Race preview: Tahura Trail opens 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship
The new year's holiday has come to an end already, and for sure all of you are on fire to kick off your new trail racing campaign by now! The 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series begins this weekend in the most appropriate manner: a top event in an exciting location and a trail course that is perfectly designed to shake off that winter stiffness! The 5th Tahura Trail in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia is on this Sunday, and the highly popular event is honoured by the participation of the two defending Asia Trail Master champions: Manolito Divina (Philippines) and Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid (Malaysia)!
Organised by the running division of Indonesia Biking Adventure, the Tahura Trail is arguabky the most popular trail event in Indonesia looking at pure participation numbers. The event of course caters for absolutely everybody: the experienced and top athletes have the 42k marathon distance, but less ambitious or beginning runners also have a wide range of options from 21k to 10k, family run or a new nocturnal race. For the Asia Trail Master championship, only the 42k provides finisher and performance points, 500 as maximum total for the male and female winners of the race.
When one says Bandung, trail runners obviously think of The Bandung Explorers, the local trail running team that features a.o. 2015 Asia Trail Master champion Arief Wismoyono. Having home advantage, they will be the ones to beat. It will be interesting to see the dual between Wismoyono and Manolito Divina on Sunday. Divina had the Bandung ace in his pocket two months ago in his home territory in Clark, but the freshly married Wismoyono has seemed rejuvinated and might just as well equal the score on Sunday.
Plenty of other race favourites this weekend, though. Not in the least Algeria-born Abdoullah Mitiche who won Tahura Trail last year. As Mitiche explained in our Talking Trail Running series this week, he just loves this race. Although primarily a long distance triathlete, Mitiche always makes a goal of Tahura and anyone who wants to win on Sunday will need to get passed him. Running speed is important in this race, as the distance of 42 km is obviously no 100 km long haul. It provides excellent runners with perhaps less technical trail wherewithal such as Mitiche with chances of upsetting the established trail elite. The relatively short distance should also play in the hands of Malaysia's Lim Wen Shan. And what to expect of Yohanis Hiareij and Margono, two other Indonesian runners known for their fast legs?
Rhenaldi Firdaus, the youngster and winner of MesaStila 4 Peaks Challenge (65km) last October, is on the start list as well. Has he recovered from his fantastic efforts in Hong Kong last week during the UTWT race over there? Plenty of names, plenty of action to be expected on Sunday morning!
Moving over to the women, one cannot look past the presence of defending champion Tahira Najmunisaa. Unbeaten in five races on the Asia Trail Master tour, it is only logic she goes into Tahura Trail as the woman to beat. While admitting to being fatigued after the grueling Indonesia SuperTrail at MesaStila a few months ago, Tahira can be expected to be back at the top of her game this weekend. The local opposition will be there, though, as well.
The first race of the 2017 Asia Trail Master season will be followed extensively on our usual social media channels as of the race briefing and champion's ceremony on Saturday afternoon.