Posts tagged kazakhstan
Raid the Tengri Steppe

On 6 May 2018 trail runners can already for the fourth time take part and score Asia Trail Master championship points in the Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan. A unique race through steppe or grasslands and canyons over a total distance of 70 km, 35 km or 15 km at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tamgaly Tas, known for its prehistoric cave paintings and drawings. The Tengri Ultra Trail is one those trail and outdoor event experiences you won't easily forget. Participants are required to camp overnight at the race venue along the banks of the mighty Ili River, where mobile connectivity is still a hit-and-miss. Barbecue combined with cultural and mysterious shaman performances are part of the entertainment on pre-race night. 

This is a race suited for quick-legged runners as the total elevation gain over the Grandmaster distance of 70Km is no more than 1450 hm. Nevertheless, the canyon section does require focus as some sections are technical, especially if it is raining like last year at the start. Usually, the weather is dry and hot during the day. 

International runners need to fly into Almaty, former capital of Kazakhstan before it was moved to Astana. Almaty is still the economic and cultural centre of the country and certainly deserves a few days of exploring. Almaty is surrounded by high mountains as well, so after the race you might as well do some training out there as well. Remember Almaty was a candidate to organise the Olympic Winter Games in 2024 but narrowly lost by just four votes to Beijing-Zhangjiakou. 

Air Astana has direct flights to Almaty from a number of Asian capital cities: Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, for example. Book early and you can even get a good price also. 

Have a look at the splendid video documentary below of the 2017 event and get yourself convinced to go and try something new in 2018! Further below is the link to our cover page, from where you can also connect to the local event website (also in English). 


Video 2017 event

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. 

Tengri Ultra Trail opens registration for 7 May 2017

The 3rd edition of the Tengri Ultra Trail, the premier trail running event of Kazakhstan, is confirmed for 7 May 2017 and will again be a points race in the Asia Trail Master series. The menu will not be changed: the main race will be 70 km - a Grandmaster distance - and less ambitious runners can opt for a 35 km and a 15 km through the grasslands and canyons of Tamgaly Tas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The registration has also been opened already. 

Tengri Ultra Trail starts and finishes at a campsite along the banks of the Ili River, which flows into China. Tamgaly Tas is approx 100km from former capital city Almaty, which is also the international gateway to the event. You can fly to Almaty from most capital cities in Asia. Air Astana is the national carrier that flies direct to e.g. Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul. Busses will bring registered participants from Almaty centre to the campsite on Saturday. Camping is a must, so people need to bring camping equipment, or rent it in advance. There will be a small-scale BBQ in the evening, but participants are recommended to bring some food and drinks along as well. As it suits an adventurous trip, there is no wifi and hardly any mobile signal in this remote area. In the past two editions there was abundant sunshine, so runners are advised to bring protective head gear and sunblock. 

The race takes runners through the steppe, or grassland, which makes it a very runnable trail race. However, there are a few technical and rocky sections through the canyon that can even become tricky if there were significant rainfall in the days preceeding the event. You might even get your feet wet. Most of all, the views you will enjoy are the kind you will unlikely forget soon. 

You can find all key details here on this website on the TUT cover page

2017 Preview - 3rd Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan

The 3rd edition of the cult race Tengri Ultra Trail near Almaty in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 7 May 2017 and will again be a points race in the Asia Trail Master series. With 70km as main distance, the race is also on the agenda for runners who are on the Grandmaster Quest. Less ambitious runners can again aim for 35k or 15k as well. Tengri Ultra Trail is a true outdoor event, with compulsory camping alongside the Ili River given the remoteness of the area approximately 110km from Almaty, the economic centre of Kazakhstan and main international gateway. The venue, Tamgaly Tas, is actually on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its ancient cave paintings. 

Race director Timur Artyukin is happy with how the 2016 edition went and is keeping the race courses for next year more or less as they are. That means a good mix of flat parts with hills, grassland and canyons. Should it rain in the days before, you may also get your feet wet in a few narrow river crossings. Otherwise this is a trail race that can be negotiated by beginning runners as well. Still the only ultra distance trail in the country, TUT gets a lot of local media exposure and is welcoming international participation. The 2017 registrations will open already soon. 

Please see this year's cover page for more information. 

