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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMMT: Sherpa for the points lead vs Steven Ong
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Malaysia-based Italian Alessandro Sherpa has a shot at the Asia Trail Master championship lead this weekend as he lines up for the 100km at the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in his residential country. Sherpa needs 400 points (=minimum 4th place) to overtake Pablo Diago Gonzales, but may be keen to make a mark by winning the race ahead of 2017 ATM Champion Steven Ong, who will reportedly be making his first appearance of the season in an ATM ultra race. 

Organised by Ten Senses, mainly known for its road running events in the country, the Magnificent Merapoh Trail - aka TMMT - has quickly developed into one of Malaysia's most popular trail events that attracts a wide international audience as well. The passage through four dark and natural caves is a highlight, as well as the renowned 3km long river crossing. The race courses for all distances (100km, 70km, 35km) have been redesigned for this year. While overall still runable, the 100km now has 2300m of elevation gain as well, or an increase of approx 800hm compared to previous years. Most of this vertical gain will be conquered by the 100k runners just before or around dawn after roughly 50km. The river crossing is now back towards the end of the course, between km 70 and 80, which means nearly everyone will cross at daylight contrary to last year. It has been relatively dry over the past days in Merapoh, so the water level in the river is normal and participants won't have to swim :-). 

Close to 1000 runners will take part, which is the maximum quota for the event given the very remote location on the border between Pahang and Kelantan states, as well as the Taman Negara National Park. 

Among the race favourites we have Alessandro Sherpa, who based on his big victory in Penang Eco 100k last May will find another course very suitable to his characteristics as a trail runner. Japan's Tomohiro MIzukoshi is another excellent runner who could set the pace like he did in Penang 100 miles. Mizukoshi is number 2 in the ATM Championship at the moment, having already completed five ATM races this season. The Tokyo runner will be trying to erase his 8th place (330 points) in Korea 50k in April, his 'worst' result of the season, to boost his ATM championship total a bit higher. He cannot threaten the position of leader Pablo Diago Gonzales, however, as the Spaniard is 240 points ahead and Mizukoshi can maximally gain 170 points if he wins TMMT 100. 

Announced is the return of Steven Soonseng Ong, last year's Asia Trail Master champion, in what would be his first ultra race of the current championship. If he starts, he is always a victory candidate. Sherpa and Ong squared off once before under ATM, which happened in the 100 miles race of Ultra Trail Panoramic in Thailand last December. Ong won. Eight months later, Sherpa has proven to be in great shape while Ong has been very busy setting up his new outdoor and running retail shop in Kuala Lumpur.

There has been speculation that Mohamad Affindi, second in TMMT 100 last year, will also be a late addition to the start list. Affindi has was dealing with the after-effects of the flu earlier this week, though. One dangerous dark horse is Canadian Julian Baker. Based in South Korea, Baker is last year's winner of Ultra Trail Koh Chang 70. This season his ATM record is still blank. 

The women's race was dominated by Tahira Najmunisaa in 2016 and 2017, but now being 7 months pregnant, the female star of Malaysian trail running will be cheering for the others. In fact, remarkably, Tahira will take part alongside her husband Abdul Rahman in the 35km race on Saturday. Malaysia still has a strong runner at the start who could grab the win: Adelinah Lintanga from Sabah. The Grandmaster was 2nd behind Tahira last season. Her main competitors for the podium will be Erin Aziz from Kuala Lumpur and Philippines' Ann Jilian Pulanco - who was 3rd at Dalat Ultra Trail in Vietnam last March. Erin Aziz could be the first woman to reach the plateau of five races this season. After her great 3rd place in Mantra Summits Challenge 75 last month, the ULTRON runner has Indonesia's championship leader Ruth Theresia within sight. Aziz requires 373 points this weekend to claim the points lead, which corresponds to a top five race result in TMMT 100! 

Subject to connectivity, we will be broadcasting and reporting live from Merapoh from start to finish. The 100k flag-off is scheduled for Friday at 9 pm. 

The Merapoh caves are iconic for this event. This year a new technical cave section is added

The Merapoh caves are iconic for this event. This year a new technical cave section is added

Sign up fast for the Magnificent Merapoh Trail
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One of the most anticipated events in the Asia Trail Master Championship, and certainly in the summer months, is the Magnificent Merapoh Trail on the fringes of Taman Negara National Park in Pahang, Malaysia. The 4th edition takes place on 10/11 August and sees some modifications to the route for the two points races distances, 100 km and 70 km. Less ambitious runners can also go for the 30 km. The event gains ever more social importance as well, as logging and road constructions threaten the existence of this ancient rainforest and its inhabitants. By developing ecotourism the organisers of Ten Senses hope to stop this trend and allow the local communities to sustain themselves .

The 100k and 70k feature the passing-through of several cave complexes that characterise this beautiful rainforest area. And this August, runners will enter at least one more cave that is not yet open for tourism. This is a race that looks easier than it is. While mainly flattish, there are technical sections that you are unlikely to forget very quickly. Most legendary besides the caves is of course the 3 km long river crossing, which most 100k and 70k runners will also do before dawn. 

The event has quickly become popular over the past four years and is guaranteed to sell out fast. There is a maximum limit of 1000 runners. So do not hesitate if you want to be part of this great adventure. 

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