Posts tagged malaysia
Penang Eco 100: Outstanding Ellis!
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The 5th Penang Eco 100 in Bukit Mertajam once again caused quite a bit of drama in its two longest distance races that are labeled as the Malaysia SuperTrail in our Championship series. The very long flattish beginning and the very technical ending combined with heat, humid air and occasional downpours create a mixture that makes this race exciting to follow and quite special indeed. While the male winners on the 100 miles and the 100 km were probably not a big surprise, John Ellis and Alessandro Sherpa ran it in great style and most of all in a great finishing time!

T8 Ace John Ellis only required an incredible 22h 18 for the 170k course in hot and humid conditions for most of the second part! It was certainly one of the best and even aggressive runs of his trail career, proving every bit of the pre-race rumours about his training volume for this race. From the beginning, Ellis was amongst the top contenders and kept a close eye on Hong Kong’s Law Kai Pong, who took the lead early on with great speed and confidence. However, he never got more than 20 minutes. Mizukoshi, Kitamura, Ellis and at first also Sai Kit Cheng. Law Kai Pong began to feel the efforts and by km 100 he got reeled in by Ellis, Mizukoshi and Kitamura. They crossed the 100k barrier in just over 10 hours! Someone was going to pay the price for that. Hisashi Kitamura had never finished a 100 miler before and was first to let go. The ATM Championship leader admitted the pace was too fast for him and he began to focus on “just finishing”. Law Kai Pong began to suffer from stomach cramps, and dropped back. Mizukoshi resisted but Ellis just was in a class of his own. At the km 116 checkpoint, it was already clear that Ellis had the race under control (see video on facebook). Tomohiro settled for a superb second place, which is a great achievement after his ankle issues in the beginning of the season. The Tokyo runner got really fit again just at the right time! Law Koi Pang, unfortunately, did not make it to the finish. His digestive system a total mess, he had no chance to complete the final 35 kilometers. As such, Kitamura inherited third place, and that’s a great result for him in the context of the ATM Championship. While John Ellis takes over as points leader, the gap is just 75 points. For Ellis it was the second ATM race victory of the season after Dalat Ultra Trail, and he also beat the Penang Eco 100 course record set by Law Chor Kin last year by an incredible 4 hours, although even Tomohiro Mizukoshi said that this year’s course modifications made it even tougher. Ellis has cleared the important five-race-barrier for the ATM Championship and will now be taking a welcome break before returning to action in October. By being in the lead, he can see what the others championship contenders are doing before he plans his next move. In any case, his points total of 2475 is most likely not enough for the championship win at the end of the year. Alessandro Sherpa won it last year with 2600.

The women’s 100 miles race developed into a thriller at the end. Hong Kong-based French ultra runner Habiba Benahmed led the race for no fewer than 156 kilometres. Yet, Adelinah Lintanga from Sabah had a fantastic day and was able to keep up even on the flattish 110 kilometres. Lintanga is a Grandmaster and a known mountain goat, but her speed on the flat surprised many. She was never more than 25 minutes behind and stayed focused throughout. Going into the technical hilly jungle sections, Lintanga crept closer and closer to a fading Benahmed. Meanwhile, another Malaysian, Siokhar Lim proved to have recovered well from the Moon 100 in Thailand and also kept her chances for victory as technical trail suits her well. And then there suddenly was Hong Kong’s Macy Li, too. Li had started out slowly and didn’t really feature at the top of the leaderboard until passed 116 km when she took a shortcut - unwillingly - and ended up leading. Thanks to the excellent service by Dot Track Asia, the race director could intervene immediately and Li was told to return to the section where she went off course, similar to the situation with Sri Wahyuni a week ago in Thailand. However, while Wahyuni refused to go back, Li did… and then began a ferocious chase! Behamed had hurt her hip around the halfway mark and gradually became a bird for the cat named Narna. At km 156, the popular Sabahan runner from Team Malatra caught her and left her. Lintanga on the way to the biggest race win of her career. But then… the Macy Li dot on the map began to move ever quicker and with about 12km to go, the Hong Konger passed both Siokhar Lim and Habiba Benahmed and had 20 minutes to make up on Lintanga at the last checkpoint with 7km to go. For sure, Lintanga would not immediately know someone was chasing her down. And Macy Li was: the gap continued to narrow down. With just under 3k to go, the map interface from DTA showed that the difference in distance between the two was just 600 metres, coming down from over 1 km at the last CP. Eventually, Adelinah Lintanga was so fired up by emotions that - luckily for her - she kept on running herself whenever possible. And so she kept Macy Li at bay. Lintanga won the 100km of this race in 2016 and finished 4th in the 100 miles 2017. Now she wins it against two established Hong Kong race winners and Siokhar Lim. A great leap forward in performance, especially on this type of trail event. Afterwards, Adelinah explained how she had prepared for this 100 miles basically since new year. Well, dedicated training certainly paid off for her!

