Tough-as-nails cyclists and trail runners race their way through Sarawak Adventure Challenge 2021

Some participants who came all the way from Sibu to take part in Sarawak Adventure Challenge (SAC) 2021 Evolution Trail.

By Nancy Nais

BAU, Nov 7: Rain or shine, nothing can deter hard core sports enthusiasts from showing up for events they have signed up for.

After all, when it comes to outdoor sports, it is only to be expected, that the weather can turn foul mid-run, as proven at the Sarawak Adventure Challenge (SAC) 2021, today.

Themed Evolution Trail, the one-day multi-sport adventure race SAC’s fifth edition showcased some of the best rainforests, rivers, trails and sites including some of Sarawak’s fascinating history in Bung Muan, Bau.

This year, a total of 250 participants from all over Sarawak took part in one of three categories: a combination of Mountain Bike (MTB) challenge involving a 40km ride followed by a 12km Trail Run (TB), individual MTB or individual TR.

Participants of the combination challenge involving a 40km-mountain bike ride followed by 12km-trail run at the Sarawak Adventure Challenge 2021 Evolution Trail event.

The event began at 8am. Participants discussed the possibility that rain would disrupt the races, but ultimately the general consensus was that it would be fine.

As for myself, I believe there’s no bad weather, just bad gear or no preparation.

However, I reminded myself to be extra caution if the rain gets harder.

Today, Mother Nature put every participant through their paces from start to finish, as if the race itself wasn’t challenging enough.

The cyclists and runners showed they were indeed hardy folks as they ran under the hot humid sun or cold rain over all sorts of trail conditions.

A participant carefully navigating his way downhill. The jungle terrain was extremely uneven with roots and slippery rocks underfoot and steep descents and climbs.

For the MTB challenge, riders started on their sturdy bikes from Siniawan bazaar on a hard surface village road winding its way over a number of hills, turns, and clear marked trails.

Members of the local community were aware of the race and lined some stretches of the routes, waving to participants and shouting ‘jia you!’ as encouragement.

After the hard surface road, cyclist had to ride through a series of plantation roads, followed by an off-road stretch that has some hike-a-bike sections.

They then had to traverse twisty single trails through local farmland before emerging back onto the road and then back onto community roads.

The riders also had to pass through a forest trail where they faced tricky technical sections, and a couple of climbs and descents.

The final section of the MTB challenge was through forest trails that lead back to the start/finishing line.

A couple who took part in the combination challenge involving a 40km-mountain bike ride followed by 12km-trail run at the Sarawak Adventure Challenge 2021 Evolution Trail

Meanwhile, the TR participants found themselves tackling rugged jungle terrain which posed many challenges in terms of roots and rocks as well as steep descents and climbs.

Apart from many scrambling across rocky stretches and steep descents under the rain, there were also several small stream and river crossings.

As Bung Muan is a popular destination for climbing enthusiasts, the trails were very well marked with ropes to aid participants when undertaking stretches with slippery rocks and slushy muddy trails.

Participants also had to descent via a boulder path which was passable, but definitely not run-able.

One of the many slippery and uneven trails faced by runners in Bung Muan.

Earlier, when the rain began pouring heavily, I was expecting to see if people would put on with colorful ponchos which would be an amazing sight. But as testimony to the runners’ hardiness, but I did not see any.

In the end, everyone successfully made it to the finish point, with the post-challenge endorphins kicking in just as the rain was tapering off.

Indeed, no one allowed the rainy weather to stop them from conquering the challenging course, and I am glad that I had my chance to be a tough-as-nails, rain-or-shine kind of trail runner too. — DayakDaily