Posts tagged mantra
MSC 116: Amat and Nakajima dominate
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 Milton Amat has won the Mantra Summits Challenge 116 in 23h23! A fantastic performance by the Sabahan Uglow athlete, who scored his second career ATM race victory in Indonesia. He was the top favourite amongst all contenders, but Amat didn’t leave the others any chance and didn’t even look too tired as he crossed the finish line at the great Kaliandra Eco Resort in the middle of the night. More than ever Milton Amat is a serious ATM Championship contender, now after his third result of the season. 

Omnipresent Hisashi Kitamura scored an impressive second place in the mega tough high mountain race - a course that normally does not suit his characteristics as a trail runner. The time gap to Milton Amat was huge, though: nearly 4 hours. It's nevertheless a very sweet second place for the Uglow Malaysia runner, as he raises his ATM total points tally by 75 to 2525 points - the same as Championship leader John Ellis! The Hong Kong Ozzie remains the official number 1, however, as he beat Kitamura in their last direct confrontation, which was at Penang Eco 100 miles. Kitamura continues to amaze followers this season with his string of fine performances. A welcome rest now follows, though.

Indonesia's Ivan Iskandar, relatively unknown on the ATM tour, completed the podium of the 116k for men. Iskandar ran a very consistent pace all day and night, and actually edged closer to Kitamura in the final 20 km. His compatriot Rahmat Septiyanto came in as fourth place. Fifth was for Hadi Mustofa, also from Indonesia, in a sign that there life after Arief Wismoyono, himself absent due to professional obligations last weekend. Malaysia’s Jeffery Budin came home sixth. The Malatra runner is also quietly establishing himself as a tough ultra runner.

The 116k proved everything that was promised: no compromises, no prisoners. The hardest race on our ATM Championship calendar saw the ‘DNFs’ of none other than Mantra expert and top favourite alongside Milton Amat, Pablo Diago Gonzales. After some 50km, the Spaniard called it quits after severely hurting his ankle in the descent of the highest peak, Mount Arjuno. He was joined at the same point by ATM Champion Alessandro Sherpa, who loves this race but seems to struggle here every year. Sherpa was able to keep up with Milton Amat early on, but as the day progressed climbing Welirang and Arjuno he got too dehydrated for his own good and decided it was too risky to continue. It’s a setback for the Champion in his bid to keep the ATM title this year, but it also takes a Champion to realise when enough is enough not to risk one’s own health. Tokyo’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi also did not reach the finish after hurting his left knee. Fandhi Achmad, winner of the 50k two years ago, was keeping a relatively low profile early on in the race. Just as he began to make up ground, he took a wrong turn and ended up off course for quite a while. Achmad nevertheless managed to finish, albeit in 11 th place.

In the women’s 116 race, we had a big and actually quite unexpected dominant victory by Japan's Asuka Nakajima! It was her second ATM points race victory of the season after Tahura Trail 42km in Bandung, which proves how versatile Nakajima is. Last month she still DNFd at Penang Eco 100, but now she bounces back at Mantra. This tastes for more! Malaysia's Siokhar "Steel" Lim again had a great second half to grab her first podium of the season. Lim overtook Sri Wahyuni in the final 15 km. Surabaya's Wahyuni still held on to third place. Philippines' Cecile Wael ran a remarkable race herself. For a long time in second position, she eventually had to slow down and came home fourth just ahead of Malaysia's Fazlia Hanim. 

