Just when you think you're tough enough


Matt Poole defends Chapman’s Challenge title ahead of Malaysian Triathletes Jason Loh and Riki Shinozuka

Australian Surf IronMan Matt Poole (center) won the Chapman’s Challenge 2018 followed by Malaysian Triathletes Jason Loh (left) and Riki Shinozuka.

The Chapman’s Challenge returned to the Pangkor Laut Resort for its third year, reenacting Colonel Spencer Chapman’s escape 73 years ago. Held on 12th May 2018, the annual biathlon saw a record total of 131 participants from 10 countries across 4 continents, the largest turnout yet in the history of this annual event.

Colonel Spencer Chapman spent 3½ years in hiding from the Japanese army during World War II in the wild jungles of Malaya.

On 13th May 1945, he made his last escape from Emerald Bay at Pangkor Laut with his compatriot, Major R. Broome, swimming 45m out to sea in the dark of night to be rescued by the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Statesman.

“What toughness the body will find, if the spirit within it is tough” – this quote from his book depicting his Malayan adventures, ‘The Jungle Is Neutral’, was printed in personalised pocket notebooks and was given to all participants to inspire them for the race.

L-R: The Chapman Family – Sue, Hazel, Christopher and Stephen.

Christopher Spencer Chapman, the war veteran’s youngest son was the event’s Guest of Honour flagged off the race around the private island. The race took participants through a 3.8km run on undulating roads followed by a 2.4km jungle trail through the 2-million-year-old pristine rainforest and a 1km open water swim at Emerald Bay before a final sprint to the finish line at Chapman’s Bar, named in tribute to Colonel Spencer Chapman 21 years ago.

“I’d like to thank YTL Hotels for inviting my family and me back to this very special event. My father, Colonel Spencer Chapman, inspired many with his story and he has always believed that you can achieve anything as long as you put your mind over matter,” Christopher Chapman said of the challenge.

“The Chapman’s Challenge is the very embodiment of that belief and in turn, it was very inspiring to see so many living that belief and celebrating his life.”, continued Christopher Chapman

Hazel Spencer, granddaughter of Colonel Spencer Chapman navigating the jungle trails of Pangkor Laut island.
Australian Surf IronWoman Harriet Brown won the Women’s Invited category.

This year, YTL Hotels has segregated the participants into four categories: Male – Invited, Female – Invited, Male – Open, and Female – Open. In the Male – Invited Category, Australian Surf IronMan Matt Poole came in first at 45 minutes 16 seconds, breaking his own record in 2017, with Malaysian Triathletes Jason Loh and Rikigoro Shinozuka completing the podium.

The Female – Invited Category saw Australian Surf IronWoman Harriet Brown emerging as champion, successfully maintaining her place in the scoreboard. The youngest participant of the race, Mayumi Shinozuka, 18, took second place while third place was cinched by Hazel Spencer Chapman, granddaughter of Colonel Spencer Chapman. Returning participant Mathieu Alkharfan bagged the first place for the Male – Open category while in the Female – Open Category, Jenny Abbott emerged as the winner.

The first and second place winners of all categories each walked away with an all-inclusive stay from YTL Hotels’ properties including Gaya Island Resort, Pangkor Laut Resort and Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali; while the third-place winners received a chance to ease their post-race stress with a 3-hour Couples Spa Experience at the award-winning Spa Village Pangkor Laut. Exclusive race sponsors, Luminox and Nike, contributed watches as well as sports bags respectively as prizes.

The prizes and exclusive wooden plaques were presented to the winners by Guest of Honour, Mr Christopher Spencer Chapman and Vice President of Marketing of YTL Hotels, Ms Geraldine Dreiser. Cocktails, a photobooth and an exclusive barbeque dinner on the award-winning beach rounded off the night’s celebrations.

The Chapman’s Challenge 2019 will be held on the weekend of 10th to 12th May 2019 and registration for the challenge is now open. Click here to register.

View the top ten leaderboard for The Chapman’s Challenge here.