Friday, December 27, 2013

The End of 2013

It's that time of the year again where I would sit down and do some self reflections. The good. The bad. The laughter and the joys. Oh heartaches too!

Here's a picture of my medal collection throughout the last couple of years. Starting from 2009 where it was just a handful. My 21st SCKLM 10km run. Came back in an astonishing 1 hour 40mins lol. Definitely horrifying by today's standards but I didn't care. A 10km is still a 10km. It's the accomplishment that counts above all.

So zoom back to 2010, then 2011 and finally 2013, I entered so so many events until I lost track of them. Practically week on week without rest. Started with the 10km events and eventually working my way up to a half marathon which debut in Borneo International Marathon back in 2010. The rest was history half marathons after half marathons.

In 2010 I took the plunge doing my first full marathon in SCKLM. and the rest were history completing 44 full marathons to date. Then the craze started to go further....and further. That was my foray into ultras. Beginning with 50km road and trails and eventually graduating to 100km. First was Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011. Then Sundown 100. And zooming back to the present, have accomplished 24 ultras to date.

But no. I didn't stop right there and then. Went on to try 100miles and have done twice on road. I guess the next progression is to do a 100miler trail.  Soon. But there were heartaches too to be had in 2013. 2 DNF and 1 DNS for Borneo International marathon but taking everything into my stride. Hey it didn't kill me so I bounced back. You just do.

My dreams of being and iron man got crushed too in  2013. It was a DNS for owing to reasons unavoidable. Sad I was but this heart still goes on and on. Perhaps the dream of being an iron man will come someday. Just no today.

I still love trail running and ultras. I do. Plenty do. And that would likely be my focus for 2014. Unfortunately one can't have it all and I would definitely need to narrow down my focus somewhat. Am still looking for that BIG thing in 2014. UTMF being one of them and just thinking about it scares the crap out of me!

I do hope to continue blogging and sharing my 1st hand experience come 2014. I gather some of my readers find it .... useful? Interesting? Helpful? If you do, please drip a comment so that I do know and do my level best to blog my adventures. And mishaps. Till then be safe out there.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Then & Now

I posted this on my Facebook just now. The flabby picture was what I stumbled upon when doing some spring cleaning this morning. Hideous eh? I can't believe that's me either lol. I was chubby (or fat if you will), had high cholesterol and borderline case of diabetes. I was close to 90kg back then. Doesn't look that bad cause I was taller perhaps. Now down to 73kg and maintaining. Could shed a few kg more but happy the way I am now.

Then in the last 4 years ago, my life turned around. Eating clean, exercising more specially running wise. Quit smoking too as I was a pack a day previously for 18 years. Nothing I can ask for now but to maintain such a lifestyle. There's just too much to gain and nothing to loose. Just got to have a strong willpower that you want to change for the better. Not impossible if you put your mind to it. 

Go on .... give it a whirl and you'd be amazed what you can accomplish.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Unchartered Territory 8 Dec

Guess I can use this dusty old place as a ranting playground. Venting is good me thinks. It's less than 2 months now before I chart on a totally new and bizarre territory. So so very strange indeed. As i reflect back now ... totally doubting myself as to why I bothered to sign up in the first place. Yes, I do love a new challenge but it seems to be seriously out of my league now. What have I got myself into lah? Out of the 3 disciplines, I guess swimming would be my weakest now and have recently FORCED myself back into the water. I swim. Barely. And without much trainings poured into it, it won't magically get better. Swimming is unline cycling or running. It's seriously technical if you want the efficiency. When I got back into the pool, I could barely swim 25m before gasping for my life and drinking lots of pool water. Worried, very worried. My aim is to complete 3.8km of sea swim within the cut off time of 2:20. Seems like a long time but it's not. Will be happy to scrap through. Sometimes being very very afraid gets you on your toes. It did for me. So I hit the pool many times in the last 2 weeks. Gradually I started to correcting the strokes/breathing techniques/kicking etc. Initially it was just swim 50m, rest, go again, rest and again. Took me forever to 1km. But after the 4th time, I could get to swim non stop for 500m in about 14mins. Progress is good, no matter how little they are. This week I will be away in Melbourne. Next week when I'm back, I aim to hit the pool every alternate day and drill, drill and more drills. Target is to be able to get to 1.5km non stop, then 2km, then 3km, then 4km. I do feel I have a stronger upper body now, specially the shoulder area. Time is running out and I still need to get on the saddle too. Tough 2 months ahead but time to give it all. You clicked on it, now pay for it dearly with the training. Else prepare to fail misreably on race day. No thanks. I ain't going out without a good fight. Hopefully come 8 Dec, I can then tell you comfortable which is tougher ... an Ironmen event or a 100km trail ultra. And just just perhaps a completion for me and a new dot on my sporting achivement. Note: I need to also start swimming with the wetsuit. The bouncy should be some help.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Being Alive

