Posts tagged korea
Tough trails in Mindanao and Korea
Gianelli.JPG

Both the Korea 50K in Dongducheon and the Mount Apo Sky Race in Santa Cruz, Davao in Philippines were characterised by very hot weather giving even more difficulty to the runners on already challenging race courses. The Mount Apo Sky Race proved quite dramatic in particular, with only 20 finishers - 1 female - and the rest already cut-off after either 25k or 43k. If the race hadn’t been stopped by the race director at km 75 for security reasons, few would have made it to the finish. Last year’s winner of the then-70K Mt Apo Sky Race, Pablo Diago Gonzales, was therefore right in his pre-race warnings: this was going to be a shocker. 

The new route added three more peaks to the course and those proved to be extremely technical with virtually no running possible for the first 25K following the flag off at midnight. It took David Gianelli and a local road runner 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete those 25K. Gianelli, the Italian winner of the Indonesia SuperTrail last year, was the fastest man in the race also last weekend. As soon as they hit Mount Apo he was by himself in the lead and by km 75 he held an advantage of over 1 hour over the very strong Jag Lanante. The Thailand-based Filippino overtook Pablo Diago Gonzales just a few kilometres before the improvised finish line. Gianelli completed the 75K in 14 hours and 44 minutes,  and now being temporarily based in Philippines will also travel to Penang in 3 weeks for the Malaysia SuperTrail race, Penang Eco 100, where he will compete on the 100K. Pablo Diago is a busy bee this spring as well, as he is lined up for Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan and the same Penang Eco 100K. Local Mindanao runner Rexell Aguirre was 4th in Mount Apo, preceeding Joseph Gentoleo. 

Rizal Mountain Run winner Aggy Smith Sabanal was the only female finisher and scored her second ATM race victory of the season. Definitely in her element on the most technical of trails, Sabanal overtakes Majo Liao in the Asia Trail Master Championship with this new success by 65 points. Still very young for an ultra trail runner, it will be interesting to see her compete on the tough mountains of Mantra Summits Challenge in Malang, East Java, Indonesia this July. 

All other women, including Hong Kong’s Tanya Bennet, last year’s winner Manilyn Mamugay and Cheryl Bihag were all cut-off at km 43. 

Over in South Korea, there was local success as Kim Jisub took the victory ahead of Austria's Michael Kabicher and Japan's Hiragi Taichi. Jisub finished in 6:33, 14 minutes ahead of the European. The difference between numbers 1 and 2 in the women's was similar with France's Laetitia Pibis staying ahead of Yasuko Natsume of Japan, and her compatriot Sae Enaka completing the podium.

Rene Amigleo is a new Asia Trail Grandmaster

Rene Amigleo is a new Asia Trail Grandmaster

Aggy Smith Sabanal leads the ATM championship after her second victory of the season

Aggy Smith Sabanal leads the ATM championship after her second victory of the season

Laetitia Pibis was the fastest woman in South Korea during the Korea 50k

Laetitia Pibis was the fastest woman in South Korea during the Korea 50k

Kim Jesub was the great home winner of Korea 50k

Kim Jesub was the great home winner of Korea 50k

Korea 50K is open for registration!
Korea 50k.png

The prime trail race in South Korea is again open for registration. In 2018, Korea 50K takes place on the usual weekend in April with the race day on Sunday, 22 April. The venue and race course has remained largely the same, although the official distance is currently reduced by 1k to 58K. This is a hilly race in the forests around DDC, a suburb of capital capity Seoul, to which it is connected by subway. 

The registration is open and it is suggested not to wait too long, as in its third year of Asia Trail Master, it has become one of the more popular races on the tour given its convenient location. 

Registration Link:

http://en.korea50k.com/03/

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. 

Korea 50k is open for registration!

The organisers of Korea 50K have opened the books for the 3rd edition of their event, scheduled for 23 April 2017. Given its host venue Dongducheon is right next to capital city Seoul, Korea 50K offers a great weekend getaway for the whole family. While the main race is a rather tough 59 kilometre rollercoaster that has a total elevation gain of 3500 hm, beginning runners can also opt for a short and quite flat 10 km run. 

