Posts tagged 2017
VMM - Triumph for Quang Tran & Kim Matthews
vmm winners.jpg

The Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa saw quite an upset on the main 100K race as local runner Quang Tran had the better of current Asia Trail Master champion Manolito Divina. In the women's, Kim Matthews delivered on her role as favourite to take her third ATM race victory of the season. 

After finishing second in the Vietnam Jungle Marathon last May, Quang Tran had only one focus in the last months and that was to prepare himself for the Sapa race. While everyone was  pointing to Cao Ngoc Ha as Vietnam's best bet to compete against the pinoy tandem of Divina and Arnold Lozano, Quang Tran was at the front early on. Manolito Divina was able to resist for a long time, but eventually had to admit the Vietnamese runner was simply too fast last weekend. In the end, the gap at the finish had even built up to 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is impressive. Finish time: 13 hours and 17 minutes. Cao Ngoc Ha completed the podium in third place another full hour back. It illustrates the dominance displayed by Quang Tran. SIngapore's Chua Ying Zhi came very close to the podium in fourth place only a few minutes behind Cao Ngoc Ha. Arnold Lozano - winner of this year's Cordillera Mountain Ultra - came home in fifth place. 

While Quang Tran collects 500 ATM championship points and now totals 950 in two races, Manolito Divina moves up into the ranking's top 10 with this third points score of the season. Cao Ngoc Ha improves to 4th place, equalling the total score of Isaac Yuen Wan Ho, who will be in action next at the Mesastila Peaks Challenge. Steven Ong still heads the championship ranking.

Kim Matthews was not really under pressure last weekend and ran a solid 17 hours 52 to claim the victory. The Australian, who recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City,  is becoming a real challenger now for the Asia Trail Master women's title. Her VMM victory propels her to second place in the ranking with four races, just five points behind Ruth Theresia but also 20 ahead of Tahira Najmunisaa! Lily Suryani continues to lead the championship ranking with five results in the bank. In fact, after completing the tough Bandung Ultra 100 last week, the Indonesian finished sixth on the 100K of VMM as well! However, her points total does not increase further as VMM was her sixth race and only the best five results count. Lily needs to do better than 4th place in a regular trail race, as that was her placing in both Tahura Trail and Merapoh Trail. 

On the podium beside Matthews was Hoa Banh, running with Australian nationality as well, and Nguyen Thi Duong from Vietnam, who will move up to the top 20 of the championship ranking with her third result of the season. 

There was also a 70K in Sapa, and that race was won by Britain's Graham Knight ahead of Hanoi's Quang Nguyen after a good battle. In the women's France's Nadia Koucha took a strong victory ahead of Malaysia's Penang Eco 100 winner Christine Loh. 

 

 

vmm podium men.jpg
vmm podium women.jpg
VMM - Asian trail stars unite in Sapa
Kim Matthews

Kim Matthews

The Vietnam Mountain Marathon launches the final part of the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series this weekend. In style, because not only has VMM grown to be one of Asia’s finest trail races over the years, it also has attracted a quality field of Asian runners including our defending champion Manolito Divina. The Philippines’ running star still has some work to do in the final quarter of the year to defend his title. After an unfortunate DNF in Tahura Trail in January, Divina won the Rizal Mountain Run and the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail, but while others already have four or five results he is still down to two. Manolito has remained in good shape, though, as he proved in the Candidate Race in Bali two months ago. Manolito dominated the race and never even had to push to claim victory. This weekend in Vietnam, however, he will face some stiff competition on a hilly and often technical course that may match less with his characteristics as a trail runner. Manolito Divina, ironically enough, may have to fear another pinoy runner most in Vietnam: Arnold Lozano. The man from the Cordillera is known as a mountainbiker mainly outside Philippines, but then he won Cordillera Mountain Ultra last March, ahead of Marcelino Sano-Oy, Al Telias and Jan Nilsen! Lozano has his own ambition for the ATM Championship, so we could get a very interesting dual on the mountains around Sapa this weekend. 

The local stars of course also want a say in the battle. Cao Ngoc Ha in first place. The tall Vietnamese runner has been doing great in the ATM Championship this year and is determined to finish the year on a high note as well. Currently ranked in 6th place with three race finishes, Cao Ngoc Ha has home advantage this weekend and will be cheered on by the ever-growing Vietnamese trail community. Trail running is coming of age in Vietnam, indeed, and Cao Ngoc Ha is one of the pioneers. With also BTS Ultra on his agenda, it looks like he will definitely claim a top 10, if not top 5 or even higher position in the final championship ranking. 

