If you haven’t come across the Rinjani 100, then you’re in for a treat. This is an absolute beast of a 100km race with over 9,000m of vertical gain in that 100kms. Yes you read that right, over 9,000m of gain in 100kms. That has got to make it, pound for pound, one of the toughest ultras in the world. I’d come across this race before when ultra coach, Andy DuBois headed over for a piece of the action, so when Ultra168 reader, Pat Janes told me he was off to give it a crack, I naturally leapt at the chance of him writing a bit of a preview for us. Massive thanks to Pat for taking the time out to write this rather excellent and detailed preview.
Late evening of Friday 4th May 2018 will see the 3rd running of the Rinjani 100 flagship race, the 100 km. Beginning in 2016, Rinjani 100 also offers race distances of 60 km, 36 km, and 27 km. For this preview I will focus on the 100 km. The new race formats morphed from their previous incarnation, the MRU (Mt. Rinjani Ultra – 52 km) and RAR (Rinjani Altitude Run – 21 km).
Hosted on Lombok in Indonesia, Rinjani 100 is not well-known outside South-East Asia. Most of the competitors are residents of the host country and the surrounding region. But judging by the sudden swell of entrants for this year’s 100 km, the word is spreading. From 52 entrants in 2016, and only 32 entrants in 2017; there are at this stage, 185 entrants for 2018. Of those, we have 8 Australians entered, including yours truly.
The inaugural running of the Rinjani 100 in 2016 saw only 1 finisher. Thailand-based Norwegian runner, Jan Nilsen, completed the race in 26:35:00, almost 10 hours under the seemingly generous 36hr cutoff. 2017 met with more success, although each of the finishing runners took it much closer to the line:
1. Fandhi Achmad Indonesia 33:11:55
2. Dongxi Tang China 33:53:16
3. Emmanuel Abadie France 34:37:39
4. Suparmin – Indonesia 35:49:46
The Rinjani 100 is a point to point course, from Senaru to Sembalun, taking in the majestic and imposing Mount Rinjani as part of its relentlessly mountainous route.
As of this year’s race, completion of the race qualifies for 6 UTMB points (if you’re into that sort of thing). The total ascent and elevation profile give an indication of why that 36hr cutoff might not be so generous, after all.
A whopping 9166m of vertical gain awaits the lucky participants. At almost 1km of vertical per 10km underfoot, that rivals almost every trail race on the planet; certainly the vast majority of ultras. The race begins in Senaru, from which runners wend their way up Mount Rinjani to the volcano’s rim, dipping down into the crater towards the Segara Anak lake, before making the ascent to Gunung Rinjani’s peak at 3726m above sea level. By this stage, runners will have climbed over 3500m in just 22.5 km.
Heading back down the mountain towards Sembalun (the eventual race precinct and finish), runners descend over 2500m, before following a circuitous around the Rinjani “foothills”. NB: Around here, many of the “hills” are approaching or over 2000m tall!
If the climbing isn’t enough for you, throw in copious quantities of jungle, terrain thick enough with roots to confound any and every attempt to run, and volcanic scree that drags you back down with every attempted movement forwards.
So, who is up for podium contention this year?
The Rinjani 100 hasn’t yet seen a woman finisher. But the field this year is stacked pretty deep with highly competitive athletes, so I’m predicting that 2018 will be the breakthrough year. Indonesian runner, Shindy Patricia, returns to Rinjani this year after her win in the 60km race in 2016. Local experience and a string of podium finishes in the past couple of years see her well placed for a strong result.
Haiyan Gao, from China brings to the table, a long list of results from races with enormous elevation gain. While all races are local to her homeland, and provide little basis for direct comparison to her fellow competitors results, there is plenty of distance and climbing in her pedigree.
Also from China, Wenfei Xie also brings a string of previous podiums to the start line. Although not detailed below, a finish in the monstrous 323km / 11100m+ Xtrail Kanas, a particular standout.
While Malaysia’s Christine Loh Woon Chze may have fewer feathers in her cap than some of her fellow competitors, she is obviously accustomed to standing atop the podium.
Also from Malaysia, Adelinah Lintanga possesses consistently impressive results from races in Indonesia, her home country of Malaysia, and China.
Last but not least, Anne Kirschenmann, from Germany carries some impressive results from some highly competitive European races.
My picks for the podium? Not yet having a female finisher, making it to the finish line may be enough for a win. But I think the depth of talent this year will see better than a single podium place filled.
1. Haiyan Gao. Experience battling at the pointy end, and some race results with seriously big elevation gain my top tip.
2. Shindy Patricia. With a solid recent race history, and a previous win in the 60km event, I have to give her the nod to nudge her way into the placings.
3. Anne Kirschenmann. While the rankings may not look quite so impressive, the quality of European racing that Anne submits herself to is on another level, competitively.
The home team brings Indonesia’s Fandhi Achmad and Arief Wismoyono to the starting line, both of whom have previous Rinjani 100 experience. Achmad, won last year’s race so has a clear advantage to the rest of the field due to course knowledge and having “bagged that previous result”.
Wismoyono competed in the 2016 100km but succumbed to the challenging course and cutoffs with a DNF. However, he secured a win in the old race format – the 52 km MRU – in its final running. He also has a recent triumph over his compatriot in the Mesastila Peaks Challenge, having finished 2nd to Achmad’s 4th .
From Thailand, we’ll see Phairat Varasin. With a consistently strong list of results in the past couple of years – including the competitive Vibram Hong Kong 100 – Varasin has plenty of mountain running experience at the pointy end:
Denmark’s Kristian Joergensen finished one place behind Varasin in the Hardcore Hundred. He also won last year’s Altra100; a race with stats to almost rival Rinjani 100:
Shō Watabe, from Japan has knocked off some big races in his recent calendar. 36th place at the iconic Tor Des Géants certainly proves his mettle, with respect to climbing all day. Backed up by an 8th placing in the Northburn Miler, his 2017 results show some great form:
Finally, from Australia, we bring you Damian Smith. Damian has a couple of great results from last year’s Mount Solitary Ultra and the You Yangs Hardcore Miler – both highly competitive in local terms. He also has quite a pedigree from the previous two years’ Great Ocean Walk and Great North Walk races:
My picks for the podium? It is a bit of a toss-up, but I’m backing:
1. Arief Wismoyono. With good current form, plenty of local experience, and a desire to avenge last year’s result, I think he’ll come back stronger than ever this year.
2. Phairat Varasin. He has a string of recent race wins, with bucket loads of climbing.
3. Shō Watabe. My wildcard – while outright race results don’t match those of the others, I cannot ignore that result from last year’s Tor Des Géants.
For more information, or to obsess over joining next year’s race as I have for the past two years, visit: https://rinjani100.com/