At the end of February, Ultra and Trail Unseen returned to Koh Chang for its second annual event.
Held in the south east corner of the island around the Salak Phet area, this year’s event drew over 1,500 competitors from 25 countries to compete in the 13km, 35km, 66km and 100km races. An added Royal bonus was the entry of Princess Pa, daughter of the Crown Prince of Thailand, who entered the race at the shortest distance.
Ultra and Trail Unseen Koh Chang 2016 – The Course
The course initially took all the competitors off on the old abandoned road to the undeveloped, picturesque Wai Chek Beach, with the 13km runners then looping back to the finish. Participants at the longer distances continued on, disappearing off into the hidden forests, steep hills and fruit farms of Salak Phet. With the 35km race centred on this area, the 66km and 100km races meanwhile also included arduous ascents up Khao Laem, the 600m mountain that towers above the bay.
Energy sapping humidity together with this very difficult terrain makes this one of the hardest courses on the Ultra circuit and the runners at the longer distances suffered considerably. For safety reasons, the 100km is run in pairs for and it came as very little surprise to those taking part, that just a single pair of 35 finished. Similarly, in the 66km, only 18 of 283 competitors managed to get round. Post-race social media forums suggest that the organisers will need to re-design the course to make these longer distances more of a trail race and less of a jungle endurance trek. It seems, this year, that balance was considerably skewed towards the latter.
Ultra and Trail Unseen Koh Chang 2016 – The Winners
As for times, that solitary pair, Phairat Varasin and Sanya Khanchai took 26 hours, 41 minutes over the 100km, and yes, that is correct, a whole day’s running. In the 66km, Chittapol Hoomphang at 14 hours, 2 minutes was followed in by Helen Ruud at 15 hours, 45 minutes, while Craig Sauers took a mere 3 hours, 56 minutes over the 35km, which is very quick indeed. Denis Teoh won the shortest distance at 1 hour 13 minutes. HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol clocked a very decent 1 hour and 31 minutes.
The race will return in 2017.