Sabah Trail Seekers

Sabah’s Trail Seekers

by Pamela Fletcher

Trail running is definitely on the rise in Sabah. From the popular Tun Fuad Stephens Park near the city with its short hill tracks to long forest trails winding through the hill ranges of Penampang district, you will see familiar faces trudging up and down, with smiles and grimaces written all over their faces.  These are the Sabah Trail Seekers and pain is their game. Seriously.

Symus Dimok gleefully comes up with taglines like ‘we are loving every wonderful horrible minute of this’  while others chip in with quotes like ‘if the bones not showing, just keep going’ and ‘the only things that suck are the leeches’. Symus did his first long distance trail run in 2013 on the 24km track from Kibambangan to Terian which is part of the historic Salt Route linking Penampang to Tambunan district in the interior. Muscle cramps, numerous rest stops, rolled ankles and 12 hours later, Symus ended his epic introduction to trail running on a walking stick. Perhaps this experience is where he draws his boundless enthusiasm in coming up with such inspiring taglines. And what keeps him coming back for more.

Sabah Trail Seekers was formed just last year and have been building up a solid base of keen trail runners. Like Symus, many had to go through aches and pains to overcome that first hurdle but once that is done, the real satisfaction of trail running becomes more apparent.  Eric Seidlitz, one of the group founders says, “The jungle trails feature some spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and even the sea, and take the runners across rivers (both by fording across as well as by suspension bridges). But we’re never alone on those trails as we have many leeches that come along for the ride!”

If you’re not too fond of leeches, you can try the roads from Kiansom to Kokol Hill. They aren’t trails, but the roads do have significant inclines and are good for building up the leg muscles. Hit the hills early and, on a clear day, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Mt Kinabalu at sunrise.

The group also organizes races for its members and those interested to cut their teeth on trail running. Forget about high registration fees and sponsored goodie bags, these are backyard races with minimal entrance fees that go into a pool to be shared amongst the winners. Volunteers man checkpoints, pick up rubbish along the route, share their snacks with you and pat you on the back for a race well run.

Members of the Sabah Trail Seekers treat each other like family. They watch your back, ignore your pitiful whining and egg you on till you cross, crawl or roll over the finish line.

So if you’re ready to hit the trails of Sabah, give Sabah Trail Seekers a buzz at seidlitz@gmail.com

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