Race report: Malaysia Eco 100
The Philippines' Manolito Divina was a true class of his own in the Malaysia SuperTrail race in and around Bukit Mertajam last weekend. Divina even quickly left other established runners like Jan Nilsen far behind and took victory in less than 30 hours over the 100 miles race distance. After his joint-second place - with Nilsen - at UTHK earlier this year, Divina is now the new points leader in the 2016 Asia Trail Master championship at the expense of Hong Kong's Yuen Wan Ho. Also in the women's race, a clear winner emerged from the rainforest: Tahira Najmunisaa was in fact the only woman to finish the longest distance race, which was characterised by extreme heat, humidity and rainfall - even for Malaysian standards. After winning in Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, Tahira also moved into the points lead of the Asia Trail Master championship with her second victory of the season - and her third ATM race title of her still young career (Tahira also won the Bromo Tengger Semeru 100k Ultra in Indonesia last year).
There was another great racer and winner last weekend: Aleksis Capili, also from the Philippines but residing in Thailand, became the first ever Asia Trail Grandmaster. And, wow, did he complete his Quest in style: second place in the 100 miles race behind Divina, his best race result to date in an Asia Trail Master event! Capili has thus completed six races of 70km or more within two calendar years. Starting with Borneo TMBT last year in August, he followed up with the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, CM 50 in Philippines, Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra in Indonesia, UTHK in Hong Kong, and now Malaysia Eco 100. As a Grandmaster he will receive his first badge of honour including 1 star, enter the Hall of Fame, and receive a host of other prizes. Now Capili has reached the all important first level, he can add stars to his badge in the next months without any time pressure. A second star follows after completing another four ultra distances.
Capili is a superb example of the tough ultrarunner who somehow always makes his way to the finish. Arguably not the fastest of all in the field, his resilience, stamina and body never seem to let him down when others on occasion take a fall or suffer an injury. Jan Nilsen, for instance, is a protagonist wherever he starts and the Norwegian has been in excellent form lately as well. However, Nilsen is blister-prone, and after 100km and with a quasi guaranteed podium place in sight, he had to retire from the race just like he was forced to in the Bromo race last November. Nilsen was disappointed, but his feet tend to recover quickly and he'll be back strongly again soon. Divina was then already two hours ahead by himself, and Singapore's Henry Yang became his closest chaser. Unfortunately, Yang slipped on a wet rock at nighttime and hurt himself in the process. After taking medical care at the next refreshment station - which were all well-prepared - Yang gave it another go to try and finish the race, but to no avail. And so Capili moved up to second place, and Malaysia's own Abdul Rahman - husband of Tahira Najmunisaa - suddenly had a podium finish in his grasp in his debut race over an ultra distance! Rahman, a navy seal, ran with his wife for most of the race, but then wanted to secure third place and so he did. The next runner to reach the finish was Thean Sin Bong, who was slightly ahead of Tahira.
Only 8 starters on the 100 miles reached the finish out of more than 40 starters. Malaysia Eco 100 did not have excessive numbers of elevation ( approx 4500 hm ) , but it was obviously more than hard enough. The DNF quota on the 100km race distance was also very high with just 24 finishers out of roughly one hundred.
The next points scoring race in Malaysia will be the Magnificent Merapoh Trail at the end of July.
The finishers of the 100 miles race:
1. Manolito Divina (PHI) in 29:47:08
2. Aleksis Capili (PHI) 34:41:14
3. Abdul Rahman Abu Hassan (MAS) 36:08:04
4. Thean Sin Bong (MAS) 37:16:35
5. Tahira Najmunisaa (MAS) 37:17:49 - winner female
6. Kian Philip Yong Yeo (MAS) 38:34:17
7. Meng Piow Low (MAS) 38:49:26
8. Chin Tat Lim (MAS) 39:16:24
100 km - Winner - Men
1. Alan Toh (MAS) 23:27:20
100km - Winner - Women
1. Adelinah Lintanga (MAS)