Ijen: Ruth Theresia almost the new ATM champion!
The 4th edition of East Java’s iconic Ijen Trailrunning was held in excellent weather conditions in Bondowoso, Sempol, last weekend, although runners had to cope with a lot of dust at the end of the region’s dry season. While we were in the east, it was a western Javanese runner who claimed most of the spotlights as she won the women’s 100k in a nearly perfect manner: Ruth Theresia. Feeling recovered enough from an ankle injury and the gruelling Bandung Ultra 100 just two weekends ago, Theresia was a last-minute addition to the 100k start list and her gamble paid off in gold. With five ATM points race victories this season, Ruth Theresia has accumulated 2650 total points and it is hard to phantom anyone else still beating that in the remaining ten races of the 2018 championship season. However, purely mathematically it is still possible for other race and SuperTrail winners such as Carole Fuchs, Corinne Williams and even Evelyn Lek, so the celebration in Ruth’s home base in Bandung is still on hold.
Ruth ran a very smart 100k at Ijen - a race she also won last year in a sprint against Shindy Patricia. She allowed Surabaya’s Sri Wahyuni - returning from prolonged inactivity due to injury - to set the pace and followed a minutes behind. She knew she had had the better of Sri Wahyuni already on a few occasions earlier this season. The only objective was to win the race and pocket the 500 ATM points, in order to eliminate her off-day at Cordillera Mountain Ultra from the total points ranking under the five-best-count rule. In the last 25 km, Ruth began to accelerate a bit, caught and overtook Sri Wahyuni. Her last 10 km to the finish in Bondowoso were faster than the leading men, so she clearly had a lot of reserves still in the tank. Her winning time was 18:39. Ruth Theresia was visibly delighted with what-could-be the championship-winning race victory. After ending the 2017 title race in third place but very close behind Kim Matthews and Tahira Najmunisaa, it will be a textbook example of determination when Ruth Theresia is mathematically certain of the ATM Championship title in November. Indonesian women continue to flock podiums of ultra distance races in the region, because behind Sri Wahyuni (20:36) Bali’s Grandmaster Lily Suryani grabbed third place, also coming back from injury and a multi-day stage race in Europe.
The 70k women’s race - a B-race for the ATM championship but also a Grandmaster Quest qualifier - was won by Canada’s Carrie Stander. It is her second podium of the season after finishing second in the Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan last May. Stander keeps getting better on the trails, and is also entering the top 10 of the women’s championship. Her finishing time of 10:34 is a fine feat! Septiana Nia swastika took second and Philippines’ Ira Hernandez third.
Over to the men, where we witnessed a remarkable upset on the 100k. South Korea’s Sungsik Joh had the run of his 2018 campaign as he took a surprising victory over the likes of Laurent Tuffi, Suparmin and Rexell Aguirre. Experience certainly seemed to have aided him, along with basic running speed. At the first checkpoints, Sungsik was always in fourth or fifth position behind fast starters Shashwat Rao (India) and then Rexell Aguirre (Davao, Philippines). Bali-based Frenchman Laurent Tuffi was just behind along with Surabaya’s Suparmin. Halfway-through, Rao had to throw in the towel citing a few missed markings and feeling unwell. The same occurred to Aguirre. Alone up front, the Filipino mountain runner suddenly became dizzy and even briefly collapsed around km 70. Very wisely he decided to respect his body’s emergency signal and waived a motorcycle rider to bring him to the nearest aid station. Laurent Tuffi inherited the race lead, but was unable to hold off the charge of Sungsik Joh in the final stages of the race. The South Korean crossed the line as winner in a time of 16:46. Tuffi got second in 17:04. Suparmin was third male in 18: 57. Sungsik enters the top 10 of the ATM Championship ranking with his 6th result of the season, eliminating his worst result, 76th in Echigo Country Trail in Japan last June.
The men’s 70km had a lot of talent at the start. 22-year-old Bandung runner Yusuff Aprian was able to keep up with Spain’s Salva Rambla until the Ijen summit climb halfway through the race. As dawn set in, Rambla shifted to a higher gear and left Aprian in his wake, yet it was another strong run by the young Indonesian who earlier this season won Mantra Summits 50k, amongst others. At last a new top gun for male Indonesian trail running? In third place, also promising, was Thomy Wibawa, only 3 minutes behind Aprian. Salva Rambla set a blistering winning time of 8:01:39. After struggling to third place in the more technical BDG 100 two weeks ago, Rambla clearly seems to be at his best on more runable terrain. The participants in the upcoming Plataran X Trail in Bali better take note…