Casual climbers take an average of two days to scale Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia. Usually, climbers start the ascent on the first day from Timpohon Gate to Panalaban base camps, rest overnight at Panalaban, attempt the climb for the summit at around 2 a.m. on the second day followed by the descent to the Kinabalu Park Headquarters.

If you think you can do much better than casual climbers, you should join the 30th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon.


In 1987, the first Kinabalu Climbathon was held to create a rescue squad to bring down injured climbers fast. It used to be an event for Malaysians only. In 1995, Sabah Tourism Board took over as the organiser of the event and allowed international runners to participate.

Fast forward, the Kinabalu Climbathon is now a member of the World Mountain Running Association, as well as a member of the International Skyrunning Federation, the international body that promotes sports at high altitude

What and When?

The 30th edition of Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon will be held on Sunday, 15 October 2017. Organised by Sabah Tourism Board, the Climbathon is an annual event where mountain runners attempt to scale the mountain in the fastest time possible.

Last year, Malaysian Safrey Sumping emerged as the champion in the Elite Men category with the timing of 2:21:33. Meanwhile, Sandi Menchi Catlona Abahan from the Philippines won the Elite Women category with 2:58:48.

The Route

The Climbathon will flag off at Kinabalu Park Headquarters (1,564m) at 7 a.m. From there, participants will run to the summit via Timpohon trail, passing through Timpohon Gate, Panalaban Base Camps, Ranau trail, and eventually the Low’s Peak Summit (4092.5m). The total distance is 26km.

Do not take too long time on the ascent, because there is a cut-off time at the summit. For men, the summit cut-off time is 2 hours 50 minutes; that means, the latest men need to arrive at the summit by 9:50 a.m. Meanwhile, the summit cut-off time for women is 3 hours 20 minutes; thus, women must arrive at the summit by 10:20 a.m.

From the summit, participants will descend back to Kinabalu Park Headquarters. The finish line cut-off time for men and women are 5 hours 20 minutes and 6 hours 20 minutes respectively.

How to Register?

Registration is open for elite runners who satisfy any of the 3 requirements:

  1. Participated and completed the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon within cut-off time in 2013 or 2014, or
  2. Completed in any recognised mountain or adventure race events that involve race route up to 2000 meters or beyond (with proof of results), or
  3. Recommended (in writing) by their country’s national mountain race/athletic body or any other organisation that the Climbathon organiser recognises.

Runners may apply by sending an email to

As the number of participants is capped at 120 only this year, the organiser will send out invitations to qualified runners.

Do you like running on the mountain?

Eva Natalia

Eva is a casual runner who has been hooked on marathons since her first race in 2011. She’s content to spend her weekends only on running. She is also a hiking enthusiast and traveling addict. When she’s not doing outdoor activities, she indulges in reading.

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