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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

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 has opened registration

One of the hot newcomers in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship has opened registration. Mantra Summits Challenge is accepting all experienced mountain runners for a genuine challenge over 75 km  on a technical course that reaches peaks well above 3000m altitude. Shorter distances are also available, yet the 75 km is what counts for the championship and the Grandmaster Quest. 

The event is organised by the Mantra Runners in Malang, East Java. As last year, when the race was a Candidate Race, the Kaliandra Eco Resort will host the event, providing comfortable accommodation in even quite a historic Javanese setting. 

Definitely one of the toughest races on the calendar, do not take this one lightly. For runners traveling from farther away, the Mantra Summits Challenge can be combined with the less technical Ijen Trailrunning event one week later a bit further east in Java. Doing that allows you then to hop onto a ferry to Bali to conclude your fantastic East Javanese trail running week in which you can score a load of Asia Trail Master Championship and Grandmaster points. Our Wold the Trail Indonesia package will also include a mid-week training and hiking session on either Bromo or one of the other majestic volcanoes in this area. 

Registration for Mantra Summits Challenge works via the official event website

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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Fandhi Achmad beats Jan Nilsen at Mantra

Participants will remember yesterday's Mantra Summits Challenge in Malang, East Java, as one of the toughest races they have ever done. According to highly experienced Malaysian Yim Heng Fatt, the 50km race could even be the hardest in Asia. The ATM Candidate Race certainly left its mark. The male and female winners were top runners, but their finishing times were just under 12 and 15 hours respectively.... 

In fact, the men's race was flooded with talented trail runners. Jan Nilsen, Pablo Diago Gonzales, Razif Yahya and Yim Heng Fatt were just a few big international 'names' at the start, and they were joined by a whole bucket list of Indonesian trail runners, especially those who love it when it gets technical. And technical it was. Many people felt it was more of a hiking event than a running event. 4400m of elevation gain was only part of the story. The downhills were so narrow, rocky and covered by high grass, even running down Mount Welirang and Mount Arjuno was virtually impossible. 

The top runners delivered an exciting battle, though, with changing positions and fortunes. Grandmaster Jan Nilsen, despite persisting foot problems, looked like he had the race in the bag for his first win of the season, until Jakarta's Fandhi Ahmad began his final push in the rocky downhill towards the finish and caught up with the Thailand-based Norwegian with just about 4 k lert to go. Ahmad had more juice left in his tank and took his first major victory in an Asia Trail Master-promoted race. Nilsen settled for second, which is still outstanding given his current lack of training hours due to his injury. Especially if you consider who all finished behind him. Diago Gonzales lost time by missing a marker during the race, but had no issue to admit Nilsen was very strong yesterday. The Singapore-based Spaniard completed the podium. Rizki Saputra, Dzaki Wardana (winner of Ijen 100 last May) and Fauzi were next. 

With the withdrawal of Shindy Patricia (who dediced to rest after a busy racing schedule with a view to being fresh at Merapoh Trail next weekend), Asia Trail Master Championship points leader Ruth Theresia did not have a genuine rival for the race win. She therefore did not push to the limit, because she as well will be aiming for a top result at the upcoming race in Malaysia. 

Mantra Summits Challenge at the beautiful Kaliandra Eco Resort and Organic Farm is not too far from main city Surabaya and is scheduled to return next year at the end of July. While the race courses were indeed very hard and could be lightened up a bit with more runable sections, the overall organisation was well-appreciated by the runners. More to come, for sure! 

Mantra: Nilsen vs Diago, part 2

After the flattish BNI Plataran X Trail in West Bali National Park a week ago - a 50k race dominated by our Asia Trail Master champions Manolito Divina and Tahira Najmunisaa - we move to East Java for the second 2018 Candidate Race in Indonesia. The Mantra Summits Challenge at the Kaliandra Eco Resort in Malang may have the same distance as the Bali race, but this weekend it will be the climbing goats to make the beautiful weather rather than the fast-paced runners. Nearly 4200 meters of elevation gain over 51 km and two peaks of more than 3000m altitude. Even the 30km (2800 hm) is very tough. Perhaps no surprise that good old Jan Nilsen feels attracted to Mantra Summits Challenge. Nilsen is coming back to his best level and is keen to add another Indonesia race victory on his record. Remember, Jan was unbeaten in this country last year with wins on Rinjani, Bromo and MesaStila Peaks Challenge. This year, however, he had to tolerate Pablo Diago Gonzales ahead of him at Ijen Trailrunning 70 in May. And guess what: Pablo Diago is also on the start list this weekend! Nilsen vs Diago part 2. Any dark horses? There surely are with Ijen 100 winner Dzaki Wardana as a very motivated contender. 

In the women's race Ruth Theresia and Shindy Patricia are again expected to battle for victory. Russia's Anna Kosova, second and not too far behind Tahira in Bali last week, may turn up as welll. 

We will be reporting from the Kaliandra Resort starting tomorrow on our social media channels with photo and video. 

Mantra Summits Challenge new 2018 ATM Candidate Race

July is in many countries the off season for trail running, but not so in Indonesia. There's quite a number of races taking place and some of them at international level and with ambition to join the Asia Trail Master Championship series in 2018. We have already highlighted Bandung Ultra 100 on 16-17 September before, but on 29 July you can challenge yourself in East Java as well. The Mantra Summits Challenge, hosted by the Kaliandra Eco Resort in Prigen Pasuran, offers a tough programme of 50k , 30k and 15k races with significant elevation gain. The 50k festures the ascent of two mountains above 3000m: Gunung Welirang and Gunung Arjuna. 

Adventurous, beautiful yet also very challenging. A combination of mountain trail running with nature conservation, which we will highlight in the next weeks. The event is organised by an experienced team of trail runners, which also has 2016 Indonesia Trail Master Shindy Patricia in its ranks. 

The event has 3 race categories:

50 K with 4500 hm elevation gain, COT 17 hours
30 K with 2100 hm elevation gain, COT 12 hours
15 K with 900 hm elevation gain, COT 4 hours 

Registration via https://mantrasc.com/