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The Chapman’s Challenge biathlon at Pangkor Laut Resort returns for a second year

June 8, 2017 Resort News No Comments Email Email

The Chapman’s Challenge, a unique biathlon event crafted by YTL Hotels to commemorate a British commando’s adventure on Pangkor Laut island, returned for a second year with a total of 110 participants from 11 countries across four continents, and with 87 participants successfully completing the race. The race day fell on 13 May 2017, exactly 72 years after Colonel Spencer Chapman left the island.Born in 1907, Colonel Freddy Spencer Chapman spent three and a half years in the Malayan jungles hiding from the Japanese. Detonating trains, bridges and battling enemy soldiers were all in a day’s work for him as he endured malaria, survived starvation and a coma, while recording notes on the Malayan wildlife and nature. On 27 April, 1945, he crossed enemy lines on foot disguised as a local Chinese, hiding in sampans, before reaching Emerald Bay on Pangkor Laut 15 days later. He hid for 36 hours before making his last daring escape back to England with his compatriot, Major R. Broome, on 13 May, 1945. They swam 45m out to sea in the night from Emerald Bay to be rescued by the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Statesman.

The group of Reebok athletes from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia at starting line.

His book, ‘The Jungle is Neutral’, recounts his Malayan adventures that tested every resource and determination he had in him and his love of nature and wildlife that had kept him going during the war. For sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, the officer-naturalist was an example of ‘what toughness the body will find, if the spirit within it is tough’. This quote was printed in personalised pocket notebooks given to all participants of The Chapman’s Challenge 2017, hoping to inspire all participants that a strong mind will help them overcome any challenges.

The group of Reebok athletes from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia at starting line.
The race aimed to honour the same determination in which Colonel Freddy Spencer Chapman lived his life and his daring escape from Pangkor Laut on 13 May 1945, onboard a submarine after hiding in the Malayan jungles during World War II. The war veteran’s youngest son and the event’s Guest of Honour, flagged off the race around the private island with a 3.8km run on undulating roads. This was followed by a 2.4km jungle trail run through the two million year old rainforest and a one km long open water swim at Emerald Bay before a sprint to the finish line at Chapman’s Bar, named in tribute to Spencer Chapman 20 years ago.

YTL Hotels has segregated the participants into two categories: invited, for the ambassadors, invited athletes and media, and open for public. In the invited category, Matt Poole, 2017 Nutri-Grain Ironman Australia winner came in first and broke the fastest record in the 2016 race by finishing the race in 46 minutes and 45 seconds. Harriet Brown, 2017 Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Australia winner emerged second place , closely followed by Stephen Spencer Chapman, grandson of Colonel Spencer Chapman. Michael Davies who won the first place in the open category received a three-night all-inclusive stay at The Estates of Pangkor Laut Resort for four adults. Edward Baker, took second place, winning himself a holiday in Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali and second runner up, Mathieus Alkharfan will be going to East Malaysia soon to redeem his vacation at Gaya Island Resort.

Stephen Spencer Chapman, who broke his own record from last year by five minutes said “It’s an honour and a privilege to be back for the second time. The Chapman’s Challenge is a focal point in my training calendar. My hard work paid off and I felt much stronger on the hills this year, and to complete it close to professional athletes like Matt and Harriet, it’s a big achievement for me! The bar keeps getting raised and I can only imagine that the race will just keep getting better with more participants around the world. My sister and I are very honoured to compete side by side in this event that commemorates my grandfather’s story. The natural beauty of the island, significance of the race and overall atmosphere make it an unforgettable experience.”

After a brief tour of the race route on the first day, Matt Poole admitted that the challenge in paradise turned out to be tougher than he expected. “Pangkor Laut Resort was one of the most amazing islands I’ve been to, making my first experience in Malaysia incredible! It was good to see and do a lot of the experiences the island has to offer, and also earn my happy hour cocktails with a very challenging Chapman’s Challenge. I’ll definitely be back again next year!” Matt is a Reebok athlete, Redbull athlete and a surf ironman who recently beat Shannon Eckstein for the title in the Nutri-Grain series in a few months ago.

Race finishers were presented with personalised medals made of wood, while all participants received T-shirts sponsored by Reebok. Goody bags full of treats courtesy of key sponsors: Reebok, TYR and Ipanema, were in the rooms when participants checked in. On the evening of race day, everyone received a commemorative bookmark from Pangkor Laut Resort as well as a personalised notebook.

The post-race celebrations continued in the evening at Emerald Bay where the top three winners for both categories received wooden plaques and their stay prizes by YTL Hotels, presented by Guest of Honour, Christopher Spencer Chapman and Area General Manager, Mr Philippe Cavory. A barbecue dinner on the award-winning beach concluded the night’s celebrations.

The leaderboard for The Chapman’s Challenge can be viewed at The annual event will be held on 11 – 13 May, 2018 and registration is now open at

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