On the 100 km we witnessed the first ATM race victory of the season for Alessandro Sherpa in 14h 53 (approx). A relatively easy win, as he led from start to finish. Kwok Lun Ng from Hong Kong was second in a great effort as well. Alex Ang from Singapore took third, one week after doing Moon 100.

Lo Chin Ling - another Hong Konger - was third overall and first female. A fantastic ATM debut for the energetic young woman. Malaysia’s Faherina Mohd Esa was an impressive second. Esa has returned to form after being plagued by a hand injury last year. Sarah Pemberton claimed third place ahead of Izzah Hazirah.

Video of John Ellis winning race finish!

Video of Adelinah Lintanga’s winning race finish!

Penang Eco 100: Ellis & Kitamura head-2-head!
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This weekend we conclude the first half of the year and of the Asia Trail Master Championship season with the traditional Malaysia SuperTrail, the Penang Eco 100 in Bukit Mertajam. It’s the 5th edition of this event, which has become renowned for its atypical race course and its unexpected twists in the stories of the 100 miles and 100 km races.  Both these distances are labeled as A-race SuperTrails and also this year we have a stellar line-up for each of them. 

To begin with, the current ATM Championship points leader and his closest rival are on the 100 miles start list. Four weeks after his popular maiden race victory in Vietnam, Hisashi Kitamura will now tackle his first ever 100 miles race. As he said in the post-race video interview at that time, the Japanese Uglow runner only has one objective and that is to stay close to John Ellis, who has developed into his key rival for the championship at this point of the season, but who is also his big example as an ultrarunner. Ever since Ellis, Australian but living in Hong Kong, appeared on the ATM scene in Penang Eco 100k last year, he has earned deep respect from Asian running communities. Ellis is going all-in to win this year’s Championship, but by now has also realised it won’t be as easy as one might have thought. Reports from Hong Kong say that Ellis has never been leaner as now, preparing himself for this weekend’s SuperTrail. He knows that this is a tough race, as he disintegrated in the final technical sections of the 100k last year and got passed by the stronger Alessandro Sherpa at the end. Now Ellis is doing the 100 miles, of which the first 100k are runable and nearly flat, before a very technical apotheosis on single trails in the jungle and likely run entirely at night time. Looking back a year ago, Tomohiro Mizukoshi came first at the checkpoint after 110km, but he finished the race in seventh place and 8 hours and a half behind winner Law Chor Kin (Hong Kong).  Another Japanese star runner, Sota Ogawa, ran out of steam after 110 km and -suffering from digestive issues- called it a day. Two years ago it was Isaac Yuen Wan Ho who set a blistering pace on the flat, only to break down as well in the final 50 km. 

Tactical running is a must in Penang Eco 100, and that is of course the trademark of John Ellis. Kitamura adopted this strategy to good effect in Vietnam, and with the championship in mind he indeed better focuses exclusively on arriving ahead of Ellis in the finish line - as he did in Sungai Menyala in April. The points gap is 390, but let’s not forget Ellis can score a full whack this weekend in his fifth race of the season, whereas for Kitamura it’s about eliminating his “worst” result (7th in Cordillera Mountain Ultra) as he has reached the five-race-treshold already. 

