Posts in review
Asia Trail Master 2016 - The Final Championship Ranking

The 2016 Asia Trail Master series has come to a close. The two final official result lists from UT Panoramic and The Punisher have been received, so the final 2016 championship ranking is now ready for consultation. Our two winners of this year have of course already been known since a few weeks: Manolito Divina from the Philippines and Tahira Najmunisaa from Malaysia are the male and female 2016 Asia Trail Master champions. They will be honoured and celebrated accordingly at the first race of the new season: Tahura Trail in Bandung, Indonesia on 21/22 January 2017. 

Manolito Divina secured his title by defeating then-points leader in a straight battle with Jan Nilsen and a few other protagonists during CM 50, his home race by coincidence. The 36-year-old father of four this year also delivered a stunning 100 mile performance at Malaysia Eco 100. His other results were a joint second with Nilsen at UTHK, and a fourth place at UT Mapawa, which was worrisome as the result of an ankle injury just four weeks before CM 50. 

Tahira Najmunisaa has managed to remain undefeated in the Asia Trail Master series. She started her winning streak already back in November 2015 (BTS Ultra in Indonesia), and continued her dominance this season at the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, Malaysia Eco 100, Magnificent Merapoh Trail and MesaStila Peaks Challenge. Tahira, mother of three, will also next year be the woman to beat in the women's ATM championship. 

Overall, the 2016 series were a success with significant competition for championship points and the celebration of the first three Asia Trail Grandmasters: Aleksis Capili (PHI/M), Jan Nilsen (NOR/M) and Ina Budiyarni (INA/F). Not only did the level of competition increase significantly, so did the level of organisation and race management of the events in our series. 

On behalf of the entire Asia Trail Master Team, we praise all runners and event organisers for their fantastic achievements in 2016! Asian trail running has developed and matured, and will undoubtedly continue to do so next year. CONGRATULATIONS

Manolito Divina

Manolito Divina

The top 20 - Men

1. Manolito Divina (PHI) 1650 points
2. Jan Nilsen (NOR) 1600
3. Isaac Yuen Wan Ho (HKG) 1450
4. Arief Wismoyono (INA) 1410
5. Abdul Rahman Abu Hassan (MAS) 1275
6. Aleksis Capili (PHI) 1260
7. Aldean Philip Lim (PHI) 1017
8. Kristian Joergensen (DEN) 840
9. Lee Jeong Ho (KOR) 
9. Nohui Seong (KOR) 825
11. Ali Ajis Rasil (BRU) 810
11. Mohamad Huzairi Shah Mohd Hussin (MAS) 810
13. Xu Xiutao (CHN) 800
14. Hendra Wiyaja (INA) 755
15. Husnan Husin (MAS) 716
16. Marcelino Sano Oy (PHI) 710
17. Alan Toh (MAS)
18. Mingyun Park (KOR) 690
19. Kian Philip Yong Yeo (MAS) 680
20. Al Telias (PHI) 660

The Top 20 - Women

1. Tahira Najmunisaa (MAS) 1650 points
2. Majo Liao (PHI) 1525
3. Patricia Shindy (INA) 1110
4. Jassica Lintanga (MAS) 1015
5. Ruth Theresia (INA) 1000
6. Ina Budiyarni (INA) 990
7. Yuen Kit Shan (HKG) 950
8. Xiao Jing (CHN) 925
8. Sunghee Lee (KOR) 925
10.Faherina Mohd Esa (MAS) 850
11. Gyesook Lee (KOR) 825
11. Mila Mirlani (INA) 825
13. Jocelyn Cheung (HKG) 800
14. Gretchen Felipe (PHI) 760
15. Manilyn Mamugay (PHI) 740
16. Hyonsim Chong (KOR) 720
16. Cheryl Bihag (PHI) 720
18. Adelinah Lintanga (MAS) 690
19. Cherry Chung (HKG) 670
20. Ma Yanxing (CHN) 550
20. Sandi Menchi (PHI) 550

Check out the full final 2016 Asia Trail Master Championship ranking. Next week we will be highlighting all the National Trail Master champions of this year. 

