Tough SUVing off-road
The TNP SUVival Challenge, now in its 10th year, is its most difficult yet
The TNP SUVival Challenge may be a decade old, but it's still no walk in the park.
Its off-road segment, in particular, still pushes participants and their vehicles to the limit.
This year's edition, which was held over the weekend, is said to be the toughest one yet by its event manager, SUV Expedition Club (Suvec).
Mr Jerry Lim, 37, a restaurateur, and his family found out the hard way.
Taking part in their first ever Challenge, they found themselves struggling for almost half an hour to escape a metre-deep "half wet" mud pit, one of the toughest off-road obstacles.
Each failed attempt only caused Mr Lim's Lexus 300 to sink even deeper into the ravine of wet, sticky and clay-like mud.
It took the experience of a fellow participant, Mr Lester Yeong, and some assistance of officials to rescue Mr Lim's vehicle from the ditch.
Using his Mitsubishi Pajero, Mr Yeong attached a tow rope to the back of Mr Lim's car and dragged it out as other participants and officials cheered from the sidelines.
A relieved Mr Lim told The New Paper that he had not expected his first SUVival Challenge to be so eventful.
"Our car is due to be scrapped in August so we decided to join the Challenge and have fun as a family. We weren't prepared for this," he said with a sheepish grin.
"It was stressful because we were holding everyone up. But it was fun and this will be a moment we always will remember."
Mr Lim also applauded the man who saved him. He had initially thought that Mr Yeong was an official.
"It was only when I saw that he was wearing the white Denizen event T-shirt that I realised he was a fellow participant. We are very grateful," he said.
But Mr Yeong, a workshop owner in his 40s, played down his heroic act.
"Getting stuck off-road is normal. And when you see someone in need, you help out," he said.
On Saturday, about 100 SUVs set off before sunrise from Singapore Press Holdings News Centre in Toa Payoh.
Each team was given a Marbella GPS unit and the coordinates for the checkpoints just minutes before departure.
Participants had to plan for and visit nine checkpoints scattered between Johor Baru and Negeri Sembilan, including an adventure challenge station where they had to complete activities such as kayaking and zipping down a flying fox.
Next, it was a drive to the off-road area on the outskirts of Negeri Sembilan, about 300km from Singapore.
The off-road segment saw the SUVs going up the slope of a four-storey-high hill, steering past piles of rocks and driving through a steep but dry ravine while balancing on logs.
SUVEC president Ryn Razif, 38, had earlier promised that this year's event would be the most challenging one yet.
He said: "We were told to make this year's edition the biggest and most memorable and I felt we did that."
But it did not faze many veterans and especially not the winner, Mr Edmund Lee, 45, a pilot, and his family.
They won $3,000 cash, a Curve Camera, $200 Autobac Hamper, one-year Bardahl servicing package, Jeep Remote Control Car and Jeep Trunk Organiser.
Said Mr Lee: "My family and I were prepared with old newspapers, extra clothes and trash bags. We thought it would be muddier."
After a dinner spread at The Royale Bintang Resort and Spa in Negeri Sembilan, participants climbed back into their cars for a night drive through a plantation.
Participant Richard Teo, 53, who works in a bank, praised the management of the event. This was his second Challenge.
He said: "It allowed us to test the capabilities of our SUVs and my family and I enjoyed ourselves. The weather was also fantastic. We hope to be back next year."
It allowed us to test the capabilities of our SUVs and my family and I enjoyed ourselves. The weather was also fantastic. We hope to be back next year.
- Participant Richard Teo, 53