In the women’s 100K, ATM Championship leader Lily Suryani will be at the start to defend her position. The Bali-based Indonesian  is unstoppable and very consistent this year. Only last weekend she finished the Bandung Ultra 100, a very technical and tough ATM Candidate Race. Lily has five results in the bag already, and her aim is of course to improve on her “fifth result”. This weekend, she will for sure leave Vietnam still as the Championship leader, but Australia’s Kim Matthews is set to move up. Matthews, in fact, is the women’s race favourite. She won UTKC 70 and Tam Dao Mountain Trail, and also scored second in the Penang Eco 100k earlier this year and is one of the top favourites for the ATM Championship at the end of the season. In Sapa, Matthews will be competing with Suryani, but also with Montha Suntornwit and local stars Tu Nguyen, Nguyen Thi Duong and Vy Le Phuong. Moana O’ Sullivan from New Zealand is the dark horse for the women’s race this weekend. 

As always in trail running, there may be guest runners claiming the spotlight as well. In Sapa we can expect some solid runners from South Korea, Thailand and France. 

Tengri Ultra Trail - Running through Kazakhstan's steppe

It's already the third edition of the Tengri Ultra Trail this weekend, Kazakhstan's premier trail running event. Well-established on the calendar by now, the event attracts ever more runners to this remote but stunningly beautiful area. Tamgaly Tas along the big Ili River is not for nothing a UNESCO World Heritage Site with rock paintings, canyons and prime grassland with snowcapped mountain peaks on the horizon. The event follows the same concept as last year featuring a 70 km main race, which qualifies for the Grandmaster Quest. Less ambitious runners can also opt for 35 km and 15 km, but it's the longest distance only that counts for the ATM Championship. 

The camping area for all runners at the Heritage Site is still the venue for start and finish, and there is still no connectivity neither (so race updates will come with delay this weekend). 

Experienced Belgian ultrarunner Luc Hapers ranks among the top favourites this weekend, alongside Russian Yura Shtankov, a race winner at home and abroad. Of course, the local Kazakh athletes cannot be underestimated neither. There will be more opportunities to show their talents on the trail soon, as the Altai Ultra Trail is not too far away, and another race in Almaty is under preparation for later this year. 

Gonzales wins on Apo as Capili claims his 2nd Grandmaster Star
Aleksis Capili

Aleksis Capili

The race to the summit of the highest mountain in the Philippines lived up to its reputation. The Mount Apo Sky Race on Mindanao Island was hailed as a tough and technical 70 km course, and the winning time of seasoned trail runner Pablo Diago Gonzales  sums it up nicely: 12 hours and 6 minutes. The 35-year-old Spaniard, who lives in Singapore, was even an hour and 40 seconds faster than the second man on the podium, local runner Rexel Aguirre. Gonzales hereby scored the maximum of 500 points in his second ATM points race of the season after being 4th at Sungai Menyala Forest Trail in Malaysia a few weeks ago. He's now 7th in the current ATM Championship ranking with 900 points in his bag, and Gonzales is aiming for more. As the season moves on, he could indeed become a dangerman for this year's Asia Trail Master championship crown. 

Another protagonist in Davao last weekend, in more than one way again, was Aleksis Capili. Born in the Philippines, but living in Bangkok, he scored his second Grandmaster star by finishing Mount APo, his tenth ATM Grandmaster distance race in his career! Capili is undoubtedly the epitome of endurance runners. And not only does he continue to show grit and perseverance, he is also running faster and faster. Last Sunday, the 39-year-old Capili crossed the finish line in third place in 14:46 and therefore claimed the final step on the podium. That means an additional 425 championship points in his bag as well, which propels Capili up to 3rd place with 1155 points, ten more than Yim Heng Fatt. 

The women's race on Apo was decided in favour of Manilyn Mamugay (time 17:26), who was roughly two-and-a-half an hours faster than Mary Kristines Hernandez (19:54). Daisy Linas scored third place. For Mamugay it was the second career ATM race win, after also grabbing The Punisher 50 miles last December. 

