Posts tagged utcr
Great runs in Thailand's blockbuster weekend!
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Two amazing events on the same weekend is always a tough choice for runners and event contributors, but in Thailand it is a particularly hard nut to crack. Both Singha Ultra Trail Chiang Rai and Compressport Ultra Train Nan rank among the very best events in the Asia Trail Master Championship and together bring more than 3000 runners to the trails of northern Thailand. A sign of the great possibilities for the development of the trail scene in the country. All the known Thai protagonists took part in one of the two events. Sanya Khancai won the 122km race in Chiang Rai, Pharait Varesin was unchallenged in winning the 109 km in Nan and Jay Jantaraboon opted for a solid 38k training run in Chiang Rai as preparation for a main goal of his coming next month.

In Nan, a lot of attention went to the ladies’ race featuring Ruth Theresia from Indonesia, who could beat the all-time ATM victories record set by Tahira Najmunisaa. But Theresia will need to wait a bit longer for her 11th race win. As it happens, Ruth is a woman and Nan’s race day was on that one day a month. The Bandung Explorer runner who is about to be crowned ATM champion when it is a mathematical certainty end of November, still tried to compete with Thailand’s emerging Waroonluk Chuenjit at first. As she struggled with pains more and more, she let go and just focused on finishing the 109k distance - another Grandmaster point for her. And guess what: it’s her 15th Grandmaster point - more than anyone else in the ATM circuit - and that’s another level completed. Ruth Theresia is any case the first three-star Asia Trail Grandmaster!

One of Ruth’s contenders for the ATM Championship, Carole Fuchs, virtually admitted it will be very hard to still catch her on points this season. Fuchs has recently moved to Tokyo, which has had a serious impact on her training and as such she opted for the 50k in Nan. She won comfortably, but the 50k offers no championship points.

The men’s race in Nan was won by Pharait Varesin, after his DNF last year when Sanya Khancai proved to be a little too fast. As the latter ran Chiang Rai this season, Varesin had no match on the tough 109k race. It was his first ever ATM race win as a matter of fact. His winning time was:13:48:56. The podium was competed by his Thai compatriots Perawat Silapaariya and Karan Popaichayon. After Theresia let go, Thailand’s Waroonluk Chuenjit stormed to a by all means impressive victory in the women’s in 19:46:16. That was two hours faster than Duangruethai Pakdeevanissukho in second and Sukanya Tongma.

Over in Chiang Rai, Sanya Khancai actually returned to the ATM scene after a long period of forced inactivity due to managerial issues. However, he certainly had not lost his speed in the process as he put the hammer down from the flag-off. Spain’s Salva Rambla, coming off three podium finishes including a race win at Ijen 70k, was immediately put on the back foot in a race that suits his characteristics. The pace was fast initially and no fewer than 9 runners were staying close to each other for about 30 to 40k until gaps began to widen. Khancai wasn’t waiting for anyone and Rambla began to suffer from the heat on what was indeed turning out to be a smoking hot day in Chiang Rai’s huge nature park. Meanwhile, Singapore-based Britain Gordon Parkinson was keeping a consistent pace and gradually moved up the leaderboard as others, such as South Korea’s Sungsik Joh, were fading away. Also the 100k winner at Ijen last month struggled with the extreme temperatures. Late in the afternoon, Salva Rambla even decided to retire. He had just been passed by Parkinson and suffering not only from heat but also from a nasty blister. With Rambla out, Khancai had an hour advantage over Parkinson with 27k to go to the finish. The British runner, in his second Asian outing, did remarkably well to maintain more or less the same pace as the Thai leader. But coming closer seemed impossible. Khancai grabbed his third career ATM victory ahead of Parkinson and the Thai duo of Narin Kongsiri and Thongcai Wonsgaard. The women’s 122k race was won by Hong Kong’s Cheng Yinkwan, ahead of Singapore’s Janelle Seet and Thailand’s Pakanee Burutphakdee. The DNF rate on the 122km was very high with just 17 official finishers out of 110 starters. It is testimony to the underestimated nature of the course, which has 5500m of elevation gain. Not nothing, but not out-of-the-ordinary for Asian standards neither.

