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Exclusive Interview with Kimbeley Yap: Go on a Race-cation with Chapman’s Challenge

SEA Games Gold medallist, Kimbeley Yap finishes the Chapman's Challenge.
SEA Games Gold medallist, Kimbeley Yap relished the Race-cation to reenact the Chapman’s Challenge at the private island of Pangkor Laut. (YTL Hotels)

The usual plethora of triathlons and trail running events are probably getting ‘mainstream’ these days, so how about breaking out from the norm and try something new instead.

Ex-National Triathlete Kimbeley Yap who has achieved gold medals in Triathlon at the SEA Games was invited to the Chapman’s Challenge Preview organised by YTL Hotels on the private island of Pangkor Laut off the west coast of Malaysia.

Completely relaxing yet with a small dose of history thrown in, the Chapman’s Challenge honours Colonel Freddy Spencer Chapman, a British commando who made his last escape from Emerald Bay, swimming 45m out to sea in the dark of night to be rescued by the Royal Navy submarine in 1945.

Kimbeley Yap dwells on her enchanting ‘Race-cation’ experience and can’t wait to return for the reenactment of Chapman’s challenge to be held on 13-15th May.

TA: Sounds like you had an enchanting experience at the preview event. Who should join the Chapman’s Challenge in May?

Kim: Oh, indeed. I think anyone who wants to have a great relaxing time and a romantic getaway with a little bit of a thrill, should join Chapman’s. You would also have a chance to relive the history and Chapman’s escape from Pangkor island.

Everyone should go and try walking through the lush tropical jungle and swimming in the sea towards his escape. It will be the first time this history is reenacted, so it’s quite a unique experience.

Besides, it’s not often that you get to enjoy this luxurious one-of-a-kind resort nestled within the jungle, hills, or resting on stilts above the tropical waters surrounding the island.

Kimbeley Yap Chapman's Challenge
Short and sweet hike in the trails for a bit of a thrill. (YTL Hotels)

TA: So apparently, this is not the typical triathlon where the distances are long and intimidating like what you’re used to.

Kim: Yes, it’s short and sweet. The Chapman’s Challenge comprises of a 6.2km run around the private island roadways and through the two million year old rainforest including a 1km swim out at the award-winning Emerald Bay before concluding at Chapman’s Bar where you will receive a Chapman’s cocktail.

Some triathletes like Riki, Irene and myself were invited for the preview event to set a benchmark for others to beat at the actual challenge this May.

TA: What was your favourite part of the challenge?

Kim: I enjoyed doing the trail and it’s not as easy as everyone expects.

I myself thought I’m used to long trail runs amounting to 15km in Bukit Kiara here in KL, so 2.5km should be easy peasy, but I was wrong. There were a lot of man-made wooden steps going up and down with hand rails so it’s deceiving albeit the short distance, it’s challenging. You’re going to climb up, right from the start.

Unlike triathlon, the swim is at the end. I also enjoyed the swim, it was high tide and there was a bit of waves. The beach and the view is great and we had a feast before and after the challenge which is included.

Race, Wine and Dine at YTL's luxurious resort
Race, Wine and Dine at YTL’s luxurious Pangkor Laut resort (YTL Hotels)

TA: Knowing triathletes, they eat a lot after a race.

Kim: The food is really good, such a culinary delight with exotic flavours cooked by an 80 year old chef at the Uncle Lim’s Chinese Kitchen with traditional Nyonya and Hock-Chew dishes.

All meals are included starting with breakfast at the Feast Village, one two-course lunch at Royal Bay Beach Club or Chapman’s Bar, and one set dinner at Uncle Lim’s Kitchen or Feast Village, inclusive of complimentary coffee, tea and mineral water.

On the night of the Chapman’s Challenge event, there will be a beach barbecue dinner at Emerald Bay as the sun sets on the horizon.

TA: What do you do with your shoes after the run before going into the sea?

Kim: There will be a transition area, just like triathlons where you can change or remove any clothing that you don’t need before going for the swim. And you can pick it up from the same area after you finish.

TA: How should people prepare themselves in terms of apparel and shoes?

Kim: I brought trail shoes, although you don’t need trail shoes but you will need shoes with good grip as you will be running on sand and in the trail. Bring your swimsuit and goggles.

If you have a trisuit, you can use that and just change your shoes. I had my swim cap and goggles in my pocket, ready for the swim. Just like how runners love their sunnies, swimmers like me love our swim cap and goggles. Alternatively, you could place it at the transition area. We didn’t encounter jelly fishes but there were some sea bugs which is not unusual.

Kimbeley Yap Chapman's Challenge
It’s going to be a romantic weekend getaway with a little bit of adventure thrown into the mix with the Chapman’s Challenge. (YTL Hotels)

TA: The long swim might be a bit intimidating. Do you have any advise on how to manage the 1km swim?

Kim: Well, the swim is at the end, so just try and finish it. If you’re not used to open water swim, and if there’s a little tide or waves, just follow the person in front of you so you won’t get lost.

The organisers are well prepared and will consider safety aspects as well. Just take it easy, and you’ll complete the challenge before you know it.

TA: What are you looking forward to most at the Pangkor Laut resort?

Kim: My favourite part was the massage at the Spa Village, when I had an uplifting and rejuvenating Balinese massage. I went through a different kind of experience, starting with sensing a few essential oils then a shower where I was scrubbed and then given a sarong before the 90 minute massage. At the end, you get to keep the pretty sarong as a souvenir.

spa pangkor
Enjoy a relaxing, rejuvenating and uplifting massage experience at the Spa Village (YTL Hotels)

TA: What other activities can we expect around the resort over the weekend?

Kim: There’s also a pool, or you simply enjoy the emerald waters of the award-winning white sandy beach. Oh and they have a small but functional gym, which I loved being a fitness junkie.

The Race, Wine and Dine certainly sounds divine and a relaxing getaway from the usual grind for the weekend warriors. Sounds tempting, where do I sign up?

For more info, visit Chapman’s challenge website here.

Watch Kimbeley Yap highlighting the Chapman’s Challenge at the Pangkor Laut resort in this video courtesy of YTL Hotels.