So who can run between them? Tomohiro Mizukoshi returns to erase the bad memory from last year, and his form has been steadily improving in recent weeks after his ankle injury early in the year. Malaysian ultra veterans Yim Heng Fatt and Liew Tho Fatt are podium candidates on the 100 miles, both of them also experts in energy management during a race of this length. Jeffery BUDIN from Team Malatra is also one to watch for. 

John Ellis (Team T8)

John Ellis (Team T8)

Hisashi Kitamura (Team Uglow Malaysia)

Hisashi Kitamura (Team Uglow Malaysia)

Adelinah Lintanga, sister of Jess, has been a podium contender for years here. Can she win this time?

Adelinah Lintanga, sister of Jess, has been a podium contender for years here. Can she win this time?

Julia Nguyen Thi Duong

Julia Nguyen Thi Duong

In the women’s 100 miles, it will be interesting to see what trail newbie Asuka Nakajima can do on this ultra distance. She won Tahura Trail 42km and came third in Sungai Menyala Forest Trail 50km, but now we are talking 100 miles for the Jakarta-based Japanese runner. In any case, if she manages to win this one, she will do a fantastic job for her ATM Championship ambitions. Sabah’s Adelinah Lintanga, Bali’s Lily Suryani both are Grandmasters and have been on the podium before in this race. The dark horse for the race victory is most likely Habiba Benahmed from Hong Kong. Benahmed has experience winning 100 miles races (eg HK 168), and even though still on the way back to top form after injury she would not come to Penang Eco 100 miles for a DNF… Siokhar Lim is another likely podium contender  - or more -, but how much is in the tank after last week’s gruelling Moon 100, which she finished in fourth place. 

On the 100km race distance, which starts on Saturday early afternoon, most attention will go to last year’s winner Alessandro Sherpa. The defending Asia Trail Master champion has returned from a training camp in his home region in Italy and seems ready to start his championship campaign in earnest. On paper he would have had to face off with Mohamed Affindi this weekend, but the top-ranked Malaysian in the ATM Championship has professional duties and will not make it to the start line - as we were informed. The women’s race will see the likes of Izzah Hazirah, who is reportedly training hard for Mantra Summits next month - a pure mountain race that should suit her more than Penang Eco. Also, multi-race runner Khat Visperas is on the start list. The Filipino is 4th in the points standings after already having completed five races this seasn.  Faherina Mohd Esa is a potential podium candidate, and certainly also Vietnam’s Julia Nguyen Thi Duong.

We will be reporting live from Penang Eco 100 on our usual social media channels. Dot Track Asia is also present, and you can watch all runners’ progress online here:

http://live.dottrack.asia/2019penangeco100/

Asuka Nakajima going for the 100 miles win this weekend

Asuka Nakajima going for the 100 miles win this weekend




Sungai Menyala: the trail speedway!
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This weekend the ATM Championship tour stops in Malaysia for the first time in the 2019 season. Sungai Menyala Forest Trail in Port Dickson has become a popular race for those with fast legs on not-so-technical terrain. When conditions are dry, it may indeed be the fastest trail in ATM and Asia as a whole, as elevation in the ancient forest is even less than other so-called speedways such as Plataran X Trail Bali and Brunei’s Beach Bunch, which unfortunately doesn’t take place this season. However, things are a bit different this Sunday, too. SMFT now features one big loop of 50 km rather than 2x 25k loops of previous years. This is certainly a plus as we did see quite some ‘elite’ runners pull out after one loop if they felt no longer able to score a podium. This weekend we are bound to see some exciting competition between ATM and Asia trail protagonists till the finish.

Calling Sungai Menyala “easy” is the biggest mistake participants in the past two years. Not only is Malaysia always humid and hot, but the fact is that a lot of trail runners are used to hills and mountains and are not accustomed to long periods of pure running. On the other hand, it means that road runners have an excellent chance to take part in a trail race and do great in it, too. In any case, it is always interesting to see the DNF rate at the end of the SMFT weekend.

