KOTA KINABALU: The upcoming 26th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series at the Kinabalu Park, Kundasang – will comprise many firsts.
From a two-day event to a single day race on Oct 14, the new changes are aimed at promoting the surrounding areas of Mount Kinabalu.
One of the most important changes was doing away with the summit section thus creating a new race course covering 23km, which is 2km longer than the traditional route of running up and down the mountain.
“The race will start at Kinabalu Park entrance and go through the forest trails to Layang-Layang Hut (at 2703.3m) and down to Masilau Nature Resort.
“The participants will run for another 10km on tarmac road going through several villages before the end point at Kundasang Town
“The change of race course is aimed to promote the surrounding areas of Mt Kinabalu. Therefore this course is called The Adventure Series,” said Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Ellron Angin.
“The race is not as easy as it looks…it will be a very challenging route,” Ellron told The Borneo Post here on Tuesday.
In line with the fresh changes, a new category for Women’s Veteran will be contested along with the Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Men’s Veteran.
And for the first time ever, all four categories will be flagged off on the same morning at a new start and finish points at the Kinabalu Park entrance and in Kundasang Town respectively.
Apart from that, the Climbathon, already the deciding race for the Skyrunning World Series, will also be the final leg of the Asian Mountain Race Circuit.
Despite all the changes, especially the omission of the summit section which received mixed reactions from locals and international runners, it did little to dampen the reputation of the Climbathon as the World Toughest Mountain Race.
Instead, there is an increase in the number of runners this year where it has attracted a record 658 entries from 28 countries, with Sabah athletes leading the list with 264, international runners (193), West Malaysia (191), Sarawak (10) and Labuan (three).
“Great Britain has the most entry among foreign countries with 32 athletes and we received increased entries from France, Indonesia and USA,” said Ellron, adding they would limit participation once it has reached 700 entries.
Returning top international runners include Spain’s men’s open title holder Killian Jornet, Marco de Gasperi of Italy, Tom Owens of Great Britain, Amelia Forsberg of Sweden and Silvia Serafini of Italy.
Locals such as Women’s Open and Men’s Veteran reigning champions Danny Kuilin and Yusof Sumbad respectively and Sabah top men runner Safrey Sumping and Guianus Salagan are also expected in the race.
Prize money totalling RM105,000, another first in the Climbathon history, will be up for grabs.
Sponsors for the event included Celcom, New Balance, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, Spritzer, Exotic Adventure, Malaysia Airlines and Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.
In conjunction with the Climbathon, there will also be a special musical event entitled Rhythm of Kinabalu at the Kundasang Township featuring local artistes.
Sabah Tourism Board and its wholly owned subsidiary company Sri Pelancongan Sabah is organiser the Climbathon.