Posts tagged utkc
UTKC - Jantaraboon and Khancai deliver outstanding dual
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Thailand's best two trail runners delivered a high-paced and fascinating dual on Koh Chang last weekend during UTKC, the first SuperTrail race of the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship. Jay Jantaraboon and Sanya Khancia both beat the course record set by Steven Ong and Wataru Iino last season, despite the extra hill that was added to the course for this year. Finishing barely 17 minutes apart, Jantaraboon and Khancai sent also a strong warning to all other potential contenders for this year's ATM Championship. In the women's Ruth Theresia led a very strong Indonesian group performance. 

UTKC had the reputation already of being one of the toughest races on the ATM calendar, and last weekend confirmed that status even more. Whereas the approx 4400 metres of elevation gain on the 100 course is not necessarily earth-shattering, the steepness of the hills, the density of the rainforest and the long road section halfway in scorching hot temperatures force all runners to dig deep into their reserves. Organiser Teelakow is well-aware UTKC is very challenging and spares no expense to stock all aid stations abundantly, and set a CUT that is manageable for all participants as long as they keep moving. As such, 67 runners succeeded in finishing the 100K distance and they were all delighted, indeed. 

The main race was set alight quickly after the 4 am start when Jay Jantaraboon and Sanya Khancai opened the gas. Italy's Alessandro Sherpa was alert and followed, but after twisting his ankle badly he faded and was eventually forced to stop. Sherpa was in a position to grab the points lead in the ATM Championship in this race, but given his injury he will also need to sit out the 9 Dragons Ultra next weekend. Not following the Thai duo was Indonesia's Arief Wismoyono. Perhaps untypical, Wismoyono opted for a quiet start of his 100k. The first runner-up of the 2017 ATM championship would never play a role for the victory, and instead was battling with France's Clement Dumont for the third spot. At km 64, it looked like Arief had the potential to catch up with Dumont, but the latter kept a solid pace himself and was able to extend the gap substantially come finish. His second fourth place of the 2018 ATM season does put Arief Wismoyono in the lead of the championship ranking with 850 points, though. Dean Perez was not running in Thailand, and will be back on the your in two weeks for Cordillera Mountain Ultra. 

Jay and Sanya ran together for half of the race, until the Champion System runner accelerated and was able to put some distance between them on the way to CP 5 at km 64. The gap there was 12 minutes. It is quite impressive therefore that the gap at the finish was just 5 minutes more. It proves the resilience and fantastic form of 46-year-old Sanya Khancai, who also explained afterwards to be disappointed with his result. Certainly it is no shame to lose to Jay Jantaraboon, who scored his second ATM race victory after dominating Ultra-Trail Chiang Rai last October. The winner's time was 14:27, compared to 15:06 last season by Ong and Iino. It is still early season, but if Jantaraboon and Khancai manage to get five ATM race results they will both be hot contenders for the 2018 ATM title! 

Jay and Sanya: both Thailanders were outstanding

Jay and Sanya: both Thailanders were outstanding

Jay Jantaraboon still looked cool and fresh at CP5

Jay Jantaraboon still looked cool and fresh at CP5

Arief Wismoyono: not the easiest race for him, but 4 th place was enough to claim points lead

Arief Wismoyono: not the easiest race for him, but 4 th place was enough to claim points lead

Legros pulls out, Theresia wins and takes ATM points lead

The women's 100K enjoyed the presence of an international elite runner from France, Elisabeth Legros, who is spending holiday time in Thailand this month. Pre-race favourite Ruth Theresia had a great start of her race as she was able to keep the gap between her and Legros to around 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the Bandung runner then chose a wrong trail that sent her up another hill. When back on the right trail, Theresia of course had lost contact with Legros entirely and instead had to watch out for her compatriot Shindy Patricia, Philippines' Ann Jilian Pulanco and Thailand's Kanlaya Srinantawong. Montha Suntornwit was a DNS, unfortunately. Theresia was clearly in great form and also had luck on her side later on the day. Shindy Patricia missed a marker and got lost for a long time herself, and Pulanco had to stop the race being unable to still take in any water or food. Then, Elisabeth Legros began to suffer from serious foot blisters, too. And that was not her only problem: an insect flew deep into the French runner's ear and was stuck inside. Legros pulled out of the race at around km 75 and had to be taken to hospital to have the bug removed from her ear. As such, Ruth Theresia claimed the race lead and would hang onto it without rushing at nighttime to finish in 23:23. Shindy Patricia arrived two hours later to grab second. Thailand's Kanlaya Srinantawong was a further three hours back in third place. Srinantawong was engaged in a dual with another Indonesian Grandmaster runner, Lily Suryani, who reached the finish seven minutes later. Suryani is of course the only female two-star Grandmaster so far. Back from a hamstring injury that still bothers her, the runner from Bali remains an incredibly consistent finisher of ultra races! 