It was in any case interesting given that there was also an extreme trail race on the UTCR programme with a higher finisher rate percentage-wise. The Ultimate 230 km made a huge loop around the Singha Nature Park with a large section along the Myanmar border in the north of it. A unique challenge that was taken up by 40 registered runners, of whom 34 effectively started. It was perhaps no coincidence that two 2-star Grandmasters were among them: Aleksis Capili and Lily Suryani. Capili hadn’t been seen on the ATM tour since last year’s UT Panoramic (which won’t take place in 2018 but returns re-designed in 2019) as the Thailand-based Filipino shifted his focus to better and targeted training rather than more racing. Capili’s race positions have indeed been improving since he adopted this approach, and in Chiang Rai he was taking the bull by the horns in the early part of the double ultra race. Capili was joined at the front by his compatriot Jag Lanante, Brunei-based Canadian Michael McLean and a local black dog, who accompanied the front runners for 86 kilometres! The dog became a star during the event, as the day after he also ran the 38 km race (as Jag Lanante would do as well…).At around km 55, Capili began to feel pain in his knee, and had to slow down the pace. McLean also had his issues. Severe stomach and belly cramps forced him to even retire in the evening of the first day. All that meant Jag Lanante was able to take over and control the race from then on. Also from Philippines originally, Lanante is known as an ultra runner for whom no distance is too long. He actually kept on moving all the way and finished back in Singha Park in just over 37 hours! Capili walked and struggled his way to the finish twelve hours later. In third and fourth were Thailand’s Supeeraphan Sreeduangjan and Korea’s Kwanghoo Lee.

Two fantastic events.

The big question trail runners have: will they again be on the same weekend in 2019?

Jag Lanante measured his effort perfectly. The Ultimate 230K is of course something made for him

Jag Lanante measured his effort perfectly. The Ultimate 230K is of course something made for him

2-star Grandmaster Lily Suryani completed the Ultimate 230k, but unfortunately outside the COT.

2-star Grandmaster Lily Suryani completed the Ultimate 230k, but unfortunately outside the COT.

Ruth Theresia is a woman and UT Nan was on that one day of the month.. Still, she completed the course and became the first 3-star Grandmaster!

Ruth Theresia is a woman and UT Nan was on that one day of the month.. Still, she completed the course and became the first 3-star Grandmaster!

New name from Thailand to watch out for: Waroonluk Chuenjit!

New name from Thailand to watch out for: Waroonluk Chuenjit!

Jag Lanante was unstoppable on the 230km and even did the 38K the day after as well

Jag Lanante was unstoppable on the 230km and even did the 38K the day after as well

Ultra Trail Chiang Rai opens with 230 km double ultra!
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The 2nd edition of Ultra Trail Chiang Rai in Thailand already begins on Friday early morning. Reason is a novelty, and also a one-off, according to race organisers Teelakow. The Ultimate 230 km features a giant loop around the big Singha Nature Reserve in the north of the country. Perhaps surprisingly enough, 40 runners of whom more than 1/3 foreigners feel attracted to this double ultra. Several are well-known in Asia Trail Master circles, such as 2-star Grandmasters Aleksis Capili and Lily Suryani, who both live up to their reputations as being the champions of ultra trail finishes. Both the Filipino and the Indonesian also have a realistic chance to score a podium result in the race. Capili has reduced his racing regime significantly this season, but after his European excursion has prepared himself for this colossal 230 km undertaking in the dry heat of Chiang Rai. Suryani returned from injury over summer to score a third place on the Ijen 100k a month ago.

Aleksis Capili will face another strong Filipino runner, Jag Lanante, who is no stranger to these distances. Among the known other starters we find Canada’s in-form Michael McLean, who scored great results at Borneo TMBT and Bandung Ultra 100 recently, as well as Robert Butcher from Great Britain, who was 2nd on the 122 km race distance of UT Chiang Rai last year. Malaysia’s Lau Say Niong is here, as well as many runners we still need to get to know, among which six Japanese. At present, it is still unclear if ATM Champion Steven Ong will run this weekend or not. He is on the start list, but indicated in Bali two weeks ago it is time for his injuries to heal first. Rumours have it that Steven is nevertheless on his way to Thailand.

As the Ultimate 230 km is of course an odd-one out, the 122 km race of this event has also been labelled an A-race for the Asia Trail Master Championship. Concretely, this means both the 230 km and 122 km score 500 points. The 230 km victor gets 50 bonus points, however, as 230 is more than 100 miles (the so-called 100 miles bonus for all finishers).

Therefore, the 122 km also has a competitive field even when current ATM Championship leader Alessandro Sherpa has pulled out. The Italian also has to allow his body, particularly his ankle, to rest for a while before resuming the ATM championship chase at the V Trail in Laos in two weeks. Sherpa leads the championship, but several others are still well within striking range. The men’s championship is more open than ever, and even Spain’s Salva Rambla can still join the title debate. A newcomer on the scene since a month, Salva finished on the podium of each of his three Indonesian races. Now running the 122k in Chiang Rai, the Catalan is certainly a man to watch. His main rival for the win is likely to be Thai: Sanya Khancai returns to the ATM scene eight months after his fantastic dual and second place in UTKC. Khancai has had to cope with management issues in the past months, and is keen to put all that behind him in Chiang Rai. His main challenger in Thailand, and winner of UTCR last year, Jay Jantaraboon will be running a shorter distance this season.