Pablo Gonzales and organiser Doi Calbes

Pablo Gonzales and organiser Doi Calbes

The men's top 3 of the Mt Apo Sky Race

The men's top 3 of the Mt Apo Sky Race

Aleksis Capili now is also the first trail runner to have scored this shield

Aleksis Capili now is also the first trail runner to have scored this shield

Mt Apo Sky Race: Aleksis Capili to earn his 2nd Grandmaster Star

This Saturday trail runners have a unique chance to climb Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines at 2954m above sea level. Race organisers Vertical 2 Sky have managed to get an exception from local authorities to allow runners to enter the Park area, which has been closed for mass tourism following the big El Nino-inspired bush fire from a year ago. The Mount Apo Sky Race is a technical out-and-back trail of 70 km - Grandmaster Quest distance - and the first of two ATM points races on Mindanao Island this season (Ultra Trail Mapawa follows on 29 October). 

As last year's Mapawa and The Punisher events showed, races on Mindanao seem to open a new can of great runners every time. The established names on the current start list should therefore remain on guard. However, spotlights will shine in any case on Aleksis Capili. The Thailand-based Filipino is going for his second Grandmaster star this weekend at the Apo Sky Race. It's almost a year ago since he became the first ever Asia Trail Grandmaster by finishing six ATM races of 70+ kilometres within two years, and now he has reached 10 - provided he crosses the finish line, of course. What is amazing is that Capili's running speed and results have been improving as well in the course of the past twelve months. Even to the extent that Capili is currently sixth in the 2017 ATM points championship and can move firmly into the top 5 this weekend. Arief Wismoyono and Gaspard Dessy are beyond reach, but Capili could split the Malaysian duo of Steven Oong and Yim Heng Fatt. 

Almost a year ago, Aleksis Capili became the first ever ATM Grandmaster in Malaysia

Almost a year ago, Aleksis Capili became the first ever ATM Grandmaster in Malaysia

One of the race favourites on paper is certainly Singapore-based Spaniard Pablo Diago Gonzales. Fourth a few weeks ago in the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail in Malaysia, Gonzales can move up to the top 10 in his second ATM race of the season. He is not only a fast-paced runner, he climbs well, too, making him perfectly adapted to the course of the Mt Apo Sky Race. A local runner to watch out for is Rene Amigleo, who was second in The Punisher 50 miles last December. Finally, a quintet of women will also attempt to do the big 70k race this weekend. 

Stay tuned this weekend on our social media channels for updates on the Mt Apo Sky Race! 

The summit of Mt Apo

The summit of Mt Apo

The Grandmaster Shield featuring 2 stars

The Grandmaster Shield featuring 2 stars

Japanese clean sweep in the men's Korea 50K as Sandes pulls out

The biggest trail race in South Korea was a textbook example of the growth of the sport in that country, yet international runners took the top step on the podium in the main race of 59 km. South African star Ryan Sandes pulled out at the last moment with a hip injury that he sustained in training, and so the trail was open for Japan's top runner Ruy Ueda to deliver an outstanding performance. Ueda completed the hilly and tough course in a blistering 5:41:12. He was in a league of his own finishing nearly 40 minutes ahead of number two. In fact, two more Japanese runners completed the podium with Takeshi Doi overtaking Tomonori Onitsuka in the final stages to claim second place. Shimjae Dok, second last year, had to settle for fourth place. He was 41 minutes off the podium, which indicates just how quick the Japanese ran. Second Korean was Jisoo Kim. Al Telias from Philippines was one of the pre-race favourites, but he did not start. 

The overall level of the women's race also went up a notch as last year's winner Yukari Hoshino had to see Marie McNaughton from New Zealand run away from her after an intense dual between the two. For a long time they were separated by not more than ten minutes, until McNaughton pulled away in the late stages to win by approx 25 minutes still. Sunghee Lee was the best of the local runners in third place - just like 12 months ago. Lee is last year's winner of UT Jeju in October and the female Korean Trail Master, finishing 8th in the 2016 ATM Championship. She had to fight for her podium place last Sunday, as her compatriot Jeong Sun Park was just over five minutes behind. Park, of course, is the winner of last year's ill-fated Ultra Trail Mount Jiri, ran in very wet conditions. 

Importantly, Cheryl Bihag from Philippines finished the Korea 59k race as well, collecting another 188 points in already her fifth points finish of the ATM season! As such, she totals 1638 points and takes over the lead in the current Asia Trail Master points championship from Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid (1500 pts in 3 races). A well-deserved top spot for one of the most popular runners on the Asian circuit. For Cheryl, it will now be about consolidation and increasing her points tally further by doing better than the 188 points of Korea 50k, which by coincidence happens to be her smallest points haul of the season. As per ATM championship regulations, only a runner's best five results are taken into account for the ranking. This year, Cheryl has done Rizal Mountain Run 50, Beach Bunch Trail Challenge 100, Cordillera Mountain Ultra 50, Sungai Menyala Forest Trail 50 and thus Korea 59K. 

