Mount Kinabalu Kotal-Bowen Route & Western Plateau of Kinabalu Expedition

I wrote about Eastern Plateau of Kinabalu route 5 years ago – Kotal Route and Bowen Route with very limited resources. Those days, I have to really to extensive research about these expedition route or unbeaten path of Kinabalu because they are really not as famous and as commercialize as The Summit Trail and Mesilau Trail. I also have a very limited photos on the route as it was difficult to find climbers/trekkers who like to share their photos on the net.

This morning I received an email pointing me to a Youtube video of a group of Mount Kinabalu hardcore climbers who produced a very good video on their expedition.

Eddie Lim YatYuen said;

On the route: This route is the most amazing route I have hiked in Malaysia so far. Starting from the Nepenthes trail where one gets to see the Nepenthes rajah and villosa, it goes through different forest types at different elevations. This route is untouched, unspoiled and rich in biodiversity. Different types of orchids can be found growing throughout the entire route.
*****
Of all, the Bowen route is the most technical and difficult section of the route. This is also the section where it involved the biggest risk. The descent involved climbing down several vertical sections using long ladders and ropes. Moreover, one has to abseil down huge slabs and gaps using ropes and carefully guides oneself through rocky edges.

On Gurkha Hut: One would easily missed Gurkha hut for a gigantic rock or some insignificant structure when viewed from Low’s peak if no one points it out or more often than not, the place would be covered in fog. As this hut is not promoted anywhere, therefore information regarding this magnificent alpine hut is relatively unknown to the outsiders. However, set in the western plateau and surrounded by different jagged peaks, this alpine hut is probably one of the closest places to heaven in Malaysia one can find. This hut also acts as a safety retreat from the ever-changing weather of Mount Kinabalu.

It’s a really long journey, but I think it was really worth it! Enjoy.

BIM2013 Re-open their registration

Good news for those who missed the boat to register for Borneo International Marathon 2013 in May. As they have rescheduled the running date to 25th August, they are offering a limited number of entries till 30 June 2013 for all categories – Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km.

I received their email last night. Just to remind you that you CANNOT change your categories if you have registered before. Haha. It just crossed my mind to change my category from 10km to Full Marathon. Hopefully I can do full next year.

My dear friends,

Due to the overwhelming requests and inquiries regarding new registration, the Organizing Committee is pleased to re-open registration for BIM2013 scheduled on Sunday, 25th August. We are offering a limited number of entries till 30 June 2013 for all categories. To register, please click http://borneomarathon.com/register.

Here are other few reminders :

  1. For those who have collected their race packs and will be running BIM2013 this August, you will be using the same bib that was included in your race pack. Please take care of your bib, DO NOT bend or fold it. In case you lose it, there will not be any replacement.
  2. The routes of all three categories are still the same. They are available in our website and you may download them.
  3. If you have already registered for BIM2013, we still have your records so you don’t have to re-register.
  4. We will have another round of race pack collection. We will advise you on the time, date and venue once finalized. If you wish to send a representative to collect your race pack on your behalf, please fill up the authorization form available from our website.
  5. Registered runners are not allowed to change their categories once the registration is confirmed.
  6. The date on BIM2013’s medals and running/finisher’s t-shirts will maintain as 5th May 2013 – the original scheduled date of BIM2013.

Happy running and Best Wishes,
Race Director

New date for Borneo International Marathon (BIM) 2013 – 25th August

I received the email from race official last Sunday:

My dear Friends,

At last, the elections are over, the nation has settled down and we have finished with the Race Committee meeting on deciding the date of BIM

2013. We have met up with the authorities, permission has been granted and the stadium booked.

The date for BIM2013 is on 25 August 2013, starting at 3.00 am with the Full Marathon, followed by Half Marathon at 5.00 am and then 10Km run at 6.15 am.

We are very sorry for the postponement but when the Police advised us to postpone it, we had no choice. It would have been wrong to ignore it. Once again, we are very sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience but it was completely out of our hands.

