XTERRA Asia-Pacific Trail Run Championship Race Report

Sloth Nielsen, Menchi Abahan Win XTERRA Trail Run Asia-Pacific Championship Marathon; Zeng, Chen Half Marathon Champions

In its second year, the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Trail Run Championship, a course famous for its technical difficulty, varied landscape, and stunning views took place on Sunday, March 24, 2024. Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DNK) and Sandi Menchi Abahan (PHL) earned victories in the 36K Trail Marathon while Ting Wei Zeng (TWN) and Yi Chun Chen (TWN) won the 21K Trail Half Marathon.

Both events presented a chance for 116 leading competitors across 14 age group categories to secure a spot at the 2024 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Sugarloaf, Maine, USA, marking this event a crucial entry point to worldwide competition and a key part of the XTERRA Trail Run World Series.

Course Overview and Trail Conditions

Participants traversed varied landscapes, including hills, woodlands, riverbeds, and sections requiring technical skill with the aid of ropes. The journey featured quick segments and challenging ascents, culminating in a climb to the top of the famed Menmaluo Mountain, which offered a 360-degree view of the sea. The 36K Trail Marathon included an additional 2K stretch that added more elevation. At the renowned Mt. Menmaluo, the path split, with the 21K Trail Half Marathon runners heading back and the 36K Trail Marathon competitors continuing over the hill to tackle the extra distance.

More than a thousand trail runners set off under partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 20s Celsius and a gentle breeze. However, as the race progressed into sunny areas with temperatures reaching up to 28 degrees Celsius, the heat and humidity became a significant challenge. Early morning conditions from 6-7am were manageable for long distances, but after 7am, the temperature rose noticeably where strategic choices for hydration became crucial turning points that decided several podium outcomes.

Sloth Nielsen Bests Carabin in a 36K Battle, Menchi Abahan Dominates the Women’s Trail Marathon Field

In the 36K Trail Marathon, Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen (DNK) clinched first place with a time of 3:20:38, followed closely by Sebastien Carabin (BEL) who finished in 3:21:51, with Maxim Chané (FRA) rounding out the top three with a time of 3:33:12.

Sloth Nielsen led for the majority of the race, with Carabin hot on his heels until the decisive moment around the 18K mark at an aid station. “I ran through and he ran to it so I gained a 10-15 seconds advantage. I could see him 30-40 seconds behind me at all times after that,” recounts Sloth Nielsen. Despite stumbling on the final downhill, he credited the crowd’s encouragement for helping him extend his lead. “There were really great people out there to cheer us on until I made it to the finish.”

Carabin acknowledged Sloth Nielsen’s superior downhill performance as a crucial factor in the race outcome. “Jens was much stronger than me in the downhill sections. We were neck and neck until the 17K, but I lost time refilling my flask. The trail was incredibly technical,” Carabin reflected. Despite pushing his limits, he couldn’t bridge the gap, finding himself a minute behind at the final summit. “Both of us pushed to our limits, but in the end, [Jens Emil] had the edge,” he added.

Overall winner Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen sits with 2nd place Sebastien Carabin / 2024 APAC Trail Run Championship / Taiwan

Maxim Chané’s race was filled with memories of last year’s roller coaster weekend at the 2023 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, seeing him drop out of contention in the Full Distance Triathlon due to a tire puncture and the elation of winning the 36K Trail Marathon the day after. A twisted ankle early in this race forced him to adjust his ambitions this year. “On the first downhill I lost my balance while twisting my ankle and after the 25 minute mark in the race, I realized from this point it’s maybe a good idea not to race with [Sloth Nielsen and Carabin], Chané reflected.

Maxim Chané reaches the top of Mt. Menmaluo / 2024 APAC Trail Run Championship / Taiwan

A key highlight to the race was also the crowning of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Trail Run Champion for any competitor hailing from the Asia-Pacific region. Song Ming Syu (TWN) also known as Hardy Syu finished 4th overall with a time of 3:42:12 earning him this title, “I knew there were many good runners from around the world, so I ran at my own speed and kept going, especially on the uphills.” Hardy has notably climbed 76 mountains in Taiwan with a mission to reach all 100 peaks.

