Posts tagged penang
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




Penang Eco 100 stuns again!
Joanna Kruk: 4th career ATM race win

Joanna Kruk: 4th career ATM race win

Penang Eco 100 again delivered on its reputation as being probably the most underestimated event in Asia Trail Master. As last year, both the 100 miles and 100k SuperTrail A-races were filled with drama and unexpected twists. And even though, he did not follow into the footsteps of his compatriot Manolito Divina by winning the 100 miles, Philippines’ Wilnar Iglesia scored a great 3rd place that puts him on top of the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship. 

Normally there is always a solid rainshower at some point during Penang Eco, but this year it was just hot and humid all the way. It made everything just a bit more runable, but clearly some of the race favourites got too excited. A quartet of four runners took off on the 100 miles with a blistering pace. Japan’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi, who is becoming a regular contender on the ATM tour, actually felt so good he went out in front by himself. Behind him were top favourites Steven Ong, the ATM champion and winner of Penang Eco 100K last year, Wilnar Iglesia and another Japanese ace, Sota Ogawa. Malaysia’s other iron in the fire, Sabah’s Milton Bin Amat, took a more conservative approach knowing his technical skills would be best applied 100% during the very technical final 60 km of the race. Australia’s Joanna Kruk made another trip to ATM from Adelaide, Australia, and was following the leading quartet as first woman. America’s Susan Swier was giving her a run of her money, though. Swier is known as a fast ultra road runner and found those initial flat runable sections very much to her liking. She won Merapoh Trail 70k last year, but otherwise she has had little credentials on the trail circuit. As it happened, after being passed by Kruk after approx 40k, she kept the pressure and was only losing minute-by-minute for most of the saturday. Swier would pay the price for that eventually, as she faded away in the final technical sections and ultimately finished third behind Law Lay Eng, from Malaysia also. Kruk was looking superb herself, as usual, and at some point the question was if she would manage to compete with the male leaders for the overall win. 

Sota Ogawa and Tomohiro Mizukoshi from Japan coloured the first 100k of the 100 miles race

Sota Ogawa and Tomohiro Mizukoshi from Japan coloured the first 100k of the 100 miles race

The men’s 100 milers were blowing each other up. Steven Ong, not yet fully recovered from a flu attack a few days before the race, even decided he had enough after approx 65k. Being busy setting up his own running shop in Kuala Lumpur, Ong's ATM campaign will require a strong surge in the second half of the season if he is to retain his title this year. Next was Sota Ogawa. Not used to the heat and humidity of Malaysia, Ogawa suffered from major stomach issues that prevented him from absorbing anything just before sunset. The Japanese top trail runner was a DNF. Meanwhile, a runner from Hong Kong was slowly making up ground on the leaders… and at km 112 we had the unusual situation of having three 100 milers sitting at the checkpoint together: Wilnar Iglesia, Tomohiro Mizukoshi and Law Chor Kin! Indeed, it was the Hong Kong runner Law Chor Kin who appeared by far the freshest of the three. Iglesia had just lost valuable energy missing a marker and doing an extra hill, and Mizukoshi looked cooked. The scene did not lie. In the final 55km, Law Chor Kin quickly built up a solid advantage to grab a very intelligent and admirable victory in 26h15. A newcomer on the ATM tour, he scores 600 points for the championship. Behind him, Iglesia was increasingly struggling on the tough technical jungle terrain and Mizukoshi needed to catch sleep at a checkpoint in the middle of the night. Mizukoshi deserves a lot of applause for his very courageous race at the beginning, even when in the end it did not fully played out. He would cross the finish line in 7th place in 34h49. A loss of over 8h30 on 56km compared to Law Chor Kin says enough. But he made it, and he moves up to 6th place in the ATM championship! 

Law Chor Kin wins the 100 miles just before sunrise after a conservative first 100k

Law Chor Kin wins the 100 miles just before sunrise after a conservative first 100k

It was clear that a conservative start was the best strategy last weekend. Wilnar Iglesia stlll got himself overtaken towards the end of the race by local Malaysian veteran Liew Tho Fatt, who produced a fantastic and well-balanced effort. Milton Bin Amat finished in 4th place, the same result as in the 9 Dragons Ultra. He moves up to 11th place in the ATM championship and is also the first Malaysian. Experience counts big time at Penang Eco 100 miles. Lau Say Niong came home in sixth place, just ahead of Soo Kong Yong. 

