Rediscovering Bintan: Beyond A Run Destination
Words by Melody Chong Mention Bintan and you hear either one has been there and done that decades ago or the automatic response there is not much to see or do there. Bintan may not be on our list of exotic locations to check off or a priority destination for vacation but on a recent trip back I discovered so much has developed since I was last there a decade ago. With the upcoming International Bintan Marathon where we will see some of the top local and regional long-distance runners compete and glide through a picturesque blue and green landscape, there is more reason to stay on for a longer run-cation. Travelling to Bintan is quick and easy. It is only a 60 minutes high-speed catamaran ferry ride away from Singapore. You can book your Bintan Resort Ferries (BRF) tickets online or at the terminal and opt for the Emerald Class if you prefer first class treatment like use of the Emerald lounge and priority boarding and baggage handling. Just get yourselves to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and it’s smooth sailing from there. For some of the resorts you choose to stay at, they can arrange transport for you from point to point. Staying at any of the Bintan Resorts like Bintan Lagoon Resort or Grand Lagoi Hotel which are located on the northern coast allows for easy and convenient access to the race site at Lagoi Bay along with various new attractions and developments. The Grand Lagoi Hotel is the closest to the flag off point. Into its second edition, the International Bintan Marathon, a world-class running event jointly organised by Bintan Resorts, PT Medianusa Permana and Singapore’s Orange Room, will take place from 7th to 8th September this year at Lagoi Bay. Besides its 42km Full and 21km Half Marathon race categories, this year sees the debut of its Full Marathon Elite for runners around the region with faster qualifying times (3:15 or less for males, 3:30 or less for females) and a 3km Family Fun Run for parents to include their children, timely with the September school break. The route starts and ends at Plaza Lagoi, steps away from the scenic Lagoi Beach front. The Full and Half Marathon meanders through the north of the island surrounded by lush greenery and blue lakes, and is a relatively easy course of generally smooth flat roads with the exception of a few gentle inclines. There are no laps or loops for any of the distances so runners can take in the expanse of the beautiful countryside landscape and uncover with their eyes the natural hidden gems along the way. The Family Fun Run for children aged 4 to 12 years old is held on Saturday 7th September from 4 to 6pm with carnival games so parents can still race in the Half or Full Marathon the next day. The Elite Full Marathon starts the earliest at 5:30am on Sunday 8th September followed by the Full then Half Marathon by a time gap of 15 minutes each. The cut off time is over 6 hours for all race categories which gives moderately paced runners ample time to soak in the sights. The marathon, one of the Indonesian island’s annual suite of world-class sporting events besides their Tour de Bintan, Triathlon and Ironman 70.3, is aiming to host up to 5,000 runners with the expanded categories, up from 1,200 runners last year. It is not too late to sign up at the normal price now before the late registration fee kicks in on 1st August!