Incredible line-up for Tahura Trail launches 2018 Championship
The 4th Asia Trail Master Championship begins at 6:45 am on Saturday with the 42k long Tahura Trail in Bandung, main city of West Java in Indonesia. It’s the 6th edition of the most popular race in the country based on participan numbers, and as last season, the two defending Asia Trail Master champions Steven Ong and Kim Matthews will be joining a very strong line-up of local and regional runners. In fact, the entire top 4 of the male 2017 Tahura race is back, including winner Abdoullah Mitiche and 2017 championship runner-up Arief Wismoyono.
For Abdoullah Mitiche, Tahura Trail is his annual rendez-vous with the trail world before he focuses on what he loves even more: triathlon. Last year he was outstanding in overcoming a stern challenge from Ari Masrudi, Arief Wismoyono, Gaspard Dessy and Manolito Divina to take his second consecutive victory in the final kilometres. Can Mitiche do a hattrick at Tahura? It for sure won’t be handed to him on a silver plate. Other than the already mentioned runners, Steven Ong is keen to do well in his first ATM race as champion, even though being an ultra specialist he might find 42k on the short side. However, if the weather plays in his favour - when it’s wet - the course may just be technical enough for him to aim for the race win. A lot will also depend on the pace set by two western runners based in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively: Jeff Campbell and Alessandro Sherpa. Canada's Jeff Campbell has raised many eyebrows in recent months as he ran from victory to victory in Hong Kong. Sponsored by Gone Running, Campbell this year wants to see more of Asia and see where it gets him in the Asia Trail Master Championship. Hong Kong with all its concrete steps is rather unique, and on Saturday we will find out how Campbell fares on more natural and potentially muddy trails with a higher risk of missing markers along the route. Italian Alessandro Sherpa already knows what trail running is like in Indonesia. He was leading BTS Ultra last November until he failed to obtain his drop bag and saw no other choice but to end his race. Sherpa bounced back in UT Panoramic in Thailand last month, finishing fourth in the 100 miles won by Steven Ong. While he prefers running ultra, Sherpa is sharp as a knife on shorter distances and will regard Campbell as a challenge-in-the-race to boot. The men’s 42k Tahura Trail is going to be a blast with many potential winners who could just as well fail to even reach the podium! It’s the thrill of the shorter trail races that makes Tahura Trail the ideal season opener for the ATM championship.
Two months after their first and tight clash at Clark-Miyamit Falls Ultra in Philippines, Kim Matthews and Ruth Theresia will already be facing each other again. It could be a tough task for the Vietnam-based Australian, as Ruth Theresia is of course competing on home soil in Bandung and knows the course well. The form of the day will decide! Last year’s second place Ninie Hauschildt is also on the start list and definitely in for another shot at the podium on Saturday. Other women who could make it to the podium are Sri Wahyuni, Ina Budiyarni, Mila Marlina and Malaysian Puteri Norsharina, just to name some of the better known runners on the ATM tour.
As usual, we will be reporting live from the field at Tahura Trail on Saturday via facebook, instagram and twitter.