Preliminary 2017 Asia Trail Master calendar

* more races will be added in due course

14/01/17 - Thailand - The Dirt Track
22/01/17 - Indonesia - Tahura Trail
29/01/17 - Philippines - Rizal Mountain Run
17-18/02/17 - Thailand - UT Unseen Koh Chang - SUPERTRAIL
25-26/02/17 - Brunei - Beach Bunch Trail Challenge
04-05/03/17 - Philippines - Cordillera Mountain Ultra
23/04/17 - South Korea - Korea 50k
24/04/17 - Nepal - Ultra-Trail Nepal - Run for Recovery
07/05/17 - Kazakhstan - Tengri Ultra Trail

Report - Meirman and Nadymov win Tengri Uktra 70

The 2nd edition of the Tengri Ultra Trail in Tamgaly Tas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Almaty in Kazakhstan, was won by Egor Nadymov in the men's and Akmaral Meirman in the women's. Runners and organisers were very satisfied with the weekend in the remote grassland and canyon area, although runners said the long distance of 70km was much harder than last year's 55km. 

Akmaral Meirman also won this race last year. Nadymov, and runner's up Bahtiyar Kasenov and Anatoliy Korepanov moved up the ranking after two strong Russian runners from Krasnoyarsk, Sergey Donets and Yuri Shtankov were disqualified for missing a mandatory checkpoint.


More details and photos of the event are coming soon. 

Race preview - 2nd Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan

One of the most exotic races in the Asia Trail Master series is the Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan, which will have its second edition this Sunday. It is a unique outdoor experience, as participants are expected to camp the night before at the race venue - the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Tamgaly Tas. The site has ancient rock paintings in some of the caves. After a successful debut last year, the event has entered the consciousness of citizens in the city of Almaty and around, proven by this week's interviews and feature on city television (see below). No doubt, the Tengri Ultra Trail has introduced trail running to Kazakhstan.  

The Tengri Ultra Trail runs through grasslands and canyons with snowcapped mountains from the Tian Shan range on the horizon. After the success of the inaugural race last year, the organisers have beefed up the longest course from 55k to 70k, which means that runners can also score one point for their individual Grandmaster Quest. There is also a 35k and a 10k for less ambitious runners. Elevation gain is rather limited, 1070 Hm, making this race a perfect opportunity for road runners to get a first taste of trail running. There are some technical sections, however, that should not be taken lightly. In particular, some of the trails through the canyons can be very rocky and narrow and if there was rain in the days before the race you will likely get your feet wet. 

Timur Arthyukin, organiser and race director of TUT explains: " We will show a new canyon to the runners this year, which means, there are 2 canyons on the 70k course. The last 15k will be along the Ili River to the finish at the camp site. " The long distance race will start at 6 a.m. and the cut off time is 12 hours. "Runners need to be prepared for hot conditions with lots of sunshine. All runners should equip themselves with a Camelback or at least 1,5 litres of water. There are several drinking stations along the course, but runners on the 70k and 35k  must take their own refreshments with them also." 

Given the last section will indeed be in wide open space, it is essential for runners to hydrate themselves well enough, and protect themselves from abundant sunshine via a cap or bandana. Something like the RaidLight desert and grassland cap, for instance. 

Almaty TV interview with Vadim Vinokourov, co-organiser of TUT (in Russian). 

Last year the race was won by local runners Georgiy Shejko and Akmaral Meirman. "This year we also have some strong runners from Czech Republic, USA, Russia and other Asian countries," says race director Timur. In any case, female champion Meirman has already confirmed her return and is in top shape, having just finished the Vienna Marathon in 3:07. Meirman was featured on our Talking Trail Running series a fortnight ago. 

The Kazakh running community is growing fast. "In Almaty our group is at least twice as big as last year, and I am sure several Kazakh runnes will also travel to take part in other Asia Trail Master races this year," according to the organiser. In fact, the winners of Sunday's race will be rewarded with a free race entry for the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia this summer, and vice versa. 


The organisation team of Tengri Ultra Trail is ready for the second edition!

The organisation team of Tengri Ultra Trail is ready for the second edition!

