Asia Trail Master - Editorial September 2017
Every new season around the summer months we put the entire Asia Trail Master project under a magnifying glass and try to identify areas where we can twist and tweek the set-up, so everything becomes even more attractive for all parties concerned. Now in its third year, ATM still continues to grow on a constant basis according to all our internal parameters, for which we are of course very grateful to all of you. From the get-go in 2015, Asia Trail Master was the pet project of our Hong Kong-based mother company Kuai Sports Promotions with as main ambition the development of trail running, and runners, in Asia. We have hit turbulent weather at times and for sure not everything has gone the way we had imagined it, but we are confident to claim that ATM mid-2017 is a much bigger animal than mid-2015. Our champions like Arief Wismoyono, Manolito Divina and not in the least Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid clearly value their championship titles, and today do their utmost best to retain or regain them. The competiton in 2017 is bigger than ever and we are looking forward to a fantastic conclusion of this year’s championship in the next few months, hopefully with a showdown of the best runners at the Izu Trail Journey in Japan on 10 December. Still, Asia Trail Master has never been only about the fastest of runners out there. Our Grandmaster Quest is an individual challenge for every type and level of runner. Today, six athletes have achieved the first level of six races of 70+ km in two years, and Thailand-based Filipino Aleksis Capili has even managed to score his second Grandmaster star already for finishing ten such long distance races. It has pleased us to hear all around the ATM circuit that people now have the Grandmaster Quest in focus.
We are grateful to each of our sponsors and promotional partners of the Asia Trail Master Championship series and hope we can continue to cooperate in 2018 and beyond. Trail running remains a niche in the overall running business, which means it is still not easy to obtain large financial support but some brands do see the potential now of strategic regional marketing to increase their share in the trail industry, and indeed the running industry as a whole. As of the second half of 2017 already, ATM will boost its media services to unprecedented heights creating new brand exposure opportunities for brands and companies, either pan-Asian or national. Traditional sports are in crisis worldwide - just look at the difficulty of finding olympic host cities nowadays as just one example -, and trail running belongs to a new wave of popular activties that, perhaps, fits the 21st century better than what we thought a few years ago. Along with that comes the opportunity for innovative and creative marketing and sales ideas to blossom using the latest available technologies.
As our social media community has grown bigger than any regional trail media platform, we have recently also opened a closed community group on facebook called ‘ATM Trail Talk’ for runners and trail running insiders with opinions. ATM Trail Talk is not meant for publishing news about events, but rather as a discussion forum for organisers, runners and other stakeholders. At Asia Trail Master, we are always open for new suggestions - or founded criticisms - and happy to discuss them with all of you keeping our core ambition close to heart. So, if you have any well-founded ideas or arguments, we are happy to hear them on ATM Trail Talk. The floor is open for all registered members.
Last but not least, a big thank you to all event organisers and all dedicated runners in the Asia Trail Master Championship series. Without you no races, and no Championship. It is fantastic to see that events have matured and gotten ever better since the beginning in 2015. Likewise, many trail runners have become household names in trail families outside their native countries. All of this to the extent that some global trail running stakeholders, such as UTWT, have taken notice. All things considered, that is a very positive development and shows that Asian trail running is moving up. One of our goals remains getting the top of the ATM Championship into the annual trail world championships organised by IAU and ITRA. For a variety of reasons, Asia is largely absent from that competition. But as institutional matters go, it takes time, unfortunately.
We keep on working, we keep on running, we keep on making new friends and enjoying ourselves on the magnificent trails of Asia!