For the ATM Championship, this could be a key race with so many protagonists on the start list in both the male and female categories. Points leader John Ellis will be defending his position against Hisashi Kitamura, both gearing up for their fourth ATM points race of the season already! They came 1-2 in Dalat Ultra Trail in Vietnam three weeks ago, separated by just a few minutes after Ellis passed the Kuala Lumpur-based Japanese runner in the final 3 km. Can ‘Diesel’ Ellis pull off the same feat in a runable race that is 20 km less in distance? In this context, how far will Mohamed Affindi, running more or less in home area, get in Sungai Menyala. The winner of the ATM season opener Tahura Trail came third in Dalat, and was passed by Ellis at the km 48 mark. The Malaysian is known to be strongest on the medium distance and this race should be ideal for him. If Affindi were to stay ahead of Ellis, Kitamura and a few others this weekend, it would be the result that could play a massive role at the end of the year. In the context of the ATM Championship, Affindi arguably needs to focus first on those guys and only then on trying to win Sunday’s race. Reason being that there is one top favourite for victory in the men’s and that is Jeff Campbell. The Hong Kong-based Canadian of the Gone Running squad, returns to the ATM scene after winning last season’s Tahura Trail in Indonesia. On paper, Campbell has the fastest legs of all on the start list. While SMFT may not be his biggest personal running goal of the year, Campbell won’t give it away neither. The risk for all the other contenders is they may try to follow him too long and blow themselves up in the latter stages of the race.

One runner who nevertheless has set his sights on “beating Jeff” is our ATM Champion Alessandro Sherpa. Back from a break after his surgery, Sherpa is indeed very quick on his day but the question is if this race doesn’t come too early. The Italian may be hoping for a bit of rainfall and some treacherous sections to slow down the average speed. The opposite may be true for Tokyo’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi, winner of last October’s Bali 70k race ahead of, amongst others, Sherpa and Kitamura. As for Sherpa, a little question mark about his current form, as Mizukoshi was a DNS in Dalat due to injury. As always in trail, who knows someone else rises to the foreground on Sunday, but those guys will certainly produce sparks in the forest!

And so will the women. Despite the unfortunate DNS of Tahira Najmunisaa and of Kim Matthews (hip injury again after Dalat), the field is dense with the winner of the past two seasons again in pole position. Baguio’s Sandi Menchi has shown great running pace in this race before and after a third place in CMU last month can be expected to challenge for the hattrick. However, Menchi will have at least one major opponent: the winner of that same CMU race will also toe the line on Sunday morning: Veronika Vadovicova. The young Slovakian made quite a name for herself already by beating USA’s Laura Kline and Sandi Menchi and of course everyone will now be watching her. Still very new to trail running, Sungai Menyala’s flattish forest course will be a first experience for Vadovicova. There are more challengers. From Hong Kong, Jcy Ho and Edith Fung, for example. Ho was 2nd in the 9 Dragons 50/50 and Fung won the 50 miles race of the same event. From Japan - even though she now lives in Jakarta - comes Asuka Nakajima, and she was the winner of Tahura Trail in January. Nobody questions her speed on this distance and terrain! With Jcy Ho, Vadovicova, Fung, Menchi and Nakajima all in the race, championship leader Carrie-Jane Stander will see her points advantage shrink but she cannot be overtaken. The local team Malatra also has several irons in the fire, including Grandmaster Adelinah Lintanga and newbie Izzah Hazirah. The latter was the surprisingly strong winner of MMTF last November, and one we will see plenty of times later in the season in the big mountain events. Obviously talented, it will be exciting to find out how fast Hazirah is on a flatter course.

We will be reporting live from the Sungai Menyala Forest Trail event all weekend on our social media channels. The race starts on Sunday morning. Stay tuned!

