Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Amazing Friendship Race!

991471931109_0_BG
The Amazing Race
.
..........Insane or inspiring? Over 300 take part in The World's Toughest Mountain Race and push their strength, endurance and spirit to their limits
Wee Teck Hian
In Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
plus@newstoday.com.sg


YOU might call it a nature trek if it weren't for the fact these trekkers move at breakneck speed.
Up muddy inclines, over rocky ground and through thick stands of trees they go, on to areas where only shrubs can survive and upwards to altitudes where it's nothing but granite slopes, vertigo-inducing cliffs, perilously thin air and eye-popping views.
Not that anyone takes the time to look around.
After all, these are not your run-of-the-mill hikers. They're participants in the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon, an annual event that's touted as "The World's Toughest Mountain Race."Now in its 20th year, the race saw the participation of a Singapore team for the first time last weekend, when eight men and a woman took up the challenge of completing the 21km trip up and down the 4,095m mountain in a matter of hours instead of the standard two days.
.
Madness? Masochism? Evidence of a death wish?
.
Team member Sim Ann Eng preferred to think of it simply as another way to find out what he's made of.
"Some people might think we're crazy to do this," chuckled the 35-year-old technician, a veteran of nine marathons and triathlons in Singapore and Malaysia.
"It was quite tough for me but it's just testing my limits. Actually, I wasn't even confident I could make it. But I did."
.
Sim was one of four Singaporeans who took part in the Men's Open category of the race, a classification for runners under age 40 that requires completion of the gruelling race to Low's Peak and back in just four-and-a-half hours.Testifying more to the near-impossibility of the task than to the abilities of his fellow runners, Sim was the only one of the four to make it under the deadline, clocking 4 hours and 17 minutes.
It certainly didn't help that on the day of the Men's Open race, the mountain wasn't the only challenge they were up against.
"It rained on and off throughout the day," said Sim, who came in 46th out of 140 runners in the Men's Open. "My leg muscles started cramping up after about 2km and it was very cold. There was a lot of water and algae. So, people were falling down. One racer even got hypothermia."
.
The other two athletes who managed to finish while beating the clock were civil servant He Yulan, 22, a participant in the Ladies' Open category, and stock trader David Ong, 41, who competed in the Veterans category for athletes aged 40 and above. Both groups are given six-and-a-half hours to complete the trip.
While Ong came in 28th out of the 88 runners in his category, He placed 25th out of 80 in hers.
Drawing on the strength and endurance she gained while in training — which saw the entire Singapore team make as many as 15 trips up the stairs of a 40-floor HDB block during each practice session — second-time competitor He posted a time of 5 hours and 28 minutes.Not that the hours of practice fully prepared her for what was literally an uphill battle not only for her but the roughly 300 other runners from at least 20 countries who took part.
.
"Even though I ran last year, I still wasn't mentally ready for how tough the terrain is," she said.
.
"I don't think I would have finished but David (Ong) waited for me near the end and encouraged me because I had no strength left."
.
He and Ong, who dismissed the selfless gesture as a simple matter of "team spirit", crossed the finish line with identical times.
.
Many of those who took up the challenge of the race — including defending men's champion and three-time winner Ricardo Mejia of Mexico and five-time women's winner Anna Pichtrova of the Czech Republic — had the added incentive of sharing in cash prizes totalling US$34,000 ($54,000).
.
As for Ong, his motivation came from a basic drive to succeed and something even simpler.
"I started out wanting to test myself, just to prove that I could do it. But towards the end, I was so cold and tired I just wanted to get back for a mug of hot Milo," he said with a laugh.
.
Best Foot Forward
Team Singapore was assembled by the labour movement's recreational arm, NTUC Club Sports and Wellness Division, and managed by Senior Manager Yusof Lateef.
• He Yulan, 22, Civil Servant
• Sim Ann Eng, 35, Technician
* Timothy Leong, 32, Sales Engineer
* Ho Hee Shen, 33, Lecturer
• Han Keng Seow, 35, IT Administrator
• David Ong, 41, SGX DT 'Local' Trader
• Anthony Sum, 43, Director
• Rodney Chang, 46, Senior Manager
.

dreamnme

No comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...