MSC 75: Yusuf Aprian won his first major ATM points race! The Bandung youngster was too fast for established mountain runners such as David Fontaine and Philippines’ Koi Grey. In the women’s we had a Japanese victory by Ema Nakajima ahead of Christin Mutia and Septiana Swastika

Podium men 116 with Milton Amat, Hisashi Kitamura and Ivan Iskandar

Podium men 116 with Milton Amat, Hisashi Kitamura and Ivan Iskandar

Podium women 116 with Asuka Nakajima, Siokhar Lim and Sri Wahyuni

Podium women 116 with Asuka Nakajima, Siokhar Lim and Sri Wahyuni

Gritty run by Philippines’ Cecile Wael results in a 4th place on the 116

Gritty run by Philippines’ Cecile Wael results in a 4th place on the 116

Siokhar Lim earned herself the nickname “Steel”

Siokhar Lim earned herself the nickname “Steel”

Yusuf Aprian: great winner of the 75 km

Yusuf Aprian: great winner of the 75 km

Koi Grey scored a 3rd place on the 75km “without training”

Koi Grey scored a 3rd place on the 75km “without training”

Tahira managed to get to km 80, but lack of training compelled her to call it a day then

Tahira managed to get to km 80, but lack of training compelled her to call it a day then

More big names on the DNF list: Alessandro Sherpa (dehydration) and Pablo Diago (sprained ankle)

More big names on the DNF list: Alessandro Sherpa (dehydration) and Pablo Diago (sprained ankle)

Sunrise is amazing in this race

Sunrise is amazing in this race

MSC 116: Calling all mountain goats
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On paper, the Mantra Summits Challenge is the hardest points race in the Asia Trail Master Championship series. And every year, it gets longer, too. For 2019, event organiser Heru Prabowo and race director Ivan Citraya of the Malang Trailrunners, have introduced a collossal 116km as longest distance option on top of the existing 75km from a year ago. Total elevation gain is set at approx 8800 hm. Yet, the scenery at an altitude of well above 3000m with the mountains of Welirang and Arjuno remains an attraction for trail runners from all over Asia. Mantra Summits Challenge is the Indonesia SuperTrail in 2019, and any trail runner who loves a good mountain is at the Kaliandra Eco Resort in East Java this weekend.

Interestingly enough, the last two years the long distance race for men was decided in the very last kilometres on the road towards the finish line in the resort. In 2017, Fandhi Achmad overtook an injured Jan Nilsen and last season, famously, Elias Tabac from Davao ran past Pablo Diago Gonzales in the last kilometre with his shoes torn apart and his feet a bloody mess. This weekend we can in any case expect a fantastic battle royal in the high mountains between several protagonists in the Asia Trail Master series, both in the men and women categories, and both in the relevant 116km and 75km races.

Taking a look at the points standings first, we see the inevitable Hisashi Kitamura on the start list. The KL-based Japanese runner has made a remarkable progress in his short trail running ‘career’ and currently ranks 2nd in the ATM Championship, 75 points adrift of John Ellis. Fast marathon runner Kitamura runs all the ATM SuperTrails this season, but admits that the Indonesia one suits him least. Nevertheless, he showed great maturity in Penang Eco 100 last month and if he scores a second place in Mantra Summits he equals John Ellis’ total of 2525 points. A victory would put him first.

However, for the victory he will need to get past two hot runners who have been focusing hard on this one to keep their own ATM Championship chances high. The previously mentioned Pablo Diago Gonzales is the most experienced of all top contenders in Mantra, having been there since the beginning. The Singapore-based Spaniard knows all the steps of the podium in Mantra except the top one. Gonzales has therefore made Mantra a big goal this season, indeed… The second big favourite is Milton Amat from Sabah, Malaysia. A real technical mountain trail runner, the Uglow Malaysia runner finds in Malang the perfect race for his characteristics. Another one who focuses on the SuperTrails a lot, Amat does need a victory to stay level with the Ellisses and Kitamuras. So far he got 4th in the 9 Dragons and 2nd in Moon 100 after he lost a certain victory when his teammate and friend Wilsen Singgin literally dropped down ‘heatstruck’ on the beach in the final 2 km of that race in Thailand.

