MSC 116: Amat and Nakajima dominate
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 Milton Amat has won the Mantra Summits Challenge 116 in 23h23! A fantastic performance by the Sabahan Uglow athlete, who scored his second career ATM race victory in Indonesia. He was the top favourite amongst all contenders, but Amat didn’t leave the others any chance and didn’t even look too tired as he crossed the finish line at the great Kaliandra Eco Resort in the middle of the night. More than ever Milton Amat is a serious ATM Championship contender, now after his third result of the season. 

Omnipresent Hisashi Kitamura scored an impressive second place in the mega tough high mountain race - a course that normally does not suit his characteristics as a trail runner. The time gap to Milton Amat was huge, though: nearly 4 hours. It's nevertheless a very sweet second place for the Uglow Malaysia runner, as he raises his ATM total points tally by 75 to 2525 points - the same as Championship leader John Ellis! The Hong Kong Ozzie remains the official number 1, however, as he beat Kitamura in their last direct confrontation, which was at Penang Eco 100 miles. Kitamura continues to amaze followers this season with his string of fine performances. A welcome rest now follows, though.

Indonesia's Ivan Iskandar, relatively unknown on the ATM tour, completed the podium of the 116k for men. Iskandar ran a very consistent pace all day and night, and actually edged closer to Kitamura in the final 20 km. His compatriot Rahmat Septiyanto came in as fourth place. Fifth was for Hadi Mustofa, also from Indonesia, in a sign that there life after Arief Wismoyono, himself absent due to professional obligations last weekend. Malaysia’s Jeffery Budin came home sixth. The Malatra runner is also quietly establishing himself as a tough ultra runner.

The 116k proved everything that was promised: no compromises, no prisoners. The hardest race on our ATM Championship calendar saw the ‘DNFs’ of none other than Mantra expert and top favourite alongside Milton Amat, Pablo Diago Gonzales. After some 50km, the Spaniard called it quits after severely hurting his ankle in the descent of the highest peak, Mount Arjuno. He was joined at the same point by ATM Champion Alessandro Sherpa, who loves this race but seems to struggle here every year. Sherpa was able to keep up with Milton Amat early on, but as the day progressed climbing Welirang and Arjuno he got too dehydrated for his own good and decided it was too risky to continue. It’s a setback for the Champion in his bid to keep the ATM title this year, but it also takes a Champion to realise when enough is enough not to risk one’s own health. Tokyo’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi also did not reach the finish after hurting his left knee. Fandhi Achmad, winner of the 50k two years ago, was keeping a relatively low profile early on in the race. Just as he began to make up ground, he took a wrong turn and ended up off course for quite a while. Achmad nevertheless managed to finish, albeit in 11 th place.

In the women’s 116 race, we had a big and actually quite unexpected dominant victory by Japan's Asuka Nakajima! It was her second ATM points race victory of the season after Tahura Trail 42km in Bandung, which proves how versatile Nakajima is. Last month she still DNFd at Penang Eco 100, but now she bounces back at Mantra. This tastes for more! Malaysia's Siokhar "Steel" Lim again had a great second half to grab her first podium of the season. Lim overtook Sri Wahyuni in the final 15 km. Surabaya's Wahyuni still held on to third place. Philippines' Cecile Wael ran a remarkable race herself. For a long time in second position, she eventually had to slow down and came home fourth just ahead of Malaysia's Fazlia Hanim. 

MSC 75: Yusuf Aprian won his first major ATM points race! The Bandung youngster was too fast for established mountain runners such as David Fontaine and Philippines’ Koi Grey. In the women’s we had a Japanese victory by Ema Nakajima ahead of Christin Mutia and Septiana Swastika

Podium men 116 with Milton Amat, Hisashi Kitamura and Ivan Iskandar

Podium men 116 with Milton Amat, Hisashi Kitamura and Ivan Iskandar

Podium women 116 with Asuka Nakajima, Siokhar Lim and Sri Wahyuni

Podium women 116 with Asuka Nakajima, Siokhar Lim and Sri Wahyuni

Gritty run by Philippines’ Cecile Wael results in a 4th place on the 116

Gritty run by Philippines’ Cecile Wael results in a 4th place on the 116

Siokhar Lim earned herself the nickname “Steel”

Siokhar Lim earned herself the nickname “Steel”

Yusuf Aprian: great winner of the 75 km

Yusuf Aprian: great winner of the 75 km

Koi Grey scored a 3rd place on the 75km “without training”

Koi Grey scored a 3rd place on the 75km “without training”

Tahira managed to get to km 80, but lack of training compelled her to call it a day then

Tahira managed to get to km 80, but lack of training compelled her to call it a day then

More big names on the DNF list: Alessandro Sherpa (dehydration) and Pablo Diago (sprained ankle)

More big names on the DNF list: Alessandro Sherpa (dehydration) and Pablo Diago (sprained ankle)

Sunrise is amazing in this race

Sunrise is amazing in this race

MSC 116: Calling all mountain goats
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On paper, the Mantra Summits Challenge is the hardest points race in the Asia Trail Master Championship series. And every year, it gets longer, too. For 2019, event organiser Heru Prabowo and race director Ivan Citraya of the Malang Trailrunners, have introduced a collossal 116km as longest distance option on top of the existing 75km from a year ago. Total elevation gain is set at approx 8800 hm. Yet, the scenery at an altitude of well above 3000m with the mountains of Welirang and Arjuno remains an attraction for trail runners from all over Asia. Mantra Summits Challenge is the Indonesia SuperTrail in 2019, and any trail runner who loves a good mountain is at the Kaliandra Eco Resort in East Java this weekend.

Interestingly enough, the last two years the long distance race for men was decided in the very last kilometres on the road towards the finish line in the resort. In 2017, Fandhi Achmad overtook an injured Jan Nilsen and last season, famously, Elias Tabac from Davao ran past Pablo Diago Gonzales in the last kilometre with his shoes torn apart and his feet a bloody mess. This weekend we can in any case expect a fantastic battle royal in the high mountains between several protagonists in the Asia Trail Master series, both in the men and women categories, and both in the relevant 116km and 75km races.

