Tag Archives: Climbathon

28th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon 2014 – Adventure Race Report

I did it again. This is my second climbathon that I joined. I joined last year’s edition of climbathon, in which I did in 6 hours 26 minutes. Not even within the cut off time. My time was even worse this time. I did in 6 hours 46 minutes. 20 minutes over my last year’s timing. The Summit Trail and The Mesilau Trail experience was exactly the same as last year.

Kiram's Village

Early morning at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, Kiram’s Village, Mesilou, Kundasang. We slept in the white cabin just behind us, the night before.

The number of runner this year was the highest, as it was rumored that this climbathon edition will be the last. There will be no more climbathon next year. Almost 800 participant from all over the world came to torture themselves. However, a day before the event, the organizer made a press statement saying that the climbathon event this year will be the last one that is organized by Sabah Tourism Board. From next year onward, there will be a new organizer for this international event.

Climbathon 2014 morning

At the parking lot, just in front of Kinabalu Park HQ, Kundasang. The guy with the green shirt is a friend of mine. He finished 10th in his category.

Maybe Sabah Tourim Board (a government body) might not have enough financial support and had difficulties to find sponsors for this event. I personally thinks that when International Skyrunning Federation dropped climbathon from their circuit, the event was not that appealing anymore for international skyrunners to come here.

Kinabalu Park HQ entrance

At the entrance of Kinabalu Park HQ.

However, this year’s edition of climbathon was slightly different in terms of the environment and the camaraderie. I will not share with you the flow of the event, as you can read it from my previous year report here. I will share with you the things that I missed when I did my maiden climbathon last year.

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu, early morning, just before the start.

I finished this year’s climbathon WITHOUT any injury

This is the most important difference that I have to highlight, as compared to last year’s edition. I injured my left knee while reaching Layang-Layang and have to scramble down Mesilau Trail and end up walking very slowly to the finish line. I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome –  a common injury for runners –  in which I had to rest for almost 3 months after last year’s event!

New friends

Met some new friends while running.

This time however, I did not have any injury, only ‘normal’ thigh cramps on the way down Mesilau Trail and managed to still run to the finish line. What I did differently was only by close monitoring my heart rate below 160 bpm. Last year, I didn’t know how to use my heart rate monitor properly. So what I did was only run with all my heart out and most of the time, it reaches more than 90% of my maximum heart rate. This time around, I maintained my heart rate below 90% and with that approach, the result showed. I still have cramps of my both thigh, but the intensity and frequency was way less than last year.

Happy faces!

Few seconds before the race begins.

And the bad time. I have to admit that I didn’t train much as compared to last year. The last run that I did before this climbathon was only 10km Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, just a week earlier. I only did “mental training”. Haha. The result showed that I need more training, especially hill training for this kind of event.

Kinabalu at the background

Mount Kinabalu at the background.

I ran this climbathon with my cousin and a lot of just found friends

Last year when I did my climbathon, I was alone, in the sense of relationship with other runners. Maybe because I was just started running that time, and my circle of running friends was quite small then. As time goes by, I got to know a lot of them in the running community here in Sabah from the Facebook. It seems now that whenever I run, I surely will bump with them, and that makes the event more fun. It’s really fun to run with some of the friends that you know from the Facebook in which you never met with them personally before. We will usually give encouragement with each other, as not all of us are as fit as others.

Finishing line

Yes! I did it again!

I also ran with my cousin from Kuala Lumpur this time. He is the one who ran with a GoPro stick and camera, and happily shooting all the way through the event as he ran. We had a good time together, staying overnight at Kiram’s Village, meeting our new friends from all over the nation and shopping some local delicacies in Kundasang. It makes the climbathon more eventful.

At the medical tent

At the medical tent. Nursing my both thighs with ice. It was burning!