There’s several more podium contenders on the 116k, even when Indonesia’s top mountain trail star Arief Wismoyono won’t be there this season. 2018 ATM Champion Alessandro Sherpa showed an excellent return to form in Penang Eco 100k, but has rather unpleasant memories of Mantra Summits last year. Sherpa can never be underestimated in any kind of race, but the topography of MSC 116 on paper is not his ‘baby’. The same applies for Tokyo’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi. It was great to see him come in 2nd in the 100 miles of Penang Eco, but MSC 116 will be a hard nut to crack for a runner like him,too. At least when we are talking podium. On the other hand, West Java’s Fandhi Achmad is a mountain specialist and could cause an upset victory again - just like in 2017 when the longest race distance was still 50km. From Yogyakarta and a hit-and-miss for sure, Dzaki Wardana is a former winner of Ijen 100 and a podium placer in other mountain races in Indonesia. On his day, Dzaki is game. Another runner who could claim the spotlights this weekend is Malaysia’s Jeffery Budin of Team Malatra. Another typical mountain goat who is currently in fine shape. Let’s also keep an eye out for Alvin Png, Aris Sopiandi Muklis and Alan Maulana. This is their terrain.

In the women’s 116k, eyes naturally will be fixed on Tahira Najmunisaa. It comes with being a former ATM champion and dominant force in the women’s trail scene in Asia. However, it must be said that Tahira has had other issues to compete with in the private atmosphere after her great 2nd place in Dalat Ultra Trail. Nothing is a must, anything is possible. There’s other women on the start list keen on a great result. Coming from Philippines with a significant trail record, yet little to unknown on the ATM tour, is Arlene Agulto. We will be watching her in the battle with Surabaya’s in-form Sri Wahyuni, who was second in this race last year and has since improved further. Sri Wahyuni will be defending the honours of her home country as ATM Champion Ruth Theresia and also Shindy Patricia are taking a sabatical this season. Tahura Trail winner Asuka Nakajima will be facing her first test on mountain trails such as Mantra, and Malaysia’s Izzah Hazirah is the dark horse this weekend as convincing winner of the very technical MMTF in Taiping last November. Also on the start list is Cecile Wael, who has been doing very well in the championship this season.

The 75K is a co-A race this weekend and has some big names as well. Koi Grey is arguably top gun on this distance, being the experienced mountain runner he is. Moreover, Koi is in excellent shape this year since he launched his comeback to the trail scene half a year ago. He can do a great job for his ATM championship ambitions, too. This will be his 4th race of the season, and a fine result will propel him back into the top five of the ranking… and Koi Grey is one of those with experience running in Taiping, the ATM championship final on 14/15 December… His main competitors in Mantra 75 will likely be Yusuf Aprian from Bandung and Trung Nguyen from Vietnam. However, there’s also Furqoni Sya’bana who can never be underestimated. In the women’s 75K, Ruth Theresia is on the start list but the ATM Champion has announced she won’t be competing this weekend after all. Home favourite from Malang, Christin Mutia, is a victory contender along with Bandung’s Novita Wulundari and Malaysia’s Fadila Binti Yusoff - another one with experience in Mantra.

Follow ATM ‘s live coverage of the event via our Facebook, twitter and Instagram channels all weekend long. With special thanks to Adventure III on the spot in Malang.

Several women are brave enough to tackle the 116K. This quartet may challenge for podium or more

Several women are brave enough to tackle the 116K. This quartet may challenge for podium or more

Third time lucky for Pablo?

Third time lucky for Pablo?

Tahira continues her return to the top of the sport

Tahira continues her return to the top of the sport

Tomohiro Mizukoshi had a great 2nd place in Penang, illustrating his return to top form

Tomohiro Mizukoshi had a great 2nd place in Penang, illustrating his return to top form

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Elias Tabac steals hearts at Mantra!
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It was a thrilling moment last Sunday when Philippines' Elias Tabac rushed into the finish at the Kaliandra Eco Resort in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. The super tough Mantra Summits Challenge is run on remote high mountain trails with little to no mobile connectivity, and the scarse announcements that came through to the event arena were indicating Pablo Diago Gonzales was about to grab his fifth career ATM race victory. 

