MOUNT KINABALU CLIMBATHON 1999

Report by Douglas Barry

Mount Kinabalu is both a mountain and race to be reckoned with. The highest mountain in South East Asia dominates the skyline of Sabah, the state formerly known as North Borneo, prior to the founding of the modern country of Malaysia. The race route passes through several climate zones from equatorial rain forest to tundra on its way to the summit. The 21 kilometre race with near to 7,500 of climb features one of the hardest cut off times around. Runners must reach the 4,092 metre summit within 2 hours 30 minutes. As reaching it under 2 hours will generally put you in the top 30, the cut off becomes almost unattainable for anybody who can't run a marathon in less than 3 hours.

The race starts at the picturesque Timpohan Gate. It's a place where you normally pay your entry fee and confirm that you have a local guide with you to assist in your safe return. A brief deceptive downhill section over a spectacular bridge follows the gate before the route goes uphill. The climb that follows is ferocious and unrelenting. It involves steep stairs, stretches of ladder section, and, as you near the 13,432 foot summit, exposed rock faces which necessitate pulling your aching body upwards on a rope. The thin air at the high altitude can reduce the toughest competitor to a wheezing wreck. To reach the summit at any time is a considerable achievement. The route is marked at 500 metre intervals and each half kilometre of climb seems to drag on interminably. At least the route is dotted with resting places, as many huts with water await your weary bones on the way.

The descent is a straight reversal of the climb, but with the cruel addition of 4 kilometres of steep road descent after the runners run past the start line at the Timpohan Gate. It is a horrendous ordeal for those runners not used to descending. Even few good descenders will have experienced a descent that plummets downwards for more than an hour for an elite athlete. With legs and bodies shattered from the arduous climb, many self fancied "droppers" found themselves outside the 4 hour 30 minute cut off time for completing the race and were rewarded with a DNF. Yes, Vivian, Borneo's a long way to go for a DNF!!!

The race was won by England's Ian Holmes for the third time in a row. However, he admitted later, "I was a jammy bastard today". An unheralded Slovak Marcel Matanin blazed away from the start and forced the pace, stretching his lead on the chasing pack all the way. The cognoscenti nodded sagely and expressed the opinion that the Slovak who had only finished a lowly 79th in the Worlds would blow up on the unrelenting climb. As the radio commentary flickered back and echoed upwards via the spectators, the bould Marcel was still there at the Laman Rata hut and stretching his lead. As he summitted and turned back at Low's Peak, he had a 6 minutes and 23 second lead over Ian Holmes. The race seemed over with the cheque in the Slovak's pocket.

The cognoscenti changed sides. "He'll not be caught now, no way!!" These sentiments seemed to be reinforced as Matanin's lead had not diminished much at the Laban Rata on the way back, despite the efforts of Holmes - Britain's most fearless descender - on the trickiest part of the descent. The Slovak runner still led by over two minutes at the Timpohan Gate with only 4 kilometres of tarmac road to go. The fast closing Holmes had chopped his lead massively, but the Slovak seemed assured of the win. "He has it, he has it won, nobody will catch him now..."

I walked up the hill away from the finish line where the drum beaters, gong smashers, and colourful dancers of the local tribes threatened to drown out the commentary, and headed up to a point 300 metres from the finish where the tarmac road briefly ceased its unrelenting downhill rush and rose an imperceptible metre to us spectators, but seemed like a mountain to the exhausted runners. I waited for the Slovak winner. I waited, and waited. Eventually, Marcel came around the corner at a snail's pace and struggled towards me. But, a white vest was bearing down hard behind him. A surprised Ian Holmes who had been worried about his own teammate Simon Booth catching him now had the Slovak in his sights. Despite the frenzied urgings of the crowd, the Slovak had nothing left and Ian passed him beside me. Right behind came a strong looking Simon Booth who also swept up the Slovak, and, for a moment, looked like swallowing up Holmes too. However, Ian smelt the hat trick, revived, and powered away to victory and the big cheque.