Harrows. I am back. No, seriously. Time to revive my writings after being docile like forever. The main reason was out of time. Really? Well besides the usual trainings and going for weekend events, there's only time left to sleep. And eat. So why do I have time now?

Cause I've decided to abandon Facebook for now. Yes, officially since yesterday, 6 May 2013 approximately 10pm, I've deactivated my account. Getting tired of what I see and read there. More so, right after the General Elections 2013. Too much play on racism, the divide of the Chinese community with the votes and our PM even toss in Chinese Tsunami as a cause for the divide.

Then it all started and you could see your 'friends' posting about certain parties being racist and how the Chinese (and perhaps other races) were ungrateful 'biting the hand that feeds'. I detest racism. Lots. And it truly saddens me reading about it and what your 'friends' think about it. Worse still is acting on it.

Like the last posting in my FB wall, I reiterated that I grew up in the kampung where my friends were Ali, Ah Kow and Mutu. We played fish cathing in the streams, hide and seek in the rubber plantation or just chill out having shaved iced shaped in a ball doused with red sugar water. Those were the happy days where we were basically the same and equal. And respect we have for each other.

That's how I've been brought up and taught to respect others barring their religion or race. My first whiff with racism was when I stepped foot in Melbourne for my degree studies. Yeah, it wasn't a pleasant one but I would have to come to terms that not all human beings 'thinks' or 'acts' the same when it comes to respecting races or religions other than theirs.

So enough on this subject really, can be a sensitive one. So I'm subscribing to see no eveil, hear no evil for the time being and challenging myself how long I can stave off FB. I do admit I was some kind of a FB junkie before, constantly refreshing it to see who cooked what, who went where, who's reading in the toilet, and who broke off with whom.

Ah well, I've checked into FB rehabilitation for the moment, going back to smelling the roses and enjoying life as it's meant to be. And fingers crossed, I'll do more updates here on my running events and such.

Question: How long can you go without FB, or for that matter any other social media application?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Craze Prelude

I am sure nobody nobody would want to hear my awful 29hours 38mins worth of 100miler right? You'd rather go to sleep right?

No, Yes? Perhaps maybe if I am all rested and well ... I just might. I read some where that you need a day for every km that you completed in an ultra. In my case I would need 160 days lah. Ermmm that would bring me to 2013 already :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wicked Beautiful - The Most Beautiful Thing (TMBT) Ultra 100km 2012

I don't quite know where to begin this adventure of mine. It has been over a week now completing this grueling adventure but yet somehow, it's still very fresh in my mind. So fresh that sometimes late a night, I would be suddenly awoken from my gentle slumber, eyes bleary, frantically looking around ... just to spot the flag markers in the dark!

Truth to be told, this is not my virgin TMBT ultra. In fact, this is my 2nd attempt doing so. Back in the year 2011, I tried my luck at it. Unfortunately, it didn't work out well for me. No, not that I lack the confidence of physicality in completing this super huge challenge, but more on the wrong choice of footwear. I'd attribute this to know 'knowing' the course as much as I should. Yeah, preparation. You see, I only run in vibrams for the last 2 years. Be it in marathons, ultra marathons and now even on ultra trails. I will never ever go back to running in shoes. They are evil! *insert devilish grin here thanks!*

Yeah, so much so I tried using my Vibram Bikila in TMBT 2011 and boy, what that a mismatch indeed. The Bikilas are meant generally for road usage. It only has a 3mm soft rubber sole and when this meets those unforgiving rocky gravel paths in TMBT, them rocky paths won. I barely got to the 30km checkpoint mark before calling it a day. My soles felt like I just walked over a bed of nails. You can read the short excerpt here.

So zooming back to the present day, I got into Kota Kinabalu on Friday 14 September on AirAsia. Touched down at around 12pm and waited for our pick up transport to Kundasang at Gate No 1. Had a bit of lunch during the wait and saw some familiar faces waiting gingerly for our ride.