Our responsibility is to our Runners and not the event. Believe me, the whole Organizing Committee, Volunteers, Sponsors and Officials were equally disappointed. Money had already been spent on rentals, staff and timing systems. We would have liked nothing better than to have carried on. It was such an anti-climax for us, made worse by not having a climax!

We will not let this hold us back. We are determined and our spirits are restored to make BIM2013 on 25 August 2013 an enjoyable and successful race.

We wish you the very best and look forward to seeing you.

GOD WILLING.

Best wishes,
Race director

Lets continue training!

Skechers GOrun 2 review

I bought a pair of Skechers GOrun 2 running shoes in February, just after I decided to run in Borneo International Marathon this year. After few years of wearing Nike futsal shoes for running, I just felt that it’s about time for me to change to a proper running shoes for comfort and avoiding injuries. Since February, I have logged 200km on the shoes, and now I decided to share with you the my review of the shoes. Oh, I am planning to run Mount Kinabalu Climbathon with the same shoes also.


First and foremost, the shoes is VERY LIGHT. I never had a pair of shoes that is so light that even my wife couldn’t believe it. It’s radical weight is just 6.9 oz (195.6 gm) per shoe based on a men’s size 9. It claims no extra material in which nothing will slow you down. That is why the shoe is categorized as a very SERIOUS MINIMAL running shoe by Runners World magazine. Taken from Skechers website, “Designed for speed with innovative performance technologies to promote a midfoot strike, it works as a great transitional shoe to foster a barefoot running experience”. And I felt that they have proven what they claimed.

The sole of the shoe is VERY LIGHT and SOFT. They used Resalyte™ Midsole – Proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact from running. They managed to get to the point whereby you can have barefoot running experience, without compromising comfort. Do you know that it is difficult to experience barefoot running without discomfort, pain and injuries? Skechers GOrun 2 did it.

If you can see, the sole of the shoe has many rounded/circular protrusion, in which some of them (the black coloured ones) acts as sensors – independent circular GOimpulse sensors which offer flexibility and feedback for a more responsive running experience. Honestly, I don’t know whether the sensors works or not, as I thought they put on some electronic sensors in it. But it is not. It’s just some black rubber protrusion that was placed on strategic places of the sole. I can’t confirmed that it sensed my running. However, one thing that I like about the circular sole is that it was arranged wide enough from each other, to not let big dirt and rocks stuck in between those protrusion.

You can see both of my heel sole after logging 150km. The left sole seems to erode more than the right. It’s because I subconsciously used more of my left foot (not particularly heel) compared to my right, as I torn my ACL of my right knee last year. Using my right foot will make my knee hurts, especially if I landed a bit harsh on my right foot.

The shoe is also very FLEXIBLE. You can flex the sole anyway you want. With the extra flexibility, it can let your foot to move more naturally. I really like this as none of my other shoes can do that.

One other feature that I like with this shoe is its tongue. Skechers has done a very good design by stitching the tongue of the shoes directly to its body. By doing this, the tongue will not be able to move aside while running. With the tongue stitched, there will be slight tightness when wearing the shoes with socks, especially if you have a big foot. You may want to remove the insole to loosen the shoes a bit.

Lets go to the fabrics of the shoes. Skechers used a very lightweight synthetic and mesh fabric for the upper sole. It also uses Flatlock stitching, in which will give you seamless feel to your foot. This type of stitching is the same type of stitching on my SCUBA diving wetsuit – it minimize the abrasion from friction of conventional stitching method. So it will be more comfortable to your skin even running without socks.

The shoes has two pairs of light reflector, a pair on the toes and another pair on the heel. Although the size is small, it’s still an important features of the shoes especially for those who like to run in the dark. However, the light reflector alone is not good enough for other road users to notice you in the dark. You may have to run with few more light reflective markers or even a proper flashlight or headlight. By the way, if you are not sure which are the light reflector – its the pair of grey patch on both toes and heel.

