Posts tagged bbtc
Sefli still unbeatable at home, Ruth battles but wins

Sefli Ahar remains the measure of all things in the Bruneian trail running scene. For the third consecutive year the former winner of the Hong Kong Half Marathon won the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, the premier trail ultra event in the country. It was arguably his most impressive victory of the three, in fact, looking at who finished behind him and how much distance he was eventually able to put between him and the others. Sefli crossed the line in 11:50, more than 1-and-a-half hours ahead of Mohamed Afindi and Wilnar Iglesia!! Sefli was a class apart last Sunday. It's 6th career ATM race victory. 

Being a police officer in his country, Sefli has found it hard to travel and cannot predict yet if he will again be able to challenge for the ATM Championship later this year. What's for sure is that he is now slowing down. Malaysia's Mohamed Afindi was already second behind Sefli at last summer's Magnificent Merapoh Trail, but the gap then was just about half an hour. While Afindi seems to be joining Isaac Yuen Wan Ho in the League of the Nearly Men, his first big victory in ATM is just a matter of time. Afindi proved his warrior instinct during the Beach Bunch and raced for the win against Sefli, rather than be happy with second. It nearly cost him second, as Philippines' Wilnar Iglesia still came quite close (10 minutes) at the finish. Iglesia himself was spent at the finish in another piece of evidence of how tough this so-called 'flat' race really is. It's Iglesia's first podium of the season after 4th in Akyathlon and 5th in Cordillera. His third top result propelled him into the lead of the ATM Championship for the first time in his career. Championship challengers better take note, because Iglesia was also 2nd in Penang Eco last year, a race he will return to next May! 

In fourth place was local runner Alex Chung. And that deserves a special mentioning. Chung, third last year in this race, was only 9 minutes behind Iglesia and 19 behind Afindi. A very consistent pace and a very promising result for the future. 

There is more than just Sefli in Brunei in any case. Another local, Amirul Tuah, became the 16th Asia Trail Grandmaster by finishing the 100k, his sixth ATM long distance finish within two years. Tuah joins his compatriot Ali Ajis Rasil ,who earned the Grandmaster title last December as first Bruneian. 

Also the women's race was spectacular and had a tighter battle for the race win than the men's. Indonesia's Ruth Theresia repeated her feat from last year, but clearly had to dig deeper as her compatriot Sri Wahyuni had the bit between her teeth! Ruth even had to catch her as Wahyuni took a faster start on the long road section before the runners hit the trails. But when everyone thought Wahyuni would quietly fade away and be happy to consolidate her second place, she kept on putting pressure on her more experienced and lauded compatriot. The gap was never more than half an hour and at the finish it was back down to 23 minutes. Ruth Theresia herself ran a great time of just over 17 hours (50 minutes faster than last year!), and regains the ATM championship lead with this second win of the season after UTKC in Thailand. It's also Ruth's 6th career win. But Wahyuni is certainly the new face of Indonesian female trail running: both quick and resilient. Beach Bunch was her 4th podium finish in ATM races, it won't be long before she claims that first victory. 

Malaysia's Jassica Lintanga took third on the podium. She decided not to mix with the two Indonesian ladies up front as her main goal was to claim the Grandmaster title. Her sister Adelinah already became a Grandmaster at the end of last year, and now "Jess" achieved the same in Brunei. Lintanga finished comfortably in 21:44 , earned a truckload of ATM championship points with her 3rd place, and will "race for position" already next week at her team Malatra's home race in Sungai Menyala, where she finished 2nd last year. Lintanga could become a genuine championship contender this season, although it is Ruth Theresia who has now regained the points lead at the expense of Majo Liao.

At BBTC there was a second A-race for ATM points. The 50K was surprisingly won by Filipino-Australian Andrew Hill in 4:44. He stayed 13 minutes ahead of Pablo Diago Gonzales, who returned after sustaining a knee injury at the 9 Dragons in Hong Kong last month. Amirul Jamil from Brunei claimed the final podium step. 

In the women's 50K, Kathryn Deuerlein from Canada took top honours in 6:56. She was joined on the podium by local runner Judy Leslie and Singapore's Jeri Chua from the Red Dot Running Company, her second ATM podium finish after Sungai Menyala last season. 

