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Local teams triumph at inaugural Chiang Mai Challenge Adventure Race

Local teams triumph at inaugural Chiang Mai Challenge Adventure Race

The competitors set out at the start of the 2008 Chiang Mai Challenge Adventure Race.

Fifty-one teams lined up a week last Sunday, May 18, at the start of the inaugural Chiang Mai Challenge organized by Active Management Asia and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
After completing a loop around the 700 years stadium, the competitors headed directly to Doi Suthep Mountain for a very tough jungle run on scenic single tracks. The first racers came out of the jungle in only 51 minutes and jumped on to their MTB’s for the first bike section.

Thai athlete Saifon Boonjang came first with her partner Runsan Masurin in the Mixed category.

Sandy and rocky technical tracks then sent them to the picturesque Huey Thung Tao reservoir, a popular leisure spot well known by the Chiang Mai population.
A 300m long swim in the lake followed and was the perfect way to cool the competitors down … then, a short water refill at the check-point and off they went for the second run of the race: up and around a gorgeous waterfall and through swamps and streams.
Then it was back to the lake for the kayaking section. Competitors had to use their hands to propel their kayaks and collect the paddles on the other side of the reservoir and then collect tokens from 3 locations around the lake, following a treasure map.
Then, a final paddling effort took the teams back to the check-point, where they had left their bikes a few hours before, and it was a cycle back to the finish on fantastic mountain bike trails.
The winning team crossed the finish line in 4:12:48 and the last team (women’s category) in 8:10:21.

The bike trail took the athletes through some spectacular countryside.

“I am a happy man today” said Serge Henkens, the race organizer. “We had a great turnout for an inaugural race and far from Bangkok where most of the competitors come from. We also had some beautiful weather after a week of heavy rain. Another positive thing is that the winners are a local team from Chiang Mai.
“We had many teams coming from abroad as well: Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, The Philippines and China. All this is very positive and promising for this particular event but also for the future of Adventure Racing in Thailand.
“After the great success of the last River Kwai Trophy, which is now the second Adventure Race in South East Asia, we can say the sport is now taking off nicely in Thailand” said Henkens. “This is an achievement as we managed to organize our races to professional standards with a very limited budget. We have now to bank on this success and convince local companies to invest and promote their products through this kind of event. The potential is huge but corporations still have to realize that in Thailand, sports, adventure and the outdoors are increasingly popular with Thais.

Don’t expect to stay dry in an Adventure Race.

“I am pretty confident that we’ll get stronger financial support in the near future. This will help us to expand the number of races from 3 to 4 per year and to promote the sport more aggressively, particularly in Thailand. Our races are well known abroad but the response from the Thai athletes is still relatively poor which is a pity and a real frustration. We are in Thailand and I will make sure that within 2 years we have more than 50% Thai competitors in our races. It will take some time. Ten years ago, almost no Thais were competing in triathlons. Look at the calendar today. There are triathlons every week and most of the participants are Thai!
“The message is: ‘Everyone can do it!’ No experience needed. Many of the newcomers had never paddled a kayak or never swam with a life jacket before. Just come and try it, you’ll love it. Everyone is hooked. We plan to organize another race in southern Thailand, probably in Krabi. This race will also be part of The Amazing Adventure Race series supported by the TAT, “ concluded Henkens.

Kayaking without paddles provided it’s own set of problems.

The next Race part of the series will be the Bangkok Challenge on November 15 and will be taking place in Nong Chok. This will be the third edition of this event.
Interesting to note is that 2 mixed teams finished in the top 5 overall of the CMC: 3rd overall and 1st in the mixed category in 4:16 was another local team, Saifon Boonjang and Runsan Masurin and 4th overall and 2nd in the Mixed category in 4:21 was the Hong Kong duo of Sean Ho and Vincent Yim.

The winning men’s duo cross the finish line.

Saifon is a well known amongst the Thai athletics community as she won the 2007 SEA Games Duathlon. She also competed in previous SEA games for the Thai national team in the 5,000 and 10,000m.
Meanwhile the famous Thai duo of Jongsak Kaewin and Kiattisak Praemanan finished first in the Masters category and 5th overall.
Overall Results: 1. Boonyarit Boonjang (Thai)/ Choochart Tayasuthi (Thai) Men’s category 4:12:48; 2. Matt Baker (British) / Rich Ford Men (New Zealand) Men’s category 4:14:19; 3. Runsan Masurin (Thai)/ Saifon Boonjang (Thai) Mixed category 4:16:37.
For further information about Active Management Asia and their upcoming events contact them on Tel: 02 718 95 81-2 or email [email protected], Website: www.active-asia.com