FEEL THE TRAIL RUN
Then comes the trail running event on the dawn of the 20th of May. The night before the race, the organizer informed us that they changed the trail route due to the heavy rain, covering only 47km instead of 50. Every runner is required to carry mandatory gears such as:
2. 2 Litre water bladder or water storage.
3. Light snacks/food for fuelling up.
4. Rain jacket.
5. Emergency blanket.
Due to the weak cellular coverage of Bario Highlands, the organizer didn’t require phones as part of their pre-race kit. As for me, I added the first-aid kit and still bring my phone for taking pictures, just in case I saw some picturesque view along the trail. We were flagged off when the clouds were still pitch-dark at 5am.
The ground was soft and muddy under my shoes. The light of the sun was slowly peeking through the trees as I continue my pace. There were some interesting stuff I encountered while running. I happened to see a wild animal passing by in front of me. I even got stung by a bee.
The race markers were indeed helpful and the entire route was safe. As I continued my pace, the trail was more swamp because of the mud. But that did not translate that the path is quiet. The rain forest produced sounds from squealing birds and monkeys hoot as they romped through the trees. I kept on running until I reached the 6-hour cut off, or else I would be declared as DNF.
As I started my 2nd half of the race, I run through th crash site again. Further down to the paddy field was another village called Pa Lungan (“PA” means River in Kelabit language). We were made to hike into the mountain until we reached the Bario village again where the finishing line was. Finisher medals were not handed over to us on the spot. Instead, runners were invited to a dinner inside one of the local longhouses when a bracelet handmade with beads by the local women’s association in the area is given to us as the finisher’s medal.
This Runners Wild third edition run was initiated as a platform for the Bario community to create a new tourist attraction in the scenic Kelabit Highlands. A junior Journalist Programme was also held in addition to the running event. I took part on that and I shared the basic skills for photography to the participants.
If you want to go somewhere remote then Bario is the right place for you. With its unique tribes, Bario indeed showcases an amazing lifestyle and strong culture. Will I come back to this highlands again? Yes, I definitely will.
Paun Cher Chin