Us runners from the 25km, 50km and 100km category squatting down outside the terminal gate, looking awfully bored and waiting patiently for our transport. That's Khoo on the far left doing his 50km, Akzam also on 50km, Faisal on the gungho 100km and I forgot her name (lol) doing 25km with her friends.

Pick up was supposed to be at 1.30pm. 1.45pm and no one showed up. 2.00pm and still no one showed up. Decided to call the number given for transportation purposes. Guess what? The pickup guys were waiting at the other end of the gate! Ah well. We got everyone sorted out on the transports and off we headed to Kundasang.

The side of our transportation van had this really cutesy TMBT sticker! Which I think was nicely done indeed.

I decided to stay at the Cottage Hotel in Kundasang. Pretty much a no-frills hotel, good clean sheets and environment for a good night sleep. It was already 4pm when we got there and tried to settled down in my room. Temperature were nice and chilly, orchestrated with sudden gusts of strong wind every now and then. Nice! A majority of the runners stayed here too. I'd figured this is as close as you can get walking wise to the starting line, a field adjacent to the Kundasang War Memorial.

This arrangement differs so much with the year before where we just had to stay put in Kota Kinabalu town on Friday, and picked up early on Saturday morning to the starting line. Which I liked much better logistically. I'm the kind that hates to have too much travel the day before the race. Kinda zaps a lot out of you with the moving around and lugging your heavy luggage with you.

Past 5pm, my friend and I got ready to head to the Kinabalu Park for the registration and race briefing. We managed to get the same van that brought us here and a return trip costs RM100 for the whole van. Which suits us fine cause we could stuff up to 9 on board. We got to the briefing hall (can't remember the name), did a quick registration and picked up our race kits. Waited patiently for the briefing which then started after a long delay. God decided to turn on the shower during the briefing and it poured. And it howled.

I figured the briefing could be a tad more interesting with some show and tell, specially on the type of routes that we will pass by, pictures of the kinds of water stations perhaps to perk our interest up. After all, we SHOULD and WOULD have read the rules and regulations sent to us prior. Well, some don't bother I know. And please people, silence needs to be observed during the briefing. I know you peeps are way too excited and all but the briefing is very very important and not something one should take lightly either.

It was way past 9pm when it was all done and we headed back to the hotel in the still pouring rain. Dinner was at the hotel's restaurant and that will do. Didn't take long before we saunter off back into our own rooms to get prepared for the big day tomorrow.

Let's talk about gears for a bit. I brought my Salomon Skin Pro hydration backpack with me. It's a 14l + 3l bag that suits me well and holds 1.5l of fluid in the bladder compartment. The 14l + 3l means by default it holds 14l of stuffs in the backpack and it has a clever little zip that opens up wider for an additional 3l. This gear suits me fine and I thought the Salomon S-lab 12 was a bit of an overkill in the pricing department.This skin pro holds well and hugs your body like a baby and very adjustable in every department. The front even has 2 more compartments which it can hold each a 500ml bottle. Have tried this and works brilliantly from start to end. That would give you options of fluids 2 litre or more for longer expeditions and with easy access all the time.

For attire, that's really subjective. I just ran with my Salomon short tights and a Nike drifit top. Didn't opt for sleeveless due to the sun factor as well as perhaps chaffing factor from the backpack. But sadly I have forgotten my sun block and got burnt good for that. Luckily I had my trusty fisherman hat with me! I stashed a super light Colombia jacket at the midway drop off bag. It's not waterproof but resistant and good enough to shield me later from cold and wind at night.

For nutrition, brought along some gels, M&M chocolates, some mixed nuts, some hydration tablets along with the mandatory kit as prescribed. Man, it was heavy. Laid out everything nicely and went off to snooze land without a problem from the tiredness.

A room with a view. Can't really get any better than this with the mountainous backdrop to wake up to.

5am came and it was time to rise and shine. Got showered, packed all the belonging, dressed and off we went for an early breakfast. And off we trudged to the starting line some 500m away. I tried getting settled down from the butterflies in my stomach. It always happen to me despite this being my 5th ultra 100km.

Happy and familiar faces indeed. It's always like a reunion of sorts with such events. From left to right, David Spence, Doc Pui San, Agnes, Michelle, Rupert, the writer and Akzam.