In the women’s race, Sandi Menchi Abahan (PHL) came first with a time of 4:25:46. She was followed by Yun Tung Meng (TWN), with a time of 4:49:45, and Ting Lam Kwan (HKG) in third place with a time of 5:04:34. Menchi Abahan shared, “Growing up in a mountain town helped me master how to run the trails up and down. I’m actually more used to it than running on flats. When I’m on any mountain or trail, I feel like I’m just a kid again, playing. It always feels like home to me.”

Sandi Menchi Abahan (PHL) takes the tape to become the 2024 APAC Trail Marathon Champion

Second-place finisher, Yun Tung Meng (Kelly), remarked, “Weather was the most difficult part. My favorite thing about the race was that it didn’t feel dangerous. I was never worried about the conditions. I’m not very good at downhills, I fell down at 13K and scraped the side of my leg. I was the Asia-Pacific Champion of the Trail Half Marathon last year and this time I wanted to try the 36K so I’m happy with my result.”

Complete Results Here

Ting and Chen Prevail in the 21K Trail Half Marathon

Ting Wei Zeng (TWN) first place in the men’s 21K Trail Half Marathon with a time of 2:00:16, making it a memorable race as only his second ever trail run competition. “2nd time in a trail run race. I was leading the whole time, but always looking back,” Ting stated with a confident smile as he accepted the title of 2024 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Trail Half Marathon Champion.

Following in 2nd was Yu Mu Wu (TWN), who overcame a significant setback to secure the second spot with a time of 2:08:27. Wu faced an unexpected challenge during the race when he lost his water bottle highlighting the adversity he had to push through to finish strong.

Completing the top three was Huai Jie Liou (TWN), finishing in 2:09:02 where the competition for 2nd and 3rd came down to razor-thin margins. Reflecting on the challenge, Liou noted, “Last 5K was really difficult because of the intensity, speed, and competition between 2nd and 3rd, but it was a great race.”

Ting Wei Zeng (TWN) on his way to claiming the 2024 APAC Trail Half Marathon Championship title

In the women’s Trail Half Marathon, Yi Chun Chen (TWN) emerged victorious as the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Trail Half Marathon Champion, crossing the finish line first with a time of 2:26:17. “I focused on my own race and knew there were bib numbers with different colors representing different distances, but I really didn’t pay attention to them. This is my first XTERRA so I am happy to get first place. It’s not about the competition for me. It’s just a great experience,” Chen shared.

Sandra Liao (TWN), secured second place with a time of 2:35:20, showcasing resilience and determination to stay ahead of Melanie Haarring (DEU) who completed the podium, finishing in third place with a time of 2:37:33.

Yi Chun Chen (TWN) makes her way through the riverbed to claim the 2024 APAC Trail Half Marathon title

Complete Results Here

The XTERRA Trail Run World Series

The XTERRA Trail Run World Series invites all trail enthusiasts to join the XTERRA community as we connect, explore, and discover new and existing trails in idyllic running terrains the world over. From the tropical trails of Asia-Pacific to the narrow ridges of Europe’s mountain peaks and through the dusty desert trails in parts of the USA, the XTERRA Trail Run World Series is a global journey designed to connect runners who truly live to explore.

“This Series is for every runner who runs to explore, who thrives on dirt, hills, and fresh air, embraces personal challenge, and never stops asking what’s around the next corner. It’s a Series for every trail runner, amateur to elite, young and old, the sprinters, the scramblers, the climbers, and the crawlers,” says Emily McIlvaine, XTERRA Americas Event Coordinator.

This series offers both marathon (35-60K) and half-marathon (15-34K) categories, with accolades given at regional levels and culminating with the annual XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.


XTERRA is a global lifestyle brand that champions the outdoor enthusiast in their pursuit of relentless adventure. From pioneering the sport of cross-triathlon in 1996, XTERRA has grown to become a leading brand in off-road adventure through the XTERRA World Tour, XTERRA Trail Run World Series and the XTERRA World Cup, connecting an eco-aware community of worldwide explorers that seek to protect the places where they play. For more information, visit xterraplanet.com.

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