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Video: An Epic Journey Along Asia’s Toughest Race, The 9 Dragons Ultra

Hong Kong is truly one of the best cities in the world for trail running – and no one knows this better than RaceBase’s race director, Steve Carr. Keen to show that trail running is for anyone and everyone, Carr recently reached out to professional film director, Robin Lee, to capture the stories of two runners facing one of Asia’s toughest trails, The 9 Dragons.


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The 9 Dragons Ultra is a multi-day trail race which covers the hills of Kowloon, including Kowloon Peak, Tung Shan, Tate’s Cairn, Temple Hill, Unicorn Ridge, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill, and Crow’s Nest. On the first day, runners are required to conquer 50 miles, followed by 50km on day two. With a total elevation gain of over 7,200 meters, the challenge is no mean feat.

As the race director for The 9 Dragons Ultra, Carr wanted to promote trail running in a way that would help to challenge and inspire everyone – beyond a simply highlight reel of people running. Having viewed some of Lee’s previous work, Carr approached him to collaborate in making a video that showed the emotional side of trail running, encompassing the captivating stories and inspiring characters of those who take part in it.

Together, Carr and Lee chose to feature John Ellis, a racer who was out to win, and Jo Kway, a runner who was racing to complete. The two characters make the perfect combination for the video as their views, goals, and ambitions create an interesting contrast that not only shows two completely different sides to The 9 Dragons Ultra race, but also trail running as a whole.

“We knew that after the first edition of the race, John Ellis was running to win”, Carr tells Localiiz. “Knowing him personally, we knew winning meant a great deal to him. We had also met Jo a few times before in various races, and she was actually one of the first ladies to sign up for The 9 Dragons Ultra. We spent some time getting to know her and decided that she would be perfect in giving a different contrast to John”.

Filmed over the course of The 9 Dragons Ultra weekend, Lee and his team had a big task ahead of them. “The hardest part was shooting in the field and making sure we could get to the best locations before each runner arrived”, Lee explains. “We never had time to rest because often we would arrive only minutes before the runners came through, so we had to be focused all the time. We also had to carry a lot of heavy camera gear, so having a crew that was used to these conditions was super important”.

Perfectly capturing the intensity of the race, as well as the emotional storytelling of trail running, Carr and Lee were able to create an engaging story that everyone could relate to – even those who have never experienced it. And if you find yourself inspired by this epic clip, then you’ll be glad to hear that the next 9 Dragons Ultra race is taking place on February 1 to 3, 2019.

Check out Lee’s website to see more of his brilliant videos.


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