Another remarkable name on the start list since his victory at Ijen 100 is South Korea’s Sungsik Joh. For many it was an upset victory, but look at the course characteristics and his previous good result in Sungai Menyala, and one realised that Sungsik Joh had been flying under the radar for many months. In Chiang Rai, he also finds a course that should be to his advantage. Based on Ijen, the sympathetic South Korean could run to the podium this weekend as well.

It will be interesting to see if there’s any Thai runners making the jump to the top of the leaderboard this weekend, besides Sanya Khancai.

We will be reporting live from Chiang Rai throughout the weekend.

The race preview of the second Thai race this weekend, Ultra Train Nan, follows tomorrow.

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UT Chiang Rai adds an even bigger ultra distance
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Ultra-Trail Chiang Rai will be the longest points race in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship. While keeping last year's inaugural 122 km race course, the people at teelakow in Thailand are adding 'The Ultimate 200' to the programme. And actually the course is 220 km.... For lovers of long ultras, this will be a feast! Both the 220 km and the 122 km are marked as A-races, meaning the winner scores 400 performance points on top of the 100 for finishing. The 220k finishers will receive the additional 50-point '100 miles' bonus. Also the top 10 of the 66K C-race will receive ATM championship points according to our points system.

Venue of the event will again be the great Singha Park in Chiang Rai, which is relatively close to the airport as well. Chiang Rai is a tourist area, so your companions can visit the sights while you are doing the running. The 220k starts on the 19th of October at 6 am, the 122 km starts 24 hours later. 

Registration is open!

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Fantastic race winners in Thailand!
Jay Jantaraboon was the fastest in Chiang Rai

Jay Jantaraboon was the fastest in Chiang Rai

The Thailand blockbuster weekend had a couple of unexpected twists as several of the protagonists failed to reach the finish line! Both in UT Chiang Rai and UT Nan 100, Thailand's own top runners delivered outstanding performances on the other hand. Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana in UTCR 122 and Sanya Khancai in UTN 100 were a class of their own. In the battle for the Asia Trail Master Championship, nothing changed at the top as Steven Soonseng Ong and even Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid   did not finish in Chiang Rai! 

Steven Ong was running comfortably in second place, albeit at a reasonable distance behind Jay Jantaraboon. But painful ankles and a couple of wrong turns in the second half seemingly demotivated the Malaysian ace and he called it quits after about 95 km. Ong therefore remains third in the ATM championship, behind Arief Wismoyono and Isaac Yuen Wan Ho. 

Tahira Najmunisaa started as the big favourite in the women's race, but she quickly discovered two things: first, that her body was still in fever and apparently unrecovered from Mesastila Peaks Challenge, and second, that Australia's Joanna Kruk was in superb shape for this race! Half a year ago on the more technical UTKC trail, Kruk finished second and clearly behind Tahira on the 100K. But in Chiang Rai, Kruk found a course that suits her characteristics as a fast runner more and she put Tahira under pressure from the start. Feeling too weak due to the persistent illness, the 2016 ATM Champion and current championship leader decided at the first water station there was no point in racing. Kruk nevertheless continued her stride and even stayed close to Ong, which is remarkable. Joanna Kruk is now a second Australian woman to watch for in future ATM races! The other one, Kim Matthews, sees her potential chances of winning the ATM Championship grow a bit more with Tahira’s DNF, just like Indonesia’s Ruth Theresia. All three remain very close together in the ranking. 

The men’s podium in Chiang Rai was completed by Thailand’s Pornmongkol Phuthong and Britain’s Robert Butcher. They had a nice competition with Yim Heng Fatt, Lausay Niong and Wasin Monghkolmalee. The women’s podium was quite controversial, unfortunately, as seemingly inadequate trail marking in the last 10K section to the finish caused many runners to lose the way at nighttime. Adelinah Lintanga and Lily Suryani were about to finish second and third, but the Malaysian never even got to the finish at all after hours of running in circles. Suryani managed to get back on the right trail but only on Sunday morning and with the assistance of a Thai runner who knew the course. Montha Sunthornwit inherited second place, with Woraphan Kijsawasai third in the official race result. The fact that the same happened to even Joanna Kruk (she needed 6 hours to complete the last 10K for the same reasons) has urged us to consider giving out ATM points to the affected runners according to their ranking at the last CP, due to the impact on their rankings. 

