Tsaigu: Stellar field including Vadovicova
This Saturday we already have the 5th edition of Ultimate Tsaigu, today one of China’s premier trail events in the mountainous forests around Linhai in the eastern province of Zheijiang. It’s a very technical and scenic natural trail that tests the reslience of participants each year again - not in the least as rain or moist can never be excluded. Almost all Chinese top trail runners and an international elite runner from the USA named Hayden Hawks are on the event start list, which reached maximum capacity of 2000 very quickly again. However, the big names are spread out over three race distance categories and won’t all be facing off against each other - something that is becoming an unfortunate trend in elite trail running, a bit similar to professional boxing. So we have Liang Jing (winner in 2018) and Luo Canhua on the 110K, Hayden Hawks, Qi Min and Deng Guomin on the 80K (arguably the most exciting race) and Yan Longfei, Jia Erenjia and Shen Jiasheng on the 50k. In the women’s, China’s new star Yao Miao is also on the 50k, along with Dong Minfei, Paulina Svoboda and Xiang Fuzhao. But Veronika Vadovicova is on the 80k, and Zheng Liping, Nicole Leung and Ching Ling Lo on the 100k - just to name a few. Let’s be honest, imagine what a race it would be if they are all in the same race distance category!
In the context of the ATM Championship, the 110K was assigned long ago as the A-points race with 500 for the winner and the 80K as the B-race with 380 points for the winner. The 50k does not offer any points. China’s top performers are all sponsored professionals not known to travel a lot beyond their country’s borders to the rest of Asia, and traditonally do no feature much in our championship. On the other hand, more and more Asian runners are finding their way to China as Tsaigu continues to receive rave reviews. Race director Cai Yu has also always opened the doors wide open for regional athletes and the new partnership with Ultra Trail Chiang Rai - the Thailand SuperTrail in October - could foster even more exchange. There’s quite a large group of Thai runnes competing in Tsaigu this weekend, including Montha Suntornwit, winner of Ultimate Chiang Rai 230 last autumn, and Sukrit Kaewyoun, who has been doing well in our championship so far with 6th in Dalat and 2nd in Luang Prabang. A good result on the 110k can propel Sukrit into the fab five of the men’s championship standings before the break. Due to the holy month in several countries there are no points races until Vietnam Jungle Marathon on 25 May. Another one to look out for in the context of the ATM championship is Finland’s Henri Lehkonen. Coming off a great 5th place in Dalat, he is also on the 110K start list for his second points race of the season.
Veronika Vadovicova has been the surprise of the women’s season so far. Maybe not because she has been winning - she already won the 90K of HK168 last December - but because of her sheer speed on the trails. Making the switch from triathlon, Vadovicova dominated Cordillera Mountain Ultra and Sungai Menyala Forest Trail and starts as race favourite for the 80K on Saturday as well. Tsaigu will again be new territory for her: this race is arguably the most technical of her trail career. In that context, Thailand’s Wipawee “Cartoon” Pratumsuwa could see an opportunity to upset the Shanghai-based Slovakian. Also Hong Kong’s Wai Yin Chiu could be in the mix for the podium. Xu Meiling from China will be up against three strong women from Hong Kong on the 110K longest distance. Ching Ling Lo, Nicole Leung and also former HK168 winner Habiba Benahmed.
Stay tuned for updates of the event all day on Saturday via our social media channels!