Exhausted but satisfied: Wilnar Iglesia finishes 3rd and is the new ATM championship leader

Exhausted but satisfied: Wilnar Iglesia finishes 3rd and is the new ATM championship leader

The 100K race at Penang Eco is also considered an A-race for the ATM Championship and thus attracts a lot of strong runners, too. On paper, it was going to be a battle between several Asia-based expats and Mohamed Affindi from Malaysia in the men’s. In the women’s Vietnam-based Marieke Dekkers from the Netherlands was the top favourite, similar to Joanna Kruk on the 100 miles. Dekkers proved to be fastest, indeed. The training partner of ATM Champion Kim Matthews won her second ATM race of the season after Dalat Ultra Trail in 20h21. Dekkers climbs up to 4th place in the championship standings. Malaysia’s Siokhar Lim was a very happy second place last Sunday in 22h 25, as it happened to be her first ever 100k race. The podium was completed by another Malaysian, Lili Wong. 

Marieke Dekkers scored her 2nd ATM race win of the season on the 100k!

Marieke Dekkers scored her 2nd ATM race win of the season on the 100k!

The men’s race started quite explosively, similar to the 100 miles earlier that day. Mohamed Affindi, Alessandro Sherpa and David Giannelli took off quicky. Affindi and Sherpa then went by themselves as Gianelli lost a bit of terrain. Hong Kong trail star John Ellis, meanwhile, was biding his time as he usually does. Running 10-15 minutes behind the leading duo in the early hours, it looked every bit of a standard Ellis strategy. Chin Yit Khiang, living in Hong Kong but born and raised in Penang, Britain’s Sam McGrath and Japan’s Hisashi Kitamura were keeping up also. Halfway, Ellis caught up and took the race lead. Drama unfolded shortly after for both Mohamed Affindi and David Gianelli. Affindi twisted his ankle badly in a downhill section and saw no other option but to retire from the race! Technical runner Giannelli, who had just begun to decrease the time gap to the frontrunners, missed a crucial marker and suddenly found himself two checkpoints further down the course. Demotivated, Gianneli retired from the race. All of this was happening in the middle of the night, and Ellis was steadily opening up a bit of a gap on Alessandro Sherpa, until suddenly he didn’t anymore. Sherpa clearly had not yet given up on the race win and, perhaps using his bigger experience of negotiating South East Asian trails, managed to fight his way back to a struggling Ellis in the last 15k! Something one rarely sees on an ultra trail, but it proved again what a treacherous and therefore almost unique race Penang Eco 100 is. The Singapore-based Italian dropped Ellis in the last 9k and cruised to a big victory in 14h25, three minutes ahead of John Ellis. A bit in the shadow of the leading duo, but by all means a stellar effort was third-placed Chin Yit Khiang in 15h30. Behind them it was three hours till the finish of Sam McGrath, Hisashi Kitamura and Beng Wan. 

Sherpa’s win over Ellis could prove meaningful later in the season when the ATM championship gets decided. Sherpa collects 550 to Ellis’ 500 and jumps to 4th place in the ranking with 3 results in the books, while Ellis is now 8th with 2 results. 

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While all finishers of Penang Eco deserve a honourary mentioning, we would like to note that Japan’s Masafumi Yamamoto finished his 5th ATM race of the season already, of which 4 Grandmaster distances plus CMU 50, the Philippines’ SuperTrail back in March. Respect! 

The next points race in the ATM championship is the first of four races in Japan this season: Kushigata Wind Trail. It’s also one of the shortest on the circuit with 30 km , but also 2500 hm. 

Race organisers Seow Kong Ng and Allan Lee with Milton Bin Amat, 4th on the 100 miles

Race organisers Seow Kong Ng and Allan Lee with Milton Bin Amat, 4th on the 100 miles

Penang Eco 100 - Top-notch field in Malaysia SuperTrail
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The Malaysia SuperTrail in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship series promises to be another cracker this weekend as a long list of excellent trail runners from all over the region are lining up in Bukit Mertajam for the Penang Eco 100. An event with a very specific course, be it the 100 miles or the 100k (the two race distances that matter for the championship, and remember both are A-races also). Last year’s edition was full of last-minute drama with changing leads and positions in the final kilometres of what has become known as a very treacherous race. 

