Inaugural Thailand by UTMB® welcomes 1,500 runners
Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, was transformed into a trail-running mecca last weekend, 30 October -1 November, at the first ever Thailand by UTMB®, as UTMB® Group mark their first event of the year and an exceptional return to the mountains.
Despite the challenges associated with organising mass participation events during the ongoing pandemic, in what is one of the most challenging times the world has seen, more than 1,500 runners were able to safely take to the start line and experience the beautiful trail network of the Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, with a further 500 runners from around the world joining them remotely for their own virtual race.
For UTMB® Group and the trail running community the event held additional meaning, representing an important turning point in the organisation of events following this years’ health crisis. Even the remnants of the typhoon Molave, which brought rain and strong winds with it, couldn’t dampen the spirits of the runners or the resilience of the organisers, who had to implement several course changes across the 5 distances of 100 miles, 120km, 80km, 25km and 10km to deliver the event to the highest of standards.
Due to the global travel restrictions, the local organising team, Running Connect, were supported remotely by UTMB® Group, who set a command centre at the home of UTMB® Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Providing 24-hour support, a permanent video link was in place with the command centre of Thailand by UTMB® allowing the team to support with all race management aspects including the safety of runners’ thanks to LiveTrail and Logicoss software.
Upon conclusion of the event, the organisers Running Connect, the Sports Authority of Thailand and UTMB® Group confirmed the second edition will take place in 2021, with the exact date to be announced before the end of November, as together they showed their ability to overcome the most challenging of circumstances.
Catherine Poletti, UTMB® Group Chairwomen, said: “This is the first time we have had to support an event remotely like this, and it’s a testament to the skills of team in Chamonix, and also to the organisers Running Connect, that we were able to work in such a way, for example working together to adapt the courses due to the inclement weather.
“The quality of the race was exceptional despite the weather, the impact of COVID-19 and this new remote way of working. These are all situations that demand great resilience and bring unique challenges – some of which we have never had to experience before. I’d like to congratulate the organising team at Running Connect for such an accomplishment and each of the runners for their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to growing Thailand by UTMB®, which has shown it has the potential to be a leading, standard setting event in Asia.”
Thai elite Sanya Kanchai won the 100-mile race in 26:40:06, a course that includes steep climbs of varied technicality up Pha Ngam, aka Two-Seasons Mountain, past ancient temples, skirting along the rice fields and with stunning views of the Mae Klang waterfall. The first female runner was Phitchanan Mahachot, who crossed the finish line in 36:16:38.
The UTMB® Group team are now preparing to support the upcoming Panda Trail by UTMB which takes place in less than three weeks, in Dujiangyan and Wenchuan, Sichuan Province of China.
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