Taking a look at the points standings first, we see the inevitable Hisashi Kitamura on the start list. The KL-based Japanese runner has made a remarkable progress in his short trail running ‘career’ and currently ranks 2nd in the ATM Championship, 75 points adrift of John Ellis. Fast marathon runner Kitamura runs all the ATM SuperTrails this season, but admits that the Indonesia one suits him least. Nevertheless, he showed great maturity in Penang Eco 100 last month and if he scores a second place in Mantra Summits he equals John Ellis’ total of 2525 points. A victory would put him first.

However, for the victory he will need to get past two hot runners who have been focusing hard on this one to keep their own ATM Championship chances high. The previously mentioned Pablo Diago Gonzales is the most experienced of all top contenders in Mantra, having been there since the beginning. The Singapore-based Spaniard knows all the steps of the podium in Mantra except the top one. Gonzales has therefore made Mantra a big goal this season, indeed… The second big favourite is Milton Amat from Sabah, Malaysia. A real technical mountain trail runner, the Uglow Malaysia runner finds in Malang the perfect race for his characteristics. Another one who focuses on the SuperTrails a lot, Amat does need a victory to stay level with the Ellisses and Kitamuras. So far he got 4th in the 9 Dragons and 2nd in Moon 100 after he lost a certain victory when his teammate and friend Wilsen Singgin literally dropped down ‘heatstruck’ on the beach in the final 2 km of that race in Thailand.

There’s several more podium contenders on the 116k, even when Indonesia’s top mountain trail star Arief Wismoyono won’t be there this season. 2018 ATM Champion Alessandro Sherpa showed an excellent return to form in Penang Eco 100k, but has rather unpleasant memories of Mantra Summits last year. Sherpa can never be underestimated in any kind of race, but the topography of MSC 116 on paper is not his ‘baby’. The same applies for Tokyo’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi. It was great to see him come in 2nd in the 100 miles of Penang Eco, but MSC 116 will be a hard nut to crack for a runner like him,too. At least when we are talking podium. On the other hand, West Java’s Fandhi Achmad is a mountain specialist and could cause an upset victory again - just like in 2017 when the longest race distance was still 50km. From Yogyakarta and a hit-and-miss for sure, Dzaki Wardana is a former winner of Ijen 100 and a podium placer in other mountain races in Indonesia. On his day, Dzaki is game. Another runner who could claim the spotlights this weekend is Malaysia’s Jeffery Budin of Team Malatra. Another typical mountain goat who is currently in fine shape. Let’s also keep an eye out for Alvin Png, Aris Sopiandi Muklis and Alan Maulana. This is their terrain.

In the women’s 116k, eyes naturally will be fixed on Tahira Najmunisaa. It comes with being a former ATM champion and dominant force in the women’s trail scene in Asia. However, it must be said that Tahira has had other issues to compete with in the private atmosphere after her great 2nd place in Dalat Ultra Trail. Nothing is a must, anything is possible. There’s other women on the start list keen on a great result. Coming from Philippines with a significant trail record, yet little to unknown on the ATM tour, is Arlene Agulto. We will be watching her in the battle with Surabaya’s in-form Sri Wahyuni, who was second in this race last year and has since improved further. Sri Wahyuni will be defending the honours of her home country as ATM Champion Ruth Theresia and also Shindy Patricia are taking a sabatical this season. Tahura Trail winner Asuka Nakajima will be facing her first test on mountain trails such as Mantra, and Malaysia’s Izzah Hazirah is the dark horse this weekend as convincing winner of the very technical MMTF in Taiping last November. Also on the start list is Cecile Wael, who has been doing very well in the championship this season.

The 75K is a co-A race this weekend and has some big names as well. Koi Grey is arguably top gun on this distance, being the experienced mountain runner he is. Moreover, Koi is in excellent shape this year since he launched his comeback to the trail scene half a year ago. He can do a great job for his ATM championship ambitions, too. This will be his 4th race of the season, and a fine result will propel him back into the top five of the ranking… and Koi Grey is one of those with experience running in Taiping, the ATM championship final on 14/15 December… His main competitors in Mantra 75 will likely be Yusuf Aprian from Bandung and Trung Nguyen from Vietnam. However, there’s also Furqoni Sya’bana who can never be underestimated. In the women’s 75K, Ruth Theresia is on the start list but the ATM Champion has announced she won’t be competing this weekend after all. Home favourite from Malang, Christin Mutia, is a victory contender along with Bandung’s Novita Wulundari and Malaysia’s Fadila Binti Yusoff - another one with experience in Mantra.

Follow ATM ‘s live coverage of the event via our Facebook, twitter and Instagram channels all weekend long. With special thanks to Adventure III on the spot in Malang.

Several women are brave enough to tackle the 116K. This quartet may challenge for podium or more

Several women are brave enough to tackle the 116K. This quartet may challenge for podium or more

Third time lucky for Pablo?

Third time lucky for Pablo?

Tahira continues her return to the top of the sport

Tahira continues her return to the top of the sport

Tomohiro Mizukoshi had a great 2nd place in Penang, illustrating his return to top form

Tomohiro Mizukoshi had a great 2nd place in Penang, illustrating his return to top form

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Brisbane Trail Ultra is a 2020 ATM Candidate Race!
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We are happy to announce that Australia is ever more keen to be integrated into the Asia Trail Master Championship series: Brisbane Trail Ultra is a new 2020 Candidate Race!

The first edition of the event organised by Trail Run Australia has attracted close to 500 participants across four race distances from 100 miles down to 30 km. Race director Shona Stephenson is a renowned ultra trail runner herself and has put all her expertise into the event, scheduled for the weekend of 6/7 July.

Later this season, at the end of September, we will celebrate the first official points races in Australia during Ultra Trail Gold Coast - incidentally taking place not too far away from Brisbane neither - in a sign that also down under events are opening up to the growing Asian and international trail communities. Of course, ‘Ozzie'‘ runners have had great success already in ATM. Think of Kim Matthews becoming 2017 ATM Champion, Joanna Kruk winning every women’s race she starts, and recently John Ellis grabbing the lead in the men’s ATM championship by notching up wins in Vietnam and Malaysia. We are looking forward to seeing them on home soil and invite all Asian runners to join and experience trail running in Australia.

Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival is set in the stunning Brisbane Rainforest Hinterland starting 8km from the Central Business District of the City. Enjoy beautiful virgin rainforest trails whilst being challenged on this wilderness course trough sub tropical rainforests, gorges, eucalyptus woodlands and grasslands.

60% of the course is on single trails, with amazing views and vivid wildlife. This is one trail, ultra adventure you don’t want to miss. With the city so close by, you can plan a long weekend for the whole family!

It is still possible to sign up for this year’s edition until 1 July. So think about it!

Website:

Brisbane Trail Ultra

Facebook Page of BTU

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Penang Eco 100: Outstanding Ellis!
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The 5th Penang Eco 100 in Bukit Mertajam once again caused quite a bit of drama in its two longest distance races that are labeled as the Malaysia SuperTrail in our Championship series. The very long flattish beginning and the very technical ending combined with heat, humid air and occasional downpours create a mixture that makes this race exciting to follow and quite special indeed. While the male winners on the 100 miles and the 100 km were probably not a big surprise, John Ellis and Alessandro Sherpa ran it in great style and most of all in a great finishing time!

T8 Ace John Ellis only required an incredible 22h 18 for the 170k course in hot and humid conditions for most of the second part! It was certainly one of the best and even aggressive runs of his trail career, proving every bit of the pre-race rumours about his training volume for this race. From the beginning, Ellis was amongst the top contenders and kept a close eye on Hong Kong’s Law Kai Pong, who took the lead early on with great speed and confidence. However, he never got more than 20 minutes. Mizukoshi, Kitamura, Ellis and at first also Sai Kit Cheng. Law Kai Pong began to feel the efforts and by km 100 he got reeled in by Ellis, Mizukoshi and Kitamura. They crossed the 100k barrier in just over 10 hours! Someone was going to pay the price for that. Hisashi Kitamura had never finished a 100 miler before and was first to let go. The ATM Championship leader admitted the pace was too fast for him and he began to focus on “just finishing”. Law Kai Pong began to suffer from stomach cramps, and dropped back. Mizukoshi resisted but Ellis just was in a class of his own. At the km 116 checkpoint, it was already clear that Ellis had the race under control (see video on facebook). Tomohiro settled for a superb second place, which is a great achievement after his ankle issues in the beginning of the season. The Tokyo runner got really fit again just at the right time! Law Koi Pang, unfortunately, did not make it to the finish. His digestive system a total mess, he had no chance to complete the final 35 kilometers. As such, Kitamura inherited third place, and that’s a great result for him in the context of the ATM Championship. While John Ellis takes over as points leader, the gap is just 75 points. For Ellis it was the second ATM race victory of the season after Dalat Ultra Trail, and he also beat the Penang Eco 100 course record set by Law Chor Kin last year by an incredible 4 hours, although even Tomohiro Mizukoshi said that this year’s course modifications made it even tougher. Ellis has cleared the important five-race-barrier for the ATM Championship and will now be taking a welcome break before returning to action in October. By being in the lead, he can see what the others championship contenders are doing before he plans his next move. In any case, his points total of 2475 is most likely not enough for the championship win at the end of the year. Alessandro Sherpa won it last year with 2600.

The women’s 100 miles race developed into a thriller at the end. Hong Kong-based French ultra runner Habiba Benahmed led the race for no fewer than 156 kilometres. Yet, Adelinah Lintanga from Sabah had a fantastic day and was able to keep up even on the flattish 110 kilometres. Lintanga is a Grandmaster and a known mountain goat, but her speed on the flat surprised many. She was never more than 25 minutes behind and stayed focused throughout. Going into the technical hilly jungle sections, Lintanga crept closer and closer to a fading Benahmed. Meanwhile, another Malaysian, Siokhar Lim proved to have recovered well from the Moon 100 in Thailand and also kept her chances for victory as technical trail suits her well. And then there suddenly was Hong Kong’s Macy Li, too. Li had started out slowly and didn’t really feature at the top of the leaderboard until passed 116 km when she took a shortcut - unwillingly - and ended up leading. Thanks to the excellent service by Dot Track Asia, the race director could intervene immediately and Li was told to return to the section where she went off course, similar to the situation with Sri Wahyuni a week ago in Thailand. However, while Wahyuni refused to go back, Li did… and then began a ferocious chase! Behamed had hurt her hip around the halfway mark and gradually became a bird for the cat named Narna. At km 156, the popular Sabahan runner from Team Malatra caught her and left her. Lintanga on the way to the biggest race win of her career. But then… the Macy Li dot on the map began to move ever quicker and with about 12km to go, the Hong Konger passed both Siokhar Lim and Habiba Benahmed and had 20 minutes to make up on Lintanga at the last checkpoint with 7km to go. For sure, Lintanga would not immediately know someone was chasing her down. And Macy Li was: the gap continued to narrow down. With just under 3k to go, the map interface from DTA showed that the difference in distance between the two was just 600 metres, coming down from over 1 km at the last CP. Eventually, Adelinah Lintanga was so fired up by emotions that - luckily for her - she kept on running herself whenever possible. And so she kept Macy Li at bay. Lintanga won the 100km of this race in 2016 and finished 4th in the 100 miles 2017. Now she wins it against two established Hong Kong race winners and Siokhar Lim. A great leap forward in performance, especially on this type of trail event. Afterwards, Adelinah explained how she had prepared for this 100 miles basically since new year. Well, dedicated training certainly paid off for her!

On the 100 km we witnessed the first ATM race victory of the season for Alessandro Sherpa in 14h 53 (approx). A relatively easy win, as he led from start to finish. Kwok Lun Ng from Hong Kong was second in a great effort as well. Alex Ang from Singapore took third, one week after doing Moon 100.

Lo Chin Ling - another Hong Konger - was third overall and first female. A fantastic ATM debut for the energetic young woman. Malaysia’s Faherina Mohd Esa was an impressive second. Esa has returned to form after being plagued by a hand injury last year. Sarah Pemberton claimed third place ahead of Izzah Hazirah.

Video of John Ellis winning race finish!