Looking first at the 100 miles, which starts at 4 a.m. on Saturday, we see Asia Trail Master champion Steven Ong making his second appearance of the season. Ong has been busy setting up his own running shop in Kuala Lumpur and keeping a low profile after his 13th placing in the -for him- too short Tahura Trail in Indonesia back in January. However, a lot of people will bet on him to win this weekend. Ong is famous for his racing intelligence and the longer a race lasts, the better it is for him. Moreover, Ong knows the Penang course: he won the 100k here last season and with hindsight already laid the foundation for his championship win in this race. This being a SuperTrail, the competition of course will be severe. Sota Ogawa is a Japanese professional runner who is making his debut in the ATM Championship after winning a Candidate Race in his own country last autumn. Ogawa is highly motivated and left nothing to chance in his preparation for Penang Eco. The big question to be answered this weekend is: how well can he handle the Malaysian heat and humidity? Another Japanese runner seemingly has few issues with the climate looking back at his great 4th place in Sungai Menyala Forest Trail last month: Tomohiro Mizukoshi . Ranked 16th in the current ATM Championship, Mizukoshi was 8th in Korea 50K a few weeks ago as well. He came to the foreground in our series last December, when he finished 18th in the Izu Trail Journey, a performance that underlines his potential perhaps the most given Izu is almost like a national championship race in Japan. All abovementioned races are short to medium distance trails, how well will Mizukoshi fare on the 100 miles? 

The Malaysians have another iron in the fire for the longest race this weekend. Milton Amat from Sabah is ready to tackle his second SuperTrail race of the season after finising the Hong Kong’s 9 Dragons in 4th place. Another great result can put Amat into the championship picture. He is the winner of Borneo TMBT 100 last year and that race is back in ATM this year on 1/2 September. With also the Magnificent Merapoh Trail still on the programme in Malaysia in August, Amat can in theory claim the spotlights for sure. 

Finally, also the Philippines is well-represented with Davao’s Rexell Aguirre and also Manila’s Wilnar Iglesia - 3rd in the current ATM Championship ranking - coming back for the 100 miles as well, after finishing second to Steven Ong in last year’s 100k race here. If Wilnar scores 400 points (= 11th place on the 100 miles) he will match the points tally of ATM leader Pablo Diago Gonzales. But the Singapore-based Spaniard will be active on the 100K this weekend, too. Remains to be seen, however, how fast he has recovered from. what has been a very busy late spring campaign with the gruelling Mt Apo Sky Race and last week’s hot and fast Tengri Ultra Trail in the legs. Another Asia-based European is Alessandro Sherpa. When there’s a race, Sherpa is there. But the Italian is still suffering from his ankle injury sustained in UTKC in February so 100 miles might be a mountain of a task this weekend. 

A number of women are also competing on the 100 miles with one big favourite: Australia’s Joanna Kruk. Flying in again from Adelaide, Kruk loves to race in South East Asia and has built up quite a record in doing so: winner of Thailand’s UT Chiang Rai and UT Panoramic and winner of Borneo TMBT 100 back in 2015 as well. Kruk is both blisteringly fast and tough. A former boxer and now police officer, Kruk may even put some of the top men under pressure again like she managed in UT Chiang Rai and Panoramic last December, when she finished in 3rd overall. Not being based in Asia, it is difficult for Kruk to challenge for the ATM Championship and score points in five races. But she is certainly making a name for herself here in the region. While Kruk seems to be the top favourite for the win, Grandmaster Lily Suryani - who claimed 3rd place here last year - and Vietnam’s Vy Le Phuong could flank her on the podium. 

The 100k in Penang is also an A-race, meaning all finishers score 150 finisher points on top of their performance points as well. The only difference is they do not get the 50 bonus points for finishing 100 miles. Hence, a lot of top regional runners are competing on this distance, too. Highly anticipated is the participation of Hong Kong-based Australian John Ellis. Winner of the 9 Dragons Ultra and plenty of other races in Hong Kong, Ellis is thinking about challenging for the ATM Championship and push his own boundaries. Known for running bare-chested, the Australian has little experience running in South East Asia, and just like with many Japanese runners that is an open question to be answered this weekend. Ellis will definitely face pressure from many other runners. Let’s begin with Malaysia’s Mohamed Affindi. A man who burst onto the scene in the middle of last season. Affindi has scored one 2nd place after the other - also this year in Brunei and Sungai Menyala - but still waiting for his maiden victory in  ATM. Can it happen in Penang? Looking at the course profile and Affindi’s characteristics as a trail runner, most definitely yes. David Gianelli is another Italian who is back on the ATM circuit and with ambition. Gianelli won the Mt Apo Sky Race three weeks ago and will aim for nothing less in Penang. 

The women’s 100K race seems quite open although Vietnam-based Marieke Dekkers, training partner of Kim Matthews, could be the benchmark. Dekkers won the Dalat Ultra Trail in March and a second strong result this weekend can put her among the top performers in the ATM Championship. 

The event has a new participation record with close to 1000 participants spread over four race distances. 

We will be reporting live from the field in Penang all weekend during our usual social media channels. 

Kruk is back: the Adelaide police officer aims to collect another Asian race win in Penang

Kruk is back: the Adelaide police officer aims to collect another Asian race win in Penang

ATM Champion Steven Ong returns to the scene on his favourite distance: 100 miles

ATM Champion Steven Ong returns to the scene on his favourite distance: 100 miles

Mohamed Affindi: finally the big win this weekend? 

Mohamed Affindi: finally the big win this weekend? 

Penang Eco 100 opens registration for 2018
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Definitely one of the most underestimated races on our Asia Trail Master calendar is Penang Eco 100. Runners look at the profile and elevation gain of the 100 miles and 100K and expect one of their easier ultras of the season. To their surprise, finishing Penang Eco 100, however, is a real challenge. Course-wise, the venom is in the tail and the unrelenting heat and humidity will teach you a thing or two about proper hydration during races. Penang Eco 100 is a well-deserved Malaysia SuperTrail race also in 2018.

The event stays on the same weekend in the middle of May, which means 13/14 May 2018. The two core distances for ATM points remain, 100 miles and 100K, and less ambitious runners can also opt for 50K or 35K. Please note that at this event, there are NO ATM championship points for the two just mentioned shortest distances.

Bukit Mertajam is still the host town, which provides comfortable accommodation nearby, but you can also just stay in Georgetown and Penang, and take advantage of shuttle bus options. 

For detail, please check our cover page or the official event website, where you can also sign up already.  

http://endurancenature.com.my/index.php/penangeco1002018/

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Drama and a lot of sweat at Penang Eco 100!

The Penang Eco 100 again lived up to its reputation of being a seriously tough event for even the best trail runners in the region. The Malaysia SuperTrail in the 2017 Asia Trail Master championship series brought Hitchcock-like suspense and drama, with a number of turnabouts nobody saw coming in both the 100 miles and 100k races! 

If one major conclusion can be drawn after the event it is this: trail running experience and tactics outweighed sheer running pace. Sefli Ahar, Kim Matthews, and Isaac Yuen Wan Ho all set a blistering pace in the early and rather flattish part of their respective races, but none of them arrived first at the finish.

On the 100k, local Ultron runner Steven Oong grabbed his second ATM race victory of the season, after UTKC 100. The Malaysian overtook Wilnar Iglesia from Philippines after km 62 and found the technical hilly sections very much to his liking. Oong's race story could be printed unedited in a trail running guidebook. Unbothered and smiling when Brunei's Sefli Ahar took off like a bullet with Iglesia trying to keep up, Oong bode his time and balanced his effort in the hot and humid conditions of Penang. When the race went into the rainforest and the hills after about 40k, the number 2 in the Asia Trail Master Championship ranking began to focus and chase the front runners. Even Kim Matthews from Australia was running ahead of him at that point. Matthews herself ran like stung by a bee, which was amazing given she had started the race with a broken rib sustained in a household accident. Up front, Sefli Ahar discovered that technical trail running is very different from his maiden discipline: road running. The Bruneian won the Hong Kong Half Marathon a few years ago, and has developed an appetite for trail running after winning both editions of the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in the past two years. Ahar has the ATM Championship in mind. He started the hilly section of the race with an advantage of approx 20 minutes on Iglesia, but his inexperience in trail cost him dearly. Ahar missed a marking, got lost and seemingly panicked. Unfortunately, he went on to end up at the start/finish arena rather than track back to the point he lost the right trail. The race director had no choice but to disqualify Sefli Ahar from the race result.

