Moon 100: Thai runners start the chase
The 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship series has been underway for almost half a year now, but this weekend is only the first of four points races in Thailand. A big country with a massive running population of which several elites will be opening their ATM accounts at Moon 100 on Koh Phangan island. The new event, organised by the reputed teelakow team of UT Koh Chang and UT Chiang Rai, features a 100k and 60k as main races on the southern island famous for its monthly full moon beach parties…. hence The Moon 100. As it happens, the moon will only be full on Monday night and not on race weekend, but there’ll be plenty of stars shining nevertheless, in all meanings of the word.
One Thai trail runner has been very active already this season as well. Sukrit Kaewyoun has already done three races abroad with fine results. Sukrit, as he is commonly referred to, can leap to third place in the Asia Trail Master Championship ranking this weekend. He is for sure a podium candidate for the 103 km long race that goes almost entirely around Koh Phangan island. If Sukrit wants to win, he will need to get passed a long list of fellow-contenders. Let’s begin with Sabahan Milton Amat. The young Malaysian was. surprise force last year in the championship, which ended a bit on a sour note as severe viral illness prevented him from challenging Sherpa, Rambla, Mizukoshi and co for the championship in December. However, Milton has already bounced back this season with another 4th place in the 9 Dragons 50/50. Now under Team Uglow Malaysia, Amat is a technical ultra runner who is definitely going to be prominent again in the championship later this season. The same applies for Thai runner Job Tanapong and Brunei-based Canadian Michael McLean. Also from Sabah, Malaysia, comes Wilsen Singgin - 3rd in the classic Borneo TMBT Ultra last year. And from Philippines, Jared Teves is never to be underestimated.
The women’s Moon 100k race is likewise quite open with many very good runners who match each other in terms of overall performance level. A lot will depend on the shape of the day. Hong Kong-based Filipino Fredelyn Alberto continues her busy ATM schedule just three weeks after scoring third in the Vietnam Jungle Marathon 70. How well has she recovered from that very hot race? If the always smiling Alberto delivers another strong result, the T8 ambassador will be moving up to second place in the ATM Championship ranking behind Veronika Vadovicova. Her main competitors this weekend are likely to be coming from the home nation Thailand, but possibly even more so from Malaysia. Uglow runner Jassica Lintanga, 4th in last year’s ATM Championship, will be competing in her first points race of 2019. Athough the Sabahan Grandmaster is known to be faster on the 50 to 70km distance range, she has proved many times 100k is not a big issue for her neither when in form. Usually, “pocket rocket” Christine Loh moves up the leaderboard the longer a race lasts. Loh has started the ATM season very well with podium performances in two SuperTrails: the 9 Dragons 50/50 and the Dalat Ultra Trail. Loh has reportedly set her eyes on winning the 4 Trails Thailand series (Moon 100, Ultra Trail Chiang Mai, Ultra Trail Chiang Rai and Ultra Trail Panoramic —> all points races in ATM as well). The Malaysian who now lives in Singapore will therefore one to watch very closely. Also from Malaysia and never to be underestimated is V Trail Laos winner Siokhar Lim.
From Surabaya in Indonesia comes Sri Wahyuni. Number 3 in last year’s Asia Trail Master Championship and a Grandmaster as well, Wahyuni has become more selective in her races this season and that should boost her speed even more. Wahyuni is a typical female Indonesian trail runner, renowned for their toughness over the ultra distance. But Sri Wahyuni also has a fast pace, which she showed again in Tahura Trail 42 at the start of the ATM season, where she finished second behind Asuka Nakajima. With fellow Indonesian runners Ruth Theresia and Shindy Patricia currently pursuing other goals, Sri Wahyuni is currently a bit carrying the flag. It will be interesting to see what she can do in her first race in Thailand.
The home runners will obviously aim not to disappoint on Koh Phangan. Montha Suntornwit has become known in ATM over the years, and not in the least by winning the Ultimate 230 of UTCR last October. Her compatriot Wipawee “Cartoon” Pratumsuwan delivered an outstanding second place in Ultimate Tsaigu 80 last April, behind the almighty Vadovicova but ahead of Paulina Svoboda and some top Chinese runners. Coming from Chiang Mai, Cartoon is very determined to imrpove as a runner and will be close to victory this weekend. Another Thai runner will be as well: Phitchanan Mahachot. Impressive winner of UTN 100 in 2017, Mahachot has not run in ATM points races since and as such has been flying a bit under the radar, but if she can copy that performance of Nan here in Koh Phangan she could arguably be the best bet for victory.
Moon 100 is of course the A-race for the Championship, but runners will also score points on the 62km B-race according to our usual points distribution table.
Asia Trail Master will be reporting live from Moon 100 on Koh Phangan all weekend via our usual social media channels, facebook and instagram. Stay tuned for updates on the 103km and 62km races.