Other feature that I like is its roomy forefoot panel. My toes can move freely without compressed, thanks to the breathable 4-way stretch mesh. With roomier forefoot, it reduces friction and allow my toes to splay, spread, grip and push off with minimal injury. And I can CONFIRMED this. I had very minimal blisters with GOrun 2 as compared to my Nike futsal shoes.


Now this is maybe one of the MOST important features of GOrun 2 as compared to other running shoes in the market. If you can see from the photo, the sole of the shoe is not flat. It curved up at the heel and at the toes. Its design was basically made to promote midfoot strike running – as compared to heel strike and forefoot strike, in which they claimed to be one of the best technique to run long distance. Personally I feel that what they are promoting is good. I have tried heel strike running, but the impact was so noticeable on my injured knee. Running with forefoot strike makes my anterolateral tibial plateau and ankle painful. However, when I started midfoot running, the pain was less and my running was more stable. I ran more kilometers and its more enjoyable.


Okay, before I wrapped up, I just would like to highlight one of GOrun 2 features that may make you really love the shoes. It’s their 4mm Heel Drop feature – substantially less heel drop than traditional running or training shoes to bring you closer to a natural barefoot experience. I knew that GOrun 2 is my perfect shoes for running and walking when I did FEEL the different from my regular shoes while having a test run with the shoes in their shop in February. It was so comfortable that I even wears it to work!

Okay, enough with my review. The final question will be: Should you buy Skechers GOrun 2? My answer is: Absolutely yes, IF you are a SERIOUS runner OR casual runner with some old injuries to your lower limbs/knees/foot, as it really lessen the impact and injuries while running. The price is a bit steep however, RM409 (USD136) here in Malaysia. If you check Skechers US website, it only cost you USD80. Of course without postage.

Oh, did you know that Skechers paid Meb Keflezighi to promote GOrun 2? You can check out their advertisement here:

Happy running!

27th Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon 2013 has new routes and new challenges!

I think I am going to participate in this year’s Mount Kinabalu Climbathon. It’s about time for me to realize one of my dream – to run the toughest mountain climb in South East Asia. When I first climb Mount Kinabalu in 2002, I fell in love with the mountain. After 10 years of ‘procrastinating’, it’s about time for me to do it.

I actually have been training for 10km run in Borneo International Marathon this year since February. I run on treadmills in Hyatt Regency Hotel Kota Kinabalu gymnasium twice a week, run a couple of rounds around my neighborhood in Putatan and few half marathon distance from Kompleks Sukan Likas to UMS. I must say that its not easy, its agonizing and its painful, but I like it very much.

I did a fairly good time of under 65 minutes  few times and confident that I can make it better during the event. Borneo International Marathon will be held at night on the 4th of May – just few hours before our nation’s 13th General Election. Well, maybe I will do a separate post for my running experience later.

Back to the climbathon. A friend of me said to few days back that climbathon is not the same as marathon running. It’s a mixture of trail running and paved roads. And don’t forget the elevation – 1500 meters up and 1500 meters down in 23 km distance. So, the training will have to be different because the challenges is different from running on roads. It’s about time for me to look for book/website/blog/youtube for more information on trail running.

This year’s climbathon will offer two new routes for two new categories:

1. Summit Race (will reach the summit of Kinabalu)

The race course will start from Kinabalu Park entrance, to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu (4,095.2 m) then down to Masilau and finishing at Kundasang town. This race course is 33 Km long running on 15 Km of tarmac road and 18 Km of forest trails with the rock face at the summit. These category only accepts 110 elite men and 40 elite women and open to qualified runners with the following qualification:

  • Runners that has completed in any of the past Climbathon within the time starting from year 2008.
  • Completed in their countries official mountain race (with proof of results).
  • Recommended (in writing) by their country’s national mountain race / athletic body or any other organisation that the Climbathon organiser recognises or approves of.
2. Adventure Race (will only reach Layang-Layang Hut on the trail)

The race course will start from Kinabalu Park entrance, to Layang-Layang Hut (half way up Mt. Kinabalu 2760.3 m) then down to Masilau and finishing at Kundasang town. This race course is 23 Km long running on 15 Km of tarmac road and 8 Km of forest trails. This category is open to all men and women age 18 years and above, men veteran age 40 years and above, women veteran age 35 years and above.