Akmaral Meirman returns to Tamgaly Tas on Sunday in defence of last year's title 

Akmaral Meirman returns to Tamgaly Tas on Sunday in defence of last year's title 

Tengri Ultra Trail: interview with RD Timur Artyukhin

The 2nd edition of Kazakhstan's maiden trail race, the Tengri Ultra Trail in the country's east and close to Almaty, is scheduled for 8 May. What was suggested months ago has recently been confirmed: the longest race distance has been extended to 70km and will be an 8-shape loop, with shorter distances of 35km and 15km also on the programme. Venue is still the campsite at the Ili River bank called Tamgaly Tas, where all participants can camp overnight. The course features grasslands, rocky climbs and canyons with high snowpeaked mountains looming in the background. Race registration is open via our website here and more details here. Below is a translation of an interview done by the Kazakh site Athletex with the event's race director Timur Artyukhin. 

Tengri Ultra Trail 2016  - What can you expect from Central Asia’s Leading Ultra?

Taken from А / Translated from Russian by Pavel Toropov

The preparation to the unique ultra Tengri Ultra has started. А decided to find out what can trailrunning enthusiasts expect this year, and so we asked one of the organizers of Tengri Ultra, Timur Artyukhin, a few questions. (Timur holds the titles of Master of Sports of Kazakhstan in orienteering, as well as that of the President of Kazakhstan Association of Skyrunning and Trailrunning). 

Hello Timur, could you tell us how you became an ultra runner?

It was very sudden! In grade 9 (15 years old) I barely passed the PE exam for 500m and so I decided to set things straight. I started by running 1 – 2km every morning. A year later I made it into the orienteering team of my city, and I started to train seriously. My first long race was an orienteering competition in East Kazakhstan and I had to cover the distance within 3 hours. These three hours seemed like an eternity to me, but I realized that I liked it. I started intensive preparations, training, reading up on the sport. The result was that I became a double nationallong-distance orienteering champion (8 hours of running, two man team), took part in 5 races around 100km in distance and in October 2015 I came 10th in a 110km ultra in Kapadokkia in Turkey.

Why do you like trail running?

It is the healthiest way to run, as well as the most interesting and the most productive. You run on natural trails, which is less damaging compared with running on concrete. Doing a trail run you are often surrounded by tremendous views, in nature, which you don’t get running in the concrete jungle.

You spend more effort running trail than road, which has a good effect on boosting your speed and endurance. Running on flat road after trail you feel faster than if you had only trained on the track and in the park. Another key part is the fresh air, which is something you don’t get when running in large cities. 

Did you get to see by yourself how popular trailrunning is outside Kazakhstan?

Yes, of course. I visited many countries, within and outside the former ex-USSR, and I can say with confidence that trailrunning is growing in popularity by day. People have an ever greater desire to get out of the concrete boxes where they spend most of their lives. To give you an example, I once raced in Sweden, and there were more than 20,000 participants! That would be great attendance even for a city marathon.

How did you get the idea to organize an ultra in Kazakhstan?

I wanted to share the emotions that I experience during an ultra with other people. There is great saying by a famous ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes: “If you want to run, run a mile, if you want to experience a different life, run a marathon, if you want to talk to God, run an ultra.”

Travelling around the world, doing different races, I realized that Kazakhstan has more places where you can do hard, interesting, beautiful and long ultras, than in a lot of other countries. We have mountains, deserts and alpine grasslands. These thoughts led me to the idea to create an ultra in the great steppes - Tengri Ultra Trail.

How did you select the location and make the course for the first Tengri Ultra last year?

I wanted to show the people that there are new and interesting places right“next door”. I wanted to find a little-visited place, and make an interesting course, not too difficult. After having gone through suitable locations we settled on the region of Tamagly Tas – here you have a section of the ancient Silk Road, a real steppe and also the beautiful Ili River.

It is very convenient that the entire race course is accessible by car. This is also important to ensure the safety of the participants.

Who are the people who had the courage to take part in a racing event so unusual for Kazakhstan?

It was a very interesting selection of people. We had professional athletes, businessmen, soldiers, students, housewives. People who took a decision to make a change in their lives. It was great to see people from 12 different countries who came just to take part in Tengri Ultra .