I ran this climbathon fully prepared with hydration pack and electrolytes 

Last year I was really not prepared for my hydration and electrolytes. I underestimated the event, bringing no hydration pack and rely on the event organizer’s water station. I did not bring any PowerGel or even electrolytes. That move had caused my muscle to cramps all the way from Layang-Layang to Kundasang – almost 15km of pure agony. In addition with the cramps, I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome. That really slowed down my pace.

Medical tent, Kundasang

Met some more new friends!!!

This time around, I brought along my AK race vest by Ultimate Direction. I have used the gear during my Hasuu Tasuu Trail Run (23km) last August and it performs really well. 2 bottles of 500ml, a lot of electrolytes powder, PowerGel, some chocolate and peanuts. It really makes a difference in the “quality” of the race as compared to last year. I don’t rely too much on the water station, and this time around, I intentionally missed the illegal water station, in which they served cakes! With my hydration that was monitored closely, my mind can focus on the target of improving my last year’s timing.

Climbathon background

Are you tough enough? YES!

I ran this climbathon with my Suunto Ambit2 R watch

As compared to last year’s event in which I used Garmin Forerunner 210, the GPS tracking for both watches was excellent. No mobile phone apps can match their capabilities of tracking your run deep inside the jungle canopy of Kinabalu Park. With the watch, I knew I did really good last year from Kinabalu Park to Layang-Layang (1 hour 15 minutes) but really bad this year (2 hours and 30 minutes). Because of the injury last year, my second part was worst than this year. So, actually I DID better this year in terms of overall stats, but because I did not have enough training, I failed to improve my time this year.

Crossing the finish line

It was a relief when I crossed the red line!

Anyway, the pain was better than last year’s edition, and I have to admit that I am addicted to this kind of event. I will surely signed up for next year’s event –  if they continue to have it. I have actually signed up for next year’s TMBT 50km Ultra Trail Run.

I just conquered my own self

Me and my cousin, Azril. He did a better time at 5:25.

See you next year.

I am on Strava!

Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail map comparison between a climbathon runner and a casual climber

While browsing through Every Trail, one of the best website which has a connecting apps for the smartphone to track any jungle or mountain trail that you took, I found two different trail profiles of Mount Kinabalu. One trail profile was posted by a Mount Kinabalu Climbathon runner and the other one was posted by a casual climber. Both showed the elevation profile of the mountain in simple term of how did they do while running / walking / hiking / climbing / scrambling the trail in relation of the time they took and the elevation of the trail from sea level.

Although both person took the same Summit Trail, you can see the difference in the profile of how they took the trail. I just would like to inform you that the most immediate difference that you could see from the profiles was the TIME taken to finish the trail climb. While the average climbathon runner took less than 6 hours to complete the course (some climbathon runners can make it in less than 3 hour mark), casual average climber will take at least one and a half day. Haha. (Click image to enlarge)

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon Summit Trail profile information

Mount Kinabalu casual climber's profile information

The Climbathon Runner

If could see the red button with the word “GO”, that is the point where climbathon runners starts their run, just few hundred meters before Timpohon Gate. Timpohon Gate is situated at about 1600 meters above sea level (the start of the blue line in the graph) where this is also the official gate for anybody who would like to enter the Summit Trail up the mountain.


You could see the starting speed of the runner, the first 800 meters of the climb showed the climber ran about 9 km/h. That’s a pretty fast starting speed as these few hundred meters was run on a paved road. After entering the gate, the runner will start climbing stairs – some says that its the unending stairway to hell – and starting from this point, you could see that the speed goes down to around 6 km/h for the next 6 kilometers. As the runner gets higher and higher, the speed is significantly slower, as fatigue sets in.

After the 6 kilometer mark where Laban Rata is, the speed of the runner gets slower, just around 4 km/h for the next 2.5 kilometers. The runner actually ran on barren rock – the summit plateau – for the last 2 km up until Low’s Peak. This slowing down of the speed may be due to exhaustion and exertion of the runners running up into thinner air. At 3200 meters above sea level, there is a significant drop in temperature, barometric pressure and thinning of air, making the runner hard to breath. It can be a significant stress to the runner’s wearing body, scrambling slowly to reach the peak at 4095 meters after running uphill for about 8.5 kilometers.