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Labuan Bird Park Eco is a 2020 Candidate Race
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We are happy to announce the first 2020 ATM candidate race and it is scheduled in a new destination, Labuan island off the coast of Sabah in Malaysia. The Labuan Bird Park Eco promises a relatively runable 70K as main distance, with shorter options also available on the programme. The 70K will take runners basically all around Labuan Island, which makes for an authentic course. The event date is scheduled on 7/8 September, which is the weekend of the recently cancelled Hakuba Trails in Japan. As such, ATM fans can try this one out that weekend and…. maybe even double it up with the Borneo TMBT Ultra event that takes place in Sabah a weekend later on 14/15 September. Those who focus on the Championship points race at Borneo TMBT therefore have a great warming-up event with the Labuan Bird Park Eco!

Registration is open via Racematix.

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MMTF closes the 2019 ATM Championship!
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As announced during our video broadcasts at Tahura Trail last weekend, the 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship will reach its conclusion in Malaysia on 14/15 December. The Malaysia Mountain Trail Festival, in brief MMTF, will be held for the second time in Taiping, Perak, and feature a 85 km race that will be labeled as the ATM Final.

The event had a successful inaugural edition two months ago and Taiping City will be a very welcoming host to the top contenders in this year’s championship. As in 2018, the ATM Championship Final will offer 550 points to the winner of the 85 km race, but only those runners who have scored two results during the year will qualify for points at MMTF. This measure was introduced last year to guarantee the fairest of fights between the championship challengers.

In order to become the last event of the ATM season, MMTF will thus be held two weeks later than in 2018, and follows Ultra Trail Panoramic in Thailand and Izu Trail Journey in Japan on the calendar.

Event Director Ewegene Tan is delighted to have MMTF as the ATM Championship Final: “We will do our very best to ensure a fantastic trail running experience for all runners, whether fighting for the championship or simply completing the race.”

More details will become available in due course. Registration is also due to open soon.

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Wong Wai Lun wins HK168 as Simpat takes MMTF70
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The last 100 miler of the ATM season in Hong Kong was won by local ultra runner Wong Wai Lun, but only narrowly so. At the very end, he had an advantage of only 20 seconds on Lau Chun Man and Jiang Liangjun. Of the ATM protagonists, Japan’s Hisashi Kitamura was running with the front pack until km 90, when nasty stomach cramps sealed his fate. Kitamura had to DNF and therefore stays sixth in the ATM Championship ranking. A remarkable finisher in ATM context was Brunei’s Ali Ajis Rasil. He completed his 10th Grandmaster distance and is therefore now a 2-star Grandmaster!

Meanwhile in Malaysia, the inaugural Malaysia Mountain Trail Festival took place in Taiping, Perak. A 2019 ATM Candidate Race organised by Ewegene Tan, a renowned ultra trail runner himself. The 70km main race - and all the others - were characteristed by very wet, muddy and slippery conditions that made the trails hardly runable. In addition, many rope sections up or down steep hills were a test of upper body strength for many participants. According to many, the weather of the previous days had made MMTF arguably the toughest ultra race in the country. Plenty of talented runners at the starting line, too. Including Alessandro Sherpa, ATM championship points leader. The Italian has suddenly come under pressure after being beaten in a straight dual by Spain’s Salva Rambla in the Singapore Trail Blazer last week. Rambla announced he was going to Izu Trail Journey and decided to DNS in Taiping to save his energy. Rambla can still become ATM champion now, leaving Sherpa hardly a choice but to travel to Japan as well next weekend. Perhaps with that in mind, Sherpa did not protest to loudly when race officials disqualified him after six hours of racing for officially missing a checkpoint (CP3), which appeared to be the result of a misunderstanding. At that point, Sherpa was trailing the two Sabahan brothers-in-law Daved Simpat and Saffery Sumping. Just behind was Filipino Koi Grey, making his comeback on the ATM circuit after a two-year-absence. Grey later missed a marker, which put him out of contention for the victory. Still, it was a remarkable return for the fashionable and popular pinoy runner, and his fourth place was well-deserved. Australia’s Christopher Koelma was a happy but tired third place, but nobody could touch the two runners from Kota Kinabalu. It was no surprise that Simpat arrived first, with Sumping some minutes down in second. Together with Milton Amat, the Sabahan trail runners could become a major force on the 2019 ATM Championship tour.