Video of Adelinah Lintanga’s winning race finish!

Penang Eco 100: Ellis & Kitamura head-2-head!
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This weekend we conclude the first half of the year and of the Asia Trail Master Championship season with the traditional Malaysia SuperTrail, the Penang Eco 100 in Bukit Mertajam. It’s the 5th edition of this event, which has become renowned for its atypical race course and its unexpected twists in the stories of the 100 miles and 100 km races.  Both these distances are labeled as A-race SuperTrails and also this year we have a stellar line-up for each of them. 

To begin with, the current ATM Championship points leader and his closest rival are on the 100 miles start list. Four weeks after his popular maiden race victory in Vietnam, Hisashi Kitamura will now tackle his first ever 100 miles race. As he said in the post-race video interview at that time, the Japanese Uglow runner only has one objective and that is to stay close to John Ellis, who has developed into his key rival for the championship at this point of the season, but who is also his big example as an ultrarunner. Ever since Ellis, Australian but living in Hong Kong, appeared on the ATM scene in Penang Eco 100k last year, he has earned deep respect from Asian running communities. Ellis is going all-in to win this year’s Championship, but by now has also realised it won’t be as easy as one might have thought. Reports from Hong Kong say that Ellis has never been leaner as now, preparing himself for this weekend’s SuperTrail. He knows that this is a tough race, as he disintegrated in the final technical sections of the 100k last year and got passed by the stronger Alessandro Sherpa at the end. Now Ellis is doing the 100 miles, of which the first 100k are runable and nearly flat, before a very technical apotheosis on single trails in the jungle and likely run entirely at night time. Looking back a year ago, Tomohiro Mizukoshi came first at the checkpoint after 110km, but he finished the race in seventh place and 8 hours and a half behind winner Law Chor Kin (Hong Kong).  Another Japanese star runner, Sota Ogawa, ran out of steam after 110 km and -suffering from digestive issues- called it a day. Two years ago it was Isaac Yuen Wan Ho who set a blistering pace on the flat, only to break down as well in the final 50 km. 

Tactical running is a must in Penang Eco 100, and that is of course the trademark of John Ellis. Kitamura adopted this strategy to good effect in Vietnam, and with the championship in mind he indeed better focuses exclusively on arriving ahead of Ellis in the finish line - as he did in Sungai Menyala in April. The points gap is 390, but let’s not forget Ellis can score a full whack this weekend in his fifth race of the season, whereas for Kitamura it’s about eliminating his “worst” result (7th in Cordillera Mountain Ultra) as he has reached the five-race-treshold already. 

So who can run between them? Tomohiro Mizukoshi returns to erase the bad memory from last year, and his form has been steadily improving in recent weeks after his ankle injury early in the year. Malaysian ultra veterans Yim Heng Fatt and Liew Tho Fatt are podium candidates on the 100 miles, both of them also experts in energy management during a race of this length. Jeffery BUDIN from Team Malatra is also one to watch for. 

John Ellis (Team T8)

John Ellis (Team T8)

Hisashi Kitamura (Team Uglow Malaysia)

Hisashi Kitamura (Team Uglow Malaysia)

Adelinah Lintanga, sister of Jess, has been a podium contender for years here. Can she win this time?

Adelinah Lintanga, sister of Jess, has been a podium contender for years here. Can she win this time?

Julia Nguyen Thi Duong

Julia Nguyen Thi Duong

In the women’s 100 miles, it will be interesting to see what trail newbie Asuka Nakajima can do on this ultra distance. She won Tahura Trail 42km and came third in Sungai Menyala Forest Trail 50km, but now we are talking 100 miles for the Jakarta-based Japanese runner. In any case, if she manages to win this one, she will do a fantastic job for her ATM Championship ambitions. Sabah’s Adelinah Lintanga, Bali’s Lily Suryani both are Grandmasters and have been on the podium before in this race. The dark horse for the race victory is most likely Habiba Benahmed from Hong Kong. Benahmed has experience winning 100 miles races (eg HK 168), and even though still on the way back to top form after injury she would not come to Penang Eco 100 miles for a DNF… Siokhar Lim is another likely podium contender  - or more -, but how much is in the tank after last week’s gruelling Moon 100, which she finished in fourth place. 

On the 100km race distance, which starts on Saturday early afternoon, most attention will go to last year’s winner Alessandro Sherpa. The defending Asia Trail Master champion has returned from a training camp in his home region in Italy and seems ready to start his championship campaign in earnest. On paper he would have had to face off with Mohamed Affindi this weekend, but the top-ranked Malaysian in the ATM Championship has professional duties and will not make it to the start line - as we were informed. The women’s race will see the likes of Izzah Hazirah, who is reportedly training hard for Mantra Summits next month - a pure mountain race that should suit her more than Penang Eco. Also, multi-race runner Khat Visperas is on the start list. The Filipino is 4th in the points standings after already having completed five races this seasn.  Faherina Mohd Esa is a potential podium candidate, and certainly also Vietnam’s Julia Nguyen Thi Duong.

We will be reporting live from Penang Eco 100 on our usual social media channels. Dot Track Asia is also present, and you can watch all runners’ progress online here:

http://live.dottrack.asia/2019penangeco100/

Asuka Nakajima going for the 100 miles win this weekend

Asuka Nakajima going for the 100 miles win this weekend




MOON 100: Dramas unfold on Koh Phangan!
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The first edition of The Moon 100 on Koh Phangan, the small island close to Koh Samui that is famous for its full moon beach parties, will be remembered for a long time. This was a very tough course! Of the approx 240 starters on the longest distance of 103km and 5200 hm, 94 made it to the line within the cut-off time of 36 hours. The winner’s time was 18 hours and 31 minutes, and the guys at the top of the board are no snails. Combined with the heat of day, the Koh Phangan hilly jungle trails proved to be even more technical than those on Koh Chang (UTKC). Plenty of protagonists called it a day at some point, and both the men’s and women’s race had some dramatic turnabouts towards the very end.

