Other than being blessed with plenty of awesome hawker dishes, Penang also has plenty to offer for those who loves trail running and hiking. Last weekend, we finally completed UTOP (Ultimate Trails of Penang) event that we signed up two years ago after a long awaited Covid delay.

 ready for the start of event & half way thru
ready for the start of event & half way thru

UTOP event is split into 5 different distance categories – 12, 20, 40, 60, 100 km. Since this was initially going to be our first trail running event (became second after Merapoh thanks to the delay), we made sure to be sensible and opted for the 20k route.

I mean, 100 km with something like 6,000 meters total ascent? Some of these participants are really “not normal”.

We arrived in Penang two full days prior to race date to allow for proper rest. However, due to bouts of stomach upset starting with myself, and then later Jean, we were not quite 100% by race day. Anyhow, the show must go on!

UTOP 2022 route - 23.2km total
UTOP 2022 20k route – 23.2km total

Race day:
It was a wet morning with a pretty steady rain. We started the race at 7am and the rain pretty much lasted at least 4 hours while we were in the trail. In retrospect, it was kind of a blessing, the cooler weather makes the run easier even though it was muddy and rather slippery at some of the steeper areas.

utop running splits
running splits, finished at 64/121 & 22/47 in category

The 20k (total 23km) event turned out to be perhaps a bit tougher than the 25k (total 27km) event in Merapoh mainly due to the extra elevation. My watch recorded 1,622 m total ascent compared to Merapoh’s 329 m. Total calorie spent for both events were roughly the same around 1800 kcal – good for two or three additional plates of char kuih teow I guess.

The race was well supported with three stops that provided us water, 100 plus, banana, kuih, and even nasi lemak for refuel. Kudos to the organizer.

crossing the finishing line!
crossing the finishing line!

After a pretty grueling 5 hours or so, we reached back to the starting point. The aim was to finish the race before cut off time of 7 hours, and we did just that. I finished 22/47 in my cateogry and 64/121 overall. A pretty decent achievement and most likely would have been a bit better if not for our stomach issues.

Next race on the calendar is the Selangor half marathon at the end of the year, but maybe a longer UTOP race next year?

Ultimate Trails of Penang 2022 – 20k Event Report
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