NOTE: in case a runner erroneously misses out on some points, please contact

Talking Trail Running with He Lang, race director of UT Wenchuan

Last weekend Ultra Tu Wenchuan was organised in China's Southwest province of Sichuan. Runners loved the astonishingly beautiful scenery along the 50 km course, but also reported on how tough it was. In any case, the race made an impressive debut also thanks to its fine organisation by Mr He Lang and his team. We spoke with him a few days before the race. 

Race organiser Lang He was firstly a climber rather than a trail runner. He used to devote himself to technical mountain climbing. But once he discovered the beauty of trail running, he realized this is a sport that he will never stop exploring. "Trail running has similar elements as climbing, and I aim to develop trail running with the ideas which are often used in technical climbing," says Lang He. "I want push the boundary of trail running, I want to see people run in places in which people have never run before. I want see there's no boundary between trail running and climbing. Exploring new possibilities shall always be a part of the trail running world."

As a trail runner, Lang He accumulated most of his race experience back when he was working in Norway. He has finished TGC in 2013 and UTMB in 2014. This year, his main project is Xreid race in Norway and the Mt. Siguniang Shan race. "They're also ideal races for me: remote, harsh environment, new boundaries for trail running, " says Lang He with a smile. 

Asia Trail Master: What brought you the idea to establish a trail race in Wenchuan, the place of the disasterous earthquake in 2008? 

Lang He: Wenchuan is the closest place to Chengdu where we have big mountains. My idea is to run in big mountains, and Wenchuan is a perfect place. It's relatively dry and trail condition is less affected by precipitation compared to the nearby Sichuan Basin. The mountains around Wenchuan city are populated by local villages, and this gives us a lot of trails for running.

I have no intention to connect our race with the earthquake, neither Wenchuan government has. We want to show everybody this is a new Wenchuan and it has already moved on from its sad history. 

Do you think the name Wenchuan will deter some runners from joining the event given what happened?

Yes,  I think people now may still have a few doubts about coming to Wenchuan, but via events like ours we hope to erase those doubts. We do have a runner who used to serve in the PLA rescue force after the quake. He said he is excited about coming back to the place where he fought so hard for at the time. That is the kind of story we are happy to hear, but we don't want to promote such stories. We want people to come here for our race, not because of a link with the earthquake. 

UT Wenchuan is an upgraded version of last year's initial event. What has been changed exactly and what extras can runners expect?

The length of the course has been extended from 42K to 50K. And an extra 1000 hm has been added to the total elevation gain. Given the fact of the rather rough condition of some trails, we do expect the difficulty of our race to have been significantly increased. 

Both in TT Plus and Korea 50, experienced runners were complaining that race organisers nowadays all want to have the toughest event without adding anything meaningful or beautiful to the race course. What is your view on this as race organiser? 

I think as a race organiser you have to think about the nature of your race course. You need to understand why you design a course like you do it. It's not a wise idea to make lots of turnarounds on hills just to achieve a certain longer distance or higher elevation gain. I believe each trail course should have a purpose, like UTMB, it's purpose is to run around Mont Blanc. UT Wenchuan's purpose is to run around Wenchuan City and to see the beauty of this place from different aspects.

The race takes place at high altitude, but remains below 3000 hm, which from a medical point of view seems wise for an event open to the general public. Was it a conscious decision not to aim for the highest peaks?

We have the possible option to aim for a 4000 m highest point, which is also close to our current race course. But it would be too difficult to design a reasonable course. I don't like to have any turnarounds on my course. I want the shape of my race course to be simple and beautiful. Also, aiming for the highest peaks also brings challenges regarding logistics.

What should runners from other countries do and see when they come to Wenchuan?