After tapping the signboard at Low’s Peak, 4095.2 m above sea level, the climbathon runner must run down the mountain as fast as they could back to Kinabalu Park HQ. You can see the runner running down fast at about 9 km/h for the first 2 km on the Summit Plateau, and the speed gets slower just as he reached the stairs. From kilometers 10 to kilometers 12, the speed was about 5 km/h and the speed gradually increased to about 20 km/h as the distance nearing the 20 km mark. These last few kilometers was fast because it was run on paved roads.

In total, a climbathon runner will cover 20 km of trail running (including paved road) with 2565 meters of vertical up and 2837 of vertical down. The fastest that a climbathon runner can finish the race in less than 3 hours. This runner finished the race in less than 6 hours. Almost double the time. Not sure about the pain.

The Casual Climber

Any casual, slow, relaxed and unfit climber of Kinabalu will start the climb from the same point as the climbathon runner – The Timpohon Gate. As you can see from the graph, from kilometer 0 to kilometer 6, the speed of the climber never reaches 9 km/h. The elevation gradually increased from 1600 meters above sea level to 3200 meters, and you could see that at this point, the elevation does not increases although he walked the distance.The climber walked about 2 kilometers at this level because he is at Laban Rata Resthouse, a point where every casual climber has to stop and have a rest.


After taking a rest for few hours, recharge the energy, refuel the body and maybe taking a bath, climbers have to wake very early to continue their journey up the peak. At 2 am in the morning, casual climber has to wake up to complete another 2.5 kilometers journey to the Low’s Peak. As you can see, the climb starts at 10 kilometer mark up to 12 kilometer mark, where he reaches the peak. The speed was really, really slow at about 1-2 km/h (snail pace) at this moment because they were walking in the dark, cold and high altitude. Usually they will reaches the peak after scrambling about 2-3 hours, just a nice time to catch the sunrise.

Ah… at that point, you have reached the highest peak of Borneo. It was such a relief to achieved one of your dream of a lifetime. But wait. The pain is NOT OVER yet. After spending less than 10 minutes at the peak, taking photos and congratulating other climbers that reached there after you, its time to go down. For those who love mother nature, this will be the time where you can see one of the most beautiful scene of your life – Mount Kinabalu at its heart.

Climbing down after the peak was also very slow at about 4 km/h, and the speed were consistent for the next 8.5 kilometers down back to Timpohon Gate. When a climber reaches Timpohon Gate, they will be picked up by a shuttle bus back to Kinabalu Park HQ. That is why you could see that the speed increases up to 40 km/h.

In total, a casual climber will cover about 25 kilometers of hiking (including walking about at Laban Rata) with 2710 meters of vertical up and 3057 meters of vertical down. An average climber will usually finishes this trail in one and a half day. Just to remind you that the post-climbing pain and agony will last for about a week.

Happy climbing!

*For geeks who want to know what did the climbathon runner used to track their trail, it was Garmin Forerunner 305. The data was then transferred / synced with Every Trail. For your information, Forerunner 305 is now obsolete. Get Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS Sports Watch with Heart Rate Monitor instead.

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much! 

Registration for 27th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon is now open

If you have been waiting to run in the world’s toughest mountain race, wait no more as they have opened the registration for the event. This 27th edition of the race has a new format, after last year’s edition which uses a new route that was claimed “too easy” for some of the international athletes who ran in the event.

Last year’s edition doesn’t require the runners to reach Low’s Peak. The highest point for the run is only at Layang-Layang Hut, halfway up the mountain. Even though the distance of the run was extended another couple of kilometers, it doesn’t make the run anymore difficult, as the last remaining couple of kilometers was a downhill pavement road surface. It was too easy as claimed by Killian Jornet, when he compared it with UTMB. Haha.