In the women’s 70k race we saw the emergence of a new local Malaysian talent, Izzah Hazirah. The 29-year-old from Kuala Lumpur ran to victory in only her second major trail race ever, and her first over an ultra distance. She finished half an hour ahead of Ng Song Hiang and more than an hour ahead of Norzaimee and Grandmaster Adelinah Lintanga. Izzah Hazirah loves mountain hiking, but has no real history as a runner. She has joined Team Malatra and we are looking forward to seeing more of her in the next season.

The fact that MMTF was a very specific trail race was proven by the results of Evelyn Lek and Siokhar Lim as well. Both are solid race winners in this year’s ATM championship series, but both struggled to come to terms with the slippery course in Taiping.

One woman who felt it was fun, though, was Tahira Najmunisaa. Barely six weeks after the birth of her fourth child, Tahira returned to competition and won the short distance race of 15km. She is already looking forward to getting back into to top shape for 2019.

Ali Ajis Rasil is now a 2-star Grandmaster

Ali Ajis Rasil is now a 2-star Grandmaster

Credit: adventuredotmy

Credit: adventuredotmy

Credit: adventuredotmy

Credit: adventuredotmy

2-Star Grandmaster Lily Suryani spinning the wheels at night

2-Star Grandmaster Lily Suryani spinning the wheels at night

TMBT: Strong Sabahans colour the 2018 race!
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Local running hero Daved Simpat has scored a new victory in his home race Borneo TMBT Ultra 100 after 2015. In fact, it was a very successful weekend for the Sabahans with more wins and podium places in the other categories as well. There was a major upset at km 29 as well, when ATM Championship leader and last year's TMBT winner Alessandro Sherpa pulled out of the race with knee pain - after leading the proceedings in the first 25 kilometres. 

Simpat ran most of the race together with his fellow Sabah runner Milton Amat, until the latter began to fade on the way to CP 7. Philippines-based Dane Kristian Joergensen caught up and passed a fading Amat in the final 20 km to take a strong second place. Joergensen had been running more or less at the same pace as the leaders all day, yet could not seem to bridge the gap to Simpat. Another local Malaysian runner from Sabah, Wilsen Singgin, was third in the finish and thus took away the final podium step from Milton Amat. Singgin was running a very consistent pace all day and passed Amat at the end. Milton Amat himself was still happy to come home fourth and become the best-ranked Malaysian runner in the ATM Championship.  Japan’s Hisashi Kitamura, recently 3rd in TMMT 100 and 7th in the ATM Championship, was proving his ultra credentials again and moved up to 5th place in the second half of last weekend's race. Kitamura also leaps into the top five of the ATM ranking. Canada’s Michael Mclean overtook 5 people in the last 10k and finished in sixth! Koh Kian Ti from Malaysia was 7th. Sam McGrath was 8th. 

In the women’s race, Corinne Williams overtook Britain’s Lucy Scott after about a third of the race. The Okinawa-based American won her second ATM race of the season after 9 Dragons, although a dog bite still threatened to spoil her party at the end. Malaysa’s Malin Salungin is third. Kuala Lumpur-based Filippino Jefferlyn Castellano scored another good result with 4th. Hong Kong's Jocelyn Cheung decided to stop halfway, while home favourite Adelinah Lintanga did not have the legs to compete with the frontrunners and finished as 19th woman.

On the 50 km, which was not a points race but had a lot of quality runners in it, home-favoruite and Grandmaster Jassica Lintanga took a good race win ahead of Brunei's Erin Liam. In the men's race Julian Baker crossed the line first ahead of Daniel Fernandez and Sahaban Safrey Sumping. However, later Baker would receive a 1-hour time penalty as a mandatory gear check revealed he only carried one lamp instead of the required two. 