Behind them, Francis Cosgrave had what must be the best run of his career with an outstanding fifth place finish. He had come over to Borneo directly after the Irish trials and spent some considerable time acclimatising himself. He overnighted at the Laban Rata hut - over 3,000 metres high - on a couple of occasions and had practised the trickier parts of the descent a number of times. It paid off with the third quickest descent time, although he expressed disappointment with his descent later. "I didn't feel I was on form on the day. I know I could have done better." And he might well have done so, seeing as he sustained severe bruising of his ribs when he took a heavy spill training on one of the many formidable descent stretches. He admitted that the bruising slowed him down and affected his races both in the Worlds and the Climbathon.

The rest of the Irish "team" struggled with the 21 kilometres of punishment. I say "team" as there is no official team race in the Climbathon, although the presence of a "team" of 4 runners - all English - from Great Britain & Northern Ireland is a regular feature of the event. This appears to be a whim of a member of the English athletics authority and, despite the trumpetings in the British press, has no formal basis in the race structure. Perhaps, at some stage in the future, the Malaysian organisers will put a proper team race into the fixture. However, in 1999, the unofficial "team" results put Ireland in third place. This was thanks to the efforts of Francis who split the British "team", Robin Bryson in 13th, and 32nd placed "Grey Ghost" Jim Patterson still proving he has what it takes at 53 years of age.

Robin went up the mountain earlier in the week after the Worlds and admitted that the descent was awesome and would require major familiarisation to master. He thought it was one hell of a race and was looking forward to the climb where he hoped to be in the top ten at the summit. "I'll go as quick as it's prudent, as long as I'm in the money, and I'll jog down once I drop out of the top 15." The prize money goes to 15th with the winner picking up a hard earned cheque for US$4,500 and an urgent desire for extreme massage and hot baths.... In the race, Robin turned in 8th place at the summit, dropped to 15th on the initial steep descent, before regaining two places to finish 13th.

At 53 years of age, NIFRA's Jim Patterson was the focus of the local media, as he was the oldest international runner competing in the Worlds. He had a steady climb to reach the summit in 2 hours 4 minutes 55 seconds and came down strongly to finish 32nd and pass six runners on the descent. One of them was Irish junior Ross Alexander who did the Climbathon as an antidote to the blues. Ross had come down just before his race in the Worlds with a bad virus which had sent his temperature soaring and digestive system into contortions. He had to drop out and the Climbathon was the compensation. He finished 35th with an exhausted Colm Rothery four places behind him. Oh yes, Vivian O'Gorman did finish the race in 4 hours 53 minutes, but the organisers rewarded him with a DNF, as he was outside the time limit.

The previous day, Angela Mudge won the women's Climbathon on a shorter course which "only" went to the Laban Rata hut at 11,000 feet. The women's prize fund is smaller than the men's, hence the shorter course, although in the year 2000 the prize funds and courses will be the same. Last year's winner, the petite Danni @Kuilin Bte Gongot was the favourite, but it was obvious to everybody that the British cross country trial winner and Fell Running champion was not turning out just for the exercise. US$2,500 is a great motivator. Angela charged up the mountain to set a new record to the Laman Rata. A relaxed descent brought her home in 1 hour 58 minutes 23 seconds - a new record. Last year's champion Danni held off fastest descender Janet King to take second with Ireland's Joan Flanagan finishing 20th after a good descent. Joan finished in 2 hours 26 minutes 10 seconds and her superb descent was the 9th fastest on the day.

