KOTA KINABALU: The Borneo Ultra Trail Marathon (BUTM) is returning to Kiulu at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu after a year-long hiatus, and it hopes to attract 800 extreme marathon enthusiasts.
Supported by the Sabah Tourism Board, the event will see participants racing past Kiulu villages and through the forested terrain trails. It is set to take place from March 19-20.
BUTM race director Claus Pedersen said about 400 people have signed up for the marathon so far, with 25 of them being foreigners.
“The last ultra trail marathon took place in 2020, right before the Covid-19 movement control order was imposed. At that time, there were 1,600 local and international participants.
“Due to the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) restriction, we are limiting this year's event to 200 participants per category,” he said, adding there are four distance categories (100KM, 50KM, 30KM, and 9KM).
He said registered international participants are believed to be expatriates living in Malaysia, and they come from Australia, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Russia, Romania, Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore, among others.
Kiulu remains the venue of choice for BUTM due to its reputation as an eco-adventure destination and its proximity to the state capital of Sabah, said Pedersen.
The BUTM committee, led by Pedersen, met with Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai to brief him on the upcoming sporting event.
Pedersen assured the meeting that strict SOP would be put in place and that all participants would be subjected to a Covid-19 test to prevent infection.
Bangkuai, who is also the Sabah Assistant Minister for Tourism, Culture, and Environment, said the BUTM is more than just a sporting event as it is a major tourism draw.
“This is wonderful for Sabah and Kiulu in particular because the BUTM event allows participants to explore Sabah’s rural destinations while participating in outdoor sporting activities in the fresh air surrounded by rivers, green trees, and mountains.
“Kiulu is known for its commitment to community-based tourism. The villagers could use this opportunity to promote their places, homestays, and culture, allowing participants to stay longer and enjoy our rural destination.
“While we encourage Malaysians to visit Sabah, we also recognise expatriates as our prospective tourists while the international tourism border remains closed. “Therefore, we must continue to promote potential events that will attract expatriates and pique their interest in Sabah,” he said.
BUTM 2022 registration is open until February, and the registration procedure can be found at https://www.borneoultra.com/butm/registration.