UTCM: Christine Loh wins, but Fredelyn Alberto takes points lead
Japan’s Yuta Matsuyama Matsuyama has won the inaugural edition of Ultra Trail Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. He reached the finish line after a very wet race with a few section shortcuts due to flooding between CP6 and CP9 ahead of Sabah’s Milton Amat, for whom the course was probably a tick too runable, despite the foul conditions. Matsuyama this season already scored a 7th place in Echigo Country Trail in Niigata last June. Japanese runners are doing very well in Asia Trail Master races this season, and we are looking forward to seeing more from Matsuyama as well! For Sabahan Milton Amat, that’s another 450 points for his championship ambitions, but he will be looking to win his next few races to stay within range of Kitamura and Ellis. His Uglow teammate Wilsen Singgin started the rain race very well, but then missed a marking and lost terrain to the front runners.
Sukrit Kaewyoun ran a superb race and stayed ahead of his teammate and race favourite Job Tanapong. Sukrit Kaewyoun is third in the finish and boosts his ATM Championship total points tally. Job Tanapong had to be content with a fourth place today and probably had hoped for more. Much to his credit, he was not looking for excuses and just stated “it was not my day today, I will be back stronger”. His Thai compatriot Yotchai Chaipromma came in closely behind him in fifth.
As stated above, just like last week in Merapoh in Malaysia, pouring rain caused havoc on the trails around Chiang Mai. Just like then, the organiser in Thailand did very well in quickly setting up a re-route halfway through the 100k race when running conditions became too risky. However, yesterday in Chiang Mai a lot more runners had already passed CP 6, where the shortcut got implemented, and including the first six women of the race...
It is unfortunate that no immediate action was undertaken to correct or at least clearly establish the ranking order of the women’s race at that point in time. This caused a lot of unnecessary confusion and even anger at the finish.
What we know from the checkpoint e-data is that six women passed CP 6 and all six also arrived in the finish in Chiang Mai later on. Christine Loh was first and logically therefore the real winner of the women’s race. Early leader Fredelyn Alberto was second and acknowledged that Christine passed her in the late stage of the race. Alberto, who has previously said to run ‘only’ the 62 km race category, is the new Asia Trail Master Championship leader as a result of this second place in her fifth points result of the season. She takes over from Asuka Nakajima, who has four results so far. Hong Kong-based French woman Habiba Benahmed completed the podium ahead of Siokhar Lim and Natthanan Matthanang. Jassica Lintanga was running third halfway through the race, but eventually came into the finish as number six.
A group with lots of Thai runners actually were the first women to reach the finish, among whom Montha Suntornwit. But these all ran the shorter course after the re-route.
Let’s emphasise that no woman made any error or mistake. It is just an unfortunate circumstance.
The same applies for some men such as Nikom Tongjai. A very solid runner himself, he ran the original non-shortcut course but for some reason finds himself down in 26th place in the race result. Guillaume Degoulet is another one suffering the same fait. Please note that while the top six for women was quite easily for us to assess, ATM is not responsible for the race result. Runners who feel they deserve or should have a better race result should get in touch with the local organiser. We thank you for your understanding.