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Running Trails in Thailand

With Sakuna Usanawasin

Where to go running in Thailand? Which races are worth joining? We asked Sakuna Usanawasin, one of Thailand's most adventurous endurance athletes who just completed the 170km long Thailand by UTMB race over the weekend. Here are her recommendations.

1) Can you introduce yourself and let us know how long you have been trail running and where you are based?

Hello, my name’s Sakuna, I’m a doctor, paediatrician, who works full time in a government hospital. I live in the middle region of Thailand, Chonburi Province, near Bangkok. I am a volunteer doctor who treats patients on high mountains in the north of Thailand where travelling is difficult and far away from civilisation. I love trail running, it keeps me happy and healthy. I've been trail running for about 8 years.

2) Are you a competitive runner joining races or do you just run for fun and pleasure?

I’m not a competitive trail runner, I just run for fun and the challenge, but I do sometimes put in more effort in my training to advance myself and try to get a medal. My favorite distance is the longer races as I love the challenges and rewards it brings. Last year I joined the race Tor des Geants in Italy, 330 km, 24000 m+, but unfortunately I couldn’t finish so I am eager to try again next year.

3) If we come to Thailand for a race which race would you recommend to sign up for and why?

My country has many trail races and these are my favorite ones:

1) Thailand by UTMB®, the new trail running event on the roof of Thailand! The course is based around the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai Province, and is 2,656 metres. It is known locally as “The Roof of Thailand”. This national park allows runners the chance to get off the beaten track and experience a true adventure - crossing rivers, chasing hidden waterfalls, passing royal burial grounds, learning about the local people, exploring remote villages, watching the sunrise and sunset, birdwatching. It is attractive thanks to the all year round cold weather and high elevation.

Video by Thailand By UTMB_Official

Thailand by UTMB has 5 distances: 170 KM 7600 m+, 119 KM 5400 m+, 80 KM 4000 m+, 24KM 900m+ and 12 KM 560m+. Each will gain ITRA points and Running Stones which will bypass the lottery for entry to UTMB.

Sakuna at the Thailand by UTMB

2) Ultra-Trail Unseen Koh Chang is the ultimate jungle trail in Thailand with a variety of funny challenges, excitement, and ultimately it is an extreme challenge in tropical conditions. The route winds among fishing villages, hiking trails, rocky waterfalls and sandy beaches. Anyone who likes a challenge must try this! The course is based around Koh Chang National Park Island, Trat Province.

Sakuna racing the Ultra-Trail Unseen Koh Chang

Ultra-Trail Unseen Koh Chang has 5 distances: 100 KM 4180 m+, 70 KM 2844 m+, 34 KM 1258 m+, 14 KM 376 m+, 5 KM road

Sakuna at the finish line of Ultra-Trail Unseen Koh Chang

3) Tanaosri Trail (TNT), the route is a part of the Great Tanaosri Mountain Range, border between Thailand and Burma. It has become a very famous race, not because of its location that is set quite close to Bangkok therefore easy for many people to get to, but because of the incredible scenery, steep inclines, mountains and very challenging technical routes.

Tanaosri Trail (TNT) has 6 distances: 117 KM 6370 m+,73 KM 4380 m+,57.5 KM 2900m+,32 KM 2140 m+,20 KM 1480 m+,10 KM 430 m+.

4) If we come to Thailand for a running holiday which region would you recommend to explore?

If you come to Thailand for a running holiday, there are endless amazing trails among beauty waiting for you to discover, especially the span of towering mountains in the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai Province. If you come to Thailand for a race, l recommend you to join Thailand by UTMB. Last year I joined this race and did the 120 km and this year I joined the 170 km.

5) How is the trail running community in Thailand? Are there many women running and joining races these days?

Trail running community in Thailand is growing everyday, especially for women and more and more female runners are joining races these days.

Sakuna running in Chiang Rai Province

6) Would you be interested in running together with other women who come to visit Thailand to show them your favorite trails in the future?

If you are interested in travelling to Thailand to explore our trails you can contact me by email atl Let’s run together!

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