Finally, we saw an almost miraculous comeback from Chiang Mai’s Job Tanapong on the beaches of Koh Phangan, after a gruelling day of trail running. The coming-man from Chiang Mai was still over 50 minutes behind the Sabahan duo of Milton Amat and Wilsen Singgin at km 70. But the youngster had juice left in the tank, dropped his Thai running mates (they were in a group of five, six most of the day) and began to chase the Malaysians. Milton Amat had looked like the strongest runner of all, but he decided to wait and run together with his teammate Wilsen Singgin. That proved to be a good tactic as together they developed a big gap on the rest, even when Thailand’s Supachuk Papetthong kept on lurking in the shadows. However, what nobody realised at the time - not even at the last checkpoint with 10 flat km left to the finish - was that Wilsen Singgin got increasingly dehydrated. This slowed the duo down so much that all of a sudden Job Tanapong and Supachok Pappethong were back within under 10 minutes of the leaders.

What happened then was sheer drama. With just 1,5 km left to go on the beach to the finish, Job Tanapong caught the leaders and Wilsen Singgin sank down to the ground. Heatstroke, dehydrated, hyponatremia. Milton Amat stopped himself to assist his suffering friend while asking for medical assistance. By the time the medical staff arrived at the spot, Supachok was there as well and Milton went with him together to the finish line. Wilsen never made it. His race ended at km 101,5. He was hospitalised and following a spell of heavy hallucinations was transfered even to a bigger hospital in Koh Samui, where he stayed the night. The runner from Sabah recovered to his full senses later at night but remained under observation on Sunday. If anyone still thought a heatstroke is nothing serious, think again.

Milton Amat showed genuine friendship and sportsmanship after the race by publicly congratulating Job Tanapong on his race victory without “ifs” or “buts”. Amat is gunning for the ATM Championship this year, and second place means he lost 50 points compared to if he had won. The price for fair-play can not escape him anymore. Video interviews with Job Tanapong and Milton Amat are available on our ATM facebook page.

Thailand’s other emerging trail star Sukrit Kaewyoun was fourth more than an hour later, and moves up to 3rd place in the Asia Trail Master Championship points standings. Thongsai Wongsaard and Suvatana were five and six. 

Also the women’s race had its fair share of drama today. Sri Wahyuni decided to DNF after she and her six male companions at the time unwillingly missed a hillclimb between checkpoints 2 and 3. As nobody else made that mistake, race direction had no other choice but to tell them to return to the section. The Indonesian from Surabaya, third in last year’s ATM Championship, was running very strongly - as even indicated by Fredelyn Alberto. Had she done what was asked, she could have still ended up on the podium. Meanwhile, the inspiring Phitchanan Mahachot lost her way during the night, too, and never came back to the front. Then, mid-race leader Wipawee Cartoon also turned into a shocking DNF at CP 8 with major stomach issues. Hong Kong based Filipino Fredelyn Alberto had already caught Cartoon very quickly all of a sudden and looked set for her first ATM race victory. Alberto managed it in style, and in so doing also climbs to 2nd place in the Asia Trail Master Championship points ranking. Video of her race finish is below this post.

Been Lee from South Korea had a great late pace and scored a second place she probably had not expected herself when she started and said smilingly “there’s too many women in this race” . The podium was completed by Thailand’s experienced ultra favourite Montha Suntornwit . Malaysian Siokhar Lim arrived in fourth place, only four minutes behind Suntornwit. Both the Thai and the Malaysian proved once again that nothing seems to hurt them in trail. Jassica Lintanga dropped to sixth place but finished, after she had looked like a potential winner at halfway distance. This Moon 100 shocked many runners, indeed.

Job Tanapong: new trail star from Chiang Mai

Job Tanapong: new trail star from Chiang Mai

Milton, Jess and Wilsen: the three Sabahans from Team Uglow Malaysia were omnipresent last weekend

Milton, Jess and Wilsen: the three Sabahans from Team Uglow Malaysia were omnipresent last weekend

The two big winners of the weekend: Job Tanapong and Fredelyn Alberto

The two big winners of the weekend: Job Tanapong and Fredelyn Alberto

Sri Wahyuni had a great pace, but a judgemental error cost her a place on the podium

Sri Wahyuni had a great pace, but a judgemental error cost her a place on the podium

One could not drink enough during the very hot race, but salt tables were just as necessary!

One could not drink enough during the very hot race, but salt tables were just as necessary!


Moon 100: Thai runners start the chase
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The 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship series has been underway for almost half a year now, but this weekend is only the first of four points races in Thailand. A big country with a massive running population of which several elites will be opening their ATM accounts at Moon 100 on Koh Phangan island. The new event, organised by the reputed teelakow team of UT Koh Chang and UT Chiang Rai, features a 100k and 60k as main races on the southern island famous for its monthly full moon beach parties…. hence The Moon 100. As it happens, the moon will only be full on Monday night and not on race weekend, but there’ll be plenty of stars shining nevertheless, in all meanings of the word.

One Thai trail runner has been very active already this season as well. Sukrit Kaewyoun has already done three races abroad with fine results. Sukrit, as he is commonly referred to, can leap to third place in the Asia Trail Master Championship ranking this weekend. He is for sure a podium candidate for the 103 km long race that goes almost entirely around Koh Phangan island. If Sukrit wants to win, he will need to get passed a long list of fellow-contenders. Let’s begin with Sabahan Milton Amat. The young Malaysian was. surprise force last year in the championship, which ended a bit on a sour note as severe viral illness prevented him from challenging Sherpa, Rambla, Mizukoshi and co for the championship in December. However, Milton has already bounced back this season with another 4th place in the 9 Dragons 50/50. Now under Team Uglow Malaysia, Amat is a technical ultra runner who is definitely going to be prominent again in the championship later this season. The same applies for Thai runner Job Tanapong and Brunei-based Canadian Michael McLean. Also from Sabah, Malaysia, comes Wilsen Singgin - 3rd in the classic Borneo TMBT Ultra last year. And from Philippines, Jared Teves is never to be underestimated.