They should go to Woolong Natural Reserve, which is the first national natural reserve established in China. Its biodiversity will astonish everybody who goes there. Also people can visit some of the old Qiang villages [and see a panda as well, kvdv]

Would you say there is a big difference in the trail running scene in East China compared to Southwest China? 

Southwest China has a deeply carved landscape. Mountains here are so huge that probably one of those climbs is enough per race. 

Which finishing time do you expect for the race winner? On the basis of the current start list, who would be your favourite to win the men's and women's races?

I expect the male winner to finish a little bit under 8 hours. On the current start list, we have several really strong runners who have won Dalian 100 (Kuo Li), Asics Mountain Marathon (Duanyang Bi) etc. But in my view they may actually not win UT Wenchuan. Given the steep terrain and big climb, local Chengdu runners who are used to run here before probably have a better chance to win. My friend Ruqiao Ren is not a famous runner. He grew up in the mountains and his agility and endurance really impress me. Last year he scored the 2nd place in the Mt. Siguniang Shan race, only behind a Tibetan mountain guide in the highest race in China. If I can bet, I would put my stake on him.

Read our race report of Ultra Tu Wenchuan here

Spotlight on the 2015 Asia Trail Masters

The first Asia Trail Masters in trail running history are Arief Wismoyono from Indonesia, and Ma Yanxing from China. Both were confirmed as the champions two weeks ago, having accumulated most points in races on the Asia Trail Master series' calendar in 2015. Their titles were obtained with panache, as both athletes scored two race victories and places of honour throughout the year. Let's chat with Arief Wismoyono and Ma Yanxing and find out more about who they are and where their hobby - both are non-professional runners - is leading them in the near future. 

Ma Yanxing:
"All people around me who love sports are my idols"

By Xiaozhao Zhao/Kris Van de Velde

Q: Congratulations with your Asia Trail Master title, how does this title make you feel?
MY: I am surprised with this honor, and I feel so happy and excited I became the first women's Asia Trail Master!

Q: You won the Dalian 100 and the Dali 100, which one was the most difficult for you?
I think 2015 Dalian 100km was more difficult than Dali 100. Perhaps because it was my first attempt to race in Dalian.

Q: You also finished second in the Grassland Marathon in Inner Mongolia in summer, are you disappointed you did not win that race as well?
No. I never just focus on my ranking in any races. I am not a professional living on running. For me, attending races is just a great excuse for travelling to some astonishing places, and for socializing there with so many friends who like running as well.

Q: Since when have you been trail running? Do you like it more than road running? Why?
I started trail running in a race in Linhai, Zhejiang Province, in October 2014 and I liked it very much. The reason is very simple, I used to do some mountaineering, so there was a link. 

Q: Do you have a sports idol?
All the people around me who love sports are my idols

Q: What is your best time on the road marathon?
I ran 2 hours and 50 minutes in the 2015 Beijing Marathon last September. 

Q: You live in Shanghai, where do you go training for long distance running in such a big city?
I do treadmill workouts and swimming. 20km is about the longest distance during my road running training.

Q: Have you done any races outside of China?
I have finished marathons in Bangkok and Prague (Czech Republic).

Q: Which races are you dreaming of?
I am eager to try UTMB in France one day in the future.

Q: What is the hardest part of an ultra trail race in your opinion? Did you ever feel like giving up during a race?
I tend to consider aborting the race just before the start...., but actually I just think about this and have never quit once underway. 

Q: By winning the Asia Trail Master championship, you will get quite some attention in 2016 and also be invited to take part in the 1st race of next year's series, Ultra Trail Hong Kong. Are you looking forward to that?
 It is my great honor to be invited to the UTHK as the female champion of 2015 Asia Trail Master series, but unfortunately I cannot go to Hong Kong at that time due to my working schedule and arrangements. In fact, mainly it is my friends who plan my races as they have all the information and know what is possible and what is not. I am registered for the Tsaigu Tangsi Plus race in Linhai in April [China's SuperTrail event in 2016, kvdv]. 

