Samui Wining & Dining
Adventure Venture
The 3rd annual ‘Koh Samui Adventure Race’
will take competitors up hills, down dales and out into the ocean.


Adventure VentureInternational sporting stars regularly holiday on Samui. And several of them have homes on the island. But it’s not just long, lazy days by the pool that attracts every sports person. Samui already hosts an international sailing regatta, professional golf tournaments and beach volleyball championships. And on Saturday the 17th of September the ‘Koh Samui Adventure Race’ kicks off a weekend of action-packed sports.


Active Management Asia is organizing the event supported by the ibis Hotel, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Tourism Association of Koh Samui (TAKS) and the Samui’s chapter of the Thai Hotel Association (THA). And the race is set to attract around 100 teams from around the world. It’s an important part of the Amazing Thailand Adventure Race Series but is open to amateur competitors as well as professional athletes. And it’s for teams of two (not individuals) and comprises four different sports. There’re two divisions: ‘Extreme’ which is for experienced competitors and is over a longer course, and ‘Adventure’ which is for fit amateurs and is over a shorter, though no less challenging, course. Months and even years of training are required as a basic minimum for both; it’s not a walk in the park.


All teams have to run, kayak, cycle and swim and there’re five categories in each division that competitors can opt for. These are: Men, Women, Mixed, Masters Men (over 80 years of age combined) and Grand Masters Men (over 100 years of age combined). Technically, a sprightly teenager could compete with his great-grandfather but there’re strict rules about finishing together. The organisers do keep the precise course details a secret – that’s part of the adventure – but obviously the swimming and kayaking will take place in the sea, just off Bo Phut beach. And the running and cycling will include roads, dirt tracks, jungle trails and some challenging hill climbs.


In the ‘Extreme’ division, the competitors will cycle 45 kilometres, swim one kilometre, kayak 10 kilometres and run 15 kilometres. ‘Adventure’ racers cycle 30 kilometres, swim 500 metres, kayak 5 kilometres and run 10 kilometres, and obstacles and surprises are guaranteed along the way. As some sort of comparison, the triathlon at the Olympic Games next summer in London will require the triathletes to swim 1.5 kilometres, cycle 40 kilometres and run 10 kilometres. All the teams on the 17th of September will start at around 8:00 am next to the Hansar Samui resort at the far end of Fisherman’s Village and will cross the finish line on the beach beside the ibis Hotel in Bo Phut. The shorter course winners are expected to take about three and half hours and the longer course champions about four and a half hours.


Top teams from Hong Kong, China and Singapore are expected to do well but it was teams from Thailand that won last year’s Men’s ‘Extreme’ (Saman Gunnan and Seree Ruangsiri) and ‘Adventure’ races (Amnart Ngampisan and Phuchit Rijangsi) and these athletes have confirmed that they’ll be here to defend their titles. Aside from the start, you can cheer on the competitors at strategic points along the course. The organisers have suggested the best places to be are Mae Nam Soi 1 between 9:00 am and 10:00 am; Mae Nam Soi 5 and Soi 7 between 10:00 am and 11:00 am, and on the beach at the ibis Hotel from around 11:30 am onwards.


The roots of adventure racing are deep and people still debate the origin of the modern adventure race. Some point to the two-day Karrimor International Mountain Marathon, first held in 1968, as the birth of modern adventure racing. The Karrimor Marathon required two-person teams to traverse mountainous terrain whilst carrying all the supplies required to support themselves through the double-length marathon run. From there, numerous different events, distances and courses began to appear. Former triathletes and marathon runners looking to add more spice, and interest, to their chosen sports quickly became involved. And many professional and amateur competitors found that the cross-training was more enjoyable and incurred less recurring injuries. And aging athletes that could no longer keep up with 20-somethings found they could have distinct advantages in a sport that had multiple disciplines over shorter distances.


Because adventure racing is a multi-discipline event, training for adventure racing combines pure strength and endurance training with skills training. And to simply compete and have an enjoyable race, you do not need to be an expert in all of the events. Often a basic working knowledge will suffice and teams that have strengths in different areas can often do well. But physical fitness isn’t the only focus. Proper nutrition, foot care and mental preparation are also essential ingredients. Not to mention effective teamwork, especially when one team member begins to fade physically or mentally. How you recover and get through it is a different skill set altogether and can make all the difference between success and failure.


Samui provides a challenging environment for the competitors and is a fantastic place to relax and recuperate afterwards. And if you’re here in the days and weeks leading up to the race you’ll no doubt see plenty of locals running and cycling along the roads in training. Give them a shout and, if you can, go along and give them some support on the 17th. A smile and a wave really can give competitors an extra energy boost.


Johnny Paterson


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