The women’s Moon 100k race is likewise quite open with many very good runners who match each other in terms of overall performance level. A lot will depend on the shape of the day. Hong Kong-based Filipino Fredelyn Alberto continues her busy ATM schedule just three weeks after scoring third in the Vietnam Jungle Marathon 70. How well has she recovered from that very hot race? If the always smiling Alberto delivers another strong result, the T8 ambassador will be moving up to second place in the ATM Championship ranking behind Veronika Vadovicova. Her main competitors this weekend are likely to be coming from the home nation Thailand, but possibly even more so from Malaysia. Uglow runner Jassica Lintanga, 4th in last year’s ATM Championship, will be competing in her first points race of 2019. Athough the Sabahan Grandmaster is known to be faster on the 50 to 70km distance range, she has proved many times 100k is not a big issue for her neither when in form. Usually, “pocket rocket” Christine Loh moves up the leaderboard the longer a race lasts. Loh has started the ATM season very well with podium performances in two SuperTrails: the 9 Dragons 50/50 and the Dalat Ultra Trail. Loh has reportedly set her eyes on winning the 4 Trails Thailand series (Moon 100, Ultra Trail Chiang Mai, Ultra Trail Chiang Rai and Ultra Trail Panoramic —> all points races in ATM as well). The Malaysian who now lives in Singapore will therefore one to watch very closely. Also from Malaysia and never to be underestimated is V Trail Laos winner Siokhar Lim. 

From Surabaya in Indonesia comes Sri Wahyuni. Number 3 in last year’s Asia Trail Master Championship and a Grandmaster as well, Wahyuni has become more selective in her races this season and that should boost her speed even more. Wahyuni is a typical female Indonesian trail runner, renowned for their toughness over the ultra distance. But Sri Wahyuni also has a fast pace, which she showed again in Tahura Trail 42 at the start of the ATM season, where she finished second behind Asuka Nakajima. With fellow Indonesian runners Ruth Theresia and Shindy Patricia currently pursuing other goals, Sri Wahyuni is currently a bit carrying the flag. It will be interesting to see what she can do in her first race in Thailand. 

The home runners will obviously aim not to disappoint on Koh Phangan. Montha Suntornwit has become known in ATM over the years, and not in the least by winning the Ultimate 230 of UTCR last October. Her compatriot Wipawee “Cartoon” Pratumsuwan delivered an outstanding second place in Ultimate Tsaigu 80 last April, behind the almighty Vadovicova but ahead of Paulina Svoboda and some top Chinese runners. Coming from Chiang Mai, Cartoon is very determined to imrpove as a runner and will be close to victory this weekend. Another Thai runner will be as well: Phitchanan Mahachot. Impressive winner of UTN 100 in 2017, Mahachot has not run in ATM points races since and as such has been flying a bit under the radar, but if she can copy that performance of Nan here in Koh Phangan she could arguably be the best bet for victory. 

Moon 100 is of course the A-race for the Championship, but runners will also score points on the 62km B-race according to our usual points distribution table. 

Asia Trail Master will be reporting live from Moon 100 on Koh Phangan all weekend via our usual social media channels, facebook and instagram. Stay tuned for updates on the 103km and 62km races. 

Wipawee Cartoon is one of the local women to watch this weekend in Moon 100

Wipawee Cartoon is one of the local women to watch this weekend in Moon 100

Michael McLean: dangerman on the 100km

Michael McLean: dangerman on the 100km

Sukrit Kaewyoun: 7th in the current ATM standings after 3 races abroad: what can he do at home?

Sukrit Kaewyoun: 7th in the current ATM standings after 3 races abroad: what can he do at home?

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VJM: Fantastic Vadovicova propels Kitamura to 1st win!
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Hisashi Kitamura has done it! In last Saturday’s Vietnam Jungle Marathon the flamboyant Japanese runner scored his first career ATM race victory after numerous podium places and places of honour. But the Uglow runner had to give it all in the final 10km to keep the outstanding Veronika Vadovica behind him and arrived totally dehydrated at the finish. He fell down from exhaustion as he crossed the line, but recovered in the medical tent quite quickly. On the podium later in the afternoon, Kitamura was his usual self with a bit of show and clearly relief that he finally pocketed that elusive race victory. On top of that, he grabbed the points lead in the Asia Trail Master Championship at the expense of John Ellis.

Earlier on in the 70km race, which commenced at 4 am, Kitamura adopted the “John Ellis tactic” of not worrying too much about the early dozens of kilometres. Vietnam’s Hung Hai, winner of the 100k Vietnam Mountain Marathon last September and a character himself, took off like a rocket but ran out of steam come halfway. Kitamura first and then Vadovicova caught up and dropped Hung Hai in the next uphill section. Meanwhile, Quang Nguyen Duc stayed in the mix up front as well, but eventually couldn’t keep the high pace set  by the Japanese and the Slovakian. The experienced Quang Nguyen Duc ran a smart race and probably could have dropped Hung Hai for second, but refrained from doing so. Coming into CP8, the last checkpoint with 10k to go, it sounded like Veronika Vadovicova had the better of Kitamura, amazingly enough. However, Hisashi Kitamura was not going to let her spoil his first ATM race victory and ran the last kilometres downhill with his mind switched off. Vadovica realised that his downhill pace was a bit too high and decided not “to dude” or “to chick” him and settled for second. Second overall that is, because she was two hours ahead of the next woman!

Hisashi Kitamura is also the new points leader in the ATM Championship, taking over from John Ellis who has one race less so far. For Uglow’s latest protégé, now it already becomes a tactical game of trying to improve on his worst result of the season (7th in CMU) to score additional points as he already has five results in the bag. Both Kitamura and Ellis have planned to run in Penang Eco 100 miles on 22/23 June, which will be a very significant dual. Remember: Kitamura got the Hong Kong star last time out in Sungai Menyala already…

Veronica Vadovica was not in a rush anymore once she realised the big stunt of beating all men was not going to happen and finished seemingly fresh seven minutes later than Kitamura. The Shanghai-based Slovakian admitted herself that this was probably the best trail run of her still very young running career. She takes over the points lead from Carrie Jane Stander in the ATM Championship as well. Her next race is still undecided, but any female who wants to have a shot at the ATM title this season better plan their races carefully. Yet, it’s a five best count system, and the SuperTrails are important, as well as the final race in Taiping, the TNF Mountain Trail Festival in Malaysia on 14/15 December, and that might - we do say “might” - not be Veronika’s favourite course…