MEN TOP 5

1. Ruy Ueda (JPN) 5:41:12
2. Takeshi Doi (JPN) 6:20:54
3. Tomonori Onitsuka (JPN) 6:30:39
4. Shimjae Dok (KOR) 7:11:39
5. Jisoo Kim (KOR) 7:33:55

WOMEN TOP 5:

1. Marie McNaughton (NZL) 7:42:32
2. Yukari Hoshino (JPN) 8:07:18
3. Sunghee Lee (KOR) 8:59:39
4. Jeong-Sun Park (KOR) 9:05:05
5. Bo Yong Jang (KOR) 9:22:23

Korea 50K preview - Ryan Sandes vs Asia

Korea is no longer a rookie country when it comes to trail running and the proof is this weekend's Korea 50k event in Dongducheon in the outskirts of capital city of Seoul. The 3rd edition again breaks participation records with 1117 officially registered runners! Not all of them are of course going for the hilly 59 k, yet even the main race will see just over 500 starters. And it is not only the quantity that strikes observers, also the quality. Many of northern Asia's established trail runners are present, and they will be facing one of the world's most reputed trail runners in the person of Ryan Sandes of South Africa. It goes without saying he is also the race favourite, but there's plenty of dark horses this weekend.

Korea 50k is thus actually closer to 60k and offers a hilly course mainly inside forests and has no less than 3500 metres of elevation gain. That's tough, and especially something that could be in favour of explosive runner types rather than ultra endurance types. The terrain could therefore be Sandes' biggest rival. At 35, the South African is not the oldest, but neither the youngest anymore. Japan's Ruy Ueda, for instance, is a fan of Korea 50K's topography and has an aggressive running style. Ueda will be an important challenger for Sandes. So will be Ueda's compatriot Tetsuya Osugi - if he recovers in time from illness that struck him this week -, along with Takeshi Doi and Tomonori Onitsuka. The Land of the Rising Sun certainly is well-represented in Korea this year! 

Ruy Ueda and Ryan Sandes: the two leading favourites for Sunday's 59K race

Ruy Ueda and Ryan Sandes: the two leading favourites for Sunday's 59K race

Ruy Ueda

Ruy Ueda

On a start list of 500 there are bound to be other fast runners few people know about, but one name is certainly not unknown: Alison Tellias from the Philippines, third in the Cordillera Mountain Ultra last month, is another podium candidate to say the least. Still, there's another Filippino runner who will be very much in the spotlight this weekend: Cheryl Bihag will be taking part in her fifth ATM points race of the season already, and is set to overtake Tahira Najmunisaa in the 2017 Championship points ranking! Currently ranked second with just 50 points less than the Malaysian - who has done three races so far - Bihag will be the first runner to score points in five races, which means that as of the next race she can begin to try and eliminate her worst points result (11th in Cordillera Mountain Ultra, i.e. 300 points). Always smiling and in a good mood, Bihag has traveled across Asia in recent months and her consistent results in races will now give her a truly well-deserved place in the spotlight for some time. 

In all fairness, winning Korea 50K will be an uphill task for Bihag this weekend. For the race victory, local runners such as Sunghee Lee and Gyesook Lee seem to be a good bet. But also in the women's race, Japanese runners will join the debate for sure. 

As always, you can follow the action of Korea 50K live via our social media channels. The race is set to commence at 5 a.m. local time. 

Filipino dominance in Malaysia's Sungai Menyala

Philippines' Asia Trail Master champion Manolito Divina was again a class on his own in Port Dickson, Malaysia, as he beat a strong field over 50km in the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail. Divina took command early on as his pace on the fast course was too high for the competition. He finished the race, which did have a number of technical sections, in 4h27'30". It's Divina's second ATM win of the season after Rizal Mountain Run, and with 1000 points in the bag again features up front in the provisional championship ranking.