The women's 100K podium: Ruth Theresia, Sri Wahyuni and new Grandmaster Jess Lintanga

The women's 100K podium: Ruth Theresia, Sri Wahyuni and new Grandmaster Jess Lintanga

Hail the new Grandmaster from Brunei: Amirul Tuah!

Hail the new Grandmaster from Brunei: Amirul Tuah!

Wilnar Iglesia and Mohamed Affindi did what they could, but Sefli was just a tick too fast

Wilnar Iglesia and Mohamed Affindi did what they could, but Sefli was just a tick too fast

Beach Bunch: Sefli Ahar vs Mohamed Affindi, Part II

The 3rd edition of the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in Brunei this weekend brings us a very interesting cast for both the 100k and 50k points races in the Asia Trail Master championship. The spotlights shine firmly on local hero Sefli Ahar, twice winner of the BBTC already, who is making his first appearance of the season. Sefli is up against none other than Malaysia's Mohamed Affindi, the young gun from Team Malatra who is determined to put Sefli Ahar under pressure. In the women's Ruth Theresia will defend her BBTC title as well, and if successful can become the new points leader in the championship. 

Sefli Ahar and Mohamed Affindi know each other very well from The Magnificent Merapoh Trail last summer. In that 100k race Sefli had to tolerate the company of rising star Affindi for a long part of the race. At the finish, the difference between the two was also not that overwhelming. Now with more trail experience in the bag, Affindi could get even closer to Ahar this Sunday. The Bruneian star is a local police officer and is very limited in his travel opportunities. Just like last season, Sefli needs to pick his races carefully and see where the ship sails throughout the year. If he can reach five race finishes by mid December, for sure he will again be a candidate for the ATM championship title. But first is the title defence in his home country. Other podium candidates in the men's 100k race this weekends are Alex Chung, also from Brunei, and Filippino Wilnar Iglesia. After coming fourth and fifth in Akyathlon and Cordillera Mountain Ultra, Iglesia is gunning for his third A-race finish of the season and therefore is in with a shot to take over the championship points lead from Dean Perez. Wilnar Iglesia needs to finish higher than 9th to achieve that. Given his speed in the two previous races that should be feasible, although a lot can happen on 100k. 

Another Bruneian, Amirul Tuah, will be competing mainly with himself on Sunday. Tuah is just 1 race finish short of completing his Grandmaster Quest! If he succeeds in the 100k, he will be the second Bruneian after Ali Ajis Rasil to obtain the 1-star Grandmaster. 


Also in the women's race we have someone keen to become Grandmaster this weekend. In the footsteps of her sister Adelinah, Jassica Lintanga is not only a favourite for the podium - maybe even the victory - but also a well-deserved Grandmaster if she reaches the finish of the 100k. Indeed, if Jassica has a good day, she will give Indonesia's Ruth Theresia a run for her money. Theresia aims to repeat last year's victory and take over the championship points lead from Majo Liao in her 3rd ATM race of the season. Twelve months ago, Theresia delivered one of her best performances ever on trail during the Beach Bunch. The question is can she do it again? This Sunday, another Indonesian functions as the dark horse for the top honours. Surabaya's Sri Wahyuni has proven to be both fast and resilient over the past half a year with podium places in three ATM points races in Indonesia. Still a relative newbie to trail, Wahyuni could grow into this race if Theresia and Lintanga were not to have their best day. 

There is also a 50K in Brunei and that one is also regarded as an A-race for the ATM points championship. That means the winner only scores 50 points less than the winner of the 100K, yet those 50 may turn out to be crucial at the end of the season. Last year, Tahira Najmunisaa opted for the 50k here, and lost the points championship to KIm Matthews by 35 points... 

A major protagonist on the 50K is Pablo Diago Gonzales. The Singapore-based Spaniard is returning from an unfortunate DNF at the 9 Dragons Ultra due to a knee injury, and will be keen to open his points account for 2018. In the women's, Singapore's Jeri Chua from the Red Dot Running Company could be the one to follow if you hoped to win the race. 

