Can you imagine running around 99 thickly forested, exotic islands that scientists say have been around for at least half a billion years?
Okay. Maybe 99 isles is a bit much to ask for even the most seasoned runner, but if I had the chance to participate in the upcoming 2016 Pulau Tuba race in Langkawi, Malaysia, I’d pull out all stops to make sure I was on a plane destined for this heavenly land of bio-diversity and unmatched beauty.
I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same way once you read about the magical experience that awaits you at 07:00 a.m. on 2 April 2016 where more than a chance to medal awaits.
A Land of Mystery
As the first sanctioned UNESCO-endorsed Geopark in Southeast Asia, Langkawi’s past has been thoughtfully documented by Malaysians eager to share this destination’s remarkable history. The name was bestowed to honour a rare species of eagle that can still be spotted in trees and on high (Lang Merah), and when paired with the Sanskrit word for marble (Kawi) that’s how Langkawi got its exotic name.
This isn’t the only name by which this paradise is known: Over time, people dubbed it the Place of Immense Beauty and long before that, it was known as the Land of Bliss.
Personally, I think this remarkable region should be called Eden because, upon first blush, the mix of primitive rock formations, untouched tropical forests, vast caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites, waterfalls and wildlife lacks nothing but Adam and Eve. The snake? I’m thinking he’s likely there amid the parks and forests of Langkawi!
A Land of Legends
If you decide to run in Langkawi, be forewarned that this area is home to lots of exotic folklore and we feel compelled to share one because you might just run into the bats and banshees that inhabit Pulau Dayang Bunting if you accidentally veer off the beaten trail and wind up in caves no area residents dare to enter.
A female vampire by the name of Gua Langsir hangs out here and she likes nothing better than to lure men into her web because, after all, that’s what vampires do to get their fangs on enough blood to live (or die) for thousands of years.
Ladies: Gua Langsir has no interest in you, so consider this our guarantee that if you are willing to risk the world of bats inhabiting Langkawi caves, you can run undisturbed.
This Race is No Mystery!
If you decide to add the Tuba Trail Run to your schedule, you’ll run on newly-opened and expansive trails that span the rustic islands of Pulau Tuba and Pulau Dayang Bunting. Groomed just for high-profile international races like the Tuba, anticipate traversing new expanses of trail and road to complete the full 30km adventure to the finish line.
Along the way, you will encounter sights and sounds that will test your ability to stay focused on your race because village kampung roads, majestic cliffs, indigenous monkeys, eagles, water buffaloes, monitor lizards and mangrove flats amid forested areas dense with trees and exotic flowers are going to distract you.
But if you focus on a new personal best and plan to stick around for a couple of extra days to satisfy your curiosity about this wonderland, this race will be all about your dedicated conditioning and focus.
Who Can Participate?
For starters, you can! Non-Malaysians are automatically slotted into the men’s and women’s open categories, so join Pacific Rim and international runners eager to see if this little corner of paradise is as remarkable as supported by the Langkawi Development Authority.
Be at the Kedah Cement Jetty early to shake off last-minute nerves. A short 30 minutes ride in a 500 capacity ferry awaits you. Your entry pack will include everything you need to get moving: bib, timing device, tee and surprise novelties that will serve as reminders of Langkawi — though if you win prize money, that’s likely to be cooler than freebies or the finisher medals and tees handed out at the finish line.
Understand that this is a trail run, bring stuff that you would need, such as insect repellent, hydration pack etc, more important your camera or smartphone.
How to Get to The Race
Despite this area’s lush, primitive terrain, there’s a beautiful international airport at Langkawi that’s so busy year-round, 2.5 million passengers pass through carrier gates every year.
From Singapore, you’ll have several airline choices including Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, AirAsia, Silk Air and Berjaya Air. Firefly is owned and operated by Malaysia Airlines, so if the idea of supporting Malaysia’s first community airliner for your first Langkawi adventure is appealing, check out Firefly’s flight times and ticket prices. Do you like to comparison shop? Browse fares to see if they better accommodate your travel plans.
If you’re uber-efficient, you can take advantage of the discounts provided by the four participating hotels or stay near the locals with the homestay program at Pulau Tuba.
Why You Should Make Every Effort To Go
There are so many compelling reasons to participate in this amazing race held at this doubly amazing place, that there’s not enough space to list everything here. It’s not only the race that will be intriguing but the things you can do before, during and after the race.
Views from attractions like the amazing Sky Bridge and cable car are simply breathtaking, but be warned, if you are fearful of heights, you might want to just stick with the wildlife parks.
As a bonus, you will be welcomed with open arms by the warm, loving people of Langkawi who are already supportive of events like the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge held every October since 2010. Once runners undertake their inaugural Langkawi run, returns for future marathons are virtually guaranteed. Need more convincing?
Watch this video. If this video footage doesn’t trigger the urge to run this April, we don’t know what will!
Start by acknowledging that it’s no exaggeration that Langkawi is a stunning destination that will forever remain in your memory, and by attending the first ever Tuba Trail Run, you get bragging rights.
Will you say yes to participating in this extraordinary run where bringing a camera and your sense of childlike wonder are almost as important as bringing your favourite running shoes?