Return of Brunei Youth Heroes


BRUNEI Darussalam’s first two participants at the Marathon des Sables (MdS) – inarguably the ‘toughest footrace on earth’ – Hamsul Sulaiman and Ahmad Fathi Junaidi – returned home safely midnight yesterday, after successfully completing the gruelling 250-kilometre annual race, held in the Southern Moroccan Sahara Desert.

Present to greet them upon arrival was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, as well as friends and families who cheered and congratulated the brave men’s return.

The arrival of the runners was greeted by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (2L), as well as family members and friends. – SYAFIQ AFFENDY

The duo, sponsored by Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad (BIBD), completed the race with Hamsul finishing at 959th position with a time of just over 69 hours and 13 minutes whilst his compatriot, Fathi achieved a position of 778th, taking about 51 hours 47 minutes to finish the race. In total, the MdS attracted about 1198 participants, whilst just fewer than 60 people did not manage to finish the gruesome race.

The MdS was held over seven days and in six stages, where the participants in the Marathon des Sables will have to survive across 155 miles (250 km) equivalent to running 5½ marathons.

Hamsul mentioned that it was a real challenge for the body and mind, as they had to endure nose bleeds, blisters on swelling feet, whilst battling diarrhoea and vomit.

“We also had to deal with the rocky, sandy terrain while tolerating 50 degrees Celsius temperature throughout. Low humidity also kept us dehydrated, making it a must for us to take salt tablets every hour,” he said.

Ahmad Fathi further reiterated their challenges during the quick interview with the Bulletin, where the food that they brought along to refuel their bodies throughout the race were insufficient, where they had only lived off on energy bars and frozen-dried food specially ordered just for the race.

Earlier in this month, BIBD gave its full support to their MdS runners, in the shared belief of being able to achieve anything with passion, determination and discipline.

The effort was hoped to raise awareness and to inspire others in achieving their own personal milestones as well as to raise funds for BIBD’s ALAF (Advocating Life-Long Learning for an Aspiring Future) Programme.

Awang Haji Mohd Rozan said in an interview with the Bulletin, that the completion of the race by Hamsul and Fathi shows what Brunei’s youth are capable of, as they registered for the race on their own initiatives, with their own determination and they completed the race despite having to run in the hot desert while carrying their supplies.

-- Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin --


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