John Ellis has been crowned the men’s Asia Trail Master (ATM) champion after finishing first in the Ultra Trail Panoramic 160km in Thailand on Saturday. Going into the race, Ellis knew that a win would be enough to seal the title, with only Hisashi Kitamura and Milton Amat still in contention for the overall title.
The ATM takes place over the whole year, with races across Asia, each of them with assigned points. Only the competitors’ best five finishes over the year count towards their points total. Today was Ellis’ fourth ATM race win of the season after Dalat Ultra Trail (Vietnam), Penang Eco (Malaysia), and Ultra Trail Chiang Rai (Thailand).
Ellis could have secured the title by winning the Punisher race in the Philippines last week, but finished third and opted to take on the Panoramic as a result.
Ellis had the Panoramic victory in the bag long before the end. Damian Smith was in second place but by 128km Smith had slipped 30 minutes behind Ellis, who continued to draw away after.
“I’m just so so happy. Winning the ATM was a dream this season and there were points when I didn’t know if I would do it,” he said on the finish line.
The Hong Kong-based Australian was targeting a 20 hour finish, and completed the course in around 20 hours and 20 minutes. He is known for running topless, but kept a T-shirt, much to the amusement of those following online used to seeing him bare chested. Ellis has some stomach issues but a quick loo break just after 100km sorted it out, so he could fly to the finish line.
The women’s ATM will come down to the final race of the season, at the 85km The North Face Malaysia Mountain Trail Festival in Taiping, Perak, in Malaysia on December 14. Japanese runner Asuka Nakajima is on top at the moment, but is closely followed by Hong Kong-based Filipino Fredelyn Alberto, Christine Loh and China-based Slovakian Veronika Vadovicova.