Jessica Lintanga can join her sister this weekend as Asia Trail Grandmaster

Jessica Lintanga can join her sister this weekend as Asia Trail Grandmaster

Ruth Theresia won last season: she is top favourite again in her 3rd ATM race of 2018

Ruth Theresia won last season: she is top favourite again in her 3rd ATM race of 2018

Race report - Sefli Ahar & Ruth Theresia dominate 100k

Fantastic runs last weekend at the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, the first ever ultra event in Brunei on Borneo Island. Local star Sefli Ahar proved that in his forties he has no issues going beyond standard marathon distance and won the men's 100k in a blistering time of just over 12 hours. Leading from start to finish was also Indonesia's upcoming trail talent Ruth Theresia, who took her second ATM race victory in two weeks after Coast To Coast in Yogyakarta. The 26-year-old from Bandung was clearly not intimidated by the strong women's field in Brunei, including Singapore's Jeri Chua and the Lintanga sisters from Malaysia. Theresia opened up a gap on the initial 9 km road section and never looked back. She finished the 100k in a time of 17:53. It was also her third successive win in an ATM points race, as she won Bromo Tengger Semeru 100k last November as well. Ruth Theresia now has 1000 ATM championship points and moves up to second place in the ranking behind the defending champion Tahira Najmunisaa (photo above), who also claimed another race victory in the Beach Bunch event. One week after the grueling UTKC 100 race in Thailand, the Malaysian star settled for the 50k in Brunei. She won convincingly in 5:41 (third overall!), but had to stay focused as Scotland's Margaret Rait had a great run herself to finish second in 6:14. As the 50k was credited with 400 performance points as well, Tahira boosts her 2017 total to 1500 points. For the ATM championship, the best five results of each runner are taken into account. 

Sefli Ahar: unbeatable on home soil 

Sefli Ahar: unbeatable on home soil 

Behind Sefli Ahar and Ruth Theresia, the battle for the podium places on the 100k distance was exciting to follow. Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Ho, local runners Chung Ming and Muhdabdulfarid Hjsufri, and Malaysia's Yim Heng Fatt - fifth in UTKC 70 a week ago - were all in contention. Yuen Wan Ho, in his first ATM points race of the season, had a bit of a scare when he lost the right trail and dropped far back around the km 35 mark. Being an excellent and experienced ultrarunner, he managed to stay calm and gradually ran his way back to Chung Ming, and eventually left him behind for second place in 13:46. The Bruneian Chung Ming settled for a great third place on his 100k debut. Yim Heng Fatt came in fourth and scored more points for the ATM championship, still led by Arief Wismoyono. South Africa's Christo Swart was fifth. 

Jessica Lintanga stayed ahead of her younger sister Adelinah to claim second place roughly two hours behind Ruth Theresia. Youngsters themselves, the sisters from Sabah in Team Malatra continue to improve on the ultra distances. Adelinah even showed very fast legs still in the final hundreds of meters as she sprinted with Bruneian Shazana Nabilah Hj Ayob to the finish to get the final podium spot. Filippino runner Cheryl Bihag took a fine fifth place, ahead of Moana O'Sullivan, Mila Marlina- in her third race weekend in a row - and Melissa Woo. Bihag enters the top 5 of the ATM championship ranking, after finishing 3rd in the Rizal Mountain Run last month as well. Jeri Chua, on of Asia's best-known and celebrated trail running stars, sprained her ankle in a muddy section at night while running in second position with Jessica Lintanga. She wisely decided to avoid risking serious injury and pulled out of the race at km 43. 

The 100k race started in damp conditions after a serious downpour earlier that night. However, as the skies cleared out and the sun came out, the second part of the race was held in hot conditions. 