Iglesia took over the lead, but Oong charged forward, overtook the Filipino and finished in 15:47. In the end, thanks to his technical proficiency and stamina, Oong had even opened up a time gap of almost two-and-a-half hours over Iglesia, who did great in his ATM debut. Iglesia hails from the Manila area and will be back on the ATM circuit later this season. Oong now more than ever looks like a serious candidate for the ATM Championship. His Malaysian compatriot Yim Heng Fatt adopted a similar strategy than him. Fatt came also from behind, was never mentioned in the top five at checkpoints, but then reached the finish in a clear third place! Yim Heng Fatt in so doing retains his 4th ATM championship ranking with another great result. Singapore's Norman Koh was a popular and remarkable fourth place in the race - he ran on slippers! Man Kok Fai completed the top 5. 

In the women's, everyone at the finish was waiting to celebrate the victory of Kim Matthews, until Dong Minfei (China) appeared in the final strait instead! A new name on the scene, Dong Mingfei ran her first 100k and hails from Zhejiang Province. She had passed Matthews under the radar at CP9 with only some 10k left to go.  The Thailand-based Australian had suffered a knock of the hammer and got sick (like so many runners on the weekend). Matthews even fell asleep at the checkpoint, which allowed the Chinese girl to return. Dong Minfei obviously had a mental boost and managed to stay clear of a struggling Matthews by some 15 minutes.  The two female runners both had an outstanding performance nonetheless, considering they were also fourth and fifth overall in the race! The battle for the last female podium spot was interesting throughout the race and decided in favour of Katanya Kapelli (USA). Home runner Lynn Law won the battle for 4th place ahead of her compatriot Siawhua Lim. Shindy Patricia came in sixth, followed by her Indonesian compatriot Eni Rosita, who had clearly not recovered yet from all the ultras she did in the past few weeks.

Andres Villagran passed Yuen Wan Ho in the final stages to win the men's 100 miles

Andres Villagran passed Yuen Wan Ho in the final stages to win the men's 100 miles

Dramatic turn of events as well on the 100 miles. Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Hong led most of the race but got sick in the final sections . He was ultra fast early on, running 105k in 12:20! Andres Villagran from Ecuador chased him down and eventually won the 100 miles race in 28:13! His first career race win after several podium finishes in the US, and a new course record. Villagran is 33 years old and this was his first race in Asia: "i m so happy with my first win," he said. "I did not expect it as the Hong Kong runner was so fast, but I saw him throwing up towards the end. Great organisation and a very tough race, which makes my win even sweeter." Isaac managed to hold on to second place. "This was so tough, especially the descents are very technical," said the visibly tired runner, who seems to have a subscription on second places. Yuen Wan Ho nevertheless did a good job for his ATM Championship ambitions, and deserves a lot of credit for his resilience. 

ATM championship leader Arief Wismoyono was third. The Bandung Explorer ace had taken the fastest start, in fact, until Yuen Wan Ho took over. Wismoyono kept a good pace throughout and never saw his podium place under threat. The Indonesian was also visibly battered, though. Liew Tho Fatt from Malaysia was fourth. Fedok Ompiduk (MAS) fifth. Hendra Siswanto eventually came in as number 6 and again accumulated useful points for his championship ranking. Shannon Lee was 7th, followed by William Beanjay.

First woman was Malaysia 's Christine Loh, ahead of pre-race favourite Ruth Theresia. Loh finished in 34:30 approximately, which was amazing in her first 100 miler! Loh was ahead from the beginning, with Theresia a few minutes further down until the Indonesian got lost. And she got lost for a very long time, which dropped her all the way down the leaderboard halfway through the race. To her credit, Theresia did not give up and began to fight back. She finished her first 100 miler still in second place, which is important for the ATM Championship as she now has 25 points more than defending champion Tahira Najmunisaa in as many races (3). Lily Suryani was another runner who proved that on 100 miles, experience counts. Suryani finished on the podium, ahead of the younger and faster-paced Adelinah Lintanga, who faded towards the end but also deserves applause for completing her own debut on the 100 miles.  

