An international field of runners took part in Thailand’s “Ultra Trail Challenge” on the weekend, The North Face 100® Thailand 2020, which was held in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Competing across four distances – 15km, 25km, 50km and 100km – a record 4,200 runners from more than 20 countries enjoyed the hills, stunning views and tough trails in the surrounds of Khao Yai.
Now in its nine edition, The North Face 100® Thailand is a qualifying event for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® (UTMB) – the Everest of the trail running world – and welcomed elite runners from Thailand and around the world as well as first-time trail runners and outdoor enthusiasts to what has become a celebration of trail running in Thailand.
The iconic 100km distance saw a record field of 613, including a number of past winners and top talent from China. Yun Yanqiao (CHN), former winner of the Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail® Race, took an early lead and did much of the running while Sanya Khanchai (past 100km winner)and Kristian Morgan (2019 runner up) kept him in their sites. As the kilometres passed, Yun Yanqiao got stronger and stretched out a lead to cross the finish line in a time of 08:44:12 and claim his first 100km crown at The North Face 100® Thailand. Sanya Khanchai (THA) won the battle for second ahead of Kristian Morgan (GBR) in third.
In the Women’s field, 2017 100km winner Phitchanan Mahachot (THA), was looking to regain her crown and did just that, comfortably crossing the finish line in first place in a time of 13:38:56. Second place went to Fiona Russo (GBR) with Kanokkorn Vitesakan (THA) finishing in third.
Last year’s 100km male winner, Thai elite Jantaraboon “Jay” Kiangchaipaiphana, opted to race the 50km this year and showed his speed, leading from start to finish and taking out the title against a quality field. Second place was won by Karan Popaichayon (THA) with Jirawat Chobdee (THA) in third. In the Women’s division, Hannah Ngaihte (USA) took an early lead and never looked back to claim the title. Nuntaporn Tengamnuay (THA) finished in second with Fuhui Fang (CHN), third.
The largest field this year was the 25km distance. Changes to the course saw an increase in elevation but that didn’t stop the front runners with Tsz Kin Tsui (HKG) sprinting away from the male field to claim the title, hotly chased by Komkrit Sukkhaphan(THA) and Pathom Sritampawa (THA) in second and third respectively. In the Women’s field, Anna-Lena Hallkvist (SWE) beat out tough competition from French and British runners, Claire Schoumann and Lynda Sharp respectively.
The last to start were the 15km runners which this year saw female participants outnumber the male. Angelo Karagiannis (GBR) finished strong to edge out Wasan Ratana-Aporn (THA) and take the 15km win, while in the Women’s race it was Chalita Tantisirinapadej (THA) that held onto a solid lead ahead of a fast finishing pack.