The podium in the men’s race was completed by the two Vietnamese aces Hong Hai, who probably learnt an important lesson this race and by Quang Nguyen Duc. They decided not to compete and were given a joint second place. ATM regulations, however, stipulate that as of Q2 (=April) a distinction must be made according to the last checkpoints. This puts Hung Hai in second and Quang Nguyen Duc in third. This obviously to ensure fairness for the Championship. Spain’s Ander Iza Rekakoetxea made it up to fourth place at the finish, despite being plagued by a sprained ankle during the race. Ander Iza’s ankle was massively swollen after the race. Still, important championship points for him and he is aiming for a shot at the title indeed. Tomohiro Mizukoshi managed to hold on to the top five. He had a hard time in the second part of the race, also still not 100% fit following achilles tendon injury and a bad cold. David Longo from Canberra, Australia, arrived in sixth place. France ‘s Valentin Orange was seventh. Sam McGrath continued his fine form of late with eight place.

Belgium’s Vanya Cnobs was second in the women’s race. The Belgian runner is now living in Singapore and is a former national champion cross country running in the U19 category. It was her debut on the ultra distance and admitted it was “long”. Considering she finished well inside the top ten overall, Cnobs ran a great race. it is just that Vadovicova is developing into world class material. The same applies for Philippines’ Fredlyn Alberto. By all means a solid run by the known runner based in Hong Kong, who scored her second ATM podium of the season after the 9 Dragons. Alberto’s journey to VJM was tiring already, and if one considers that runners such as Laura Hulgaard, Nathalie Cochet, Siokhar Lim and Evelyn Lek were behind her… in some races that would be a victory.


Tired but delighted with his first win and the ATM Championship lead: Hisashi Kitamura

Tired but delighted with his first win and the ATM Championship lead: Hisashi Kitamura

On the way to the last checkpoint with Vadovicova applying pressure on Kitamura uphill

On the way to the last checkpoint with Vadovicova applying pressure on Kitamura uphill

Kitamura and Hung Hai already knew each other as they battled in VMM last season, that time with the Vietnamese as winner

Kitamura and Hung Hai already knew each other as they battled in VMM last season, that time with the Vietnamese as winner

A great debut on the 70k distance for talented Vanya Cnobs from Belgium, but Vadovicova was running in her own league

A great debut on the 70k distance for talented Vanya Cnobs from Belgium, but Vadovicova was running in her own league

Fredlyn Alberto grabbed another podium with a solid run too. The women’s competition was outstanding

Fredlyn Alberto grabbed another podium with a solid run too. The women’s competition was outstanding

Tomohiro Mizukoshi suffered from a serious cold, but fifth is a great result and a sign of much more to come again!

Tomohiro Mizukoshi suffered from a serious cold, but fifth is a great result and a sign of much more to come again!

Australia’s David Longo of the T8 Team ran consistently and that resulted in a fine sixth place

Australia’s David Longo of the T8 Team ran consistently and that resulted in a fine sixth place

Grandmaster Masafumi Yamamoto finished another 70k distance in his resident country Vietnam

Grandmaster Masafumi Yamamoto finished another 70k distance in his resident country Vietnam

A Miss Vietnam in the VJM: Bellissima Thuy finished the 42 km race

A Miss Vietnam in the VJM: Bellissima Thuy finished the 42 km race

Kitamura and vadovicova run for the atm points lead at vjm
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After a break of five weeks since Ultimate Tsaigu, the 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship returns to action in Vietnam this Saturday. The 3rd edition of the Vietnam Jungle Marathon offers a fantastic 70km course in and around the Pu Luong Nature Reserve, roughly 120km south of country capital Hanoi. Initially still dubbed the “little sis” of the famous Vietnam Mountain Marathon in September, VJM has matured over three years into a solid event in itself with a very competitive, international and experienced field of runners for the main 70k race. 

Vietnam is, alongside Thailand, the South East Asian country where mass participation outdoor sports has seen tremendous growth in the last two years. Only two months ago, runners were delightfully stunned by the Dalat Ultra Trail in the south of Vietnam with close to 4000 event participants. That event has put trail running firmly on the map in the south, just as VMM did in the north a few years back. Driving force and race director of VMM and this weekend’s VJM is Britain’s David Lloyd, who has been doing incredible work for the development of (trail) running, MTB and road cycling in Vietnam based out of Sapa and Hanoi. A detailed interview with David by our team at VJM this weekend will be uploaded in the next few days and will make for interesting listening.

Picking winners for VJM’s 70k points race is hard. Plenty of known talent at the start, along with several very interesting newcomers to the ATM series. Let’s begin with the obvious: both Hisashi Kitamura and Veronika Vadovicova get an outstanding chance to claim the lead in the championship rankings. In-form Kitamura needs only 110 points to jump ahead of John Ellis, and unbeaten Vadovicova requires 355 points to overtake Carrie Jane Stander, or in other words a top 5 race finish in Pu Luong. Kind reminder: only a runner’s best five results are taken into account for the championship ranking. This will be Kitamura’s fifth race already, and Vadovicova’s fourth. 

The Japanese runner, who has made an incredible leap in performance since he entered the trail scene at 9 Dragons early last year, is a big favourite to win VJM and his first ATM points race as well. After numerous second places, third places and other places of honour, it would also be well-earned for the motivated Uglow runner. This Saturday he will be up against a local hero who last September also pushed him into second at VMM: Hung Hai. Still little known outside his native country, Hung Hai is fast and has no issues with heat & humidity, a problem for several athletes at this event. At VMM over 100km, the gap between the Vietnamese and the Japanese was 18 minutes. Kitamura is stronger now than then, but reports claim that Hung Hai has certainly not become slower neither! 