Over in Nan, Sanya Khancai scored his second career ATM victory when co-favourite Pharait Varesin dropped out of the race at CP3. Khancai was never threatened and won comfortably in 14:35. First woman was also second overall in the race, Phichanan Mahachot in 17:32, who stayed just ahead of Atip - the second man. Jan Nilsen again saw his foot spoil his party. After deciding to downgrade to 50K instead of 100K, Nilsen felt it was enough halfway through the race - even though he was in the lead at that point. Nilsen gave it his all last year in the ATM Championship, and clearly seems to have overstretched himself a bit. We wish the Norwegian a speedy but especially full recovery, so we can see him back at his best in 2018! 

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Joanna Kruk was an outstanding winner of the women's UTCR 122 race

Joanna Kruk was an outstanding winner of the women's UTCR 122 race

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Preview: Thailand blockbuster weekend!
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This weekend all eyes are set on Thailand for the second time this season, as both Ultra Trail Chiang Rai and Ultra Trail Nan are points races in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series.    Just ike UTKC in February, this Thai “blockbuster” looks set to leave a firm mark with Malaysians Steven Soonseng Ong and Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid both in a position to reach out to the Asia Trail Master championship title. 

Two ATM points races in the same country and on the same weekend seems odd. COMPRESSPORT, one of our main sponsors, is supporting both events, however, and therefore so do we for this year. The field of participants in both Chiang Rai and Nan is quite strong with several ATM protagonists and aspiring Thai runners ready to compete on quite tough courses. 

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Beginning with UT Chiang Rai, Steven Ong and Tahira Najmunisaa lead the pack on paper for the 122 km race that has a total elevation gain of over 5000 hm. It looks like the ideal race for 40-year-old Ong, who this year has taken plenty of trail runners to school. Two weeks ago at Mesastila Peaks Challenge he lost the lead in the ATM points championship to Arief Wismoyono, but a fine result in his fifth race of the year will put him back on top. Wrapping up the championship at Chiang Rai is mathematically impossible, though. Still, Ong would put all the other title contenders on the defensive with just 6 races to go. Tahira Najmunisaa is in exactly the same situation. After her repeat victory at Mesastila, she finally reclaimed the top spot in the female championship, and another win in Thailand this weekend can boost her total by another 50 points. It’s her sixth points race - only the best five results count - and 500 points for winning Chiang Rai is better than the 450 she scored by winning the 50K in Brunei’s Beach Bunch Trail Challenge last February. Besides, Tahira can stay undefeated on the ATM tour in already 11 races… 

Both start as clear favourites for the win, yet in Ultra Trail anything can happen, especially as the weather in Chiang Rai is forecast to be hot and humid. Other strong runners ranked high in the ATM championship are Yohanis Hiareij and Yim Heng Fatt, while we look forward to getting to know many local Thai runners! In the women’s, there is a chance of an all-Malaysian and all-Malatra podium as the Lintanga sisters Adelinah and Jassica are joining Tahira to Chiang Rai. Joanna Kruk, Tan Hongpin, Lily Suryani, Cheryl Bihag and local Montha Sunthornwit are podium challengers on a good day as well. 

UT Nan takes place in the Northeast of Thailand and is the home area of one of Asia Trail Master’s most celebrated runners. Grandmaster Jan Nilsen hails from Norway but has been living in this part of Thailand for a while and is of course taking part in the 100K this weekend. Nilsen is still struggling with his foot injury and is no guaranteed winner, though. Thailand’s own runners Phairat Varesin and Sanya Khanchai are just two who know how to win ultra trail races as well. In the women’s race here, Phitchanan Mahachot is another local runner to watch out for as she makes her debut in the Asia Trail Master series. 

We will be reporting live from both events this weekend. Stay tuned to our facebook, twitter and instagram channels as usual. 

Pharait Varesin is among the top favourites in UT Nan this weekend

Pharait Varesin is among the top favourites in UT Nan this weekend

Grandmaster Jan Nilsen will be running in home region in UT Nan

Grandmaster Jan Nilsen will be running in home region in UT Nan

Steven Ong ready to reclaim the number 1 spot in the ATM Championship

Steven Ong ready to reclaim the number 1 spot in the ATM Championship

Adelinah Lintanga is a podium candidate in Chiang Rai, and can re-enter the top 5 in the women's ATM Championship

Adelinah Lintanga is a podium candidate in Chiang Rai, and can re-enter the top 5 in the women's ATM Championship