The 70K race of UTKC saw a tight battle between Fabien Bencler from New Caledonia and Britain's Paul Dunn, decided in favour of the former. The gap at the finish was just four minutes. In third place fourteen minutes down was Filippino Joeffery Camara. The women's 70K saw a Thai winner and podium: Patcharee Chuaythaisong, was faster than Parinda Sothonboon and Anisa Suebwongsan. 

France's Elisabeth Legros led the women's race until km 75 when blisters and an insect forced her to DNF

France's Elisabeth Legros led the women's race until km 75 when blisters and an insect forced her to DNF

Indonesian women dominated the podium with Ruth Theresia as winner

Indonesian women dominated the podium with Ruth Theresia as winner

Fabien Bencler from New Caledonia won the 70K race

Fabien Bencler from New Caledonia won the 70K race

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UTKC - Jantaraboon & Theresia start as favourites
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Ultra-Trail Koh Chang, aka UTKC, is again the first SuperTrail of the Asia Trail Master Championship this year, and despite Chinese New Year sees a remarkable line-up of international and domestic trail runners. Contrary to last year, it also looks very likely that the host country will have one or more athetes on the podium of the main event, the 100K race.  Two of the country’s best trail runners, if not the best, will be at the start: freshly married Jay Jantaraboon - the dominator at Ultra-Trail Chiang Rai last October - and Sanya Khancai, the most successful Thai runner in ATM so far with race victories in Ultra Trail Nan 100 and Vietnam Mountain Marathon on his record already. 

The men’s 100K, which starts in the early hours of Friday, is a meanwhile renowned tough and technical race with over 5000m of elevation gain. Taking place mostly during the day, the heat can be scorching in certain areas of the course. On the positive side, runners can enjoy the fantastic scenery of Koh Chang island to the maximum, and the fastest runners are expected to be back at the finish in the late afternoon and evening, in prime time in other words. 

Astonishing views during UTKC (P; Adventure III)

Astonishing views during UTKC (P; Adventure III)

While many athletes can legitimately dream of a podium finish tomorrow, if Jay Jantaraboon showed the same kind of form as in Chiang Rai a few months ago it would be hard to bet against him. Having said that, UTCR and UTKC may be organised by the same company Teelakow but they are two very different animals. This one is a lot more technical and tactical. Last season, Japan’s star runner Wataru Iino looked set for a grand victory in UTKC, yet completely disintegrated in the final 20 km and got caught by Soonseng Ong. The Malaysian was kind enough to stay with the dehydrated Iino until the finish, but the Japanese ace made it clear to everyone Ong had been the stronger man. A scenario like this can repeat itself always in ultra running and especially in a tropical climate. Yet Jay Jantaraboon is no rookie. How close can Sanya Khancai stay with Jantaraboon? Will Khancai and Italy’s Alessandro Sherpa take off like bullets again, as they did in Ultra Trail Panoramic 100 miles last December? Another traditionally quick starter could join them in an early attack: Arief Wismoyono from Indonesia. The runner-up in the 2017 ATM Championship can definitely not be underestimated and has been showing excellent form in the past six months in both ultra and medium distance races. This trio could take the fight to Jantaraboon, of course with the risk of running against a massive counter punch. Wismoyono and Sherpa will have a battle between themselves as well this weekend, namely for the points lead in the ATM Championship. Sherpa was third in Tahura Trail, Wismoyono fourth. That’s a difference of just 25 points. 

Other podium candidates on a good day are Frenchman Clement Dumont, third in Korea 50K in 2016, Britain’s Robert Butcher and Filippino Jared Teves. 

