AFTER toiling for 57 hours and 45 minutes, four endurance athletes completed the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) race from Kuala Lumpur to Cherating, covering a distance of around 340km.
Team Altitude from the United States reached the finishing point, drenched in the rain, soiled and suffering from blisters and bruises but walked away with USD5,000 (RM20,930) for their efforts.
The team members, comprising Ron Flick, 38, Natalie Maxin, 29, Peter Campbell, 31, and Charles Leonard, 26, were also awarded a gold-coloured Twin Towers trophy and four limited-edition Citizen Promaster watches.
Members of 12 other competing teams too experienced muscle fatigue, nausea, dizziness and disorientation, while some were down from heat stroke and feverish.
Volunteers and medical teams were on hand to provide prompt and professional assistance during the entire duration of the ‘ultimate race of human endurance.’
Team Kamikaze A from Malaysia was the only other team that completed the full course.
The team members — Muhammad Irwan Yusuf, 39, Muhammad Musaddiq, 30, Mohd Haidir Hamid, 36, and Adelinah Lintanga, 34 — finished just 15 minutes behind.
Seven others — Team PMGM, Team PDRM, Team TCAT Heaven, Team Unsung, Team Sabah Hardcore B, Team Kamikaze B and Team Sabah Hardcore A — managed to complete the short course.
Only four — Team Find A Way, Team SOS Racer, Team AOFF and Team ABJ Adv — failed to finish the race.
Event organising chairman Datuk Seri Professor Dr Mohamed Mydin Mohd Musa said Malaysia was proud to win the right as the first South-East Asian country to organise and run the coveted race, set in a tropical climate.
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had graciously given his blessings for the event to help in gathering together the world’s best endurance athletes.
“The race involves seven disciplines — navigational skills, trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, caving, abseiling and for the first time in ARWS history, tree climbing.
“All four team members, one of whom must be of the opposite sex, must complete the course through 25 checkpoints for the entire team to be classified, ” he said after hosting a tea party for the competing team members, sponsors, volunteers, medical staff and those who contributed towards the success of the event.
Dr Mohamed Mydin also expressed his gratitude to Tengku Arif Temenggong Pahang Tengku Fahd Mua’adzam Shah for gracing the opening ceremony, the Pahang government and state tourism committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin for joining forces with the Society of Sports and Exercise Medicine Malaysia (SSEMM) to take care of all ground logistics and host the prize-giving ceremony in Cherating near Kuantan.
He also singled out event director Brandon Chee and deputy director Steven Ng for their strategic planning and training, and the recce of the entire course Adrian Chin and James Chee, as well as over 20 medical doctors for assisting the injured athletes.
He added that according to the strict rules, the destination of the tough tropical terrain was kept a secret.
“There was a ‘lockdown’ session for two hours, prior to the start of the race, for the teams to study the maps and plan their strategies.
“The athletes were then flagged off in Gunung Senyum Forest Eco Park for them to venture into the remote wilderness, without knowing the obstacles and dangers looming ahead, ” he said, adding that due to dangerous weather conditions at sea, the kayaking discipline was called off.
Dr Mohamed Mydin, who is also SSEMM president, said the 10-year ARWS franchise contract allowed Malaysia the rights to hold races, not only in the country but in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
“The ARWS aims to unite the world’s best endurance athletes at premier qualifier events around global destinations simultaneously.
“The top two teams from each of these races gain a coveted position on the starting line of the annual pinnacle of the sport, ” he said.
Following Malaysia’s success, Dr Mohamed Mydin shared that the country had been given the green light to officially host the next level of the qualification rounds world challenge between June and July next year, again in Pahang, in a distance of 500km over six days.
He said Sultan Abdullah would be invited to grace the celebration dinner and launching of the ARWS 2020 in December.
Malaysia joins other ARWS hosts, namely Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, France, the United States, Spain and Belize for staging an event leading up to the World Championship.
Dr Mohamed Mydin also urged more Malaysians to take up the challenge and show their mettle by excelling in the competitive race next year.
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