But as it turned out, Davao’s Elias Tabac passed Pablo Diago Gonzales in the last kilometre of the 75k and 5500 hm race! He won in 14:36, his second ATM race victory of the season after Pilipinas Akyathlon. Tabac now has 1000 championship points and is 11th in the championship ranking, alongside his compatriot John Ray Onifa. With many more points races yet to come this season, can Elias Tabac be a contender for the ATM championship title? 

In the Mantra race, ran mainly at nighttime by the faster guys, Tabac struggled without headlight in the second half of the night. Ukraine's Mikhailo Pavliuk, Alessandro Sherpa, Arief Wismoyono had all climbed up Arjuno Welirang close to each other. A very trim-looking Pablo Diago Gonzales - third in this race last year and keen to win it this time around - then made an attack,and ran together an advantage of half an hour by km 42. Tabac was in second place at that point but started chasing the Spaniard down as it got dawn. That took a lot of effort, especially as his running shoes completely disintegrated on the very rough and technical trails. His heels became entirely exposed as the shoe soles broke off. Pablo Diago Gonzales was already in cruising mode approaching the Kaliandra resort, and couldn't believe it when Tabac rushed passed him with just over 1 km to go! The Filipino pace was too high to even try to fight back. Tabac ran his heart out and grabbed the victory. 

Pablo Diago Gonzales has one consolation: he regains the points lead from Japan’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi in the ATM Championship with his fifth result of the season. He now totals 2100 points in five races, of which four were podiums but as of yet no wins this season. In any case, his tally, which will be boosted by another 50 for the abroad bonus, is the first real benchmark for anyone who wants to become ATM champion this year. It was a very strong and aggressive run by the Singapore-based Spaniard, who prepared well for Mantra and even lost approx 4 kg to be able to climb faster. 

Alessandro Sherpa, winner of Penang Eco 100k last May, came into the finish at the Kaliandra Eco Resort as third, but one hour behind the front runners. Sherpa had an eventful night and also had to cope with belly cramps. Ukraine's Mykhailo Pavliuk was a - relative - new face in fourth place. Pavliuk is known for his fast climbing speed and had prepared himself in Malang for a week to do well in this race, his first ever race beyond 50 km. Pavliuk was right up there with Sherpa and Wismoyono, but lost terrain towards the end as he also got lost late in the night. Bandung’s Arief Wismoyono arrived in fifth place in just over 17 hours. He will strengthen his top 5 rank in the ATM Championship with this fourth result of the season, but probably had hoped for more. Australia's Andy Bourke took 7th, ahead of India's Shashwat Rao and the 2 Malaysians Shahrin and Grandmaster Yim Heng Fatt, who completed his first ATM race of the season after a longish competitive break. Shashwat Rao has made it into the top 10 of the ATM Championship with his fine effort. He is in 8th place with 1080 points from three races. 

Ruth Theresia has given the Indonesian home crowd something to celebrate also, as she won the women's 75k race, coming in as 10th overall. The hard-fought victory puts her back on top of the ATM Championship standings as well, at the expense of Philippines' Aggy Sabanal, who reportedly returns to ATM action in September. Ruth Theresia 's compatriot Sri Wahyuni from Surabaya took another podium place in an ATM points race: second. Kuala Lumpur’s Erin Puteri Aziz from team ULTRON was a great third. All three women feature at the top of the ATM championship thanks to today’s performances. Ruth Theresia leads of course, today was her third victory of the season already! 

Interestingly, and perhaps something to think about, only 2 Indonesian runners (1 man, 1 woman and both Team Bandung Explorer ) made it into the top 10 of this Indonesian race...

The next points races are the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset and the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia.

Amazing: look at his shoes! 

Amazing: look at his shoes! 

Pablo Diago Gonzales could not quite believe it at first

Pablo Diago Gonzales could not quite believe it at first

What a podium!

What a podium!