Picture from CH Leong. That's me in the goofy white fisherman hat. We were on top of that hill prior but were directed to get down here for the starting. It wasn't all the cold but the sudden gusts of strong winds had us scampering for cover! It wasn't long before we were set off in our quests. All the 25, 50 and 100km were set off at the same time and got smacked almost immediately with the 1st big hill.

Picture courtesy of Yusof Samsudin. And there were more uphill. Sometimes on road, sometimes on gravel. My strategy was quite simple. You walk uphill briskly where you can. Run downhill (which I simply adore!) and run a bit on flats as much.

And for the initial 30km, we ran around cabbage patches or farms. Every where you look, there were these gigantic cabbage plants, neatly planted in rows. We ran alongside these patches, across them sometimes over and over again. Which I couldn't complain as it was nice and soft to run on. Could also see the workers tending to their crop and being amused by us runners every now and then.

Cabbage, cabbage and more cabbage! Picture courtesy of Leong Kwan Weng

Picture by Erwan. Was running pretty much alongside him throughout the entire 100km route. Since here one of the cabbage patches ready for planting I think. And smacked right behind is the majestic Gunung Kinabalu. It was an awesome sight to behold and took my breathe away every time I stole a look. The weather that morning was picture perfect. Cooling and with occasional cool breeze billowing that sets the perfect scene for an ultra run.

I've always loved Gunung Kinabalu. It's one of those wonders that I cannot be bored of no matter how many times I return back to see her. My first glimpse of her was in 2008 when a few colleagues and I decided to hike her. Of course back then I wasn't all that fit but nevertheless we did make it to the Low's Peak, the highest peak. The 2nd time I visited her was during 2011's Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. That was perhaps the fastest way for me to scale (or rather run) her to the top in a little less than 3.5 hours!

My other strategy of making it to the finishing line was to have lots of fun, as well as hanging my hair down literally. I was so going to enjoy this journey. So much so, I packed with me 2 big packets of M&M chocolates for the kids along the way. Last year, we did run through many small villages and these kids were a curious lot having us run through their homes and I remembered giving them all my gummy bears! To which, brought so many small little smiles on their faces.

Picture courtesy of Wong Yi Bin. Yes, santa claus did come early this year! These kids were a shy lot. Can't blame them as their interaction with strangers are practically non-existent. This is the simple way of life. Something that kept playing in my mind as I ply this route. And how we take for granted what we have living in the big cities.

Picture courtesy of Erwan again. Naturally, I was very skeptical for the initial 30km as I battled the gravel roads with my Vibram Spyridon. The Spyridon was built specifically for trail running. It's still minimalist running in the form of just a 3mm sole but it does come with additional protection from those pesky sharp stones. Suffice to say, it did work well for me and I was at most time shielded from the sharp stone bruising. I still get prodded once every often by the intensity has been lessen. I dare say I am the only one to complete the whole 100km powered by my Vibrams!

The scenery is just too gorgeous. Brilliant picture and composition by Nasier Lee. Me, the sand, the stones, the fresh air and Mount Kinabalu waving behind me.

I'll spare you the elevation horrors as you'd read about that in the other blogs. Suffice to say, there is a total elevation gain of over 4,500m for the whole 100km course. Half of them in the initial 50km. There were ups, ups and ups for a good few km before you'd see the peak and then going downhill also for extended periods. It was tough. Really tough if you're not used to such terrain. As we got to midday, the sun wasn't any more kinder to us. Preferred to instead burn us to crisps as we reached for the lower terrain.

At the initial 3 checkpoints, it's always wise to refill your bottles and/or bladders. You can never ever be too ready when it comes to water supply. It was just plain water at each water station so you do need to be very self sufficient rehydrating yourself sufficiently. Enroute to checkpoint 4, there was this seriously nasty inclines that's angled at 40 degrees. I kid you not. I saw it from afar coming out from the red dirt road and was praying that's not the route we need to take! But squinting further I caught a glimpse of runners making their way up!

I think this was the picture I was looking for, after the CP3 cabbage patch area towards CP4. You make your way downhill, which was super fun but then make your way UP, UP and UP to the CP4! In the mid of the sun, doing this was no fun indeed. Somewhere here, I latched onto Amy Wong who eventually came in 3rd. She was good with the brisk walk uphill and I needed to latch onto someone to push me to the midway point. This climb seemed to last forever and ever. There were a few in front of me resorting to multiple stops in between. I was no better really and was just hanging by a thread, pushing each step ahead.

