Pushed to the limits in the
Yara Bangkok Challenge Adventure Race
November 15 at 5:30 am, my eyes popped open wide with excitement
& anticipation. Today was the 2008 Yara Bangkok Challenge, an adventure
multi-sport race of which the course, distances, & order of events are
unknown to the teams of two & finishing times can only be estimated –
until you see the finish line.
scribe suits up for yet another mountain bike stage.
We knew we’d be swimming, off-road biking, running, paddling, and facing
unknown obstacles & challenges (e.g. ropes to traverse & climb, staying
on course by sighting markers). What we didn’t know was for how long or
how many times we’d do each discipline. And that’s the spirit of
adventure racing – facing the challenges as you meet them and together,
with your partner, pushing beyond mental & physical boundaries &
supporting each other to the finish line.
Forty-eight teams of two signed up for the shorter course – the
Adventure class, and experienced the joy & camaraderie of completing and
competing in the race. Thirty-nine teams raced in the Extreme class, the
longer course, and tested their endurance & wits. My partner & I were
about to have our wits tested!
After the race briefing & a moment of silence to pay respect to the
memory of HRH Princess Galyani, the race began. A mass start led to the
first challenge – a quick mountain bike stage on mostly flat dirt roads
& trails through the beautiful rice fields of Nong Chok, north of
Bangkok. Farmers & children cheered & smiled as we zipped by. We dashed
off the muddy bikes & ran into the rice fields, splashed & slipped
through muddy puddles & elephant grass.
We were refreshed with a short swim that cleansed us of mud & grime and
rested our legs. After ditching the life-jackets we were back on the
bikes. Less than 1 kilometer into the 2nd bike stage, my front wheel
disappeared into a muddy trench & I found myself sailing over the
handlebars, resulting in a ‘face-plant’ in the mud - my partner meeting
a similar fate behind me. So much for the cleansing of the swim. We
checked our bodies - no major injuries, and hopped back on the bikes to
keep ahead of the teams gaining from behind.
This adventure differed from previous Active Management Asia races in
that each section was brief, but more frequent. At the time, I had no
idea how many times I had run or been on the bike. In the end, it was 5
times each, with only one ride lasting longer than 30 minutes, and the
final run as short as 10 minutes.
There was one ‘sit-on-top of a kayak’ section – a stage that requires
coordinating your paddling efforts with your teammate & efficiently
steering your boat. We had a particularly good kayak section & advanced
3 places while paddling through the bucolic countryside, under
pedestrian bridges & past old-fashioned shrimp traps fashioned from
bamboo. After paddling a U-turn, we were thankful that the second half
With fresh legs, we biked for what we guessed could be near the end. We
should have known better. As we dismounted our bikes near the finish
line, we were instructed to run to a cargo net that required climbing.
This was immediately followed by a short rope-traverse over a murky
khlong; one we were happy not to have fallen into!
Fortunately, the run was less than 5 minutes and we were swimming again.
Life-jackets aided our lake-crossing & just over 30 minutes later,
cooled from the swim, we were running for the finish. Five hours &
twenty eight minutes after beginning, we finished gratefully, smiling,
hungry, & thankful for the cheers of friends & staff at the finish line.
The overall winners of the Adventure category were Suthep Pinkhaew &
Cholracha Patipatvasin in 3 hours 41 minutes. Saman Gunan & Anant
Duansopha took the honors of 1st place overall in the Extreme category
in 4 hours 43 minutes.
Within minutes of finishing the race, refueling with khao pad & pad
see-u, fruit & electrolyte drinks, racers in the master’s, men’s,
women’s, & mixed categories began talking about the next team race in
the Amazing Thailand Challenge series – The North Face River Kwai Trophy
on February 28, 2009 in Kanchanaburi www.riverkwaitrophy.com.
If this kind of adventure sounds fun to you, you can sample a shorter
version of adventure racing in the solo Adventure Dash in Pathum Thani
on January 18, 2009. See www.adventuredash.com for details.
Bangkok Blues score back
to back wins in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Cricket
Tanvir hits the winning run for the Blues
off Noor Ul Huq.
The Bangkok Blues ventured to Chiang Mai last weekend for two
matches and won both of them. Saturday at the Prem Centre, the U.N Irish
Pub batted first and got away to a good start with an opening
partnership of 78, with Craig Coombes scoring 51 off 37 deliveries and
Steve Potter a masterly 69. The final score was 9/203 with Tanvir taking
4/29 for the Bangkok team.
The Irish score looked to be good enough to win, especially after the
Blues had lost three wickets for eleven runs, but some fine batting by
brothers, Sahil (33) and Princy, a well made 57 rescued the day. Tanvir
was again to the fore, compiling an elegant 56 and enabling the Blues to
win with three wickets to spare and himself being declared Man of the
Match. Amrit bowled well to finish with 2/36 from 8 overs.
Sunday at the Gymkhana Club was a different state of affairs when the
City Life team was dismissed for a paltry 96 with only Noor Ul Huq
offering any real resistance with 25. The Blues made short work of the
requirement with A. Bahin thumping 44 off only 21 balls, including 5
sixes and 3 fours, to earn himself the Man of the Match award. He was
ably supported by Tanneer with 25.
For the home team Asif Khashoo picked up 3 wickets for 34 off only three
overs, which gives some idea of the ferocity of the batting.
Next Sunday the U.N. Irish Pub will play City Life at the Gymkhana Club
starting at 10 a.m.
A short story of the Siam Cup
A sporting link between Britain’s most southerly point and exotic Siam
I would guess it’s one of the most frequent questions travelers
are asked: Where do you come from?
In my case people usually think I’m American when I answer, until I
explain to them it’s not New Jersey, but Jersey in the Channel Islands
(C.I.). Most people have never heard of it, and searching around for it
in an atlas can be pointless, the island’s size (14km east to west, and
just 8km north to south) means it’s not even shown on many maps.
However, the conversation does take on a more interesting angle when I’m
talking to people of Thailand about Jersey.
Amazingly, the two rugby union teams of Jersey and Guernsey (the second
largest of the five Channel Islands) play an annual game for, arguably,
the oldest rugby trophy in existence, the Siam Cup.
During the early 1900’s, a group of Channel Islanders were working in
Thailand (formerly Siam); C. Norman was a Jersey man and former Old
Victorian, whist E. Trotter, R. Bainbridge, H. Forty and S. Groves were
Guernsey men who had attended their local Elizabeth college.
News reached the group that their former colleges were no longer to play
against each other at rugby. After some discussion they decided to
donate a trophy and send it home in the hope of encouraging the event to
As the materials to be used were Ticals (Siamese silver dollars) they
needed authorization from the King to use the coins. As fate would have
it, S. Groves was, at the time, equerry to HM King Vajiravudh (Rama VI),
as indeed he had been to his father HM King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Not
only did the King grant permission, but he also instructed the highly
skilled court silversmiths to work on the trophy. The result was (is) a
magnificent work of art.
The Siam Cup stands 33cm high (inclusive of plinth) and has a diameter
of 25.5cm. The pure Siamese (Thai) silver is decorated with elephant
heads and dancing girls beaten out in the traditional relief fashion.
The ebony plinth bears the names of the winners as far back as the
1928/29 season, as well as the names of the original five donors.
And so this sporting link between a tiny portion of Britain and a far
off exotic kingdom continues to this day. The Siam Cup final is the
climax to the rugby season in the Channel Islands and is usually played