Kathmandu 6th November 2010
The 24th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon Race in Sabah, Malaysia, dubbed as “the world’s toughest mountain race” was held on 23rd and 24th October 2010.
Sudip Kulung Rai (22) of Solukhumbu took the second position among a field of highly respected international athletes. Nepal was represented for the first time ever in this race approaching its silver jubilee and over 30 countries were represented among 275 men’s and 200 women’s category runners.
The first climbathon was organised by Sabah Parks commission in 1987 to select members for a rescue squad that would carry injured climbers from the mountain especially during bad weather when helicopters are unable to fly.
The 21 km race starts from an altitude of 1866 m and climbs uphill through dense forest before hitting bare rock near the peak at 4095 m. The top 1.7 km section is so steep a thick rope is placed to assist runners to ascend and descend.
The race was started at 7am by the Sabah Minister of Tourism Daduk Masadi Manjun and race progress was reported from each of 10 checkpoints by Sabah Amateur radio society. Rai was trailing in fifth position until checkpoint five but by checkpoint eight he was following record holder Marco de Gasperi (Italy) until the summit and it remained so until the finishing point. The final positions were: 1st Marco de Gespari (Italy) 2.33.56, 2nd Sudip Kulung Rai (Nepal) 2.46.14, 3rd Tufol Castner (Spain) 2.58.9. The winner collected $US 4500.
Rai only began running in 2008 and his talent was discovered in the 2010 Everest ultra race. While working as a porter on the Lukla – basecamp route, fortuitous timing meant that he joined the race directly after delivering his load.
He won the race and was selected for coaching in Pokhara by the Nepal Mountain Running Service training on the steps of Sarangkot, Ghorepani and Mattikhan hill.
Rai has been invited to return in 2011 for the 25th edition of the race.
Mountain runners are becoming some of Nepal’s most successful athletes in international competition. Phu Dorje Lama Sherpa recently took first place in the gruelling Himal race from Mt. Kailash to Annapurna base camp.
Both Rai and Lama Sherpa are in training for the next major international event held in Nepal. The Annpurna 100 is a race of 100 km with an international line up which will be the first event of Nepal Tourism Year 2011.
Contact Ramesh Bhattachan for further details.