Swimming and Running Biathlon For Those Who Wonder What It Was Like to be a Commando in World War Two

Bachok Beach, Malaya 1941.
Bachok Beach, Malaya 1941.

Experience the feats of a Second World War commando in the sea and jungle of Malaysia.  That is what the Chapman’s Challenge 2017 — a novel swimming and running biathlon — promises to contestants.

The event is named after Col. Freddy Spencer Chapman, who wrote about his experiences in the book The Jungle Is Neutral.

During the war, Chapman had initially been sent to attack behind Japanese lines. Later, when the British defeat at Singapore disrupted war plans, he spent almost four years in the Malayan jungles hiding from the Japanese, turning nature observation and jungle trekking into an unforgettable book.

On May 13, 1945, he and Major R. Broome escaped from Emerald Bay at Pangkor Laut. They swam 45 meters out to sea on a dark night to be rescued by HMS Statesman, a British submarine.

The Chapman’s Challenge 2017 is a 6.2km journey through the two-million-year-old rainforest on the roadways of the private island.  There is also a one-kilometre swim at Emerald Bay before finishing at Chapman’s Bar at the resort, Star2.com reported.

This is the second year for the event and race day on May 13 is also a slice of history: it’s exactly 72 years after Chapman escaped.  The guest of honor will be the youngest son of the late Colonel, Christopher Spencer Chapman, another link to the past who will flag off the runners.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE