Indonesia’s trail running scene got a serious boost. The MesaStila Challenge Ultra, the country’s least known race on the Asia Trail Master (ATM) calendar, welcomed two local heroes on the international trail scene. Arief Wismoyono and Mila Marlina both won the tough 100 km race and are now leading in the 2015 ATM with four races still to go.
Set in breathtakingly beautiful Magelang, Central Java, the ultra-run left an impression on many a trail runner, who call it “a hidden gem” on the race calendar. Hosted for the fifth time by MesaStila Hotel & Spa group, the event brought participants by volcano and mountain routes, amongst bamboo forests, through ethnic villages and along jungle trails.
Before and after the race, runners relished the lush surroundings and relaxed at the resort’s swimming pool. They could also go on a sunrise or sunset tour to the legendary Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur, or to Candi Sukuh, one of Asia’s most interesting Hindu temples.
Unfortunately, the race itself did not go entirely according to plan. Recent forest fires prompted race organisers to cancel the inaugural ascent of the 3000 m high Gunung Merapi – a feature which is now postponed to next year’s race. Plan B went into motion, bringing runners to a combination of the 65 km and 42 km race courses. The highlight featured a scenic climb up Gunung Andong instead.
Pretty but tough. The 100 km route with 7,700 metres of elevation gain proved to be too much, even for experienced local climbers like Alan Maulana. The lead runner at the 65 km point began to feel unwell and retired from the race.
This left the door open for Wismoyono to gain lead, though he had to contest against the final charge forward by new name Dzaki Wardana. Wismoyono, first Indonesian champion of Mount Rinjani Ultra last August, finished at midnight in 19 hours.
The podium was completed by Pramonosidi Wijanarko, who came second in the gruelling Gede Pangrango Marathon in May. Looking ahead, Wismoyono holds an advantage of 90 points over China’s Xie Zhangrong, with India’s Ullas Narayana, Wijanarko and Yan Longfei, amongst others, within striking range.
Mila Marlina has no real competition on the longest distance runs in her native country, but to become the 2015 Asia Trail Master champion, she still has to face a fierce challenge against Malaysia’s Tan Seow Ping. The current point difference between them is only 42. Point-scoring races are still popping up in China, Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Who will reign as the Asia Trail Champions? We’re eagerly waiting on edge for the final results.