Last year's female champion Fukada

Last year's female champion Fukada

The 59K race will take place throughout the Sunday and starts at 5 am with finish at 6.30 pm. The trail course has actually been made even a bit harder than this year's and now measures 3500 hm. That makes Korea 50K a relatively short race for good climbers. Last April, two international runners actually took the victory in the male and female categories. China's Xu Xiutao was a proud winner, in what for the young Beijinger was certainly a breakthrough moment. Yukari Fukuda from Japan was the fastest woman. 

As South Korean trail running has been developing quickly, we can expect the locals to be more than ready to score a win for the host country in 2017. 

You can now register for the Korea 50K via the local event website already. 

A concise overview of the key event details are available also here on our cover page. 

Race preview - UT Jeju & Mount Falaza UT

This weekend there are two points races on the Asia Trail Master schedule: Ultra Trail Jeju in South Korea, and Mount Falaza Ultra Trail in Eastern Russia. Both races are young and keen to develop further into important races on the Asian trail calendar. UT Jeju is a three-day stage race of 100 km in total, while Mt Falaza UT features a 50 km and 39 km race valid for Asia Trail Master points on and around the Falaza mountain that characterises the Promorye region in the very far East of Russia, close to Vladivostok. 

This Friday, approx 110 runners will begin the stage race on the beautiful Jeju Island that belongs to South Korea. On day 1, they are supposed to climb the highest peak of the island, Mt Halla, in a race of 30 km. Day 2 and 3 consist of 36k and 34k respectively. Two weeks ago, harsh weather conditions forced the organisers of Ultra Trail Mount Jiri to reduce their event to 50k, but this weekend should not be that dramatic. 

Mount Falaza Ultra Trail is hosted by the Gribanovka Ski Resort, a popular place for skiing in winter and now also increasingly so for trail running and adventure racing. While still a boutique event this year, the local organiser is a well-known and respected athlete in the North Asia region himself, who is highly motivated to develop the event in the years to come. Trail running is also in eastern Russia still a very young sport. Participants can combine the race with a city visit to Vladivostok, as shuttle bus transport to and from the Gribanovka Ski Resort is arranged by the race organiser. 

As always, via our social media channels you can stay tuned to the action on the scene! 

The Siberian forest on and around Mt Falaza, scene of Sunday's Mt Falaza Ultra Trail 

The Siberian forest on and around Mt Falaza, scene of Sunday's Mt Falaza Ultra Trail 

Ultra Trail Jeju caters for all types of runners in a three-day stage race

Ultra Trail Jeju caters for all types of runners in a three-day stage race

Runners ready for a tough UTMJ

This weekend the second Korean trail race of the Asia Trail Master season is on the menu. A tough mountainous race in the country's Southern region, on and around the holy Jirisan mountain. Mount Jiri is in fact the second highest mountain in Korea at 1915m above sea level, and the surrounding national park the largest of its kind. Trail runners have 100km or 50km to absorb this weekend. The main race has approx 5900m of elevation gain and a tight cut-off time of 32 hours. Spectactular views and local ethnic culture will accompany the athletes during their effort.  

The weather forecast is not brilliant for the weekend. One week after the debacle at UTMF last week, there are fears that also this big race may be reduced to a shorter distance. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. In any case, the cold temperatures in combination with potential rainfall will make it a tough day for all competitors. [UPDATE: the 100k has been cancelled. All competitors will be redirected to the 50k distance]

The event will have its second edition following a successful test race last year. Organised by the same crew of Korea 50k - the country's best known trail race and also an Asia Trail Master points race in April - UTMJ has the environment to develop further into a classic race on the Asian calendar.  Accessible via Busan, the organisers also arrange transport from Seoul and the main event hotel is the great Kensington resort. 

The competition is quite open with a great mix of local Korean athletes and international runners. The conditions during the race may affect performances, so it really remains to be seen who will emerge victorious. 

You can follow the action at UTMJ live via our social media channels this weekend. 

2017 Preview - Korea 50k in outskirts of Seoul

We move on to April in our 2017 Asia Trail Master preview for the next confirmed entry. Korea 50k, arguably the country's flagship event, will have its third edition on - normally - 23 April 2017. The precise date could shift by one week and will be cast in stone in the next few weeks. Korea 50k is actually a 59km long race that takes place in Dongducheon, in the outskirts of capital city Seoul, to which it is well-connected via public transport. The Seoul subway reaches DDC, as the town is commonly called, which has the added advantage that the race can easily be included in a big family weekend city trip! Organised by the experienced RunXRun group, the event offers a solid course with 3100 metres of elevation gain that should not be underestimated. You will run large sections up and down hills in prime forest. 