1999 Mount Kinabalu Climbathon Men's Results
POS

NUM

NAME

COUNTRY

SUMMIT

FINISH

1 001 IAN HOLMES Great Britain 01:48:08 02:43:20
2 006 SIMON BOOTH Great Britain 01:48:41 02:43:22
3 035 MARCEL MATANIN Slovakia 01:41:45 02:43:28
4 170 JEAN PELLISSIER Italy 01:43:25 02:44:58
5 043 FRANCIS COSGRAVE Ireland 01:51:50 02:50:28
6 095 ROBERT JEBB Great Britain 01:39:43 02:51:22
7 069 YUSOF SIMBAT Malaysia 01:54:02 02:56:00
8 003 GAVIN BLAND Great Britain 01:51:58 02:57:02
9 085 FLORIAN DUERR Austria 01:49:17 02:57:16
10 134 MADAMIN B. GIHUN Malaysia 01:58:21 02:57:56
11 173 OUSSATCHEV IUORI Russia 01:48:14 02:58:26
12 145 SCOTT GALL USA 01:51:53 02:58:28
13 131 ROBIN BRYSON Ireland 01:50:31 03:00:10
14 126 MESNER ANDREJ Slovenia 01:51:17 03:01:39
15 036 LUBOS KOVACIK Slovakia 01:53:20 03:02:11
16 152 ZOUBEK ZDENEK Czech Republic 01:58:52 03:03:15
17 158 ZAK JIRI Czech Republic 01:52:21 03:06:24
18 141 YOSEPH LAWE HAYON Indonesia 02:07:24 03:07:08
19 025 RODIMIN @ARPIN B. SODUNDU Malaysia 01:59:04 03:07:23
20 002 GUIANUS SALAGAN Malaysia 02:01:52 03:09:23
21 072 SIPIL GILINGAN Malaysia 02:07:10 03:10:07
22 041 PIOTR UCIECHOWSKI Poland 01:54:29 03:10:23
23 030 BARNEY GRIFFITH USA 01:57:57 03:12:10
24 004 BRADFORD L. PRECOSKY USA 02:01:19 03:12:11
25 149 MAX FREI Germany 01:58:11 03:13:04
26 160 GAUDEL ROMAN 01:56:10 03:15:31
27 104 SINDI GUNSALAM Malaysia 02:08:56 03:16:26
28 106 JAMIS GABI Malaysia 02:10:44 03:18:47
29 150 ANDRE SINGER Germany 01:51:14 03:19:18
30 060 TAISING BUKOLONG Malaysia 02:08:41 03:22:08
31 157 DEDEK ALES Czech Republic 02:01:57 03:23:16
32 033 JIM PATTERSON Ireland 02:10:55 03:24:40
33 032 SARUN B. SADI Malaysia 02:04:51 03:24:41
34 138 GEOFARRY GUNSALAM Malaysia 02:15:29 03:25:50
35 178 ROSS ALEXANDER Ireland 02:08:04 03:26:07
36 105 TINGKUN PENIMBOL Malaysia 02:11:37 03:28:15
37 037 YANI BIN GINSOS Malaysia 02:18:54 03:31:56
38 155 NOVAK TOMAS Czech Republic 02:16:18 03:32:45
39 130 COLM ROTHERY Ireland 02:17:06 03:33:18
40 066 KUYUN SIDAU Malaysia 02:17:37 03:34:08
41 092 MALIN YUHGO Malaysia 02:22:40 03:34:15
42 151 DOBSICEK PAVEL Czech Republic 02:10:24 03:34:21
43 064 YATIM ZAINAL ABIDIN Malaysia 02:17:09 03:34:53
44 154 VYMAZAL PETR Czech Republic 02:10:18 03:38:13
45 136 SITHON KAEWMUANG THAILAND 02:19:49 03:42:05
46 009 DOUGLAS ALAN BRISCO Great Britain 02:18:26 03:42:53
47 162 FILINGER GENEK Czech Republic 02:16:46 03:46:22
48 176 NOVAK ZDENEK Czech Republic 02:19:06 03:46:23
49 169 KOLIBEK FRANTISEK Czech Republic 02:16:12 03:48:43
