re-sized eco-challenge

Not the Borneo eco-challenge but the Perak Amanjaya Eco Race 2009 instead

Some time ago, we did an article on the Borneo Eco-Challenge adventure race. This was in the early days when we were just discovering adventure racing as an extreme sport. The Borneo eco-challenge was obviously a popular event as we have subsequently received many requests for further information.

This event has not had a recent re-run. However,  ESPN STAR Sport Event Management and associates have come up with a new event:  the Perak Amanjaya Eco Race 2009.

This is rather a last minute alert, but the whole race is a little bit last-minute anyway, which is why this year it is invitation only. However, the organisers intend this to be an annual event so bookmark it now for next year…

The race is due to begin on the 2nd December, completing by the 6th December, 2009 and promises to be an adventure race classic. It will include such disciplines as Trail Running, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, In-line Skating, Abseiling, Canyoning, Rapelling and Swimming… and the state government of Parak, Malaysia, will be hosting the event.

Location, location, location. Don’t we hear that so often? Well, this event is definitely in a beautiful location. It begins in the Royal Belum State Park (rainforest) which is the largest continuous forest complex in the Malaysian Peninsula and which crosses into Southern Thailand. It is estimated to be as old as 130 million years, making it older than the jungle of the Amazon or Congo – sorry, I can never resist a little history! Needless to say, some areas of this magnificent forest are being plundered by loggers… when will we ever learn?

This region receives about 2,200 cm of rain per annum – so expect it to be wet! It also has its fair share of big cats, venomous snakes, elephant, Sumatran rhino’s plus a whole host of other bird and wildlife.

Banding Island

Banding Island as seen from Tower House

The race starts at Banding Bridge which is the gateway to Royal Belum Rainforest. A quick run across the bridge and then an abseil down to the lake sets the event off to an exciting start. You then swim to a pontoon, get a kayak and paddle across to the lake shore where you will have to carry your kayak along a jungle trail to the next stretch of water where you will kayak back to the island, leave the kayak and run back to the bridge. An in-line skate across the bridge will bring the first day to a close.

Day 2 starts at the foot hill of Taiping Hill where there will be a trail run to a waterfall. After canyoning down the waterfall competitors will run to Taiping Lake Garden (the first public garden established during the British rule in Malaysia), and in-line skate under the Golden Raintrees. From here there will be a mountain bike ride to the Kampung river mouth for another kayak to Kuala Sepetang and final run on the boardwalk to finish at the jetty of Kuala Sepetang.

Day 3 will be a rest day but also a transfer from Taiping to Pasir Salak where the race will continue.

Pasir Salak is the place where modern Malaysia took shape. It is where the independence movement against the British began and where the first British  resident of Perak, James W.W. Birch, was murdered on 2nd November, 1875. The rebellion of 1875 in Pasir Salak sowed the seeds of nationalism, which manifested itself in the form of opposition to colonialism, and to the formation of a Malayan Union, which ignited the flame of independence.

Today Pasir Salak is an historical site whose purpose is to remind the younger generation of the events there and the fight against colonialism in Perak, and also to remember the struggle and the sacrifice of the warriors to uphold the dignity of the race and country.

So, after yet another history lesson from me, I shall continue with the matter at hand – the eco-challenge adventure race:

Day 4 kicks off with a mountain bike ride up to the beautiful Ulu Geruntum, which is the raft starting point. From here you white water raft down to Kampung Jahang… run to the cave entrance to start the caving section… and finish with a run to the finish line at Kampung Tengah.

Day 5, the final day, starts at Pasir Salak with a mountain bike ride to Teluk Batik, kayak to Teluk Segadas at Pangkor Island, rapel down the rock, run to Teluk Dalam beach, swim in the sea in front of Teluk Dalam and finally finish at the beach of Teluk Dalam.

For 2009 this event is open to teams of 2 persons only – male, female or co-ed; only 20 teams are invited and again, for this year, it is an ‘invitation only’ event. Teams are coming from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Finland.

For those of you who would like to enter but wonder what on earth your better half (!) is going to do whilst you’re battling your way through the jungle (if your better half isn’t battling through it with you) … remember that glancing reference I made above to the type of fauna to be found in the Royal Belum National Park?  Well, I then came across this little list – and please bear in mind it is not a final list, of what sort of flora and fauna can be seen and enjoyed in the Royal Belum Rainforest:

247 species of birds
100 species of mammals
170 species of butterflies
251 species of moths
51 species of land snails
36 species of aquatic and semi aquatic bugs
25 species of cicadas
24 species of amphibians
21 species of lizards
23 species of snakes
23 speices of freshwater fish
7 species of freshwater and land turtles
62 species of moss
64 species of ferns
46 species of palms
30 species of gingers
3000 species of flower plants
3 species of freshwater decapod
44 species of wild fruit trees

Apart from that there is the Taiping Lake Garden which, at 222 acres, is the biggest urban parkland in Malaysia, designed and built about 130 years ago in the remains of an old tin mine. It has beautifully laid out ponds, lakes, and reputably, the best zoological gardens in the whole region. And then there’s the spectacular beach of Teluk Dalam and the beautiful island of Pangkor. Just a few of things one might see and do out there. No-one could possibly be bored…

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