After 2015, local hero Daved Simpat wins Borneo TMBT Ultra 100 again in a commanding way

After 2015, local hero Daved Simpat wins Borneo TMBT Ultra 100 again in a commanding way

Corinne Williams takes her 2nd ATM points race victory at TMBT 100

Corinne Williams takes her 2nd ATM points race victory at TMBT 100

Milton Amat is now best-ranked Malaysian in the ATM Championship

Milton Amat is now best-ranked Malaysian in the ATM Championship

Wilsen Singgen is another Sabahan on the podium of the 100k, passing Milton Amat in the final kilometres

Wilsen Singgen is another Sabahan on the podium of the 100k, passing Milton Amat in the final kilometres

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Also for Daniel Fernandez it was a tough day: 2nd on the 50 km behind Julian Baker

Also for Daniel Fernandez it was a tough day: 2nd on the 50 km behind Julian Baker

Home-favourite Jassica Lintanga won the 50 km race

Home-favourite Jassica Lintanga won the 50 km race

Sherpa aims to repeat win at Borneo TMBT
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After his great and relatively easy victory in the Magnificent Merapoh Trail three weeks ago, Alessandro Sherpa returns to the scene where it all began for him 12 months ago. Borneo TMBT Ultra was his maiden trail run, having come to Malaysia with a solid background in mountainbike racing. Sherpa not only took part, he even won the 100k together with local star Milton Amat. Tomorrow he enters the race in Sabah again as points leader in the Asia Trail Master Championship - and Amat, who is doing well by himself in ATM this season - will again be one his rivals for the win. 

Borneo TMBT Ultra is now back in Asia Trail Master after a three year hiatus. Back in 2015, David Simpat and Joanna Kruk took the 100k race wins. Interestingly, both feature on tomorrow's start list as well. Simpat for sure will be one of the main competitors for Sherpa. Kruk, however, has had to withdraw from the event. The police woman in Adelaide did not manage to get leave from her professional duties this weekend. 

This is one of Southeast Asia's oldest events and attracts runners whom you do not often find back in other races during the year. Surprises can therefore always occur, although Manila-based Dane Kristian Joergensen won't finish far from the podium tomorrow. Japan's Hisashi Kitamura could get close as well, three weeks after a very strong run and third place in Merapoh. Kitamura is seventh in the current points standings, and another strong result could propel him up to as high as fourth. Brunei's Alexander Chung has always been good in his country's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge. How will he fare in Sabah? 

In the women's we have of course the Lintanga sisters on home soil. Adelinah will be the only one on the 100k, though, as Jassica opts for the 50k this weekend. Adelinah got second in Merapoh three weekends ago, proving her good form, but most likely the Okinawa-based American Corinne Williams will the one to beat in the absence of Kruk. Williams won the 50/50 9 Dragons Ultra earlier this year and also got third place in the Izu Trail Journey last December. Victory in TMBT would push her inside the women's championship top ten. 

Kristian Joergensen returns to the ATM tour

Kristian Joergensen returns to the ATM tour

Grandmaster Adelinah Lintanga ready for another tough 100k 

Grandmaster Adelinah Lintanga ready for another tough 100k 

TMMT: Sherpa grabs the ATM lead with strong win!
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Alessandro Sherpa won the Magnificent Merapoh Trail 100 in commanding style last weekend. The Italian ran off by himself already in the first kilometres of the 100k race, which this year featured 800 hm more elevation gain and is - at least for the fast guys - ran almost entirely at night with start at 9 pm. Sherpa won in 11:26:46 -spectacular as only marginally slower than last season's winner Sefli Ahar from Brunei - and was never really threatened. Especially as 2017 ATM Champion Steven Ong retired after 25 km with his ankle injury bothering him too much. There's still many races left on the calendar, but it does look that Ong will not feature at the very top of this year's championship after setting up his outdoor retail shop in Kuala Lumpur. Japanese runner Tomohiro Mizukoshi was trying but could not bridge the gap to Sherpa, and finished second in 12:15. One could wonder how come Mizukoshi let the Italian get away so early, as for a long time afterwards they were running at an equal pace. 