The men's 50k was dominated by two locals, who had a great fight for the win. Eventually, it was Md Norrisman Ismail who grabbed the race win in 5:05:25. Mohd Nazrul Effendy Bin Ali Hassan Jambul settled for second after leading most of the race in 5:14. Australia's Dave Smith claimed the third place on the podium in 5:45 

Three-in-a-row: Ruth Theresia scored another win, her first outside her home country

Three-in-a-row: Ruth Theresia scored another win, her first outside her home country

Local runner Chung Ming delivered a great performance with 3rd place on the 100k

Local runner Chung Ming delivered a great performance with 3rd place on the 100k

Race preview - Beach Bunch goes ultra

It is only end of February and this weekend we can already look forward to the sixth points race in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series. The Beach Bunch Trail Challenge in Brunei was an exciting newcomer last year, and this time the event goes from marathon to ultra! The list of participants shows several big names, including the almost inevitable Asia Trail Master champion, Tahira Najmunisaa. Winner of the Beach Bunch race last season, the 26-year-old Malaysian will be going for the 50k barely a week after her stunning victory at UTKC in Thailand. She will not get her 8th ATM race win on a silver platter on Sunday, though, as Great Britain's Margaret Rait could give her a challenge coming off a win in another race on Borneo last weekend.

Sefli Ahar is back for the 100k

Sefli Ahar is back for the 100k

The 100 km in the men's will see last year's local running hero Sefli Ahar, winner of the marathon here twelve months ago, give it a shot on  the ultra distance! Interestingly, he will be up against, amongst others, Isaac Yuen Wan Ho again. The Hong Kong runner was chasing Ahar in the Beach Bunch Trail Marathon last year, and having had a wonderful time returns to Brunei this weekend. Yuen Wan Ho was third in the final 2016 Asia Trail Master championship ranking. Initially collecting podium placings, he finally got the well-deserved race victory at HK 168 last November - a 100 miler, no less. The BBTC will be his first of the 2017 campaign. 

Also in the field and a podium candidate, returning from Koh Chang, is Malaysia's Yim Heng Fatt. On the 50k, local runner Hj Saifullah is one to watch out for. 

Jessica Lintanga aka Jess Boubie

Jessica Lintanga aka Jess Boubie

While Tahira Najmunisaa thus opts for the 50k, the 100k bursts with female trail running talent as well. Indonesia's Ruth Theresia is in prime shape this year and could be the top favourite. A COMPRESSPORT athlete, Theresia won the Coast to Coast Night Trail Ultra two weeks ago and has ambition for this year's ATM championship. The two Borneo sisters Adelinah and Jessica Lintanga could be her main competitors on Sunday, along with Singapore star Jeri Chua. Adelinah won the Penang Eco 100k last season, and her sister the MesaStila 4 Peaks Challenge in Indonesia. Jeri Chua of course does not need an introduction as one of the pioneers in Asian trail running. It will be her first start in an ATM points race, though. Other podium candidates are Mila Marlina and Filippino Cheryl Bihag, both already active this season with podium placings in Coast To Coast and Rizal Mountain Run, respectively. Local ultra star Melissa Woo will be trying to get herself in the mix, too. 

ATM Championship points seekers have a choice between 100 km and 50 km, and winners on each distance will be rewarded with 400 performance points along with 100 or 50 finisher points, respectively. The 100k will start at midnight on Sunday, and as usual you can follow all the action live on our social media channels. 

Ruth Theresia, 26,  came to the fore at MesaStila and BTS last autumn 

Ruth Theresia, 26,  came to the fore at MesaStila and BTS last autumn 

Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge goes Ultra

Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge is one of those new events in 2016 that caught the eye of plenty a trail runner in Asia. Brunei as a new destination for runners, but the race itself as it had a 50% DNF quote despite "only" being of 42k marathon length. For once, the term "challenge" in the event's title was not just randomly added. The race was a test of running abiility, but arguably even more so of mental resilience and even tactical choice of running gear.  While the forest section in the first half of the course definitely was made for hardcore trail shoes, this type of footwear sank people's feet deep into the loose beach sand in the second half, draining their legs. Significantly, a pure road runner won the men's race: Sefli Ahar, a former winner of the Hong Kong Half Marathon, pushed Isaac Yuen Wan Ho into second place. 

In 2017 the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge goes ultra with the main races over 100 km and 50 km. There is also a 30 km distance for beginners. The tale of the trail reveals that elevation gain is limited to 1830 hm on the 100 km, and a mere 570 hm on the 50 km, so lovers of runnable courses should still mark this race red hot in their calendars. In terms of points for the Asia Trail Master championship, special conditions will apply to this event. On both the 100 and the 50 km races the winner will pocket 400 performance points. The difference will be, logically, in the finisher points, whereby 100k finishers score the usual 100 and the 50k finishers 50 points. As such, the winner of the 100k will have a 50-point-advantage over the winner of the 50k, but in the grand scheme of things (in 2017 each runner's best five results count for the final ranking at the end of the year) the difference might be neglible. 