After an eternity of climbing uphill, I finally got to CP4. This was where the spot check on the mandatory items came about. Each individual were checked for the headlamp and mobile phone, which I had diligently carried with me from the start. Took quite a bit of rest and refill here before I continued on with Amy to CP5 which is the 50km mark.

About 7km to go which I though would just be snappy. Nah, I was wrong. Right after leaving CP4, there were more hills to conquer. It can never get any better I'm afraid, I remember telling myself over and over again. Resorted to quite a lot of walks now to conserve more for the more harder, more daunting 2nd half.

Amy and I reaching CP5 with beaming faces. Running an ultra is also about strategy. No doubt the 100 digit can be daunting, it's much easier if you break it up to smaller chunks. 50km would generally be my first chunk, the next typically at 70km, 90km and the best part the final 10km to 100km. We got here around 7hour 50mins. Spent another good 50mins or so to eat, change, refill, replenish what's needed from the drop bag.

I had rice here with long beans and chicken and fried egg. God sent! 2 cans of icy coca cola and plenty mineral water. Also 2 bowlful of hot soup. Rice works for me as it constitutes a bit more complex carbo, which will come in handy later. And I have to commend the organizer for being able to provide us with rice and other goodies and the midpoint. This wasn't made available last year though so it's a welcome change to me and I'm sure for many too.

Isn't this heavenly after a hard and tough 50km? Just what I needed to fill this empty tank!

Off into the 2nd half of the remainder 100km, I knew that everything would be double now. Double the trouble, double the toughness, double the difficulty. Nevertheless, Amy and I trudged on off away from the school's gate. We generally walked for a bit now, right after that big lunch. Getting onto an unfinished highway laden with more rocky gravels. Soon another hill greeted us and we made the best out of what we could muster. The target now is just to get onto CP6, and another milestone for us. It was still bright for the moment when we got onto CP6. The usual routine applies, refill our bladder, checked in, rest for a few bits, and off we went again.

I remember towards CP7 was where daylight was fast falling. And yet another hill to climb. Amy and I became quieter and quieter and we slogged on. I gathered we were already tired and exhausted after over 11 hours on the road now. We rested here and there to catch our breathe as much. Signs of fatigue was setting in. I remembered there was no one in front for miles, and no one behind either for miles. All of a sudden, I could hear footsteps just behind us shuffling up the hill. And when the figure became bigger, it was none other than Rupert Chen, a friend of mine.

Rupert was this young ciku that's fast on his feet, on the bike as well swim like a dolphin. Yes he was also a good triathlete. Young at heart if you must and have the energy to outrun just about anyone. It was a welcome sight to me and Amy. Seems that he was having lots of knee pain going downhill and flats but was ok going uphill. So much pain that he was on the verge of throwing in the towel. Out came my pep talk to him, telling to take it easy and to target the next checkpoint. And then take it from there and assess himself and his condition to continue. He nodded.

Amy was also slowing down lots now. Perhaps from the tiredness and the long hours. So, the three of us decided to group up and continue onwards to the next CP8. Soon daylight ended and out came the darkness. We got out our headlamps and jackets. Rupert's headlamp was next to useless as it was utterly dim. Amy had her army-strength made in China headlamp that was super duper bright. Giving a good bright throw ahead. I had my Diamond Storm which worked well enough. Together we illuminated the night well enough. Amy and I on the outer sides of the roads whilst Rupert in between us.

It was more up and down to be had. It's made more difficult now due to the darkness. All of us had to look very hard for the little non reflective flags and none of us can afford to miss any and take a wrong turn. If we did, it could be a tough climb out to back track. Of course we talked quite a bit to break the monotony of the night. What did we talk about? Gossips of course. Lots of it. Well, it did help pass the time. Again, the same strategy applies, walk all the uphills, jog down the hill, some jogs at flats or walk. Repeat that over and over again please.

Soon enough CP8 came. We rested, refilled and out of the blue the gracious volunteers offered us Maggi Mee in a cup! We were wondering where they got that from and it seems those were their food for camping at this water station for hours and hours now. They even offered us some coffee and would not even want to take our money for it. And so we chatted more with the kind volunteers whilst the water boiled for the Maggi Mee. And when we were served, it was the best tasting solid food we ever ever had! So frigging delicious that I quickly slurped up mine and drank all that salty soup. After all, the saltiness will come in handy to replenish the loss salt.

