Ina Budiyarni is Talking Trail Running

This weekend the first points scoring race in Indonesia is on the agenda with Ijen Trailrunning in Bondowoso, East Java. A "run to the blue fire" as the 70k main race is often called as well. The amazing Ijen volcano crater is indeed the centre of the event, which contrary to several other big races in Indonesia keeps its elevation gain -approx 2450hm - within boundaries, which means plenty of local and international athletes see a chance for glory this weekend. One of them is certainly Ina Budiyarni in the women's competition. The number four of last year's Asia Trail Master championship has been endorsed by the RaidLight brand for this year, and is more motivated than ever to leave her mark. Ina has emerged as one of the most influential people in her country's trail running community. Not only because of her great race results, but also because of her insatiable thirst for long distance running and her stylish appearance. Some say Ina Budiyarni brings glamour to the trail running world. And all this as a single mum. High time to talk trail running with Ina Budiyarni.

By K. Van de Velde

As always, let's first tune in to our guest's favourite running music as background:

Q: First, you are often called "The Queen of Trail Running" in Indonesia. We can see why, but how did this happen?

IB: Hahaha, I still don’t know why lots of my friends call me ‘The Queen of Trail Running in Indonesia’.

Maybe because almost every weekend I go for trails, I always join trail running events or races and I always wear a fashionable outfit, so I still look good and perhaps like a Queen on the trails :)

And also maybe because of the power of social media, I always post on social media about my trail running journey. I also like to give inspiration to Indonesian women to do trail running like I do.

Have you always been a runner, or is it a recent passion of yours? Did you do other sports before?

I started running three years ago. First, just a 5k, 10k, 21k, 42k runner, and from there I continued to become a trail runner and an ultra runner. It is a recent passion of mine, especially the trail running and the ultra distances.

I was a basketball player and in-line skater before. I got some good achievements like best player and top scorer as a basketball player.

Are you a born and raised Jakartian?

Yes, I was born and raised in Jakarta

You are working as a lawyer in the capital, how do you combine your job with all the running and motherhood? 

I try to balance all my activities, as a corporate legal, a runner and a single mother. That’s not easy and it does not always go well, but I enjoy all my activities and my busy days.

On the weekdays, I go for training after office hours. On the weekends, I spend time with my son after my running activities in the early morning. And I still go to the shopping mall also, to hang out with my friends and spent time with my Mother when there is no race on the weekend.

As you are attracting a lot of attention in your country, do you actively encourage other women to take up running? 

Yes, I do encourage other women to take up running with my own way. I started with my close friends, family and colleagues.

For Indonesian women out there, they can see my activities on social media, so they can get inspiration to start running and be more beautiful because running makes you always look fit and fresh.

Indonesia is a democratic country. Women from all religions in Indonesia can do any kind of sports they want.

Soon the annual ramadan begins, as a muslim, what does that imply for your training? 

Like Ramadhan before, It will change my training schedule for one month. I cannot go training in the morning, I will do my training after fasting and until midnight time on the weekends.

You are among those runners who seem to have no problem to run 100km every weekend. What is your secret?

My secret is to eat right, rest well, run happy and enjoy every kilometer :)

Do you seek the runner's "high", or is endurance running for you a form of therapy, a way to relax your mind. How do stay motivated to do all this running?

Yes, sometimes I do it for therapy and to relax my mind. I was running ultra distances for therapy to release the sadness - I felt like half of my soul had gone - when my father passed away in December last year. But normally,  I go trail running on the weekends to relax my mind from the office things.

I stay motivated to do it all, maybe because running has become my passion now. I feel like something is missing if I don’t  go out  to run for some days.

You have a young son, he must be quite excited his mom is often named "the Queen of Trail Running" in Indonesia. Does he like running as well?

Yes, he likes running as well. Like mother, like son. He prefers the trail more than the road. He has scored podium finishes in some kids dash trail running races already.

What was your first ever race and what did you learn from it?

My first ever race was Jakarta International 10k. I learnt so much from that race. I never ran a 10k distance before and I had just started running at that time. I felt like 10k was a never ending distance, hahaha

Trail running in Indonesia is still very young, with Hendra Wiyaja as a driving force behind the development of the sport. How have you experienced this evolution?