50 073 JOHN BIN SOMUDIN Malaysia 02:29:32 03:49:11
51 174 KOJINE PETR Russia 02:21:05 03:51:21
52 031 BAKLEE BIN ABIN Malaysia 02:42:12 03:55:02
53 172 ATAMANTCHOUK GRIGORI Russia 02:31:03 03:55:12
54 021 BENNY HAGBERG SWEDEN 02:35:44 03:59:14
55 137 SAHMINAN BIN HJ MOHD SALLEH BRUNEI 02:32:24 04:02:18
56 099 JAMSON MIJON Malaysia 02:38:47 04:06:15
57 167 MALATIN STEFAN JUDR 02:12:40 04:09:31
58 045 POMIN BIN MASUYUK Malaysia 02:30:47 04:11:14
59 042 NEIL TAYLOR Great Britain 02:32:14 04:13:32
60 139 CORNELIUS B. JUANIS Malaysia 02:36:55 04:14:53
61 067 ROSS POWELL Great Britain 02:48:06 04:14:55
62 029 WINNTZ EMMANUEL France 02:26:43 04:16:19
63 026 MUYUK BIN TIAGAR Malaysia 02:28:00 04:16:19
64 146 PETER KUBASKO Slovakia 02:36:57 04:16:26
65 143 PAULUS MICHAEL Indonesia 02:40:47 04:17:27
66 165 SLEGR JIRI 02:32:01 04:18:26
67 103 WONG HON WAN Malaysia 02:07:59 04:20:11
68 088 STEVEN SPENCER Great Britain 02:36:53 04:21:56
69 089 DEAN CRITCHLEY Great Britain 02:35:19 04:21:56
70 129 BAHARUDDIN B. ISMAIL Malaysia 02:42:49 04:24:04
71 061 JAPILI BIN SAMIN Malaysia 02:43:03 04:26:00
72 161 LIBRA JIRI 02:40:21 04:28:16
73 175 BENOIT QUANDALE France 02:45:51 04:30:02
74 075 RICHARD C.A PAVERELLE Italy   04:30:02
75 052 H.MUSA HUSSIN Malaysia DNF DNF
76 091 AMADUL TAHIR Malaysia DNF DNF
77 117 MOHD RAZIMI HUSIN Malaysia DNF DNF
78 059 CHARLES CHANG Malaysia DNF DNF
79 168 HARUN BIN AWANG Malaysia DNF DNF
80 156 HUDEK PETR 02:00:32 DNF
81 068 WILSON WONG VUN CHIONG Malaysia 02:22:10 DNF
82 135 MIUN B. YUHGO Malaysia 02:22:10 DNF
83 153 HAJZLER JIRI 02:27:21 DNF
84 016 MICHAEL MOULD Great Britain 02:34:58 DNF
85 100 SOIMUN YANDAU Malaysia 02:35:50 DNF
86 038 LINCOLN BODE USA 02:38:05 DNF
87 159 KAREL SKLIBA 02:39:45 DNF
88 019 RICHARD STAHL Canada 02:46:30 DNF
89 078 KEVIN WHITTAKER Great Britain 02:52:04 DNF
90 071 VIVIAN O'GORMAN Ireland 02:53:58 DNF
91 177 RAPIHIN BIN KAIMIN Malaysia 02:54:28 DNF
92 140 ELYAS RAEK BARTOLOMEUS LE Indonesia 02:55:21 DNF
93 027 CHEVALLER VINCENT France 02:55:59 DNF
94 008 STEPHEN THOMPSON Great Britain 02:58:00 DNF
95 050 BENNIUS B. GANSULIN Malaysia 03:02:20 DNF
96 166 WERNER HANKE 03:03:00 DNF
97 018 COLIN PRITCHARD Great Britain 03:03:35 DNF
98 179 JOHNNY BEARDSALL Great Britain 03:07:46 DNF
99 054 SADAT HANIE Malaysia 03:12:23 DNF
100 171 POPOV MIKHAIL Russia 03:23:17 DNF
101 096 HOWARD DYSON Great Britain 03:29:57 DNF
102 086 FRANZ PUCKL Austria 03:30:50 DNF
103 077 TOH CHUAN YOOI Malaysia 03:31:39 DNF

