Kicking off in Georgetown, the spectacular Penang Eco 100 on May 13-14 combines an intense running experience with Malay cultural heritage, writes Kris Van De Velde.
If you want to tackle an overseas trail running adventure, but lack the time to plan a long journey to a remote starting point, the Penang Eco 100 is the ideal race for you. Quick and convenient to get to from Hong Kong, the event starts and finishes just outside Georgetown, Penang’s famous main city. With spectacular scenery, Penang’s famous local cuisine and beautiful architecture and heritage to admire, the Penang Eco 100 has all the ingredients for a magnificent weekend trip to Malaysia.
This is the third edition of the Penang Eco 100 (it was previously known as Malaysia Eco 100), and the second year the organisers have included a 100-mile course on top of the more standard 100k, 50k and 30k races. It is the country’s SuperTrail race, and is part of the Asia Trail Master championship series. This means that finishers score bonus points toward their final score, and as a result the event attracts some of the best trail runners in Asia. It is no coincidence then that the two winners of last year’s 100-mile race, Manolito Divina from the Philippines and local hero Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid, both became the 2016 Asia Trail Master champions later in the year.
The event is organised by Endurance Nature, the company managed by Mr Seow Kong Ng, a huge name on the Asian ultrarunning scene. A runner himself, Seow knows what competitors and their accompanying partners look for in order to ensure a successful and memorable weekend. For instance, there are shuttle buses from Georgetown to the eco village of Sungai Lembu or Tokun Hill in Bukit Mertajam, the official start and finishing points of all four races.
Participants will run through palm, rubber and pineapple plantations, several Malay kampungs (settlements) Chinese villages, Indian temples and paddy fields. As for elevation, the route takes you over the challenging hills of Seraya, Mengkuang, and the by now iconic Tokun Hills, which is also the starting point for the 100-mile event. You will get up close with Malaysian landscapes, discover the local flora and fauna, and learn more about the region’s cultural heritage. Runners will also meet ordinary Malaysian people living in rural areas. During the race, you will also get to sample local cuisine in the food and drinks provided at the aid stations along the course of the race.
Technically speaking, the elevation gain in the four races is not excessive. Good runners will like this trail as there are plenty of so-called “runnable” sections. The main difficulty for most people is the heat and humidity, which is unavoidable in Malaysia. But if you hydrate well before and during the race, you will have a very enjoyable day together with runners from all over Asia and beyond.
Learn more and register at www.endurancenature.com.my.
After the race
Most runners prefer to stay in Georgetown after the race. There is accommodation of every class, from hostels to five-star properties. While you’re there, make sure to leave time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, which was first settled by the British in 1786.
Win race tickets!
We are giving away a free race entry to the Penang Eco 100 on May 13-14, 2017. Visit liv-magazine.com/giveaways to enter!