Christine Loh won the 100 miles for women! 

Christine Loh won the 100 miles for women! 

Second ATM race win of the season for Steven Oong in the 100k 

Second ATM race win of the season for Steven Oong in the 100k 

Isaac Yuen Wan Ho set an excruciating pace in the first part of the 100 miles, but eventually had to settle for second place

Isaac Yuen Wan Ho set an excruciating pace in the first part of the 100 miles, but eventually had to settle for second place

New girl on the block: Dong Minfei from Zhejiang in China. Winner of the women's 100k.

New girl on the block: Dong Minfei from Zhejiang in China. Winner of the women's 100k.

Malaysiá Yim Heng Fatt continues his brilliant trail season with a third place on the 100k

Malaysiá Yim Heng Fatt continues his brilliant trail season with a third place on the 100k

The 4 women who managed to complete the 100 miles within the cut-off time of 40 hours

The 4 women who managed to complete the 100 miles within the cut-off time of 40 hours

Indonesia's Arief Wismoyono retains his lead in the 2017 ATM Championship ranking with 3rd place in Penang Eco 100 miles

Indonesia's Arief Wismoyono retains his lead in the 2017 ATM Championship ranking with 3rd place in Penang Eco 100 miles

Penang Eco 100 - Quality field for Malaysia SuperTrail

The second SuperTrail race of the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series is taking place this weekend in Malaysia. The 3rd edition of Penang Eco 100 in Bukit Mertajam is the biggest so far and can sport an outstanding quality field of participants on the 100 miles and 100k races. As such, this event can again have major implications for the championship, as it did last year when Manolito Divina and Tahira Najmunisaa laid the foundation here for their respective ATM champion titles. Organiser Seow Kong Ng, himself a relished ultra runner since many years, is delighted to see his event grow so well and attracting some of the best runners in Asia. Because make no mistake, despite the relatively modest elevation gain, Penang Eco is a hard one with most of the venom in the tail. The 100 miles, especially, is basically flattish for 100k (!), before it becomes quite hilly and technical for the last 60 km, which makes this race quite unique. You need to be a solid runner, and keep enough fuel in the tank to survive the hills at the end. 

When looking at the start list of the longest race distance, the podium favourites are plenty, but a few known names stick out: current ATM championship points leader Arief Wismoyono, his Indonesian compatriots Abdul Aziz Dermawan, Hendra Siswanto and Alan Maulana, Yim Heng Fatt from Malaysia, and Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Ho. We can expect an intriguing battle between these runners for the 575 points that are up for grabs in this 100 miles race, more points than in any other race on the ATM calendar. Wismoyono has prepared himself with focus on this weekend. The Bandung Explorer ace already scored a race win at Coast To Coast Night Trail this season, along with a third place in Sungai Menyala and fourth in Tahura Trail. However, these were all relatively short races. Can he keep his momentum over 100 miles in the same way that Isaac Yuen Wan Ho has proven he can. The sympathetic Hong Kong runner is a true 100 miler, winning HK 168 last year and always moving up the leaderboard the longer a race lasts. Isaac was second in Beach Bunch Trail Challenge 100 this season, and just like Wismoyono has ambition for the ATM championship. Also Hendra Siswanto is already doing his third race of the ATM season. Currently ranked 9th in the championship, he can move up a few places this weekend. Ultron runner Yim Heng Fatt is even entering his fourth race already and can find himself in second place in the ranking after Penang Eco, or even in first should Wismoyono fail to reach the finish. Maulana - 9th in Tahura Trail - and Aziz Dermawan are set to get their ATM campaign really going this weekend. Watch out for the latter - as he might as well steal the spotlights away from the others! Henry Yang from Singapore is another dark horse. Yang is in Penang to get revenge. He was running in second place last year, until a fall in the late stages of the race forced him to retire with an injury. 