(Okay, this will be the one that I will participate)

After checking with official Kinabalu Climbathon website today, they have not open the registration for the event just yet. Will have to wait few more days as they promised that it will open at the end of April.

In the meantime, lets check out youtube for last year’s Climbathon event:

Kinabalu Park porter Abbie Intang lifting a water tank to Laban Rata

Some of you may have seen this picture somewhere on the net. I even have the photo in this blog sometime ago, without knowing the story of it at that time. Now that I have his story and the story of the photographer, I would like to share with you here.

His name is Abbie Intang, a Moslem Dusun from Kampong Pinosuk, Kundasang. When this photo was taken in 2005, he was 48. But this 600 liters water tank wasn’t the only thing he hustled to Laban Rata along the 6km Summit Trail. This blue empty water tank is only 33kg and it took him about 6 hours, starting 7.30am at Timpohon Gate and arriving Laban Rata about 1.30pm. There were heavier or bigger loads he ‘ported’ up the trail, before and after this.

Before this, he delivered a laundry dryer, a washing machine and a r efrigerator. After this water tank, he delivered 2 loaded cooking gas tanks with a total weight about 64 kg. On the same trip.

Two years ago, he delivered septic tanks to all the shelters including the shelter at Sayat Sayat at KM7.2. Imagine piggybacked a huge empty septic tank along the steep, rocky and treacherous rockface. It took him only 2 hours from Laban Rata to Sayat Sayat, delivering the 27kg septic tank.

The most heaviest load he had delivered was a car battery, about 80kg in weight. Imagine…carrying a man for about 6 hours along the 6km Summit Trail to Laban Rata. We can’t even carry our own backpacks.

Now…you know why he is called Badang Kinabalu.

via Rabani Ayub – the sad part about this is – Rabani Ayub, the photographer of this epic photo passed away last December 2012 in Sukau Kinabatangan, while on assignment.

Popular for his work on eco-tourism sites in Sabah and Sarawak, Rabani collapsed in a resort after complaining of chest pains on Tuesday night, 18th December 2012.

Rabani was rushed to the district hospital 40 minutes away by employees of the resort, but was pronounced dead on arrival around midnight.

He was buried yesterday in Sandakan where his mother and brother, who works as a teacher there, live.

Originally from Kudat, Rabani, who is a system analyst programmer by profession, became a full-time photographer in 2004.

He was also known as Rabani HMA at www.trekearth.com, where many of his works are featured.

Resources:

1. Sabahluv.com

2. NST

26th Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2012 has a new route!

The annual “World’s Toughest Mountain Race” is back with a new route. This year, it will be held on 13th and 14th October 2012. When I checked on Mount Kinabalu Climbathon’s website, I noticed that they will be using a new route – in which they will not include Low’s Peak as one of their check point. In other words, runners will NOT reach the peak of Kinabalu. They only goes “around” the mountain, which starts at Kinabalu Park HQ on The Summit Trail and the highest level that the runners will run is at Layang-Layang Hut, which is 2760.3 meters above sea level.

From Layang-layang, runners will continue to descent using Mesilau Trail and finishes at Kundasang town. Although the route is 2 kilometers longer, (23km compared to 21km originally), the fact that it doesn’t reach the peak of Borneo really makes hard core Kinabalu climbers and runners feels disappointed. Nobody knows why the organizer decided to change the route this year. Hopefully they can revert the route back to the original so that the race will not loose it’s shine and soul.

Check out the map from the organizer here: