Clash on the Tam Dao!
One month after the Jungle Marathon, Vietnam is again in the spotlight this weekend as the Tam Dao Mountain Trail is on the Asia Trail Master Championship programme. Hosted by the Belvedere Resort 1,5 hours northwest of capital city Hanoi, the 70 km race is highly anticipated and has the potential to grow into a classic. The race course is very interesting and quite unique, with the big climb of Tam Dao coming at the very end of what is otherwise a runable course. The 70k starting field sees several big names, and two runners can even become the new leader in the male Asia Trail Master Championship ranking. Four runners of the current male top 10 will be competing this Saturday!
Vietnam is increasingly establishing itself in the Asian trail scene, and this second of three points races in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship can also count on the participation of the first local star Cao Ngoc Ha. Third in UTKC (Thailand SuperTrail) and winner of the Vietnam Jungle Marathon, Cao Ngoc Ha can make a statement this weekend. One of his main competitors will be Malaysia's Steven Ong, who finished ahead of him at UTKC, but being a real endurance athlete may find 70 km a little too short. In any case, Ong will not be able to afford himself an easy start this time around. It's a big occasion for the ULTRON athlete, as he can take over the lead in the ATM championship from Arief Wismoyono. Tam Dao will also be his 4th ATM race of the season already. But were Ong to have an off-day, Spain's Pablo Diago Gonzales can take over also! Residing in Singapore, Pablo Diago is on a winning streak with victories at Mt Apo in the Philippines and at the Ijen volcano in Indonesia in the past two months. Can he add Tam Dao to that list? Note that both those races were also.... 70 km.
And in the end there is also Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Ho, who showed at Penang Eco six weeks ago he is absolutely flying at the moment. Although also a typical 100 miles runner, Yuen Wan Ho has the speed to put all the others on the backfoot from the get-go. All things considered, he may have the key to victory this weekend and propel himself into a championship-winning position later this year. For him, it will be the third race of the season. One peculiar characteristic of Yuen Wan Ho, though, is that he has a subscription on second places.
In the women's the outspoken race favourite appears to be Australia's Kim Matthews. The rather unfortunate runner-up at Penang Eco 100k (Matthews led the whole race until she fell asleep at the final checkpoint and then saw China's Dong Minfei pass by to grab the win), has recently moved to south Vietnam and is another fast-paced runner who can be expected to open up a gap in the early stages and hang on during the Tam Dao climb. Matthews, after all, won UTKC 70 k last February. In her third race of the ATM season, she can hop over Tahira Najmunisaa to fourth place in the championship. The same applies to Siawhua Lim from Malaysia, albeit in her 4th race already.
As usual we may encounter a few new names as well this weekend. After all, this is trail running and even in a new trail country.
We will be reporting live from the event - signal permitting - via our social media channels.