KUCHING: Japanese Reiko Yamashita clocked 8hrs 39.37min to win the Women’s category of the gruelling 50km Runners Wild Bario trail run last weekend.
The winner for the Men’s category was Mohd Syamsul Bahtiar Abdul Gapar, who came close to breaking the course record with a run of 6hrs 7.33min, if it was not for the bad weather and very muddy conditions.
The third edition of the nature run, created by Malaysian sports marketing veteran Kuhan Foo in collaboration with iM Sarawak, saw participation of 45 runners from around the globe, including Singapore and the United States.
In addition, 48 students from SMK Bario took part in the 10km Junior Challenge category.
“The run was initiated as a platform for the Bario community to work with the expertise of Kuhan and his team to create a new tourist attraction in the scenic Kelabit Highlands.
“The plan is for Bario to be seen as a new destination for running enthusiasts,” the organisers said in a statement.
The trail run, into its third year, has laid the groundwork for the local community to gain insight into organising a sporting event.
This was evident in their involvement last weekend.
The event clearly helped the local community create sustainable income through tourism industry.
“Runners Wild Bario is a catalyst for community training, the creation and maintenance of a tourism website for the Bario community as well as creation of travel packages and overseas partnerships to fly in more adventurous visitors to this area.
“All the medals and souvenirs are locally sourced from the local village of Pa Lungan, where they are handmade with beads by the local women’s association there,” it said.
A Junior Journalist Programme was also held in addition to the running event.
Through this iM Sarawak-backed initiative, Foo and his team worked with the teachers of SMK Bario to help a group of students develop journalistic, photography and writing skills.
The programme is further enhanced with twinning programmes with schools from other parts of Asia.
“It is hoped that through this experience, these students will grow into well-rounded individuals who are able to write and speak the English language confidently.
“It will also help students develop better self-esteem through interaction with participants and students from foreign schools,” it added.