Running along the beach is of course an important part of the race: mind your choice of shoe! 

Running along the beach is of course an important part of the race: mind your choice of shoe! 

Rizan Latif, organiser of the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, is looking forward to seeing the protagonists of his 2016 race and of the Asia Trail Master championship come to Brunei on 25-26 February, for what will effectively be the first ever ultra trail distance in the country on Borneo island. 

Registration is open until 6 January 2017, but it is advised not to wait till last-minute as slots do fill up quickly. 

But it is not all beach neither: the forest section was determinant in 2016! 

But it is not all beach neither: the forest section was determinant in 2016! 

Bandar Seri Begawan also catches the eye from a tourism point of view

Bandar Seri Begawan also catches the eye from a tourism point of view

Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge a tough run!
42k winner and local hero Sefli Ahar

42k winner and local hero Sefli Ahar

Local running star Sefli Ahar and up-and-coming female star Tahira Najmunisaa from Malaysia were the big winners of the first ever trail marathon in Brunei on the island of Borneo last Sunday. The Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, new in the Asia Trail Master series this year, saw approx. 330 enthusiastic runners take the start on Tungku Beach for 42k or 21k. The marathon distance only offered 630 metres of elevation gain, but turned out to be much harder than anyone had expected.  

The so-called Shahbandar rainforest section, from roughly km 5 to 15 was a steep rollercoaster with 14 short but steep hillclimbs that drained runners' legs before they had to cope with loose beach sand in the second half of the marathon.  The choice of running shoe plays a role in this race. While trail shoes gave a grip advantage in the forest, road shoes were gliding better in the loose sand and didn't get sucked in as much. 

Combined with a 30 degree tropical heat, the DNF quote on the 42k was around 50%, so anything unlike the "easy extended training run" some people had in mind! Race winner Sefli Ahar won the Hong Kong Half Marathon a few ears ago, amongst other international victories, and made his debut on the trail scene. While the 42-year-old Bruneian enjoyed the experience, he also admitted to have underestimated the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge. His finishing time of 3:53:23 is over 1 hour and 10 minutes slower than his personal best on the road marathon. Yet he was nearly 40 minutes ahead of Hong Kong's Isaac Wan Ho Yuen in second place, and over an hour of his compatriot Alexander Chung in third. 

Isaac Wan Ho Yuen came second, only a week after finishing 4th in UTHK! He is the new Asia Trail Master points leader

Isaac Wan Ho Yuen came second, only a week after finishing 4th in UTHK! He is the new Asia Trail Master points leader

Isaac Wan Ho Yuen delivered a remarkable performance, only a week after finishing fourth in the 156k Ultra Trail Hong Kong! His top placings in the first two races of the 2016 Asia Trail Master series earned him already 900 points for the championship ranking, which he is now leading.  "It was a good race, although it was very hot for a Hong Kong runner," said Wan Ho Yuen afterwards. "I like it that there were so many runnable sections in this race. I prefer that over continuous mountain climbing. To defend my Asia Trail Master ranking, I may consider to run the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia in July. Another race with not too excessive elevation gain." 

Isaac Wan Ho Yuen will be one to watch out for this year, and so is the female champion of the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, Tahira Najmunisaa. In an interview the day before the race, the young mother of three said the Asia Trail Master championship is a goal for her this year. Part of the Running Project Team in Malaysia, Tahira Najmunisaa is not a new face, in fact, as she already won the Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra 100k last November. In Brunei, she was unbeatable and even finished the marathon in 4th place overall! A solid second place, half an hour behind, went to Singapore-based Japanese runner Itsuko Tanaka. The podium was completed by New Zealand's Moana O'Sullivan. 

