Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 2000
Focus, determination and consistency won over experience as Mongolian runner Erdenebayar Bayansan claimed a hard-won first place in the second annual Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultra-Marathon on July 6, 2000, at scenic Lake Hovsgol National Park, with a 100 kilometer ultra-marathon finishing time of 13 hours 44 minutes. Challenging Bayansan for the win were Stefan Schlett, a professional ultra-athlete from Germany whose finish minutes behind Bayansan won him second place, and co-organizer Tyler Pike a US citizen residing in Australia who finished 33 minutes later in third place.
For the 68 runners and adventurers from Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA who came to Mongolia to participate in the ultra-marathon, rain and strong winds during the morning added to the challenge of this race run in Mongolia’s pristine wilderness area, just South of the Siberian border. The rain began to subside as the first 42 kilometer finisher, Ben Moyle, a resident of Mongolia with British citizenship, crossed the finish line with a time of 4 hours 53 minutes to win the shorter 42 kilometer race from a field of 37 challengers.
The top female 100 kilometer finisher was Yvonne Danson of Britain, a 1996 Olympic athlete in the marathon, who ran the ultra-marathon with a time of 14 hours 46 minutes. Lisa Deforge, a United States citizen and teacher in Mongolia, was the top female in the 42 kilometer race with a time of 5 hours 40 minutes.
Upon finishing the 100 kilometer race, Lee Yongsik of Korea commented, “This is a really crazy race,” reflecting many participants sentiments that the combination of altitude, rugged trails, elevation gain, and wet weather made Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset one of the toughest courses that they had ever run. The course was run on the alpine trails along the western shore of the vast, emerald blue Lake Hovsgol, which contains 1% of the world’s fresh water, and over mountain passes with an elevation gain/loss of 2,255 meters in the 42k and 3,365 meters in the 100k.
Local camp owner and sponsor of the race, Purevdorj of Hovsgol Travel, commented “The natural beauty of this area and the strength of character and culture of the people who live here, is attracting a growing number of tourists from around the world. The Mongolian people whose home is in Hovsgol National Park enjoy organizing and working with the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultra-Marathon, as it helps people participating to understand the magic of the lake and mountains which are central to our lives and heritage, as well as contributes to the practical implementation of protecting this special place.” The proceeds of this year’s race will go toward the purchase of a much-needed garbage truck for the Park. The growth of tourism in the Park has spurred an accelerated growth in the amount of garbage non-native to the area, including plastics and metals, as visitors bring in packaged food and beverages and share them with Park residents.
Notable runners in the race included Kaiho Michiyoshi, better known as the “father” of Japanese ultra-marathoning; Mr. Hajime Nishi, holder of the Guinness Book of World Record for “fastest time to run a marathon on each of seven continents” in 168 days and founder of Ecomarathon International, a non-profit organization that promotes protecting the environment among marathoners around the world; John Barnes of South Africa who participated in the 1998 Raide Gaulooise held in Ecuador, the 1999 Comrades in South Africa and the Marathon des Sables earlier this year; Lee Yongsik who is possibly the first Korean runner to ever compete in a 100 kilometer ultrarun outside of Korea or Japan; last year’s winner Mongolian Norov Tsogtbaatar, who returned from studies in Japan to run the race; Mongolian Olympic athlete and mountaineer Guragcha; as well as many others who have competed in numerous 100 kilometer and ultra-events around the world.
Photos by Armin Schirmaier