Q: What do you think about the development of trail running in China?
Much like the trend in western countries, I think trail running will continue to boom in China. The number of runners will keep increasing. But the runners will choose and select races based on the assessment from others, so the demands on organisers will increase, too. 

Q: Last week you finished 2nd female in The North Face Hong Kong, how was your experience in one of the oldest and most critically acclaimed trail races in Asia?
The course is well-maintained with good views, challenging terrain and appropriate weather for racing, which means not too hot.  Plus, participants were polite and environment-friendly. The race is recommended, but as for any 100km race, basic knowledge and trail running experience is definitely required. 

Ma Yanxing won the Dalian 100 Ultra in April and the Dali 100 Ultra in October. In between she also scored second place in the Grassland Marathon in Inner Mongolia, TNF Hong Kong in December and ran a 2:50 road marathon in Beijing. She accumulated 1005 points for the Asia Trail Master ranking, 63 points more than Indonesia's Mila Marlina and 105 more than Malaysia's Tan Seow Ping. 

Ma Yanxing

Ma Yanxing

Arief Wismoyono, pain in knees, ankles and toes:
"Ullas was a true challenger"

By K. Van de Velde

Q: Congratulations with your Asia Trail Master title, how does this title make you feel?
AW: Amazing! I feel happy for sure, also to be able to be competitive with foreign trail runners, especially in the Mount Rinjani Ultra.

Q: You won the Mount Rinjani Ultra and the MesaStila Challenge, which one was the most difficult for you?
Mount Rinjani Ultra is more difficult, although the distance is only 52km. The elevation gain of nearly 6000m is similar with the Mesastila Challenge 100k.  It takes a huge effort  to reach the very summit of Rinjani (3700m above sea level, kvdv)

Q: You had a very tough race on Bromo, how did you suffer the injury?
At kilometer 30, my knees began to ache. When that happened, I began to rely a lot more on my ankles, especially when running downhill. This then made my ankles hurt, too. So, I spent half of the race with pain in the knees, ankle and toes.

Q: Were you afraid that Ullas Narayana would take away the lead in the Asia Trail Master ranking? Did you think of giving up?
It never crossed my mind to give up. With Ullas being in the Bromo Tengger Semeru 100 Ultra it made me even excited, he was a true challenger. Whatever happens, I will still compete and give as much effort as possible.

Q: What is your biggest strength in trail running?
My Mental state of mind. I will finish what I started.

Q: Since when have you started trail running? Do you like it more than road running? Why?
Since two years I do this sport. When I first ran to the mountain, I immediately liked it. Running in the forest at midnight, alone, made me feel brave. During a trail run, my mind and body become more calm and fresh.

Q: Do you have a sports idol?
Muhammad Ali. It takes hard work and discipline to be able to be in the ring for 15 rounds.

Q: What do you do as a job every day?
I work as an elementary school teacher in Bandung, a city in West Java and the third biggest in Indonesia

Q: Have you done any races outside of Indonesia? 
Not yet. Vibram HK 100 which is held in January 2016 will be the first race abroad for me.

Q: Which races are you dreaming of?
UTMB. I want to feel a different atmosphere running with world trail runners.

Q: Next year there will again be several races in Indonesia where runners can score points the championship. Which race are you looking forward to most?
Mount Rinjani Ultra. That race makes me want to come back. Of course, also with a view to score a better time record. Also, Bromo Tengger Semeru 100 Ultra, it would be wonderful if we can do the route toKalimati in 2016.  I hope to get many points in Asia Trail Master competition again.

Ijen Trail is a new event on the ATM calendar next year, what was your experience in that race this year? 
Blue fire, there are only two in the world and I saw one of them in the Ijen race. Running in the mountains of beautiful Ijen, passing through coffee plantations, meeting friendly locals, it makes me have to go back there.

Q: What do you think about the development of trail running in Indonesia?
Although it’s not as popular as road running yet, trail running has now begun to develop and is followedby many runners bothfrom Indonesia and from foreign countries. This can be seen from numbers of participants in trail running events, and the emergence of various trail running communities, one of them, BDG Explorer,  is in my city in Bandung. Together with them, I am able to do many events throughout the year. 

Why should foreign runners come to Indonesia and do races in your country?
If they want more challenge, then they should come to Indonesia. Complete terrain characteristics, beautiful scenery, friendly locals and holds customs. In addition, they will find a lot of climbs.

Finally, what is your favourite piece of music when running? Do you have it on mp3?
I never listen to music when I run. The sound of nature makes me more focused and excited.

Thank you and good luck in 2016!

Arief Wismoyono burst onto the Asia Trail Master scene in August when he became the first Indonesian runner to win the brutal Mount Rinjani Ultra on Lombok Island. Later in October he also put the MesaStila Peaks Challenge on his record, and scored places of honour in a.o. Ijen Trail Running. Despite injuries, he finished sixth in the Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra 170, securing his Asia Trail Master title ahead of India's Ullas Narayana with 1362 points against 1302. Patrick Singh from Guyanan accumulated enough points in stage races to get third place. 

Arief Wismoyono

Arief Wismoyono

Wismoyono and Marlina put Indonesia firmly on Asia's trail running map

The 5th edition of the MesaStila Challenge Ultra in Central Java's Magelang region  took place under a bright blue sky last weekend and was an eye-opening trail experience for many participants. The event, which offers five race distances in total, is not as well known as Mount Rinjani Ultra or Bromo Tengger Semeru, but this could soon change. Runners were treated with a fantastic and varied race course and with great hospitality from the MesaStila Hotel & Spa. 

The stars of the weekend were locals: Arief Wismoyono (men) and Mila Marlina (women) both won the 100k race and in so doing they grabbed the lead in their respective 2015 Asia Trail Master ranking with four races still to go.

Photos credit MesaStila

Arief Wismoyono ran a smart race to take his second Asia Trail Master race victory

Arief Wismoyono ran a smart race to take his second Asia Trail Master race victory

Mila Marlina arriving at the peak of Mount Andong. 

Mila Marlina arriving at the peak of Mount Andong. 

Central Java, is a region known mainly for the UNESCO Buddhist temple site of Borubudur, and maybe also for its delicious coffee. From the race location there are various touristic sightseeing options.  Many a participant spoke of a "hidden gem" on the trail race calendar. The courses are characterised by volcano and mountain climbs, bamboo forests, ethnic villages and jungle trails.

Pretty but tough. The 100km has 7700 metres of elevation gain, and even for experienced local climbers such as Alan Maulana this can sometimes be too much. Maulana led the race at the 65km point, but began to feel unwell and retired from the race. It left the door open for Wismoyono to assume control, even though he had to cope with the final charge forward of new name Dzaki Wardana. Wismoyono, first Indonesian champion of Mount Rinjani Ultra last August, finished at midnight in 19 hours. The podium was completed by Pramonosidi Wijanarko, who came second in the gruelling Gede Pangrango Marathon in May.

Looking ahead, Wismoyono holds an advantage of 90 points over China's Xie Zhangrong, with India's Ullas Narayana, Wijanarko, Phairat Varasin, and Yan Longfei, amongst others, within striking range. Points-scoring races are still coming up in China, Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Mila Marlina has no real competition on the longest distances in her native country, but to become the 2015 Asia Trail Master champion she still awaits a stern challenge by Malaysia's Tan Seow Ping. The points difference between the two is only 42.

Top 3 Result - 100k - Men

1. Arief Wismoyono (Indonesia) 19:03:16
2. Dzaki Wardana (Indonesia) 19:37:30
3. Pramonosidi Wijanarko (Indonesia) 21:34:47


1. Mila Marlina (Indonesia) 

50k - Men

1. Celian Baup (France) 10:28:16
2. Muhammad Fauzi Difinubun (Indonesia) 10:38:09
3. Vincent Chalias (France) 11:17:56