Rizan Latif, organiser of the race and President of the Beach Bunch environmental NGO to keep Brunei's beaches clean from waste pollution (a necessary work), was a happy man after the event. Encouraged by the positive feedback on his event, he is already looking forward to 2017. "The race will be back and again in February. Maybe we even add a third ultra distance to the event! But in any case, the most important remains raising awareness in Brunei of the need to keep the beaches clean. Plastic waste pollution is a big and persistent problem."

Well-organised, participants agreed the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge is a great and special addition to the Asian trail calendar!

Top 10 result: Men:
1. Sefli Ahar (Brunei) 3:53:23
2. Isaac Wan Ho Yuen (Hong Kong) 4:32:55
3. Alexander Chung (Brunei) 4:57:56
4. Guillermo Rocco (Argentina) 5:27:03
5. Razif Yahya (Malaysia) 6:10:55
6. Hj Muhammad Yazid Hj Musa (Brunei) 6:14:41
7. Chiew Lie Chieng (Brunei) 6:15:03
8. Hung Zheng On (Brunei) 6:16:37
9. Abang Jamadi Rosli (Malaysia) 6:25:36
10.Mohd Akram Mohd Akbal (Brunei) 6:31:45

Top 6 result: women
1. Tahira Najmunisaa Muhammad Zaid (Malaysia) 5:22:18
2. Itsuko Tanaka (Japan) 5:50:59
3. Moana O'Sullivan (New Zealand) 7:05:06
4. Katherine Mitchell (Great Britain) 7:13:10
5. Melissa Woo (Brunei) 7:30:58
6. Wan Chy On (Brunei) 7:50:34

Isaac Wan Ho Yuen added 450 (100 finisher points + 350 performance points) to his tally after UTHK, and now leads the men's Asia Trail Master ranking with 900 points after 2 races. Tahira Najmunisaa enters in a joint second place with 500 points, behind Yuen Kit Shan, who won the Hong Kong SuperTrail last week (550 points

Rizan Latif is Talking Trail Running

On 28 February 2016, Beach Bunch will host the first major trail running race in Brunei, one of three countries on the large island of Borneo. The President of the environmental NGO is also the main organiser of the event, which will be the second points scoring race in the 2016 Asia Trail Master series. Mr Rizan Latif is himself an enthusiastic runner and therefore a great guest in our Talking Trail Running series. 

Q: Mr Latif, first, could you please tell us in a few words what Beach Bunch stands for, and what was the reason you launched this project.

RL: Beach Bunch is a registered Non-Government Organization who's objective is aimed at protecting Brunei's beaches from waste pollution. Our vision is to keep them clean and enjoyable to all including its coastal wildlife.

Our natural beaches have been pristine up until the last decade, especially so with the emergence of plastic waste. Something had to be done. In 2010, a group of friends and I gathered for a cleanup at Tungku and the rest is history. Now, we've done 31 cleanups and have had up to nearly 4,400 volunteers and have collected a not so great; waste collection of 16 tonnes. 

Q: Had the situation on Tungku Beach or in Brunei in general become so bad?

We've done lots of cleanups on various beaches in Brunei and the cleanliness varies from slightly dirty to OMG it's a dump situation. Tungku beach is the latter, it has and still requires a lot of TLC, not just from cleanliness end but waste management as well. It's chaotic on any given Sunday with the combination of food vendors on the beach and beach visitors.

Q: Where does the majority of the pollution come from?

The majority of the pollution is generated locally by visitors to the beach. This is mainly due to a lack of rubbish collection and disposal in designated areas.

Q: Beach Bunch aims to keep the beaches clean for humans and for wildlife. What kind of wildlife is there?

Wildlife that we've encountered on the coast are the sea turtles, mainly Olive Ridleys & Hawksbill as  well as seabirds where most of them are on the endangered and protected list. Dugongs and dolphins are also seen but they are more towards the marine coastline. We are doing conservation programs on the sea turtles in Brunei which includes youth camps and doing nightly night watches for sea turtle landing during the nesting period.

Q: Is there still a lot of cleaning-up work to be done?

Yes indeed. When Beach Bunch started getting into groove of things, we soon realized that no matter how many cleanups we do, the rubbish will come back again. We decided to take a different approach. Our cleanups are now more educational which involves the community; from schools, organisations and families, to get them down to the beach and be apart of that 'feel good' feeling.