I am very excited about this evolution. Hendra Wijaya gives a lot of inspiration with his experiences in trail running inside and outside Indonesia. He has developed trail running in Indonesia, and made the sport grow every year, and always introduced people to the beautiful trails in Indonesia.

Hendra 's races are very tough. Some say, they are too hard. Do you have the feeling that organisers exaggerate sometimes with elevation gain and race distance? 

Yes, sometimes I have the feeling like that. But as we know, Hendra is an extraordinary person. As a pioneer in Indonesia, maybe he wants to make a difference between his races and other organizers’ races and truly challenge his participants. And he is always concerned about providing plenty of UTMB points in his races. 

On the other hand there is the Tahura Trail in Bandung, a very popular race in January, limited to 42km and only moderate elevation gain. Proof that trail running does not need to be extreme to be accepted?

Yes, it does not always have to be extreme to be accepted. For most people, they will choose the races that they will enjoy. Running medium-length distances and have enough time to finish the trail running race as well. 

Do you feel there is a need for more official governance of the sport of trail running, or would you keep it all loosely organised as it is now, with most organisers setting their own standards? 

Maybe we need more official governance of the sport of trail running in Asia. We can use the strict guidelines from ITRA as an international association, but in Asia we have a different situation with two seasons, one wet and one dry. Maybe we need some guidelines to improve safety at races specifically for these two climatic conditions.

Almost all trail events are open to the general public, but often inexperienced participants are confronted with risky, technical or even dangerous situations they may not have been aware of when signing up for a race. How do you see that from a lawyer's point of view?

At some races in Indonesia, sometimes the participants may not be aware of the extreme conditions when signing up for a trail running race. They want to challenge themselvesbut they should know their own capabilities. 

The organisers have to make the rules, regulations and requirements very tight to prevent inexperienced participants from doing ultras with high elevation numbers. Such as, when we sign up for a race, especially for an ultra trail running race, the participants need to submit their results of previous races to meet the entry requirements. That’s the first step to screening potential participants, then mandatory gears check should be imposed before race day and again before the start of the race. Participants with incomplete mandatory gear cannot go to the starting line. The organiser have to stick to the rules that they set before.

What is your favourite race and why?

My favourite race is Bromo Tengger Semeru, because BTS  2013 was my first ultra run and my first ultra trail run. Lots of story and memories from my first ultra there! I love the track, love the view along the route, and always want to come back. 

Have you ever felt scared during a race, e.g at nighttime?

Yes, sometimes I feel scared alone at night time in the middle of a forest and I am worried about wild animals.

What do you think of the Asia Trail Master series?

Asia Trail Master series is a challenging trail running series in Asia. We can compete with other trail runners from other countries by collecting points. We can get to know each other and familiarise ourselves with other trail runners around Asia.

Asia Trail Master series also give lots of options for doing trail races around Asia. Asia is a beautiful and unique continent.

I hope for the best and more success for Asia Trail Master series this year and upcoming years ahead.

This year you have become an official ambassador for the popular trail running gear brand RaidLight, together with Arief Wismoyono. How do you like the RaidLight stuff?

Yes, I feel honored become RaidLight ambassador this year. I really like and love RaidLight stuff. The outfits are very comfortable, quick drying, light, fit and fashionable on the trails. Indeed, a Very high recommended brand for trail running.

How do you select races outside of Indonesia?

I am looking for races with points. Points for ATM and points for UTMB/UTMF.

Last year you ended in 4th place in the women's Asia Trail Master ranking. Do you hope to score top 3 this year?

Some competitors this year have already shown  good performances in some races. I am not an athlete, I still have to balance my life between running, working and raising my son as a single mother. There is always the hope to score top 3 this year , I will do my best this year and let God do the rest.

Is there someone you look up to in the running community?

Not someone, but ALL strong women in the running community, especially the single mothers. 

What does your 2016 race plan look like? What is your main target?

My race plan for 2016, well, it looks like I will race every weekend in every month, hahaha

I plan to do all the Asia Trail Master series in Indonesia and probably also looking for Asia Trail Master series outside of Indonesia after UTMF. My main target in 2016 is to become a UTMF finisher in September as I registered as a participant.

Thank you very much, Ina, good luck and keep enjoying the trails!