The women's 100 miles also sees the participation of 6 runners, who should all be applauded for their bravery. The cut off time of 40 hours is very tight, as was proven last year by Tahira Najmunisaa, who finished in 38 hours. We can expect a contest between Ruth Theresia from Indonesia and Sabah's Adelinah Lintanga. Theresia normally has the edge in terms of speed, but Lintanga loves this race and won the Penang Eco 100 k race last year in impressive style. It is unchartered territory for both, as it will be their first 100 miler. Currently ranked third and seventh, both runners can make a good move in the women's championship ranking, but they cannot catch championship leader Cheryl Bihag, who has already done five races this season. The other starters are Lily Suryani, Mila Marlina, Christine Loh and Siti Hailwa Marjunit. 

The 100 km race distance also has a comprehensive list of potential winners and podium candidates. Steven Soonseng Ong is arguably the home favourite and very much in shape this season. Ranked fifth in the current ATM ranking, Ong was of course the joint winner of UTKC in Thailand and second at Sungai Menyala. At Penang Eco, he will have to try and cope with the pure running speed of Brunei's Sefli Ahar, the dominator of the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in the past two years. A former winner of the Hong Kong half marathon, Sefli Ahar has developed an appetite for trail running. What he owns in speed, he lacks in technical trail experience. And that is what Steven Ong and other contenders may need to count on this weekend. 

It is great to see Eni Rosita back in action this year and that is an understatement. Victim of an incomprehensible acid attack last October that required multiple skin surgeries on both her legs, the Indonesian runner has not only returned, she has already found back her quick pace of before, illustrated by podium places and victories in local trail and ultra road races. This weekend in Malaysia, she enters the Asia Trail Master series on the 100k. Given her pedigree, Rosita starts clearly as a podium candidate, and will likely have to deal with her compatriot Shindy Patricia and Australia's Kim Matthews for the victory. Both runners also know how to win races. Other known runners with podium chances are Siawhua Lim (MAS), Montha Sunthornwit (THA) and Jocelyn Cheung (HKG). 

While the 100 miles offers extra bonus points for finishers, you of course need to finish first to score any points. The 100k may therefore turn out to be a smart tactical move by some with a view to the ATM championship. 

As usual, we will be reporting live from the race via our social media channels.  

Isaac Yuen Wan Ho 

Isaac Yuen Wan Ho 

Ruth Theresia

Ruth Theresia

Sefli Ahar

Sefli Ahar

Yim Heng Fatt

Yim Heng Fatt

Registration ends for Penang and Mt Apo!

At the end of another month, the official race registrations for two hot Asia Trail Master points races are coming to a close. First of all, the Malaysia SuperTrail race, Penang Eco 100, and also the unique Mt Apo Sky Race in Mindanao, Philippines. 

Both events are trail events pur sang. Penang Eco 100 features 100 miles, 100k and 50k races and 30k races and is for the second consecutive year credited with the Asia Trail Master SuperTrail label, which means all finishers on the 100 miles and 100k races get 50 bonus points for the points championship. 100 mile finishers even get an additional 25 as of this year.  However, remember the amount of performance points on both 100 miles and 100k is the same: 400 for the winners, which is a significant difference compared to last year, following feedback from multi-race participants. Several top contenders for the ATM championship have already signed up, underlining the importance of SuperTrails and its bonus points. 

Of course, the 100 miles and 100 k are also qualifiers for the Grandmaster Quest.  Please note that the cut off for the 100 miles is tight to very tight, while the 100k is slightly looser. 

Registration ends on Friday, 31 March. Click here to go directly to the reg page. More info on the event here

Two weeks earlier, a very special event takes place on Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines at just below 3000m above sea level. The Mount Apo Sky Race is a technical 70 km virtually out-and-back race that is unique as the mountain park is currently closed for regular tourism. If you want to visit this pristine environment, you need to do this race! Total elevation gain is 4000 hm and the cut off is 22 hours. Less ambitious runners can also opt for 35k, but please note that no ATM points are awarded on that shorter distance. 

The 70 km is also a qualifier for the Grandmaster Quest, and rumour has it that Grandmaster Aleksis Capili will be aiming to score his 10th point at Mount Apo, which translates in a Grandmaster Shield featuring 2 stars! 

