After an exciting year of challenging races over a dozen different Asian countries, the inaugural Asia Trail Master series has seen the emergence of two champions — Arief Wismoyono from Indonesia and Ma Yanxing from China.
Instead of settling and celebrating the feats, both athletes who have scored the most points in their respective gender categories, entered the new year looking to defend their title, a task made harder with more elites competing for the crown in 2016.
Arief Wismoyono burst onto the Asia Trail Master scene in August when he became the first Indonesian runner to win the brutal Mount Rinjani Ultra on Lombok Island. Later in October, he also put the MesaStila Peaks Challenge on his record and scored places of honour in a.o. Ijen Trail Running. Despite injuries, he finished sixth in the Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra 170, securing his Asia Trail Master title ahead of his biggest rival, India’s Ullas Narayana with 1362 points against 1302, whereas Patrick Singh from Guyanan accumulated enough points in stage races to get third place.
Commenting on his success, Wismoyono, whose idol is Muhammad Ali, says that his mental strength is one of his biggest assets as he will finish what he started.
Racing for Team Bandung Explorer in Java, Wismoyono regards Mount Rinjani Ultra as his most memorable win of 2015, and is already looking forward to returning to Lombok; but first, he will travel to Hong Kong to participate in his first Vibram Hong Kong 100 on 23 January.
Women’s Asia Trail Master Ma Yanxing won the Dalian 100 Ultra in April and the Dali 100 Ultra in October. In between, she also scored second place in the Grassland Marathon in Inner Mongolia, TNF Hong Kong in December and ran a 2:50 road marathon in Beijing. She accumulated 1005 points for the Asia Trail Master ranking, 63 points more than Indonesia’s Mila Marlina and 105 more than Malaysia’s Tan Seow Ping.
Surprised and happy with the honour, Yanxing, who lives in Shanghai, said that she didn’t really focus on the result when racing as she is not a professional living on running, instead the races are just an excuse for her to travel to astonishing places and to socialise with many running friends.
Yanxing who is a big fan of mountaineering will feature again in 2016 as she has already firmly planned China’s SuperTrail Tsaigu Tangsi Plus in Linhai, Zhejiang, in her race schedule.
The 2016 Asia Trail Master series begins again in Hong Kong with the Ultra Trail Hong Kong race from 19 to 21 February. The event has three race distances on offer: 156 km, 100 km and 50 km and takes place in the New Territories. Registration for the event is still open but closes on 15 February, so be quick if you wish to secure a spot with all benefits included. The start list today already shows several protagonists of last year’s Asia Trail Master series.
Ultra Trail Hong Kong is also the first of five SuperTrails. SuperTrail is a new concept for 2016 and refers to five acclaimed races in different countries that offer runners 50 bonus points for the Asia Trail Master ranking. The five SuperTrails for 2016 will be UTHK, Tsaigu Tangsi Plus (China), Malaysia Eco 100 (Malaysia), Mount Rinjani Ultra (Indonesia) and Clark-Myamit Falls (Philippines).
The 2016 race calendar has been taking shape in the past few weeks, and is still being updated with new confirmed races regularly. An interesting new entry, and new country, in the early part of the season is the Korea 50k on 24 April, a race that takes place close to South Korea’s capital Seoul and offers a great weekend getaway.
2016 will also be the year when the first persistent ultra runners will achieve the Asia Trail Grandmaster status. That is a lifetime achievement award, resulting in prizes and induction in the trail runner’s Hall of Fame, for runners who have finished at least six races of 70km or more in two calendar years. Six races will give these athletes the Grandmaster title with one star. As they continue to run ultras, they can then obtain more stars as they go along.
In any case, the 2016 Asia Trail Master series offers races for all types of runners: mountain runners, grassland raiders and jungle heroes.