Because of last year’s climbathon feedback, they now opened this year’s edition with a new format, in which they categorize it for elite and non-elite runners. Elite runners (there are few certain criteria that they have rule out) will run Summit Race category – up the mountain to Low’s Peak and come down via Mesilau Trail and end at Kundasang town. That will torture them through 33km of layers of Kinabalu’s unique mountain forest and barren rockface.

Non-elite runners will run last year’s trail and now it is called Adventure Race. The Adventure Race will make runners only up to Layang-Layang Hut and down to Mesilau Trail. The trail is shorter 11km and was claimed too easy for elite runners. That is why the organizer has to make it really hard for them with the Summit Race.

The race will also be held in two days, one for each category. The registration fee is RM150 for Open category and RM100 for Veteran. Get to the official Climbathon website for more info. And register for the event of your life!

Anyway, this is my first climbathon. I climbed Mount Kinabalu 5 times, but it’s just a normal hike, not a race like this. From now to the date of the race, I will do few more training on the mountain. Maybe I will do the climb in one day.

If you still do not know who Killian Jornet is, enjoy this video;

24th Mount Kinabalu Climbathon results

Newsflash taken from BERNAMA

KUNDASANG (Sabah), Oct 24 (Bernama) — Spain’s Tofol Castaner took home the men’s title of the 2010 Skyrunners World Series after he amassed 347 points overall when the final leg of the series, the 24th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon, concluded here today. Despite finishing third in the race up and down Mount Kinabalu, Castaner’s 347 points was enough to bring home the trophy.

Italy’s Marco De Gasperi won the race in a time of two hours 33 minutes and 56 seconds, setting a new Climbathon Men’s Open record after beating the old record he himself had set in 2003 (2’36.59s).

Castaner clocked 2’58.09s, while Nepal’s Sudip Kulung, who made his debut this year, finished second in 2’46.14s.

Spain’s Jessed Hernandez finished second overall in the series with 324 points, ahead of fellow countryman Sebastian Sanchez Saez with 303 points.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Safrey Sumping finished fifth clocking 3’02.47s, but hoped he had done better as last year he had clocked 3’00.22s to finish the race in ninth place.


You can get the full result from Sabah Tourism’s website here.

Safrey managed to get fifth spot on Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon 2008

I don’t know when will we become champion again. This time around, Safrey Sumping managed to get fifth spot in the 22nd Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon 2008 (it was yesterday). Last year he was fourth. A year before he was third. Apparently, he said that he was just recovered from flu a week ago. So, he was not having his 100% fitness during the race. Sigh…

The last Malaysian (Sabahan) runner who won this race was Guianus Salagan in 1996, which was his third consecutive Men’s Open title.

Danny Kuilin (Women’s Open) comes second.

Congratulations for all the winners. It is just occurred to me that staying second best should not be in our mentality anymore. We should work harder to be the best, moreover when the race event place is here.

Hopefully, next year we could get better result.

p.s: Yes, this post may also be related to Lee Chog Wei’s result in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Update 26th August: Full result get be seen here.

22nd Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon 2008

It’s here again. Happening on 23-24 August, 2008 at Mount Kinabalu.

Deemed as “the World’s Toughest Mountain Race”, the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon is the ultimate challenge to take for those game enough to test their endurance by running up and down Mount Kinabalu for a total distance of 21 kilometers.

I don’t think I will be able to join. I would love to, but I am afraid that the organizer asked me to climb down as soon as I reached the first pondok…

Mount Kinabalu CLimbathon

Want to see adidas kampung in action? Come and join us!

By the way, Federation for Sports Altitude highly recommended Adidas Supernova Trail 5 running shoes for climbathon runners. This shoes are not for regular climbers of Kinabalu.

adidas Men’s Supernova Tr 5 Running Shoe