TT Plus preview: Yan Longfei & Ma Yanxing ones to beat
The first of many races this spring in the Asia Trail Master series is China's SuperTrail: Tsaigu Tangsi Plus in and around the mountains of Linhai in East China's Zhejiang Province was a runner's favourite last year, and all signs indicate this weekend will be no different. On the start list we find not only several hundreds of runners, but also the women's 2015 Asia Trail Master champion Ma Yanxing, and China's trail running super star of the moment, Yan Longfei. The main event is the 50 miles (82km) race, which is 25 km longer than last year. This new distance implies that all finishers also score 1 point for their Grandmaster Quest. With approx 5300 metres of elevation gain to be conquered, this race is definitely not a walk in the park and the cut off time of 24 hours could be challenging for several runners.
Among significant competition of other trail races within their own region in China, the event organisers have long term plans for Tsaigu Tangsi Plus, which is commonly called TT Plus as well. To stand out as a benchmark event in China is the objective, and last year's inaugural edition certainly backed up this ambition. TT Plus is part of the Asia Trail Master series for the second year, and it says something when Yan Longfei, who won the race last year, chooses to return to Linhai instead of doing another one elsewhere. Undoubtedly, the friendly champion, whose main focus of the year of course goes beyond Asia, starts as top favourite on Saturday to win and collect 550 points for the Asia Trail Master championship, led by Isaac Yuen Wan Ho with 900 points following his two top results in Hong Kong and Brunei earlier this season.
Interestingly, on the start list this Saturday is Matthew Kennedy, the number eight in the men's ranking at the moment with 400 points. The British ultra runner finished sixth in UTHK 156 last February and has a theoretical chance of overtaking Yuen Wan Ho .... if he beats Yan Longfei and wins the race on Saturday.
The women's longest race will see the first appearance of the 2015 Asia Trail Master champion this year. Ma Yanxing, from Shanghai, is a pure ultra runner who seems to gain the edge over the opposition the longer a race lasts. Ma Yanxing may need to keep an eye out on another Chinese trail running star, Qu Lijie, whom we featured in our Talking Trail Running section earlier this week. Another very strong runner from Sweden, Lynn Nyman, is also taking part this weekend, but she chose for the 62km distance race and starts as a favourite in that one.
As Tsaigu Tangsi Plus has been selected as China's SuperTrail this year, all finishers on the 50 miles and 62km races will earn 50 bonus points for the 2016 championship ranking. To find out more details about the race, please check our event cover page.
On Saturday we will be reporting live from Linhai via our social media channel on facebook, instagram, twitter and weixin, as always subject to appropriate connectivity at the event venue. The 50 miles race begins at 6 a.m. local Beijing time.