13TH MT. KINABALU INTERNATIONAL CLIMBATHON 1999

WOMEN'S RACE RESULT

POS

NAME

COUNTRY

LABAN RATA

FINISH TIME

DESCENT TIME

1

ANGELA MUDGE

Great Britain

01:10:43

01:58:23

00:47:40

2

DANNY@KUILIN BTE GONGOT

Malaysia

01:15:43

02:01:08

00:45:25

3

JANET KING

Great Britain

01:17:11

02:01:20

00:44:09

4

KAREN MURPHY

New Zealand

01:14:10

02:01:31

00:47:21

5

HELEN JOHNSON

Great Britain

01:16:45

02:02:26

00:45:41

6

ALENA BRIEDOVA

Slovakia

01:15:36

02:04:52

00:49:16

7

DANELLE BALLENGEE

USA

01:17:50

02:06:50

00:49:00

8

HASNY SALAGAN

Malaysia

01:19:40

02:06:57

00:47:17

9

ELLEN SCHNONER

Germany

01:17:15

02:08:25

00:51:10

10

HAVELKOVA DAGMAR

Czech Republic

01:17:43

02:11:22

00:53:39

11

LUDMILE MELIEHEROV

Slovakia

01:17:52

02:14:20

00:56:28

12

SCHLEZINGEROVA REMATA

Czech Republic

01:20:02

02:15:34

00:55:32

13

LOUISE FAIRFAX

Australia

01:20:35

02:16:30

00:55:55

14

NAVRATILOVA LUCIE

Czech Republic

01:21:30

02:18:30

00:57:00

15

TROBEC MARTJA

Slovakia

01:23:24

02:18:50

00:55:26

16

SOKIOM BINTI LOSUYUN

Malaysia

01:23:35

02:19:10

00:55:35

17

KONA LIAU

Malaysia

01:28:17

02:19:30

00:51:13

18

ROSE LIMPAGAN

Malaysia

01:21:53

02:20:13

00:58:20

19

ZABLOUDILOVA LENKA

Czech Republic

01:29:42

02:25:40

00:55:58

20

JOAN FLANAGAN

Ireland

01:35:50

02:26:10

00:50:20

21

HANAKOVA MIRKA

Czech Republic

01:25:59

02:26:11

01:00:12

22

ELOM BINTI UNDING

Malaysia

01:31:51

02:27:03

00:55:12

23

SOMILIN BINTI LONGIK

Malaysia

01:31:16

02:27:54

00:56:38

24

TUMOVA EVA

Czech Republic

01:34:22

02:31:14

00:56:52

25

JAKOVLEVA ELENA

Russia

01:29:02

02:32:16

01:03:14

26

ROMY LINDNER

Germany

01:21:53

02:34:45

01:12:52

27

LUCY WHITTAKER

Great Britain

01:39:59

02:35:36

00:55:37

28

DOINA BINTI SOIBI

Malaysia

01:33:09

02:36:42

01:03:33

29

CERMAKOVA

Czech Republic

01:26:57

02:37:58

01:11:01

30

HALINAH BINTI PAIRIN

Malaysia

01:31:17

02:38:45

01:07:28

31

JULIANAH BINTI MELID

Malaysia

01:34:56

02:38:46

01:03:50

32

ROSLIN BINTI MADIN

Malaysia

01:36:45

02:38:47

01:02:02

33

LAINKIM BINTI GINDOU

Malaysia

01:32:26

02:41:43

01:09:17

34

MINAH BINTI GIMBAD

Malaysia

01:38:45

02:45:03

01:06:18

35

LATINDEH BINTI MORIMBANG

Malaysia

01:39:41

02:51:27

01:11:46

36

CATHERINA SUSI

Malaysia

01:37:29

02:52:13

01:14:44

37

LUBIAH @MARGARET BINTI GODSUN

Malaysia

01:43:56

02:52:43

01:08:47

38

ALISON KELLY

USA

01:50:00

02:56:34

01:06:34

39

EVELINA SIPIN

Malaysia

01:59:42

03:06:40

01:06:58

40

DOSY BACHE

Malaysia

01:51:36

03:11:36

01:20:00

41

FLOWRENCE P. ROBERT

Malaysia

02:00:30

03:12:43

01:12:13

42

AGNES FRANCIS GILONG

Malaysia

01:56:31

03:16:49

01:20:18

43

SHELLA M. LLOYD

Great Britain

02:06:16

03:29:50

01:23:34

44

KOBRLOVA GABRIELA

Czech Republic

01:51:49

03:32:08

01:40:19

45

RUSINAH MAJANAL

Malaysia

01:58:57

03:33:19

01:34:22

46

CHE ROHANI MEZAH

Malaysia

01:56:07

03:35:42

01:39:35

47

EDNAH@ DINA ROBERT

Malaysia

02:11:12

03:37:53

01:26:41

48

KHITROVA TATIANA

Russia

01:41:53

DNF

49

FABIOLA RUEDA OPPLIGER

Colombia

DNF

DNF

Senior Men's Worlds Results

Senior Women's Worlds Results

Junior Men's/Women's Worlds Results

Go to IMRA Main Page

Go to News Page