at the 2023 Youth Skyrunning World Championships and two gold at the recent Stairclimbing World Championships in Osaka.

“Team Japan will continue to show that skyrunning is a global sport by continuing to challenge themselves,” commented Dai Matsumoto, President, Skyrunning Japan Association. “With the spirit of skyrunning in mind, let’s continue to hold each other up. Less cloud. More Sky!”

After the numerous 2023 events with the participation of new countries and young talent, skyrunning will be reaching for new heights in 2024 kicking off with the second edition of the new SkySnow discipline in March, followed by the annual Masters and Youth World Championships, the VK OPEN and the biennial World Championships. Add the Skyrunner® World Series and the Skyrunner® National Series, hopefully enough to fill every skyrunner’s bucket list in this fast-growing global sport.

SKYULTRA men’s podium with Japan’s Hiroki Kai taking the gold, Shoma Otagiri, the silver and Ka Keung Chang from Hong Kong, bronze. ©Action Asia Events

SKY – Bupa Global Lantau 27k
Men’s results
Gold – Ryunosuke Omi (JPN) – 2h40’45”
Silver – Kasagi Hajimi (JPN) –2h45’25”
Bronze – Arjun Rai Kulung (NEP) – 2h56’20”

Women’s results
Gold – Sunmaya Budha (NEP) – 3h07’40”
Silver – Takako Takamura (JPN) – 3h24’59”
Bronze – Kusuda Suzuha (JPN) – 3h28’48”

SKYULTRA – Bupa Global Lantau 50k
Men’s results
Gold – Hiroki Kai (JPN) – 5h43’35”
Silver – Shoma Otagiri (JPN) – 5h52’04”
Bronze – Ka Keung Chan (HKG) – 6h14’14”

Women’s results
Gold – Kanako Edamoto (JPN) – 7h06’52”
Silver – Man Yee Cheung (HKG) – 7h14’33”
Bronze – Aya Wakabayashi (JPN) – 7h21’46”

Medal count and country ranking
Race website full results