PULAU TIOMAN: The seventh Sultan Ahmad Shah Tioman International Eco Challenge 2014 held recently had a cultural theme.
Event director Lt Kol Datuk Thong Kok Sing said participants explored the “cultural” route used by residents in the past.
He said Pulau Tioman residents had to travel by land when the seas were rough.
“They used the forest as a short cut as there was no road then. Now, the government has constructed a concrete road from Kampung Tekek to Kampung Juara, which is also ideal for 4x4 vehicles as it is very hilly,” he said.
He added that because the race had an “adventure and culture” theme, participants had to take part in activities like coconut grating (kukur kelapa).
“Most of them found it difficult as they are used to just buying coconut milk. There is no doubt that it cost some participants valuable time,” said Lt Kol Thong.
A total of 140 runners took part in the 32km run this year, compared to last year which had 158 entrants.
Lt Kol Thong attributed the possible drop in the number of participants to the lack of direct flights from Kuala Lumpur the day the challenge was held.
Many participants brought their children and family members for a holiday on the island.
“Their presence has helped support the tourism industry and generated income for the locals and businesses here,” said Lt Kol Thong.
The runners comprised army and police personnel, students, as well as seasoned adventure racers from Malaysia, Kenya, Singapore, Britain and the United States of America.
The international men’s and women’s categories were dominated by the Kenyans.
Alex Kipkorir Kibarus, 22, clocked 3 hours 7 minutes to bag the champion’s title with RM3,000 in cash and a medal.
Kipkorir said he enjoyed the coconut grating part as it was his first time doing it, and despite the activity slowing him down, he still managed to emerge champion.
First runner-up was Willey R. Rotich, 23, who clocked 3 hours 19 minutes to win a cash prize of RM1,500 and a medal, while teammate Daniel Kiprotich Kogo won third place with a cash prize of RM1,000 and a medal.
Valentine Jepkemoi, 25, won first place in the women’s category with a time of 4 hours 28 minutes. She was rewarded with a cash prize of RM2,000 and a medal.
Susan Jemutai was first runner-up and won RM1,000 in cash prize and a medal, while Shelin Selin was third and took home RM650 and a medal.
Local and 52-year-old grandmother Kamsiah Ariffin won first place in the Malaysian women’s category.
Kamsiah completed the race in 5 hours 24 minutes and brought home a cash prize of RM1,500 and medal.
Second place winner Chan Yin Yian took home RM750 cash and a medal, while Chang Hsiao Shiang won third prize which came with RM400 cash and a medal.
Both Chan and Chang are from Kuala Lumpur.
In the Malaysian men’s category, Kpl Muhaizar Mohamad, 29, who representing the armed forces was first followed by Kpl Mohd Azuan Asmuni in second place while L/Kpl Mohd Nazri Ahmad was third.
They bagged RM2,000, RM1,000 and RM750 cash prizes respectively and medals.