Sungai Menyala Forest Trail is not for nothing called the ‘fastest 50k trail in the Asia Trail Master circuit’. Whereas last year rainfall had made several sections muddy and slippery, conditions yesterday were dry and smooth. It led to course records in both the men and women’s races, with a blistering 3:49 winning time for Britain’s Harry Jones! The young Chiang Mai-based runner took over the ATM championship points lead from Wilnar Iglesia by shaking off a very competitive field in Port Dickson. Two of the other pre-race favourites, Azuan Asmuni and Byeungwwon Park even quit the race halfway when already dropped by Jones, who was just flying. After two laps of 25K, Jones crossed the finish line witha bonus of nearly half an hour on eternal second Mohamed Affindi, and Indonesia’s new trail protagonist Margono not far further back. Affindi actually was outstanding himself, having just returned from the draining Beach Bunch Trail Challenge 100 last week (where he also came second). For Margono it was the second ATM podium this season after 2nd in Tahura Trail. Also the second time he proved to be quicker than Arief Wismoyono on this distance. The 2017 championship runner-up did well to arrive in fith place nonetheless, scoring more championship points after two fourth places earlier this season. In fourth place we had a surprise name: Japan’s Tomohori Mizukoshi.
Alessandro Sherpa suffered again from his ankle injury sustained at UTKC in February and had to be content with 8th place. Lim Wen Shan did not start the race, unfortunately.
It’s still early days in the ATM championship, but as some top runners have already put three race results on their 2018 account a few tendencies and theories can be developed. Harry Jones has 3 wins and looks like the one to beat. Yet, it may take some time before he returns to the ATM scene, as the professional runner has assignments in Europe in the coming months. To win the ATM championship, the best five race results in terms of points count, so three race wins won’t be enough. Other top runners will catch up in the ranking as the months pass by.
Sandi Menchi remains undefeated on the ATM tour as she again proved her fast legs at Sungai Menyala. She repeated her victory of last year in this race and was again unchallenged. In fact, second place went to the same woman as well: Jassica Lintanga. And that deserves an extra round of applause, too. Just like her Malatra teammate Affindi, Jess ran the 100k in Brunei as well just a week ago. That performance made her a Grandmaster, and yesterday she showed she is still quick on the shorter trails as well. She preceeded her sister Adelinah Lintanga on the podium. Adelinah is better on the long ultras, but was in good form to stay ahead of Shindy Patricia.
Ruth Theresia remains on top of the ATM championship standings, but sees Jassica Lintanga move up to a joint fourth with Sri Wahyuni. Second-placed Majo Liao is running again in two weeks in China, so the leadership may change yet again at Ultimate Tsaigu.
Credits to Malatra