Shashwat Rao from India finished again in the top 10 and is now 8th in the ATM Championship

Shashwat Rao from India finished again in the top 10 and is now 8th in the ATM Championship

Mikhailo Pavliuk from Ukraine finished his first race of over 50 km in 4th place

Mikhailo Pavliuk from Ukraine finished his first race of over 50 km in 4th place

There was also a 50km race at Mantra, won by Bandung's Yusoff Aprian

There was also a 50km race at Mantra, won by Bandung's Yusoff Aprian

Big battles expected at Mantra Summits!
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After a four-week break the 2018 Asia Trail Master championship series continues this weekend in Indonesia and the feared Mantra Summits Challenge. The very technical mountain race in Malang, East Java, was much talked-about in the trail scene following the inaugural event that saw the race winner come into the finish after 10 hours and 43 minutes. And it was not a snail, but Fandhi Achmad, who had taken the measure of even more established mountain runners as Jan Nilsen and Pablo Diago Gonzales! 

Organised by the Malang Trail Runners, the team of female Indonesian star Shindy Patricia, Mantra Summits Challenge has even been beefed up more this year with a 73 km distance and 5500 metres of elevation gain. That's also the distance that matters for the ATM Championship. The great Kaliandra Eco Resort again plays host for the event, which also offers last year's courses of 50km, 30km and 15km.

The A-race has attracted some very strong mountain runners from across the Asian region, including some serious contenders for the ATM championship. West Java's Fandi Achmad will certainly not get a repeat victory on a silver platter on Sunday. Staying on home soil, Arief Wismoyono is scheduled to take part. The Bandung Explorer ace is always at his best in the mountains of his home country. Having started his 2018 ATM campaign relatively modestly with two fourth places in UTKC and Tahura Trail and a fifth in Sungai Menyala Forest Trail, Wismoyono ranks 6th in the ATM championship so far. The 2015 champion can jump into the top three this weekend. One runner on the start list, however, can regain the points lead: Pablo Diago Gonzales will be starting his 6th race of the season, and needs just 210 points to overtake Japan's Tomohiro Mizukoshi. That means a top 10 result at Mantra. Pablo loved this race last year and was indeed close to both Achmad and Nilsen, and actually had been.ahead early on until he missed a marker... and therefore lost time. Can he take revenge and put a fifth ATM mountain race on his record of wins? 

Alessandro Sherpa may prevent that from happening. After some strong podium places, the Malaysia-based Italian finally scored his big premier ATM race victory at Penang Eco 100k last May, beating Hong Kong superstar John Ellis in truly impressive fashion. Mantra Summits is a different animal than Penang Eco, but Sherpa is no stranger to the Indonesian high mountains neither. 

And yet, who will be able to follow Elias Tabac? Elias who? Many people probably still don't know the Mindanao mountain goat, but the Filipino was the fantastic race winner of the Pilipinas Akyathlon last February. Tabac earned a sponsored weekend by Singapore's Rolling Hills Project with that victory, and here he is at Mantra Summits for his second ATM race of the season. Being in a foreign country for the first time might be a bit intimidating for the young runner, but once on the trails we can expect him to be right at the front. 

Six women will undertake the Mantra Summits Challenge 75k, which means that a mere finish - within the CUT of 24 hours - will result in.a large points haul. Ruth Theresia starts as the obvious race favourite. She won the 50k here last year, and after a short break recently should be fresh and strong to take the 75k on Sunday... and regain the points lead in the ATM Championship! Still, she won't have a walk in the mountain park as Surabaya's Sri Wahyuni is also on the start list and keen to take her first victory after a number of podium places in ATM races. Wahyuni was pushing Theresia in Brunei this season, and this type of gruelling mountaint terrain does not scare her. Other female podium candidates are Lily Suryani, Erin Puteri Aziz, Lye Chui Peng and Fadila Yusoff. 

We will be reporting live from the event at the Kaliandra Eco Resort starting tomorrow - subject to connectivity. 

Arief Wismoyono: always strong in Indonesia

Arief Wismoyono: always strong in Indonesia

Alessandro Sherpa: a second ATM win?

Alessandro Sherpa: a second ATM win?

Fandi Ahmad: can he repeat last year's great victory? 

