Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 2001, 100 km and Marathon
The third edition of the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset alpine marathon and 100km ultramarathon took place on 20 June 2001 on the shores of Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia. The event attracted nearly 50 runners and adventurers from five continents. Sunny skies blessed runners all day though some wished the sun had taken a break as the heat took its toll by the early afternoon. Overall winners this year were Byambadorj Chogsom (Mongolia) in 12:24 for the 100 km, and Enkhtur Nuuree (Mongolia) in 4:47 for the marathon. First place female for the 42K distance was Mongolian national champion Suvdmaa. Renée Athay , third place overall was the first woman over the line for the 100km.
Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset is organized on a non-profit basis and supports the fostering of local cultural identity and development of sustainable eco-tourism in the region. The proceeds of this year's race will go to projects cooperatively developed with the National Park authorities that aim to ensure that Lake Hovsgol National Park is kept 100% litter free.
Byambadorj fought a valiant battle to beat the course record but shin splints in the final 10 km became severe enough to bring him to his knees twice, so, the course record of 12:22 set in 1999 by Mongolian Tsogtbaatar Norov still stands. Byambadorj ran the last 3 km of the 100K course barefoot to "vary the pain," he said. Grocery-owner Enkhtur was likewise just short of the 4:45 marathon course record which had been set by Byambadorj in 1999.
In 3 years, only one foreign runner has captured the top slot in either distance of this race, Ben Moyle in the 2000 Marathon. Race co-organizer Tyler Pike explained Mongolian dominance as follows: "Mongolians are very committed to training, seem to have strong sense of discipline, just like the training to be a monk. It takes so much commitment, like so many mantras, so many hours of chanting, waking up before dawn..."
The top foreign runners in this year's event included second-place 100 km finisher Michael Shoaf (USA), who ran his first ever 100 km event. Michael came in just one minute faster than Renee Athay (USA). Athay's 14:13 was almost 30 minutes faster than last year's female 100 km champion, 1996 Olympic Marathoner Yvonne Danson.
"Unbelievable adventure - like the early days of the Marathon des Sables - one of Asia's best ultramarathons/marathons," said Mary Gadams, a co-organizer of Marathon des Sables?) and a Marathon finisher in this year's Sunrise to Sunset.
"Having run dozens of trail marathons and ultramarathons,"
said 100 km finisher Gordon Neal, "I think I know what makes a
good event. Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset gets it right. The organizers
combine a beautiful wilderness setting with a proper balance of comforts.
The race combines a challenging course with a well-manned and well-marked
trail. The participants all seem to have a great time and the organizers
throw the wildest awards ceremony anywhere." Neal and many others
on the course said the race was the most beautiful they had ever run.
Next year's event will be held Wednesday, June 26, 2002.