For many this ultra was their first trail race. These people had never run off-road before. After the race many said that it was exactly what had been looking for. The Kazakhstani trailrunning scene exploded after Tengri Ultra. Many people started to train specifically for trail, and also teams appeared who train and go to races together. 

What can the participants of Tengri Ultra expect this year?

They can look forward to an awesome ultramarathon, to new trails and great views of the spring grasslands. The runners will follow the Ili River, traverse canyons and will be able to see the endless expanses of the steppe from the tops of the mountains.

In 2016 we offer a greater choice of distances – 15, 35 and 70km. Our race is the only ultra and Central Asia, it is unique and should not be missed. We also prepared entertainment programs for both racers and fans. We want everyone who comes to the races get into the spirit of the race, to absorb some of the culture of the steppe nomads. 

Race Director Timur Artyukhin and race winner Georgiy Shejko

Race Director Timur Artyukhin and race winner Georgiy Shejko

Race 6: Tengri Ultra Trail in green oasis of Tamsgaly Tas

This weekend will see the first ever major trail running race in Kazakhstan take place along the Ili River Valley in Tamsgaly Tas, approximately 120km from Almaty in the east of the country. The Tengri Ultra Trail over 50km or 25km will be characterised by superb views and an endless horizon. Mixed with the green colours of the grasslands will be the bright red of the local flowers.

About 300 runners are expected to start the race from a campsite at te Ili River in the early morning of Sunday. Among them also a number of international runners from Hong Kong (supported by Air Astana and Action Asia magazine) and China, who will claim a sort of pioneering role as Kazakhstan is bound to become a popular destination for adventure lovers. Also because the local population is discovering the pleasures of outdoor activities, and cycling, skiing and running in particular.  The Tengri Ultra Trail also plays the adventure angle, as all participants are expected to camp and sleep in tents on Saturday night before the race. There is no wifi or mobile service neither in the area.  Security measures have been taken all along the trail, though, and the 50km and 25km participants will be looping in opposite directions. 

The winners of the 50km race, men and women, will score 450 points for the Asia Trail Master ranking. Podium placers this weekend will also receive prizes by ATMs partners Newline Sport and Simple Hydration. 

A report and main results will be published here on Monday, and a more comprehensive feature article on the event will be published in a summer edition of Action Asia magazine.

Win a free return trip Hong Kong - Almaty for the Tengri Ultra Trail

Air Astana and Action Asia magazine provide Hong Kong runners with an exquisite opportunity to  travel to Kazakhstan and take part in the Tengri Ultra Trail, race 6 on the 2015 Asia Trail Master series' calendar. The new race, which takes place in Tamsgaly Tas - approximately 100km from Almaty in the Ili River valley - offers 50km and 25km options in fantastic surroundings.

As the local event organisers put it: "Tengri Ultra Trail is a race for people who love freedom and vast expanses of land, running up hills all along green fields, dodging through rocky canyons, and breathing pure prairie air."

Four lucky winners will fly round-trip to Kazakhstan from Hong Kong for the adventure of a lifetime. Winners will receive: 

  1. Round-trip airfares from Hong Kong to Almaty sponsored by Air Astana
  2. Free admission to 2015 Tengri Ultra Trail (50km / 25km at your own choice)
  3. Ground transportation from Almaty City Centre to race venue at Tamgaly Tas and back (approx. 100km)
  4. Camping at Tamgaly Tas on the night before the race 
  5. Race tags, safety, beverages and snack, commemorative medal for Ultra and pennant for other categories, commemorative souvenir
  6. Running shirt sponsored by Asia Trail Master Series

In order to win you need to answer 4 simple questions and then by briefly telling us 'what adventure in Asia' means to you. Take part in the context, which closes on 30 April, via this link on the Action Asia website

Not included in the package is hotel accommodation in Almaty, and food. 

Of course, even if you don't win the contest, or you are not based in Hong Kong, you can also still just register here for the race in Tamsgaly Tas until 1 May as well. Keep potential visa requirements in mind, subject to your nationality. There's several airlines flying to Almaty, and hotels can be booked via websites such as and expedia. There will be a bus leaving the city on Saturday afternoon to bring runners to the race venue along the Ili River. It is recommended to bring your own camping gear for the night. Busses return to the city after the race on Sunday late afternoon.