A few runners have already finished more races than him this year. Indonesia's Arief Wismoyono has actually regained the points lead thanks to his third place in Sungai Menyala. The Bandung Explorer ace, 2015 ATM champion, has clearly returned to his best form this year.  He had to succumb to local runner Steven Oong, joint winner of UTKC last February, for second place, but never really lost ground and kept a high running pace. In fourth was Spain's Pablo Diago Gonzales. He'll be one to watch in the coming months, too. Pablo has only just resumed training, and will be one of the race favourites at the upcoming Mt Apo Sky Race in Davao at the end of this month. Indonesia-based Malaysian Eric Chooi was an excellent fifth ahead of compatriot Yim Heng Fatt, who moves up to third place in the ATM championship ranking.

The women's race was dominated by another Filipino star, the 28-year-old Sandi Menchi. In the absence of ATM champion Tahira Najmunisaa, Menchi had no match in Malaysia and even finished the race fourth overall - ahead of Pablo Diago Gonzales! With two race victories in the bag already this year, she is becoming hot for the championship title. Tahira, of course, already has three race victories in the bag this year and could afford to pull out. The Malaysian star won a 30k road race on Saturday, but sustained a mild injury in doing so and preferred not to take chances. The season is still long. 

Second place went to her teammate at Team Malatra, Sabah's Jessica Lintanga, who actually delivered a strong and balanced performance to edge out Singapore's running star Jeri Chua at the end of the race. Lintanga saw Chua pulling away from her early on in the race, but came back and proved that she as well is getting stronger and more confident race by race. Her sister Adelinah Lintanga took fourth place. 

Sungai Menyala was a fast race, yet more than tough enough due to the heat and a number of technical and swampy sections. Confirmed for 2018, this is a great event for quick legs and weekend trippers. Port Dickson has easy access to both KL and Sepang Airport, and the organisation committee has announced that in 2018 there will be a new big loop of 50k. 

On our facebook you can watch photos and video footage of the winner's arrival, as well as interviews with some of the protagonists (including Tahira on her DNS decision). 

The next points race is Korea 50k on 23 April, followed by UT Nepal two days later. 

The outstanding Sandi Menchi

The outstanding Sandi Menchi

Steven Oong did excellent in scoring 2nd

Steven Oong did excellent in scoring 2nd

Pablo (left) and Arief (right): 4th and 3rd.

Pablo (left) and Arief (right): 4th and 3rd.

Jessica Lintanga claimed second spot ahead of Jeri Chua

Jessica Lintanga claimed second spot ahead of Jeri Chua

Preview - Stellar line-up at Sungai Menyala on Sunday!

After a short break, this weekend the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series enters the second quarter with two points races in Peninsular Malaysia and in Central China (UT Xinxian 100 in Henan Province). The Sungai Menyala Forest Trail arguably attracts most attention giving its stellar line-up including both current Asia Trail Master champions. Manolito Divina (PHI) and Tahira Najmunisaa (MAS) will  not have an easy walk in the forest on Sunday as the competition on paper is tough. 2015 ATM champion and new Grandmaster Arief Wismoyono is traveling to Port Dickson for the 50K race, and appears set to regain the lead from Gaspard Dessy in the current ATM points standings. Tahira will be facing the talented Sandi Menchi from Baguio in the Philippines, recent winner of the Cordillera Mountain UItra. The Sungai Menyala Forest Trail is pure trail running, but with little elevation gain on the 50k course it is a race suited for fast legs. Race director Razif Yahya, himself a very experienced international trail runner and technical organiser, sees a bright future for his latest event, which caters for runners of all levels.

The four race favourites for Sunday

The four race favourites for Sunday

It will be the third ATM race for both Manolito Divina and Arief Wismoyono this season. Both scored race wins: Manolito in the Rizal Mountain Run and Arief in Coast To Coast Night Trail Ultra. While the Filipino ace had an unfortunate DNF at Tahura Trail in the season's opener, the Bandung Explorer leader also scored a fourth place there. On Sunday he needs 350 points - equivalent to a 6th place - to overtake Gaspard Dessy in the ATM championship ranking. Strictly in theory, there is a third participant in the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail who can claim the top ranking spot: Malaysia's Yim Heng Fatt went very well in Thailand and Brunei and is 455 points behind Dessy at the moment in third place. That implies he needs a win and a DNF of Wismoyono, though. 

Another Malaysian to watch out for is Steven Soonseng Ong - joint winner of the UT Unseen Koh Chang SuperTrail in Thailand last February and currently 9th in the ranking. In Thailand, Ong ran a tactically very clever race to come out on top. Can he do it also on a shorter and less technical course? 

