Race preview - 2nd Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan
One of the most exotic races in the Asia Trail Master series is the Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan, which will have its second edition this Sunday. It is a unique outdoor experience, as participants are expected to camp the night before at the race venue - the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Tamgaly Tas. The site has ancient rock paintings in some of the caves. After a successful debut last year, the event has entered the consciousness of citizens in the city of Almaty and around, proven by this week's interviews and feature on city television (see below). No doubt, the Tengri Ultra Trail has introduced trail running to Kazakhstan.
The Tengri Ultra Trail runs through grasslands and canyons with snowcapped mountains from the Tian Shan range on the horizon. After the success of the inaugural race last year, the organisers have beefed up the longest course from 55k to 70k, which means that runners can also score one point for their individual Grandmaster Quest. There is also a 35k and a 10k for less ambitious runners. Elevation gain is rather limited, 1070 Hm, making this race a perfect opportunity for road runners to get a first taste of trail running. There are some technical sections, however, that should not be taken lightly. In particular, some of the trails through the canyons can be very rocky and narrow and if there was rain in the days before the race you will likely get your feet wet.
Timur Arthyukin, organiser and race director of TUT explains: " We will show a new canyon to the runners this year, which means, there are 2 canyons on the 70k course. The last 15k will be along the Ili River to the finish at the camp site. " The long distance race will start at 6 a.m. and the cut off time is 12 hours. "Runners need to be prepared for hot conditions with lots of sunshine. All runners should equip themselves with a Camelback or at least 1,5 litres of water. There are several drinking stations along the course, but runners on the 70k and 35k must take their own refreshments with them also."
Given the last section will indeed be in wide open space, it is essential for runners to hydrate themselves well enough, and protect themselves from abundant sunshine via a cap or bandana. Something like the RaidLight desert and grassland cap, for instance.
Almaty TV interview with Vadim Vinokourov, co-organiser of TUT (in Russian).
Last year the race was won by local runners Georgiy Shejko and Akmaral Meirman. "This year we also have some strong runners from Czech Republic, USA, Russia and other Asian countries," says race director Timur. In any case, female champion Meirman has already confirmed her return and is in top shape, having just finished the Vienna Marathon in 3:07. Meirman was featured on our Talking Trail Running series a fortnight ago.
The Kazakh running community is growing fast. "In Almaty our group is at least twice as big as last year, and I am sure several Kazakh runnes will also travel to take part in other Asia Trail Master races this year," according to the organiser. In fact, the winners of Sunday's race will be rewarded with a free race entry for the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia this summer, and vice versa.