They call it ‘the world’s toughest mountain race’. It takes a grueling soul to run, race and climb Mount Kinabalu with a total distance of 21 kilometers for both men and women. Takes place in Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site, Mount Kinabalu (4095.2 meters) International Climbathon is a true challenge to the spirit of human endurance.
The race first started as a competition among the Kinabalu Park staff aimed at improving rescue efforts on the mountain (especially useful during bad weather when helicopters can’t be used) in the development of a Rapid Reaction Rescue Squad and, as such, was first held in 1984. It was not until 1987 that outsiders were allowed to take part. Following the success of the first national race in 1987, the Climbathon went international in 1988, earning itself the title of ‘the toughest mountain race in the world’. Indeed, Climbathon is not for the faint hearted. Its grueling 21 kilometers (13 miles) route over a more than 2,250 meters (7,357 feet) ascent, and the punishing pace, test even the most experienced, but every year more mountain runners take part, including the world’s best. Participants who do not finish the race within the time limit – 2 hours and 30 minutes to the peak and 2 hours from the peak to the finish line – are automatically disqualified.
In the early days, Nepalese Gurkha runners dominated the men’s race, with Sundar Kumar Linthap winning from 1988 to 1990, followed by Kusang Gurung from 1991 to 1993. In 1994 the crown was taken over by Guianus Salagan, before he was overtaken in turn by Ian Holmes of Great Britain in 1997. Holmes hold the title with the record of 2 hours 42 minutes and 7 seconds for the fastest race, but in 2003, the record was broken by Italy’s Marco de Gasperi who finished with time of 2 hours 36 minutes and 59 seconds.
The Climbathon resulted in Malaysia organizing the 15th World Mountain Championships in Sabah in 1999. It was the first time that the World Mountain Race Championships was held in Southeast Asia. In 1998 the race was held in the Island of Re-Union under the French Athletic Federation and in 2003 it was held for the first time in Alaska, USA. This will be the fourth year that the Climbathon is the final determining race for the SkyRunner® World Series circuit. The Spanish based company Buff® has taken over this circuit as its main sponsor. Last year Climbathon has been endorsed as one of the 7 official races of the Federation of Sport at Altitude for the Skyrunning World Championship Circuit (racing on high altitude). A total of 247 participants (men category:126 women category: 51 and veteran men: 70) came for the ultimate endurance test.
The race will be held in Kinabalu Park HQ and Mount Kinabalu on the 30th September and 1st October 2006. Are you tough enough and thinking of participating? US$33,400.00 in total Cash Prizes awaits those who dare to accept the challenge!