When two dogs fight for the bait, a third may sneak away with it. At VJM, that is certainly a possibility with the likes of Tomohiro Mizukoshi, Ander Iza Rekakoetxea and David Longo also on the start list. Manila-based Spaniard Ander Iza Rekakoetxea led our championship standings early on in the season after great performances in 9 Dragons (3rd on 50 miles) and Cordillera Mountain Ultra (4th - ahead of Kitamura and Ellis). An upset stomach and infection forced him to quit early in Dalat, but now he is fully recovered and ready to try and claim his first ATM win of the season and edge closer to the top of the ranking again. The story of Mizukoshi is a little similar. After a massive 2018 season, topped by a win in Bali and a third place in the championship, the sympathetic Japanese runner began well again with third place in Tahura Trail, until injury forced him to the sidelines. He returned in Sungai Menyala but clearly not yet in the best form. Now we are seven weeks later. Given Tomohiro Mizukoshi won a super hot 70k in Bali last October against a stellar field, the climatic conditions at VJM should not bother him as much as it does perhaps for other North Asians. 

Other known podium candidates are Quang Nguyen, Thanh Lam Nguyen, Julien Petit, Sam McGrath - who was excellent in Sungai Menyala in Malaysia a month ago -, Vincent Casanova and Sergei Schlasev. 

Moving on with the women’s 70k race. Shanghai-based Slovakian Veronika Vadovica has been so overwhelming in all her races this season - three big wins -  that it is amazing not everyone is convinced she will also grab the race victory at VJM. The reason is the presence of Vanya Cnobs, a Belgian runner living in Singapore. Known to be extremely quick on the short distance and on the road, Cnobs is making moves into longer trails and VJM 70 will be a first big test for her competitively speaking. There are several dark horses in the women’s race as well. Also from Singapore, Evelyn Lek won VMM 100 and TMMT 100 last year and that says plenty enough. Hong Kong’s Filipino runner Fredlyn Alberto of Team T8  is very motivated to do well in her third ATM points race so far this year. Alberto was third on the 50/50 of 9 Dragons and fifth at CMU. Malaysia’s Siokhar Lim is not afraid of heat and technical trails. She won V Trail in Laos and scored 2nd on the Penang 100k last season, which she finished as fifth in the ATM Championship.  Another podium candidate is France’s Nathalie Cochet, and will we see the emergence of a local female star as well?

ATM will be reporting live from VJM - connectivity permitting - all day on Saturday from the start at 4 am. 


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Tsaigu: Vadovicova also wins in rain and mud
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The 5th edition of Ultimate Tsaigu was once again made significantly harder by wet weather conditions. As if cursed, the skies opened on race day just like last year, albeit not to the extent that the event organisers got compelled to shorten and stop the race. Yet, a DNF rate of over 60% says enough, and among those were reputed ultrarunners in Asia. Many China stars flocked to Linhai in Zhejiang province for one of the country’s biggest trail events, but as previously mentioned they were spread out over three race distance categories. While the 110K was the so-called A-race, perhaps more attention went to the 80K and US star Hayden Hawks who was scheduled to compete against both Qi Min and Deng Guomin. In the women’s, we were all curious if Veronika Vadovicova could also make the technical Tsaigu look easy, in what is still the early days of her trail career.

First, on the 110K, China’s Luo Canhua, who was first on top of Mount Kuocang in extreme conditions (see videoon our facebook page), was caught by You Peiquan before CP7, but the pair then decided to stay together until the finish at the old town in Linhai. Perhaps unfortunately, there was no dual as they crossed the line in front of a big crowd in the old town together in a time of approx 14:39. Another Chinese, Zhao Jiajiu came in third with well-known Li Kuo as fourth. Liang Jing was a surprising DNF. In the morning it was very wet, foggy and cold during the 110K and 80K races. Afterwards, the persistent rain luckily stopped around noon to be replaced by consistent drizzle.

Xu Meiling was the first woman early on, but she would not make it to the finish. Experienced Zheng Liping took over and won relatively comfortably in 22:26, half an hour ahead of Qu Shangwei. Xie Wenfei completed the podium. Hong Kong's Chingling Lo was running third halfway through, but also failed to finish. French, but also based in Hong Kong and a race winner there, Habiba Benahmed was apparently really enjoying herself and finished 10th in what was essentially her come back ultra trail after an extended period of rest due to injury.

On the 80 km, American star Hayden Hawks won in splendid fashion after China’s Qi Min DNFd following a fall after CP2. That was a shocker as Qi Min was really taking the fight to Hawks. Shenzhen’s busy bee Deng Guomin inherited second but ran an excellent and smart race only some 20 minutes down on Hawks at the finish. Zhang Jiao finished third ahead of Li Kuo.

Shanghai-based Veronika Vadovicova continues to dominate the women’s races in ATM this year. She won basically unthreatened by anyone today in 12:45, proving that even extreme conditions do not necessarily slow her down. Vadovicova is the trail discovery of these early months of 2019. Thailand’s Cartoon Pratumsuwa ran a strategically smart race in a tough battle for the remaining podium places against locals Tan Rongqing, the returning Paulina Svoboda and Chen Erfen. For Chiang Mai-based “Cartoon” Wipawee, it is her first podium in an ATM race and there’s more bound to follow!

US trail star Hayden Hawks truly lived up to his international elite status and won the 80K

US trail star Hayden Hawks truly lived up to his international elite status and won the 80K

Shenzhen’s Deng Guoming in the end finished only 20 minutes behind Hawks!

Shenzhen’s Deng Guoming in the end finished only 20 minutes behind Hawks!

The Tsaigu finish line in front of the old city wall is truly impressive

The Tsaigu finish line in front of the old city wall is truly impressive

She is beginning to dominate: Veronika shows she can also win in the wet and the mud

She is beginning to dominate: Veronika shows she can also win in the wet and the mud

Fantastic second place on the 80K for Thailand’s Cartoon Wipawee

Fantastic second place on the 80K for Thailand’s Cartoon Wipawee

Paulina Svoboda aka Freedom was sick leading up to race weekend but still scored fourth place on the 80k

Paulina Svoboda aka Freedom was sick leading up to race weekend but still scored fourth place on the 80k

Habiba Benahmed really enjoyed it despite the very tough weather conditions

Habiba Benahmed really enjoyed it despite the very tough weather conditions

Tsaigu is sold out with 2000 runners at the starting line: it’s at the top of China’s trail scene

Tsaigu is sold out with 2000 runners at the starting line: it’s at the top of China’s trail scene