All event details will be updated for 2017 in due course. In the mean time, what's stopping you to pencil in a nice city & running trip to Seoul! 

2016 Race Report Korea 50k 

2017 Asia Trail Master calendar

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

The 2016 men's podium with China's Xu Xiutao in the middle

The 2016 men's podium with China's Xu Xiutao in the middle

The 2016 women's podium had a Japanese winner, Yukari Fukuda

The 2016 women's podium had a Japanese winner, Yukari Fukuda

Ultra Trail Mount Jiri in Korea opens the registration

The second race in South Korea that qualifies for points in this year's Asia Trail Master series takes place on "holy" ground: Jirisan, or Mount Jiri, is one of the country's marquee mountains. The race, in its second edition, goes over the traditional ultra distances of 100km or 50km and seems suited for solid climbers. An elevation gain of nearly 6000 hm is substantial. The organisers had to wait quite some time for the necessary permits, but now the stage is set for another great event in Korea, where trail running is rapidly gaining popularity. The event takes place on 1/2 October and registration via the event website is already open.

Jirisan is of course the central part of the Jirisan National Park,  the oldest in Korea and one that places emphasis on biodiversity conservation. The highest peak is over 1900m above sea level.

The closest major airport to Jirisan is Busan, but the organisers are also arranging a bus service from Seoul station to the event, and in particular to the Kensington Resort, which functions as the event centre. Find out more logistical info here, or on the event website itself. It is important to book the bus from Seoul station and return in advance!

Event centre is the Kensington Resort where you can arrange comfortable accommodation for the race weekend. Important is to book through the event organisers, as described on our cover page

Xu Xiutao & Yukari Fukuda impressive winners in Korea 50k
finish xu.jpg

He was the pre-race favourite, and he delivered in style. Xu Xiutao is becoming a force to be reckoned with in Asia' s trail running scene, as the runner from Beijing scored an impressive victory in yesterdays Korea 50k event. It was the fifth race in this year's Asia Trail Master series and already the second one for Xu Xiutao,  after he came home second in UTHK 100 last February. His Korean points haul - 500 - lifts him to second place in the current ATMs championship ranking behind Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Ho. 

It was the second edition of Korea 50k, an event marked by a boom in registrations with plenty of international athletes making the trip to the outkirts of Seoul. It was a warm day under a bright blue sky, but the runners had a tough one as the 59km race covered well over 3000 metres of elevation gain, an increase that not everybody felt was necessary, which is similar to comments received in last week's 50 miles race in Linhai, China. Perhaps something for race organisers to reflect upon. Yesterday there were plenty of DNFs as a result. Luckily, the technical organisation by the local RunXRun team was excellent, and runners could enjoy a beer and a tasty local snack after the finish in the sports stadium of Dongducheon. 

Simjae Duk was a bit disappointed with 2nd place this year. 

Simjae Duk was a bit disappointed with 2nd place this year. 

It was chilly at 4:30 a.m. for the start of the race, but the runners were soon warmed up as outside the stadium was already the first steep climb up. The strongest group of runners immediately opened up a gap. Local stars Simjae Duk, last year's winner, and Nohui Seong had to accept the company of China's Xu Xiutao, who kept the pressure on them. Close behind was Hong Kong-based Frenchman Clement Dumont, whose consistent pace would earn him a third spot on the podium as Seong faded in the last ten kilometers. The victory was contested between Simjae Duk and Xu Xiutao, and eventually the youngest had the edge and even pulled away still by 8 minutes in the final section. Xu Xiutao crossed the finish line in 7:11:02 with the Chinese flag around him. Another Hong Kong-based European, Paul Ridley from Great Britain, completed the top five and of all the top guys looked like he could still do another lap. 

Podium of the men's 59km race

Podium of the men's 59km race

In the women's race, Japan's Yukari Fukuda repeated  her victory from last year in 8:19:50. She was over an hour ahead of second and third place runners Janet Ng (Hong Kong) and Sung Hee Lee (Korea), who swapped places in the final climb of the race. 

The next race in the Asia Trail Master series takes place on 8 May in Tamgaly Tas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Kazakhstan. 

Podium of the women's 59 km race. 

Podium of the women's 59 km race.