THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH that can be said about the pleasure our team had taking part in the second edition of the Kuching Heritage Race (KHR) on February 25 before running out of space, but I shall try.
This was the first time that the four members of our team – Team Reunion – had taken part in KHR.
The light drizzle which lasted throughout most of the morning appeared to do little to dampen the spirits of the participants.
With a best dressed prize up for grabs, a number of teams came dressed for the occasion, wearing colourful sarongs, 'topi tunjang' , and even hare ears, tails and masks. Our team settled on furry cat ears and cat tails.
We were told that there were 16 stations to locate where we needed to accomplish certain tasks before we could earn a stamp. There were also a number of questions at certain stations which were optional to answer, but had the added incentive of allowing time to be deducted from the final time clocked by each team with each correct answer. By hook or by crook, regardless of how many stations were completed, come 11am, all the teams should be making their way back to Grand Margherita hotel which would serve as the race's start and finish line.
After the flag-off, the participants wasted no time in getting cracking on the tasks at hand, carrying eye-catching red, yellow and black bags that were given as race packs. Our team's strategy was to do a circuit, heading up to Padungan Road first before making our way to Petanak and heading back to the hotel to cross the river to complete the tasks at Fort Margherita.
The first station just in front of the hotel was easy enough to find, and the set task of taking a selfie with the cat statue even easier. However, our second station at the Song Kheng Hai rugby ground had us stumped. The task was to kick a rugby ball over the goal post. Despite multiple demonstrations and a lot of encouragement from the captain and members of the Kuching Rugby Football Club, we missed try after try. The situation appeared so grim we honestly thought we were going to be stuck there for the whole three hours. We felt jubilant and relieved when a good kick from one of our team members finally sent the ball sailing over the post and was a good reminder to never give up.
After that, it was truly a race against time as we huffed and puffed our way across Kuching to complete the tasks at the remaining 14 stations.
Among some of the most memorable challenges for us were the lion dance and the firestation pole slide which had our inner children squealing in excitement and wanting more. “I always admired the lion dance since I was a little kid; always wanted to pat the cute furry lions but was always too shy. So, yay! Now we get the chance to be the lion!” one of our members said, adding that the next time, perhaps the whole team could get involved and play the drums and cymbals too!
We arrived back at the hotel with minutes to spare before the 11am deadline and even forewent answering some of the quiz questions just so that we could check-in on time. That side of business taken care of, what next but sustenance and social media updates! The strong, hot coffee and tea, and sandwiches prepared by the hotel were devoured in gratitude as we sat around a table, steaming off the remnants of the morning drizzle and re-living the morning's experience while waiting for the race results to be tabulated and announced.
Up against 50 other teams...
“We enjoyed the chance to enter buildings and interact with people that we normally wouldn't, as well as the chance to do things that we normally wouldn't,” Team 'Reunion'
Of course, our final time was nowhere close to the top finishers but we still felt like winners. We
came not knowing what to expect but we definitely did not leave disappointed. The organisers, volunteers and members of the Kuching community who gave up their time and energy to be a part of the race definitely deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done at putting on a well-thought out community event that was not only accessible to a wide swath of people of all ages and backgrounds, but also thoroughly enjoyable.
Our team members unanimously agreed that the opportunity to visit places and buildings we would normally would not visit or didn't even know about, try local specialities like egg tarts and 'kuih jala', and have unique experiences (like taking the iconic 'perahu tambang' across river, dancing the lion dance and traditional Iban dance) all worked in sync to deliver a fun, memorable event which emphasised the historical and cultural uniqueness of this place we call home.
The race taught our team a few things. One, that there were many locations which we visited during the race that deserved a second look to take in other sights and sounds that we weren't able to linger over during the race due to time constraints. Second, each of us brought different strengths and abilities to the table and the race helped us to uncover that. Third, we definitely need to improve our stamina for the next one (yeah, we're already planning a comeback and the costumes to go with it).
Commissioned for the second Kuching Heritage race, held in January 2017, this artwork is a true blend of the individual and the collective. The Heritage Race aims to raise money for underfunded Sarawak charities through a fun-packed race where teams complete a series of heritage-related challenges against a backdrop of Kuching’s historical areas, and this artwork was part of a new and exciting system to raise sponsorship money for the running of the race. The race in 2017 spanned both sides of the Sarawak River and so an image of the traditional fishing boats, still found moored at jetties along the route, was selected. This image was divided into 80 equal squares and then each square exchanged for sponsorship of RM500.
Individual sponsors were given only their own section of the image to interpret in paints, generously provided by Murobond Paints, who even gave over a space in their shop for teams to work. On the day of the race, the squares were arranged into a single artwork, each individual square becoming part of a collective whole, on a display stand donated by Path Advertising. The result is both abstract and representational, personal and collaborative, traditional and modern. Viewed from near or from afar, the aspect is different. This is an image of old Kuching, interpreted by its modern communities, which have come together to help provide a new future for its more disadvantaged members. The team from Kuching Heritage Race looks forward to the next! KHR Committee
KHR gets a definite thumbs-up from all of us and we would not hesitate to recommend the next one to everyone to participate in.
Note: The race raised over RM40,000 for the Segu Bungalow Restoration Project as well as two charitable organisations, The Ten Ringgit Club and Heart Treasures.