In the women’s 100k start list we see perhaps fewer known and big names, but one stands out: Ruth Theresia. The always smiling second runner-up in the 2017 ATM Championship launches her 2018 campaign in Thailand this weekend. Ruth Theresia has the experience to bring this to a good end as well. The Indonesian will be competing against a whole field of Thai runners, of whom Montha Suntornwit is likely the biggest podium candidate, and against her own compatriots and fellow Grandmasters Shindy Patricia and Lily Suryani, fifth and sixth respectively in the 2017 ATM Championship. Filippino Ann Julian Pulanco could also be a podium contender on a good day. As this is ultra, there can of course always be a new name popping up from nowhere. 

Apart from Wismoyono, Theresia, Suryani and Patricia, there’s two more ATM Grandmasters at the start of the 100K tomorrow. Brunei’s Ali Ajis Rasil and Filippino Cheryl Bihag. Both accustomed to the ultra distance, they will be adding another point on their march towards a second Grandmaster star. 

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UTKC 2018 opens registration!
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UTKC, aka Ultra Trail Unseen Koh Chang, made quite an impression on runners last February as the Thailand SuperTrail in the Asia Trail Master Championship series. The organising team Teelakow of course has quickly gathered a reputation for delivering well-organised and designed events like also the Ultra Trail Panoramic and Ultra Trail Chiang Rai. We are happy to announce that also in 2018 these three great races will be part of the Asia Trail Master Championship, and UTKC will again be the first SuperTrail race of the season on 16/17 February 2018. 

The event again features tough 100k and 70k Grandmaster distance races, along with two shorter races for beginning runners. For the championship, the two long distances count for points. 

The registration has just opened today for UTKC 2018. While the organisers accept high numbers of runners, better do sign up relatively quickly as the events do sell out beforehand in Thailand. 

Go to the new website www.utkcthailand.com for info on 2018 and the online reg form. 

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UTKC - Fantastic racing at the Thailand SuperTrail
Nikom was the first male Thai 100k finisher in 4th place

Nikom was the first male Thai 100k finisher in 4th place

The first SuperTrail race of the 2017 Asia Trail Master championship series took place on Koh Chang Island in Thailand and was by all accounts a great event to remember and look forward to already for next year. Yes, the jungle sections in UTKC are very technical and hard, but the course - modified and more varied than last year - proved appealing for basically all runners at the finish. Every finisher realised he or she had recorded a remarkable achievement, not in the least as temperatures rose to extreme heights of 44 degrees centigrade at noon on Saturday! In addition, the Teelakow organising crew made everyone feel highly welcome and offered outstanding refreshment stations throughout the race topped-off by pre- and post race meals at the event arena. UTKC was publicity for the sport, and even the 100k race proved to be exciting to follow!

In a nice gesture of sportsmanship, Steven Oong and Wataru Iino crossed the finish line hand in hand just before midnight after 15 hours 8 minutes. Iino from Japan, top favourite before the start, had gone off on his own relatively early in the race, but began to suffer from dehydration symptoms as darkness fell and saw the experienced Malaysian Oong return with just over 15 km to go. Keeping safety in mind, Oong decided to stick with Iino, even when he might have had the upper hand. Both were officially hailed as winners of the 100k race. Behind them in third place was Vietnam's Cao Ngoc Ha, who made a name for himself outside his own country. Cao Ngoc Ha was running together with Oong for most of the first 40 km, and never really dropped far back afterwards. He was even fastest in the final sector of 15 km, cementing his third place in the race. Very popular in Vietnam, where a new trail running community is gradually coming of age, Cao Ngoc Ha will return to the Asia Trail Master circuit soon, and could become one to watch this year as his experience grows. 

Steven Oong catches a dehydrated Wataru Iino just before the final checkpoint

Steven Oong catches a dehydrated Wataru Iino just before the final checkpoint

Tahira wins again and is undefeated in 7 ATM races

Tahira wins again and is undefeated in 7 ATM races

Amazingly, the first woman came home fourth overall! Perhaps it has become less surprising when one knows that woman is defending Asia Trail Master champion Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid, who already at Tahura Trail in Indonesia last month proved to be back at her best level. The Malatra ace from Malaysia won her seventh ATM race in a row and regained the lead in the 2017 championship ranking after Lily Suryani briefly surpassed her at Coast To Coast last week. While she admitted to be struggling with the technical jungle trails as well, it seems others had more issues with those than her. Tahira finished the 100km in 16:10, just over an hour down on Oong and Iino. In second place was Australia's Joanna Kruk in 19:57, a fine effort by all means as well. Completing the women's podium was another Malaysian, Siawhua Lim, who had lost time in the early parts of the race after missing a marker. 

