2016 Preview: More of everything & crowning of the first Grandmasters!
PRESS RELEASE - Following a successful inaugural edition this year, the Asia Trail Master series return in 2016 with an even larger and more diverse race calendar. Runners will be competing for points in over a dozen Asian countries with several people aiming to fulfill their Grandmaster Quest to finish six races of over 70km within two calendar years. The 2016 series will begin in Hong Kong on 19 February with UTHK, as the just released provisional calendar for the first semester of next year shows.
UTHK, or Ultra Trail Hong Kong, will be the first of five so-called Super Trails, selected races of proven quality, wherein finishers will score 50 bonus points for the Asia Trail Master championship ranking. The Super Trails are one of a few innovations that will be introduced in 2016, along with a points allocation system that has been more harmonised across the various events, an abroad bonus for runners travelling to a third race outside their resident country, and an Asia Trail Master race registration portal available to all organisers and runners developed, by Hong Kong's Race Timing Solutions.
Nearly all events of this year's first semester will return in 2016, plus exciting new additions in Brunei, Philippines, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. China's Tsaigu Tangsi Plus, Kazakhstan's Tengri Ultra Trail and the two stage races by GlobalLimits in Sri Lanka (The Wild Elephant Trail) and Bhutan (The Last Secret) all retain their calendar spots following very positive feedback from this year's participants. Whereas the profile of most races is hilly and mountainous, next year's calendar will also feature a number of faster and technically less demanding races. These will be no less beautiful or exciting and will give road runners wanting a taste of trail running a fitting introduction. In the coming weeks more events will be added to the calendar, and each event will be profiled in detail on a redesigned Asia Trail Master website.
While faster athletes can aim for prizes and a high ranking at the end of the year, every single runner with enough perseverance can become an Asia Trail Grandmaster. It is expected that several people will reach the milestone of six +70km races in 2016 and obtain the honourary title, which will give access to the forthcoming Asia Trail Master Hall of Fame.
Thanks to its overall growth, members of the 2016 Asia Trail Master series and race participants will benefit from extended media coverage via a wide range of media partners, as well as from several new commercial sponsorships to be announced in due course.
Staying true to its core objectives, the Asia Trail Master team will continue to foster the development of a genuine pan-Asian trail running community and boost environmental conservation efforts across the continent. Reducing pollution and preserving natural habitats is likely to become a key trend in Asia in 2016. Emphasis will also be placed on improving general safety standards at trail running events.
This year's inaugural Asia Trail Master series is heating up towards its conclusion with six races still to go. The current men's ranking is still headed by China's Xie Zhangrong, but he will have to fend off challenges by a.o. Indonesia's Arief Wismoyono and India's Ullas Narayana. In the women's competition, Malaysia's Tan Seow Ping is in pole position to claim the title. The next two points-scoring races take place upcoming weekend in Nepal (Annapurna 100) and Indonesia (Mesastila Challenge).
2016 Provisional 1st semester calendar
19-20/02 - Hong Kong - UTHK
28/02 - Brunei - Beach Bunch's Trail Challenge
04-12/03 - Sri Lanka - GlobalLimits: The Wild Elephant Trail
19/03 - Philippines - Cordillera Mountain Marathon
09/04 - China - Tsaigu Tangsi Plus
24/04 - South Korea - Korea 50k
08/05 - Kazakhstan - Tengri Ultra Trail
14/05 - Malaysia - Malaysia Eco 100
22/05 - Indonesia - Ijen Trail Running
27/05-04/06 - Bhutan - GlobalLimits: The Last Secret
2016 Guidebook for event organisers (including details on the 2016 points system)