2017 Preview - Run in Japan... twice

Japan's Echigo Country Trail in Oguni Forest Park near Nagaoka last June was one of the most eye catching races of the year so far for plenty of runners. The 52km race received full support from the local community, which resulted in a pleasant festive atmosphere all weekend. Participants from outside Japan also got a close look into the local culture and lifestyle of the people...and of course of the beautiful green and hilly landscape. The Echigo Country Trail contains quite a bit of road to connect between villages, but make no mistake as the 2000 metres of elevation gain make themselves felt for every runner. The single trails in the forests and hills are often very steep and even require ropes at times. This is a tough race. And it will be back as an Asia Trail Master points race next spring on 17/18 June! 

The event takes places in the countryside of the Chubu region, but is well-connected via Shinkansen from Tokyo. However, from several places in Asia you can also fly directly to Niigata if you wish to skip Tokyo all together. It is possible to turn Echigo into a weekend trip. 

Please check the race report of the 2016 Echigo Country Trail event. 

The Echigo Country Trail will not be the only Japanese points race next spring, however. Another popular local event is joining our calendar on 28 May 2017: the Kushigata Wind Trail! Organised by the same crew as the Echigo, the Kushigata Wind Trail has Tainai City, also in Niigata, as event host and offers a relatively shot but very crispy trail race. It essentially takes runners on a mountain range and ridge with splendid views of the snowcapped Iide Mountains. More than 2000 metres of elevation gain need to be conquered on a total distance of approx 35 to 42 kilometer. Hiroaki Matsunaga, race director, is currently still exploring options and will confirm the full 2017 course in the next weeks. Also the Kushigata Wind Trail event will be much more than just the race. An opening ceremony with welcome party, as well as an onsen (hot spring) visit to a top location are all part of the experience for runners. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available, but enter the weekend in your running diaries already! 

Preliminary 2017 Asia Trail Master calendar

* more races will be added in due course

22/01/17 - Indonesia - Tahura Trail
29/01/17 - Philippines - Rizal Mountain Run
17-18/02/17 - Thailand - UT Unseen Koh Chang - SUPERTRAIL
25-26/02/17 - Brunei - Beach Bunch Trail Challenge
04-05/03/17 - Philippines - Cordillera Mountain Ultra
23/04/17 - South Korea - Korea 50k
24/04/17 - Nepal - Ultra-Trail Nepal - Run for Recovery
07/05/17 - Kazakhstan - Tengri Ultra Trail
13-14/05/17 - Malaysia - Eco 100 - SUPERTRAIL
20-21/05/17 - Indonesia - Ijen Trailrunning
28/05/17 - Japan - Kushigata Wind Trail
18/06/17 - Japan - Echigo Country Trail

Race director Hiroaki Matsunaga (in red) is the driving force of trail running in Niigata

Race director Hiroaki Matsunaga (in red) is the driving force of trail running in Niigata