BTS Ultra preview - Focus on Jan Nilsen & Ina Budiyarni
The 4th edition of the Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra in East Java, Indonesia, is on this weekend and the focus will pretty much be on two athletes: Asia Trail Master championship points leader Jan Nilsen is the big race favourite and, moreover, can become the second male Asia Trail Master Grandmaster, while Jakarta's Ina Budiyarni looks set to become the first female Asia Trail Grandmaster. The event probably has the most awesome backdrop of all in the series, but as those places go, tend to be vulnerable to the natural elements as well. The organisers were happy enough to announce that the original 170 and 100 routes to the Bromo volcano rim will be open, when a threatening weather forecast for the weekend dampened the euphoria. As at MesaStila Peaks Challenge last month, the participants will most likely have to cope with torrential rain showers, wind, and cold temperatures on the summits. Bad weather has been affecting many trail races of late, let's hope that BTS Ultra will be spared the worst.
This is also one of the toughest races of the season alongside Rinjani 100, and we all remember what happened there: only Jan Nilsen made it to the finish within the cut-off time. Nilsen has been outstanding all year in the toughest mountain races, and it is hard to see who can beat him now in normal circumstances. Then again, Muhammad Dzaki, second at MesaStila, is in prime shape and can put up a challenge to the Thailand-based Norwegian. Nilsen himself is keen for victory here, after he had to pull out of the race last year with blisters while running in the lead together with Ullas Narayana, who will not defend his title this weekend. In terms of Asia Trail Master championship points, Nilsen can maximise his points total for the final ranking in which the best three results of the year count. It would give added pressure to his rivals in the championship, such as Manolito Divina, Xu Xiutao, Yuen Wan Ho and Arief Wismoyono to name the most obvious challengers. Bandung runner Arief Wismoyono, who secured his 2015 Asia Trail Master champions with a gutsy run at Bromo last season, will not take the start on Friday afternoon. Wismoyono will be back in action at CM 50 Ultra, the Philippines' SuperTrail, on 27 November. While Nilsen and Dzaki are the main contenders for victory and the podium on the 170 km, the dark horse may well be Yohanes Hiareij. Second at Ijen Trailrunning behind Wismoyono, Hiareij DNFd at MesaStila and may be motivated to produce a strong performance at BTS.
On the 100 km race distance, Rhenaldi Firdaus may be the one to watch. Firdaus won the MesaStila 4 Peaks last month, the 65k race over there.
As no women will take part in the grueling 170 km race, the 100 km distance has become the main event, or the A-distance. This implies that there will be a full bag of 400 ATM performance points on offer for the winner, instead of the usual 200 for a B-distance. We can look forward to a great competition, as most of Indonesia's leading ladies of trail running are present. Ruth Theresia was second in last month's MesaStila and may set the pace. But what about Patricia Shindy, only woman to finish the Rinjani 60 last July? Mila Mirlani is there as well, who can always rely on her experience in the long ultras. From Malaysia we have Faherina Mohd Esa, a solid second place finisher at the Magnificent Merapoh Trail 100 in July. And last but not least, Ina Budiyarni, who at MesaStila led most of the 65 k race to eventually finish second and for whom BTS is her favourite trail race. Budiyarni started her trail running career here three years ago, and it would be quite fitting if she indeed manages to complete her Grandmaster Quest in the race where it all began. Who knows, maybe a podium finish as icing on the cake?
The Grandmaster Quest results in a lifetime achievement award and entry into the Asia Trail Master Hall of Fame. To obtain the honorary Grandmaster title, runners must complete six races of minimum 70 km or 4500 Hm, within 24 months. Aleksis Capili was the first trail runner who managed this feat at the Malaysia Eco 100 last May, and this weekend Jan Nilsen and Ina Budiyarni can reach the level of six completed races. Both of them began their campaign at Borneo TMBT in August 2015, fifteen months ago. As evidence of the difficulty of the Grandmaster Quest, Nilsen (BTS 2015, Malaysia Eco 100) and Budiyarni (Merapoh 100) both suffered setbacks along the way with DNFs in races that could have given them additional points. Ultra running remains a serious challenge to everyone: to finish first, you need to finish first.
Stay tuned this weekend via our social media channels to find out what is happening at the 2016 Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra!
Jan's Five Grandmaster Quest Steps so far:
- 08/2015 - Borneo TMBT (Malaysia) - 100 km
- 11/2015 - CM 50 Ultra (Philippines) - 82 km
- 02/2016 - UTHK (Hong Kong) - 156 km
- 07/2016 - Rinjani 100 (Indonesia) - 100 km
- 10/2016 - MesaStila 5 Peaks Challenge (Indonesia) - 100 km
Ina's Five Grandmaster Quest Steps so far:
- 08/2015 - Borneo TMBT (Malaysia) - 100 km
- 10/2015 - MesaStila 4 Peaks Challenge (Indonesia) - 65 km
- 11/2015 - Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra (Indonesia) - 100 km
- 05/2016 - Ijen Trailrunning (Indonesia) - 70 km
- 10/2016 - MesaStila 4 Peaks Challenge (Indonesia) - 65 km
To learn more about the Asia Trail Grandmaster Quest, please refer to our dedicated webpage.