The 5th edition of Ultimate Tsaigu was once again made significantly harder by wet weather conditions. As if cursed, the skies opened on race day just like last year, albeit not to the extent that the event organisers got compelled to shorten and stop the race. Yet, a DNF rate of over 60% says enough, and among those were reputed ultrarunners in Asia. Many China stars flocked to Linhai in Zhejiang province for one of the country’s biggest trail events, but as previously mentioned they were spread out over three race distance categories. While the 110K was the so-called A-race, perhaps more attention went to the 80K and US star Hayden Hawks who was scheduled to compete against both Qi Min and Deng Guomin. In the women’s, we were all curious if Veronika Vadovicova could also make the technical Tsaigu look easy, in what is still the early days of her trail career.
First, on the 110K, China’s Luo Canhua, who was first on top of Mount Kuocang in extreme conditions (see videoon our facebook page), was caught by You Peiquan before CP7, but the pair then decided to stay together until the finish at the old town in Linhai. Perhaps unfortunately, there was no dual as they crossed the line in front of a big crowd in the old town together in a time of approx 14:39. Another Chinese, Zhao Jiajiu came in third with well-known Li Kuo as fourth. Liang Jing was a surprising DNF. In the morning it was very wet, foggy and cold during the 110K and 80K races. Afterwards, the persistent rain luckily stopped around noon to be replaced by consistent drizzle.
Xu Meiling was the first woman early on, but she would not make it to the finish. Experienced Zheng Liping took over and won relatively comfortably in 22:26, half an hour ahead of Qu Shangwei. Xie Wenfei completed the podium. Hong Kong's Chingling Lo was running third halfway through, but also failed to finish. French, but also based in Hong Kong and a race winner there, Habiba Benahmed was apparently really enjoying herself and finished 10th in what was essentially her come back ultra trail after an extended period of rest due to injury.
On the 80 km, American star Hayden Hawks won in splendid fashion after China’s Qi Min DNFd following a fall after CP2. That was a shocker as Qi Min was really taking the fight to Hawks. Shenzhen’s busy bee Deng Guomin inherited second but ran an excellent and smart race only some 20 minutes down on Hawks at the finish. Zhang Jiao finished third ahead of Li Kuo.
Shanghai-based Veronika Vadovicova continues to dominate the women’s races in ATM this year. She won basically unthreatened by anyone today in 12:45, proving that even extreme conditions do not necessarily slow her down. Vadovicova is the trail discovery of these early months of 2019. Thailand’s Cartoon Pratumsuwa ran a strategically smart race in a tough battle for the remaining podium places against locals Tan Rongqing, the returning Paulina Svoboda and Chen Erfen. For Chiang Mai-based “Cartoon” Wipawee, it is her first podium in an ATM race and there’s more bound to follow!