VJM: Fantastic Vadovicova propels Kitamura to 1st win!
Hisashi Kitamura has done it! In last Saturday’s Vietnam Jungle Marathon the flamboyant Japanese runner scored his first career ATM race victory after numerous podium places and places of honour. But the Uglow runner had to give it all in the final 10km to keep the outstanding Veronika Vadovica behind him and arrived totally dehydrated at the finish. He fell down from exhaustion as he crossed the line, but recovered in the medical tent quite quickly. On the podium later in the afternoon, Kitamura was his usual self with a bit of show and clearly relief that he finally pocketed that elusive race victory. On top of that, he grabbed the points lead in the Asia Trail Master Championship at the expense of John Ellis.
Earlier on in the 70km race, which commenced at 4 am, Kitamura adopted the “John Ellis tactic” of not worrying too much about the early dozens of kilometres. Vietnam’s Hung Hai, winner of the 100k Vietnam Mountain Marathon last September and a character himself, took off like a rocket but ran out of steam come halfway. Kitamura first and then Vadovicova caught up and dropped Hung Hai in the next uphill section. Meanwhile, Quang Nguyen Duc stayed in the mix up front as well, but eventually couldn’t keep the high pace set by the Japanese and the Slovakian. The experienced Quang Nguyen Duc ran a smart race and probably could have dropped Hung Hai for second, but refrained from doing so. Coming into CP8, the last checkpoint with 10k to go, it sounded like Veronika Vadovicova had the better of Kitamura, amazingly enough. However, Hisashi Kitamura was not going to let her spoil his first ATM race victory and ran the last kilometres downhill with his mind switched off. Vadovica realised that his downhill pace was a bit too high and decided not “to dude” or “to chick” him and settled for second. Second overall that is, because she was two hours ahead of the next woman!
Hisashi Kitamura is also the new points leader in the ATM Championship, taking over from John Ellis who has one race less so far. For Uglow’s latest protégé, now it already becomes a tactical game of trying to improve on his worst result of the season (7th in CMU) to score additional points as he already has five results in the bag. Both Kitamura and Ellis have planned to run in Penang Eco 100 miles on 22/23 June, which will be a very significant dual. Remember: Kitamura got the Hong Kong star last time out in Sungai Menyala already…
Veronica Vadovica was not in a rush anymore once she realised the big stunt of beating all men was not going to happen and finished seemingly fresh seven minutes later than Kitamura. The Shanghai-based Slovakian admitted herself that this was probably the best trail run of her still very young running career. She takes over the points lead from Carrie Jane Stander in the ATM Championship as well. Her next race is still undecided, but any female who wants to have a shot at the ATM title this season better plan their races carefully. Yet, it’s a five best count system, and the SuperTrails are important, as well as the final race in Taiping, the TNF Mountain Trail Festival in Malaysia on 14/15 December, and that might - we do say “might” - not be Veronika’s favourite course…
The podium in the men’s race was completed by the two Vietnamese aces Hong Hai, who probably learnt an important lesson this race and by Quang Nguyen Duc. They decided not to compete and were given a joint second place. ATM regulations, however, stipulate that as of Q2 (=April) a distinction must be made according to the last checkpoints. This puts Hung Hai in second and Quang Nguyen Duc in third. This obviously to ensure fairness for the Championship. Spain’s Ander Iza Rekakoetxea made it up to fourth place at the finish, despite being plagued by a sprained ankle during the race. Ander Iza’s ankle was massively swollen after the race. Still, important championship points for him and he is aiming for a shot at the title indeed. Tomohiro Mizukoshi managed to hold on to the top five. He had a hard time in the second part of the race, also still not 100% fit following achilles tendon injury and a bad cold. David Longo from Canberra, Australia, arrived in sixth place. France ‘s Valentin Orange was seventh. Sam McGrath continued his fine form of late with eight place.
Belgium’s Vanya Cnobs was second in the women’s race. The Belgian runner is now living in Singapore and is a former national champion cross country running in the U19 category. It was her debut on the ultra distance and admitted it was “long”. Considering she finished well inside the top ten overall, Cnobs ran a great race. it is just that Vadovicova is developing into world class material. The same applies for Philippines’ Fredlyn Alberto. By all means a solid run by the known runner based in Hong Kong, who scored her second ATM podium of the season after the 9 Dragons. Alberto’s journey to VJM was tiring already, and if one considers that runners such as Laura Hulgaard, Nathalie Cochet, Siokhar Lim and Evelyn Lek were behind her… in some races that would be a victory.