22 May 2017 – Runners Wild Bario – the 50km trail run created by Malaysian sports marketing veteran Kuhan Foo and iM Sarawak celebrated its 3 rd Anniversary this weekend. The Men’s Category Winner this year is Mohd Syamsul Bahtiar bin Abd Gapar who won in a time of 6:07:33. Reiko Yamashita took home the ladies honours in a time of 8:39:37.
The run was created primarily as a platform for the community of Bario to work with the expertise brought by Kuhan and his team to create a new tourism attraction in the scenic Kelabit Highlands – trail running. By bringing focus into the hearts of trail runners around the region, the plan is for Bario to be seen as a new must run destination for them. The 3-year training of the local community on event organization sees the local on-ground team now having the knowledge to organize other sporting events in the future.
Because of the difficulty of getting flight tickets to the remote mountains this year, only 45 runners took part in the race. The participants came from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and the United States.
Runners Wild Bario is not just a trail run; it is also used as a catalyst for community training, the creation and maintenance of a tourism web site for the Bario community and the creation of travel packages and overseas partnerships to fly in more adventurous visitors to Bario. All the medals and souvenirs are locally sourced from the local village of Pa Lungan where they are handmade with beads by the local ladies’ association there.
Also part of Runners Wild Bario is the on-going Junior Journalist Programme. Through this iM Sarawak backed initiative, Kuhan Foo and his team work with the teachers of SMK Bario to help a core group of students develop journalistic, photography and writing skills. This is enhanced by getting the students involved in various activities such as twinning programmes with schools from other parts of Asia as well as involvement with the race itself. It is hoped that through this experience, these students will grow into well rounded individuals who are able to write and speak the English language confidently as well as develop better self-esteem through their interaction with the event participants and students from other foreign schools participating in the Junior Journalist Programme.