The two winners of UTKC 100! 

The two winners of UTKC 100! 

31 nationalities were present at UTKC and this was illustrated by the top 10 of the 100k, with only 1 local runner from Thailand in fourth place. Nikom Tongjai actually battled hard for his final result, as he was shown down in tenth place halfway through the race. Grandmaster Aleksis Capili is another ultrarunner who never slows down and moves up the leaderboard the longer a race goes. Capili scored yet another fine sixth place, just behind a remarkable runner from the Czech Republic, Jan Suchomel, who completed his 99th (!!!) 100k or more race in six years. On the question which race will have the pleasure of celebrating his 100th, Suchomel did not yet have an answer. Peter Vangeit, a Belgian living in India, was next coming into the finish, followed by the second Pinoy runner Jared Teves, France's Emanuel Abadie - winner of the Merapoh Trail in 2015 - and Philipp Yeo Kian Jong, also Malaysia. 

Top 3 of the 100k , minus female winner Tahira Najmunisaa (she had to catch a flight) 

Top 3 of the 100k , minus female winner Tahira Najmunisaa (she had to catch a flight) 

The 70 km race was of course also a Grandmaster distance, and following the new ATM championship regulations, offered 400 performance points to the winners as well. Again, two runners jointly came in: America's Zack Reimer and Canada's Julian Baker in a splendid time of 9:38:20. They were almost a full hour ahead of number three, Great Britain's Martyn Driscoll. Also on this distance, one woman stood out with a fifth place overall: Kim Matthews from Australia, though living in Thailand nowadays. Matthews finished in 11:02 and has ambition for the Asia Trail Master championship. We look forward already! The women's podium was completed by Thai runner Montha Sontornwit and Japan's Terada Kazue. 

On Facebook later this week we will publish a fine photo album of UTKC, courtesy of Adventure III, and on the same social media page you can find interviews with race winners Wataru and Steven, along with plenty of other video and photo work. 

The first SuperTrail of 2017 is a wrap, and what an event it was! 

The last official finisher of the 100k also had his moment of glory

The last official finisher of the 100k also had his moment of glory

Race preview - Top runners for first SuperTrail UTKC
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Several of Asia's most experienced and renowned trail runners are taking up the challenge of the 100 km at UT Unseen Koh Chang, aka UTKC, in Thailand this weekend. UTKC is the first SuperTrail of the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series, which means 50 bonus finisher points are to be scored, which can be important at the end of the season for those with championship-winning ambitions. Malaysia's Tahira Najmunisaa is top favourite in the women's race. The defending ATM champion, now running under the Malatra flag, finds on Koh Chang island a race course to her satisfaction: hard and technical! After her strong showing at Tahura Trail in Bandung last month, there is no doubt that whoever wants to claim victory this weekend needs to get passed Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid. If she wins, she will reclaim the points lead in the ATM standings at the expense of Indonesia's Lily Suryani, who moved ahead of her at Coast To Coast Night Trail Ultra in Yogyakarta last weekend. Yet, winning is  never a given, Johanna Kruk could be a contender, and UTKC is really hailed as one of the most treacherous courses of the ATM season in which anything can occur.

The men's race may have a Japanese runner as top favourite in the person of Wataru Iino. A multiple race winner and podium placer at several international trail races, Iino has come to Thailand to win and set himself up for a challenge to take the ATM championship later this year. He will be competing this weekend against the likes of Pharat Varesin and Vietnam's Cao Ngoc Ha, to name just a few. Cao Ngoc Ha was second in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 100k last season. Grandmaster Aleksis Capili is also taking part, and he has been gradually improving his speed in recent months. Having ultra experience counts at UTKC, so expect  Capili to finish high up in the result list. Singapore's Henry Yang is another established ultrarunner who is definitely capable of a podium finish. 

The 100k race, the main event, starts on Friday morning already. As usual, you can follow the action live on our social media channels. The 70k race, as the 100 also a Grandmaster distance, begins layer on the day. 

 

Famous couple: Tahira Najmunisaa and Abdul Rahman take part in the 100k at UTKC

Famous couple: Tahira Najmunisaa and Abdul Rahman take part in the 100k at UTKC