Race preview - Beach Bunch goes ultra
It is only end of February and this weekend we can already look forward to the sixth points race in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series. The Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in Brunei was an exciting newcomer last year, and this time the event goes from marathon to ultra! The list of participants shows several big names, including the almost inevitable Asia Trail Master champion, Tahira Najmunisaa. Winner of the Beach Bunch race last season, the 26-year-old Malaysian will be going for the 50k barely a week after her stunning victory at UTKC in Thailand. She will not get her 8th ATM race win on a silver platter on Sunday, though, as Great Britain's Margaret Rait could give her a challenge coming off a win in another race on Borneo last weekend.
The 100 km in the men's will see last year's local running hero Sefli Ahar, winner of the marathon here twelve months ago, give it a shot on the ultra distance! Interestingly, he will be up against, amongst others, Isaac Yuen Wan Ho again. The Hong Kong runner was chasing Ahar in the Beach Bunch Trail Marathon last year, and having had a wonderful time returns to Brunei this weekend. Yuen Wan Ho was third in the final 2016 Asia Trail Master championship ranking. Initially collecting podium placings, he finally got the well-deserved race victory at HK 168 last November - a 100 miler, no less. The BBTC will be his first of the 2017 campaign.
Also in the field and a podium candidate, returning from Koh Chang, is Malaysia's Yim Heng Fatt. On the 50k, local runner Hj Saifullah is one to watch out for.
While Tahira Najmunisaa thus opts for the 50k, the 100k bursts with female trail running talent as well. Indonesia's Ruth Theresia is in prime shape this year and could be the top favourite. A COMPRESSPORT athlete, Theresia won the Coast to Coast Night Trail Ultra two weeks ago and has ambition for this year's ATM championship. The two Borneo sisters Adelinah and Jessica Lintanga could be her main competitors on Sunday, along with Singapore star Jeri Chua. Adelinah won the Penang Eco 100k last season, and her sister the MesaStila 4 Peaks Challenge in Indonesia. Jeri Chua of course does not need an introduction as one of the pioneers in Asian trail running. It will be her first start in an ATM points race, though. Other podium candidates are Mila Marlina and Filippino Cheryl Bihag, both already active this season with podium placings in Coast To Coast and Rizal Mountain Run, respectively. Local ultra star Melissa Woo will be trying to get herself in the mix, too.
ATM Championship points seekers have a choice between 100 km and 50 km, and winners on each distance will be rewarded with 400 performance points along with 100 or 50 finisher points, respectively. The 100k will start at midnight on Sunday, and as usual you can follow all the action live on our social media channels.