Q: Why did you start with the organisation of a 21km half marathon trail run?

I was looking at how we could connect fitness and health with the beach environment, a healthy activity where people could enjoy the beautiful scenery of the beach. Running was the first activity that came to mind. I wanted it slightly challenging and to introduce locals to  long distance trail running. With that set in my mind, I started looking (running) around the beaches here and found the spot. A 21km loop going through 3 beaches; Empire, Tungku and Berakas Forest Reserve. 

Q: Do you also organise other types of events to raise funds or awareness for Beach Bunch?

Yes, I have led numerous beach cleanups, the largest being of 1,000 volunteers as well as a river and island cleanup. I've brought several groups of volunteers at night to the beach for sea turtle landing during the nesting season here.

Q: Is running a popular leisure activity in Brunei?

Open road running has been a popular leisure activity for the last 2 decades. This goes to short distance trail running too. Long distance road running came up over the  last decade or so and the 1st competitive full road marathon started back in 2005. To date, Brunei has only done 4 full road marathons and our event will not only be the fifth full marathon but also the first of its kind as a long distance trail run.

Q: What is the most popular sport in Brunei?

Like any Asian country, football has been the most popular sport in Brunei. Nuff said.

Q: You will be organising a workshop on the day before the race. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Yes I'll be organizing a workshop for the 2 days prior to the race. I'm working on bringing in a professional international trail runner and not will not be forgetting the local flavor because we too have elite runners, the only difference is not being under the professional category. The aim of these workshops is to educate the runners on long distance trail running as well as to promote trail running. Most of the runners are local Bruneians who range from 2 extremes; from experienced long distance trail runners, road marathoners, ironmen to the other extreme where it would be their first ever marathon and on top of that, on trail!

Trail running has long been established here in Brunei due to our jungle and hilly terrain. Most of the local competitive trail events are of short distance. Long distance trail running is still new here and this will be the inaugural event to do so.

Q: Are you an active runner yourself, and if yes, what have been your main achievements

Yes. Back in the day I used to play football like any local in Brunei. I got into running back in 2012 and like most runners, I started off with a 5km run. To date, I've now done 3 full road marathons and 3 ultra marathons both local and international; the latest one was Sabah's The Most Beautiful Thing 50k category. I managed to finish it and grab first for the Bruneian 50k category.

Q: Do you have any specific trail running ambition yourself?

I'm now looking forward to the TNF's 100k in Australia which will be in May 2016. In terms of ambition, to me it's more about fun... serious fun and not forgetting the pain and suffering that comes with that fun. LOL

Q: The race course of the BB Trail Challenge looks very varied with several very distinct sections. What type of runner has the best chances of winning in your opinion? 

An experienced long distance road runner with a knowledge of the local terrain and weather will be able to win this. With the right strategy on pacing and nutrition/ hydration, this runner will be able to blaze through the course. This is due to route being relatively flat on the beaches and the elevation is of hilly variance rather than mountainous compared to normal ultra trail environment. 

Q: On the website we read that the temperatures in February are scorching, humidity is high and there is a high chance of rain. Should participants be afraid of the natural elements?

They SHOULDN'T be afraid of it but EMBRACE it like any natural outdoor loving person. Coming into the race with a well prepared body and mind through proper training regimen, and well equipped gear through the mandatory kit, participants should be enjoying the weather and the race.

Q: Hydration will be very important during the race. How many water stations are you planning, and what recommendations would you have for runners traveling in from colder climates? 

There will be 5 water stations throughout the route. Runners who are not acclimatized to the high humidity and temperature of Brunei, please adhere to the 1.5 liter current capacity of your hydration as part of your mandatory kit.

Q: Who do you regard as a favourite to win the races in the men's and women's categories? 

As a local brethren, I'm supporting our local elite long distance runners to win the race in both categories since the participants compromise 75% locals. But of course, the international elite runners will be a running for their money for the top spot! It will be exciting from start to finish!

Beach Bunch's Trail Challenge is open for registration. Careful: standard registration with a full gift package closes on 15 December. Click here to sign up for this great new addition to the Asian trail running scene.