It is the second victory of the season for Alessandro Sherpa after Penang Eco 100k,  and his fifth ATM points race of the season. He dedicates the victory to the victims of the massive earthquake in Lombok. With 2200 total points, he also took over the lead in the ATM Championship at the expense of Pablo Diago Gonzales (2100 points). Japan's Mizukoshi improved his total points tally also and is now third in the ranking. One of the revelations of the season - even though he was 17th in last year's Izu Trail Journey - and that race doesn't lie. 

The Merapoh podium was completed by Mizukoshi's compatriot Hisashi Kitamura, his first podium success in an Asia Trail Master points race. Kitamura ran with a great pace and seems to have growth potential. Based in KL, Kitamura is now 7th in the ATM Championship. And also Gakubo Chiba arrived in Merapoh in 4th place, making it 2-3-4 for Japan in this race! Next was Yeo Kim Hong from Singapore, who came in a superb fifth, followed by another interesting new face, Mohamad Raydi Koto Cham from Indonesia in sixth. And in 7th we find even a runner from Nepal in the race result: Kajiman Rai. Were any local Malaysians running TMMT 100 apart from Steven Ong? Muhammad Shahrin Faiz Bin Roslan is first Malaysian in the race result in 8th place, underlining his own personals strong 2018 season. Roslan has climbed up to 8th place as well in the ATM Championship with four strong results in the bag. In the championship, he is first Malaysian, too. Highly profiled Mohamed Affindi was a DNS due to fever, while Sabah runner Milton Amat is reportedly aiming to win Borneo TMBT Ultra 100 in 3 weeks. 

Singapore’s Evelyn Lek won the women's race in convincing style in a time of approx 14:27, which is fast. Lek is a road runner who has only recently been getting a taste of trail and TMMT was her first ever 100k trail! She appeared at the top of the leaderboard at CP3, when she caught up with Adelinah Lintanga, Hiang Song Ng and Philippines' Ann Jilian Pulanco. Lek didn't look back from then on. Has Singapore found itself a new trail star? 

Adelinah, the youngest of the Lintanga sisters, had to be satisfied with second place again. Twelve months ago she had to tolerate Tahira Najmunisaa ahead of her. Still, she does a good job for her ATM championship. In fact, now she is tied with Jassica Lintanga in tenth place. Tough cookie Adelinah was fourth at the end of 2017, and given that this year's women's championship seems to be more open she could become a contender down the road - or should we say down the trail. 

Ann Jilian Pulanco, a good runner and 3rd in Dalat Ultra Trail this year, asked for ice to treat her hip at CP3, and dropped to 7th after leading the race in the early parts. Also Ng Song Hiang fell back to sixth after a fast start. More experienced ultra trail runners Jefferlyn Castellano  and Jocelyn Cheung on the other hand kept moving up the leaderboard as the race went into injury time. Cheung proved that her podium finish at Mesastila last year was no fluke by grabbing third. Castellano settled for fourth. 

Canada's Julian Baker raised some eyebrows by completing the 70km race in 6:57. That's his second ATM race victory after UT Koh Chang 70 last year. Baker is based in South Korea and - so he says - is prepping himself to feature on the 100k circuit soon. We can't wait! The women's 70km was also won by a woman from western origin, namely Pauline Svoboda from the Czech Republic - in her debut on the long distance! What's more, Svoboda is based in Singapore just like Evelyn Lek. Singapore hardly has trails, let alone mountainous technical trails, but they seem to produce some excellent trail runners of late! 

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The 2018 female podium of the 100km race with Evelyn Lek in the middle

The 2018 female podium of the 100km race with Evelyn Lek in the middle

Alessandro Sherpa was outstanding and he's now the man-to-beat in the ATM Championship

Alessandro Sherpa was outstanding and he's now the man-to-beat in the ATM Championship

Julian Baker collected his 2nd career ATM race win over 70km 

Julian Baker collected his 2nd career ATM race win over 70km 

Kajiman Rai from Nepal was an excellent 7th in the 100km race

Kajiman Rai from Nepal was an excellent 7th in the 100km race

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The top five of the men's 100km at the award ceremony at night

The top five of the men's 100km at the award ceremony at night