Fandi Ahmad: can he repeat last year's great victory? 

Sri Wahyuni gave race favourite Ruth Theresia a tough challenge in Brunei. Can she do the same on. the much more technical Mantra trail?

Sri Wahyuni gave race favourite Ruth Theresia a tough challenge in Brunei. Can she do the same on. the much more technical Mantra trail?

Elias Tabac:the rising star from Davao could score his second ATM win of the year

Elias Tabac:the rising star from Davao could score his second ATM win of the year

Mantra Summits Challenge: 75K and 5675 hm!
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Indonesia is known for its hardcore technical trail events, where all the efforts are nonetheless superbly compensated by the most astonishing scenic views. Mantra Summits Challenge in East Java is a relative newbie following that trend. Last year's successful Candidate Race is now an official Asia Trail Master points race scheduled for 14/15 July and the new updated 75K A-race has just been revealed: A tough mountain race with Gunung Welirang and Gunung Arjuna as highlights towering 3300m above sea level. The 75K now also includes more runable sections after the technical descent, and two more smaller climbs of Mount Mahapena and Puthuk Lesung. All in all, runners face an elevation gain of 5675 hm! This is a race for the pure technical mountain runner. Perhaps it was no coincidence that last year the men's podium was filled with three of this specimen: Fandhi Achmad, Jan Nilsen and Pablo Diago Gonzales. 

Last year's 51K course is still on the programme as well, but serves now as the B-course. 

Host of the event is again the beautifully authentic Kaliandra Eco Resort in Malang. Organisers are of course the people of the Malang Trail Runners, which includes one of Asia's best technical trail women Shindy Patricia.

Registrations are open. 

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Mantra Summits Challenge moves event date forward
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Important news coming from Indonesia this week: the Mantra Summits Challenge in Malang, East Java, has moved forward its event date by two weeks. The tough mountain race is now scheduled for 14/15 July 2018.

This implies that MSC, as it is called in brief, now takes place one week before Ijen Trailrunning further east in Java. The Wolf the Trail combo of both events remains therefore, only that the order of events is switched around. One significant consequence is that international runners better arrive in Surabaya and exit Indonesia via Bali. 

The Wolf the Trail package currently in design will feature training and sightseeing runs/hikes on Bromo and other nearby volcanic sites between Malang and Bondowoso. 

More info on Mantra Summits Challenge here:

Mantra Summits Challenge enters the 2018 ATM Championship
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We are happy to announce the formal entry in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship series of Mantra Summits Challenge in East Java, Indonesia, on 28/29 July. The mountainous and technical race will feature a redesigned 75K race as longest distance, an upgrade of this year's main race. Mantra Summits Challenge was a successful ATM Candidate Race last July, won by Fandhi Achmad who overtook Jan Nilsen in the last sector with Pablo Diago Gonzales finishing in third place. In 2018 we can expect even more international running stars as the event joins the championship, and will be held one week after Ijen Trailrunning, held further to the east in the same region. Both races will be offered also as a Wolf The Trail package for international runners who like to spend a week in East Java. 

The beautiful Kaliandra Eco Resort will again play host to the event in the outskirts of Malang town, approximately 1,5 hours from the airport in Surabaya. While 75K is the distance that matters for the ATM Championship points, less ambitious runners can also opt for a 50K, 30K and 15K option. This year the 50K race got renowned for its technical nature, whereby the descents almost took as much time as the climbing up. The new route for 75 K and also 50 K still has a quite steep downhill from Mount Arjuna (above 3000m!) but it will be more runable as the track is less rocky and more compact soil. The course will pass through a new local tourist area called Budug Asu Hill, which has a beautiful view from there as well .

The 50 K will continue running into a tea plantation and follow the existing route. The 75K instead will continue to a runable section more towards Gunung Mujur and will connect with the 50K section again approaching the finish line at the Kaliandra Eco Resort. 

Stay tuned for all details of the 2018 Mantra Summits Challenge in due course. 

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