Tahira Najmunisaa is already lining up for her fourth ATM points race of the year. Unbeaten in 8 ATM races, she is the record holder as well in terms of ATM race wins. Particularly in Tahura Trail and UTKC, the Malaysian running icon was again blisteringly fresh and quick. Still young herself, she will be determined to extend her string of race victories even more against upcoming young talent Sandi Menchi. The Filipino actually beat Tahira on a climbing course in Sabah last year, but Sungai Menyala is different. Other top female runners at the start will be Gretchen Felipe, the Lintanga sisters, Cheryl Bihag and Jeri Chua. 

As usual, you can follow the action live via our social media channels all weekend. The race itself starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. 

..or will runners such as Steven Oong upset the established champions?

..or will runners such as Steven Oong upset the established champions?

CMU 50 - Mountainbiker Lozano upsets established guard

The 2nd edition of the Cordillera Mountain Ultra in Dalupirip, Benguet, Philippines, saw the first big surprise win of the season when Arnold Lozano - an established local mountainbiker - left everyone of a strong field in his wake. Lozano finished together with last year's winner Marcelino Sano-Oy, but only because he wanted to. The organisers did not accept a tie, and awarded the victory to Lozano as he was ahead at the latest checkpoints as well. Lozano is more known as a mountainbiker, having won a.o. the Cordillera Challenge already, as well as having competed in the Genghis Khan MTB Adventure in China's  Inner Mongolia region. Clearly, he is multi-talented, and if he can win Cordillera Mountain Ultra against a strong line-up of runners, what more can we expect from the man? 

Arnold Lozano from Baguio was the surprising winner of this year's CMU 50 trail race

Arnold Lozano from Baguio was the surprising winner of this year's CMU 50 trail race

Both Lozano and Sano-Oy set a blistering pace across Mount Ugo and broke last year's winning time by half an hour. This was emphasized even more by third-placed Al Telias, who in the previous edition was competing with Sano-Oy for the race victory and now had to concede 27 minutes. Telias did very well himself, however, to stay ahead of other class acts such as Gaspard Dessy, Grandmaster Jan Nilsen and his brother James Telias. Dessy finished 52 minutes behind Lozano and Sano-Oy in fourth place and claims the points lead in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship. The Indonesia-based Belgian also finished third in Tahura Trail and Coast To Coast Night Trail, and is the first male protagonist to finish three ATM points races this season. Dessy will see his name at the top of the standings until April at least, as Q1 has come to an end and the next race is scheduled only on 1/2 April in China. 

Gaspard Dessy is the new points leader in the men's Asia Trail Master championship

Gaspard Dessy is the new points leader in the men's Asia Trail Master championship

Shortly behind Dessy a duo arrived back in Dalupirip: Grandmaster Jan Nilsen and first woman Sandi Menchi. Nilsen still struggled with his foot injury and probably finds 50 km too short as well to compete with his younger competitors. Still, fifth is a good result. Menchi of course delivered more than what many had promised earlier. Previously mainly running shorter distances of events, CMU was the second time she went for the top prize in a big race after CM 50 Ultra last November. Menchi not only managed to come home a joint fifth overall together with Nilsen, but she was also 45 minutes faster than last year's winner Gretchen Felipe, who in turn did well by staying ahead of Majo Liao, proving that last year's victory was no fluke at all. The Philippines have a very strong trio of trail runners up in Luzon: all three podium placers managed to finish in the top 10 overall!  To note also is the 11th place of multi-race runner Cheryl Bihag, by which she claims the current second place in the ATM championship ranking with 3 points results already under her belt this season. 

Jael Wenceslao and Aldean Lim finished sixth and seventh in the men's, and Grandmaster Capili was eighth, putting him firmly in the top 10 of the ranking as well. James Telias, another pre-race favourite, suffered from stomach cramps and could not defend his chances. It was indeed a very hot day on and around Mt Ugo, which gave all participants an additional difficulty to cope with. 

Sandi Menchi was outstanding: finishing together with Jan Nilsen to claim the women's race

Sandi Menchi was outstanding: finishing together with Jan Nilsen to claim the women's race

Koi Grey, Grandmaster Jan Nilsen, Marcelino Sano-Oy, JP Alipio and Grandmaster Aleksis Capili

Koi Grey, Grandmaster Jan Nilsen, Marcelino Sano-Oy, JP Alipio and Grandmaster Aleksis Capili

While Al Telias scored 3rd place, James suffered from stomach cramps

While Al Telias scored 3rd place, James suffered from stomach cramps