UT Chiang Mai: Amat & Singgin vs Tanapong, part 2
Ultra Trail Chiang Mai is the second of the 4 Trails Thailand this year and promises a continuation of the battle between the Thai Siangpure Team and Team Uglow Malaysia from Sabah. Over two months ago, Milton Amat and Wilsen Singgin controlled The Moon 100 seemingly easily, until the lights went out for SInggin with less than 3km to go before the finish on the beach of Koh Phangan. Milton showed his sportsmanship in that race to protect and take care of his struggling buddy, but had to accept that Job Tanapong still managed to catch and pass them to take the win. In the context of the Asia Trail Master Championship, we will still need to see how that may or may not affect the eventual outcome in December, yet there is no doubt that Milton Amat did the right thing that day. In any case, Amat already rebounded by dominating Mantra Summits Challenge 116 in Indonesia last month. Moreover, Milton Amat has never looked stronger than this year and some already call him the ‘real’ ATM Championship favourite. He still has some catching up to do on points compared to Hisashi Kitamura or John Ellis, but remember in the end only the best five results count anyway. For the young and upcoming talent Job Tanapong the unexpected victory at Moon 100 seemed to have also provided a boost of confidence. Whereas he was happy to stick with his Siangpure teammates for almost 80km during Moon, Tanapong did not wait for anybody during the Ijen 100 race four weeks ago. It was an impressive and interesting win because Moon 100 and Ijen 100 are completely different kinds of trail races: the former is extremely technical, the other almost entirely runable. This weekend, Sukrit Kaewyoun is also at the start in Chiang Mai. Best-placed Thai in the ATM Championship so far -4th- he will for sure his experience to try and score another podium. More contenders for that are Wasin Monghkolmalee, Mads Louring, and Guillaume Degoulet. There’s also several Japanese runners as yet unfamiliar to ATM - so let’s wait and see!
Wipawee ‘Cartoon’ is the woman to beat this weekend. Also for her it’s a real home race and unless there is someone we don’t know it is hard to see who can keep her away from victory. But of course, to finish first you first need to finish and that is something she failed to do in Moon 100, despite being in the lead after 80 km. Fredelyn Alberto went home with the honours that day and the Filipino is also competing in Chiang Mai, albeit on the 60 km distance. Remember Alberto suffered an ankle injury at Ijen 100 a month ago and she does not want to jeopardise the rest of her season. Uglow’s Jassica Lintanga is a podium candidate wherever she starts, but the Sabahan has always been more competitive on the medium than on the long distances. Montha Suntornwit is exactly the opposite: it cannot be long enough for her - winner of UTCR 230 last year and already two third places in ATM races this season. Two more Malaysians certainly also will be in the mix for the podium: Christine Loh, who should find Chiang Mai better suited to her running characteristics than Koh Phangan, and Siokhar ‘Steel’ Lim - currently fifth in the ATM Championship. Last but not least, we shoudld certainly mention Habiba Benahmed. Originally from France and now residing in Hong Kong, Benahmed has been getting back to her best form throughout the past months and it will be interesting to see what she can do in Chiang Mai. Another Hong Kong ace, Jcy Ho, will stick to the 60km as well this weekend.