2018 ATM Preview: speedways & green mountains
In part 3 of our 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship series preview, we highlight four more great races in four different countries. Starting with 23/24 March, we have the first of two superspeed trail courses and it's a classic one: the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in Brunei has firmly established itself on the Asian trail calendar thanks to its solid organisation and wonderful atmosphere. The event takes place a month later than usual, but retains most of its characteristics. That means the 100k is still the main race, with a 50K as intermediate distance that also qualifies for ATM Championship points. Beginning runners can also opt for 30K in Brunei, which is nonetheless quite a challenge given the heat and humidity inherent to the small country on Borneo island. The Beach Bunch is of course still an event where environmental protection is a key aspect: the beaches around Jerudong suffer a lot from waste being spilled into the sea in other countries, which all comes ashore here. The local volunteers clean up as much as possible for the event weekend, but you would be stunned to see what amounts of trash actually all arrives there on the beach.
Fast-legged runners should in any case mark this period on the ATM Calendar as two weeks later there is another trail speedway in nearby Malaysia: the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail is a 50k race without much elevation gain neither. Still, as with the Beach Bunch, be prepared as the DNF rates are quite high also in Port Dickson. In fact, Sungai Menyala can be a little muddy also, which seriously tires you down.
Time to hit the mountains again. On 14/15 April we have a big return to the Asia Trail Master calendar: Ultimate Tsaigu, a tough 100k race in Linhai, Zhejiang Province, China is back! Previously known as Tsaigu Tangsi Plus, the popular Chinese race had a sabbatical this season after being a points race in 2015 and 2016. Races in China are usually not the easiest to enter, but if you want to make the effort (and we help you!) Ultimate Tsaigu is an excellent opportunity given the relative proximity of major cities Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo. Event town Linhai is a tourist spot with ancient city wall and tea plantations, and linked to the aforementioned cities by train. Come prepared, however, as the 100K has over 6000m of elevation gain and the 70K is serious business as well. Of course, both 100k and 70k are Grandmaster distances.
Not a Grandmaster distance, but quite tough nevertheless is the Korea 50k race near Seoul a week later. In 2018, the course officially measures 58km and has an elevation gain of close to 3000 hm. The country's premier trail event is hitting its 4th edition already and is a hill forest race pur sang with traditionally quite an international field of runners. There's a shorter distance available as well , which makes the event in Dongducheon, in the northern suburbs of Seoul, accessible to everyone.