Kim Saroeun – better known as Kim Kok – and his team have called out Jacob Sims and Julien Brewster as well as any other foreign or local runners and climbers to attempt to break his record ascent of the Kingdom’s highest peak, set on June 4.
The 53-year-old reached the top of Oral Mountain in two hours, 26 minutes and eight seconds, breaking the previous record of two hours, 26 minutes and 36 seconds set by American Sims and his Australian friend on April 3.
Kok, who has been running for his health and as a hobby since 2014, told The Post on June 5 after breaking the record: “After reading Jacob’s call, published in The Post, for the runners of Cambodia to try to break his Oral Mountain speed climbing record, I became very interested and formed a team to try and do just that.”
“I did not expect that I would be able to break the record by much, because the mountain is very high with many steep sections and requires a lot of speed. We were very happy to arrive on the mountain peak and know that we had broken the record by 28 seconds. This is a source of pride for me as a Cambodian, even though we did not exactly shatter the record,” he said.
Kok and his team from KK Running Club – including Khy Sophea, Kan Kunthy and Hiroshi Ake of Japan – left the starting point at Thmor Ream at 5.31am with Chhean Chhim witnessing the start and Mean Sambo bearing the witness to the time they arrived on top of Mount Oral.
Only Kim Kok himself is able to lay claim to the record, after reaching the summit at 7.57am. His impressive time of 2:26:08 over a distance of about 9.67km – while ascending the steepest, tallest mountain in the Kingdom – is likely to stand for some time.
Kunthy, 43, was the next to reach the summit with time of 2:38:44, followed by Ake, 52, with a time of 2:39:06. Sophea was the last of the team to make it clocking in with a time of 3:01:19. All four runners set personal bests in the attempt.
After breaking the record, Kok and his team thanked Sims and Brewster for initiating the Mount Oral climbing record and encouraged both of them to attempt to beat his new time at any time convenient to them.
“I believe Cambodia has a lot of strong runners and climbers, and I call on locals and foreigners – as well as Jacob and Julien – to try and break my record. Oral is the highest peak in the country and it is a very challenging run. If they cannot beat my time, they will at least set their own personal bests,” said Kok.
“This is not a call for a competition, but encouragement to break our record and promote tourism and improve the community,” he added. With KK Running, we want to promote healthy competition and push everyone to do the best they can, based on their abilities.”
Kunthy considered the Oral climb an activity to promote ecotourism in the area, in the eastern part of the Cardamoms Mountains. He hoped to participate in the conservation of natural resources through the initiative of organising an official Oral Mountain Climbing event in the future.
“We strongly believe the event will attract Cambodians as well as foreign tourists who love mountaineering. The amazing terrain is a great place to test your abilities, because there are many unique features. Not only is it the tallest mountain in the Kingdom, but the trail is heavily sloped almost from the bottom to the top. There are also various other obstacles that must be reckoned with,” he said.