Registration ends on Friday, 31 march. You can sign up directly here. More event info is here

Race report: Malaysia Eco 100

The Philippines' Manolito Divina was a true class of his own in the Malaysia SuperTrail race in and around Bukit Mertajam last weekend. Divina even quickly left other established runners like Jan Nilsen far behind and took victory in less than 30 hours over the 100 miles race distance. After his joint-second place - with Nilsen - at UTHK earlier this year, Divina is now the new points leader in the 2016 Asia Trail Master championship at the expense of Hong Kong's Yuen Wan Ho. Also in the women's race, a clear winner emerged from the rainforest: Tahira Najmunisaa was in fact the only woman to finish the longest distance race, which was characterised by extreme heat, humidity and rainfall - even for Malaysian standards. After winning in Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, Tahira also moved into the points lead of the Asia Trail Master championship with her second victory of the season - and her third ATM race title of her still young career (Tahira also won the Bromo Tengger Semeru 100k Ultra in Indonesia last year). 

Manolito Divina: simple hydration was very important in Malaysia last weekend

Manolito Divina: simple hydration was very important in Malaysia last weekend

Podium of the men's 100 miles race

Podium of the men's 100 miles race

There was another great racer and winner last weekend: Aleksis Capili, also from the Philippines but residing in Thailand, became the first ever Asia Trail Grandmaster. And, wow, did he complete his Quest in style: second place in the 100 miles race behind Divina, his best race result to date in an Asia Trail Master event! Capili has thus completed six races of 70km or more within two calendar years. Starting with Borneo TMBT last year in August, he followed up with the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, CM 50 in Philippines, Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra in Indonesia, UTHK in Hong Kong, and now Malaysia Eco 100. As a Grandmaster he will receive his first badge of honour including 1 star, enter the Hall of Fame, and receive a host of other prizes. Now Capili has reached the all important first level, he can add stars to his badge in the next months without any time pressure.  A second star follows after completing another four ultra distances. 

Capili is a superb example of the tough ultrarunner who somehow always makes his way to the finish. Arguably not the fastest of all in the field, his resilience, stamina and body never seem to let him down when others on occasion take a fall or suffer an injury. Jan Nilsen, for instance, is a protagonist wherever he starts and the Norwegian has been in excellent form lately as well. However, Nilsen is blister-prone, and after 100km and with a quasi guaranteed podium place in sight, he had to retire from the race just like he was forced to in the Bromo race last November. Nilsen was disappointed, but his feet tend to recover quickly and he'll be back strongly again soon. Divina was then already two hours ahead by himself, and Singapore's Henry Yang became his closest chaser. Unfortunately, Yang slipped on a wet rock at nighttime and hurt himself in the process. After taking medical care at the next refreshment station - which were all well-prepared - Yang gave it another go to try and finish the race, but to no avail. And so Capili moved up to second place, and Malaysia's own Abdul Rahman - husband of Tahira Najmunisaa - suddenly had a podium finish in his grasp in his debut race over an ultra distance! Rahman, a navy seal, ran with his wife for most of the race, but then wanted to secure third place and so he did. The next runner to reach the finish was Thean Sin Bong, who was slightly ahead of Tahira.

Only 8 starters on the 100 miles reached the finish out of more than 40 starters. Malaysia Eco 100 did not have excessive numbers of elevation ( approx 4500 hm ) , but it was obviously more than hard enough. The DNF quota on the 100km race distance was also very high with just 24 finishers  out of roughly one hundred.

The next points scoring race in Malaysia will be the Magnificent Merapoh Trail at the end of July.

Abdul Rahman and Tahira Najmunisaa both are part of the Running Project Team

Abdul Rahman and Tahira Najmunisaa both are part of the Running Project Team

The finishers of the 100 miles race:

1. Manolito Divina (PHI) in 29:47:08

2. Aleksis Capili (PHI) 34:41:14

3. Abdul Rahman Abu Hassan (MAS) 36:08:04

4. Thean Sin Bong (MAS) 37:16:35

5. Tahira Najmunisaa (MAS) 37:17:49 - winner female

6. Kian Philip Yong Yeo (MAS) 38:34:17

7. Meng Piow Low (MAS) 38:49:26

8. Chin Tat Lim (MAS) 39:16:24

100 km - Winner - Men

1. Alan Toh (MAS) 23:27:20

100km - Winner - Women

1. Adelinah Lintanga (MAS) 

Aleksis Capili is the first Asia Trail Grandmaster

Aleksis Capili is the first Asia Trail Grandmaster