We left after resting for a bit more and expected more hills to conquer smacked on our faces. I liked the night time. Because it's now much more cooler to run/walk. Only thing is to watch out for the darkness which made sign spotting a bit harder and to be cautious in our steps as our headlamps can only pick up so much. And when you're on the move, a small single wrong step can spell disaster in the form of falling down. I was eager to pick up speed more and so made a proposition to both Amy and Rupert. I didn't want to leave Amy alone in the dark. Although she insisted she'd be ok. Rupert on the other hand can't 'run' so to speak but he was still good with the walks. I told Rupert he should be ok to just walk the remainder of this and still make in in time.

And so Rupert agreed to accompany Amy and finish it together. I bid farewell to both of them and made my way. Sorry guys. I just didn't want to prolong the hours on my feet. It was more climb in the dark and I was alone for quite a long while. Heading to CP9, I think it was the unfinished highway that was ok at some stretch and just gravels on others. But I could see much further ahead a couple of lights. I reckon it was another group and I have made up some time closing the gap.

Same tactic applies, walk uphill, run downhill and on flats. Soon enough I caught up with Faizal and Faizal. They were just walking and they intended to do so for the remainder of the route. Up to now, I gather most runners would be lifeless. The dead of the night, the tiredness and sleepiness soon became our best friends. I caught up with them finally and overtook them. I remember them asking me where do I still have the energy to run downhill. I just smiled. I got into CP9 where Doc Sidhu was manning. Was glad to just have made that far and I know the end is not that far away. As I got in, another runner Previta was just leaving. Not long, the Faisal and Faisal gang got her too.

Refilled, rested and off I went. Wasn't long before I caught up with Previta and overtook him. Boy, I ran as much as I could. Not sure where the 2nd wind came from but I knew I needed to capitalize on it. Not long after, the sky opened up and it poured! Thankfully it wasn't a thunderstorm and somewhat I truly enjoyed being soaked for once. I think it rained for a good 30minutes before it let off. By then I was walking only and soon enough Previta caught up with me. We chatted for a bit. Seems his was also in TMBT 2011 and did finish nicely. But the 2012's edition was pure torture with the hills and the 4,5++m of elevation. He also told me his dad did the 25km and has safely completed and probably in his nice and warm hotel bed now :D

After what seemed liked an eternity, we reached CP10, rested for quite a while because Previta said his thighs were mighty tight and everything else seems to be on the verge of shutting down. Tucked in the corner of the community hall (I think) were a couple of make shift beds and on those beds were a few volunteers snoring the night away. We continued on to CP11. More ups and downs, more chats in the wee hours of the morning to help ease the pain.

Most of this journey were on tar roads. A welcomed sight as that made it easier for our feet too. More and more rolling hills came by. More silence between us. Previta said he would want a long rest at CP11 and I said I will just move on to quickly finish this off. As we got to CP11, I bid farewell to my new found friend and I went off without the need to refill. I think CP11 was where I caught up with Erwan and his friend and I tagged along. Mostly walking. We were generally on reserves, feet hurting like made over the last 90+ km. Faisal and Faisal was just a couple of steps behind us. Evident that they have now caught up too.

I knew the end was very near. Less than 10km and I will home! That delicious thought got my heart pumping and adrenalin pumping and I decided to jog ahead leaving them. I told myself the remainder distance won't walk it itself. I would have to. Getting into CP12 was different. It wasn't a hall or a building. It was just a 4WD that's the checkpoint! Got checked in and I zoomed off. 6 more km and I am home!

But the last part was different. We had to maneuver downhill along this patch of plantation but I couldn't make out what it was. The ground was wet and it was slippery heading downhill. I was very careful not to be carried with my quick steps and end up sliding downhill breaking a bone or two. Indeed it was a long trek downhill. Thought it would never end but it finally did. When I thought it was over, it wasn't. I still had to track upwards again on some forsaken $%*^@# hill incline that had me puffing hard. I was cursing. Cursing that I was still subjected to hills. Who would have imagined that after over 4,5++m of inclines, the race director still threw in one more last hill for kicks!

Still, I wouldn't give in and got past that hill. And it was back to tar roads! Back to civilization as I can see houses lined up all over with plenty of street lights. My excitement roared intensely and I began to jog slowly. Through the roundabout, still following the red arrow signs. It started to drizzle again but didn't really hold. Somewhere downhill I lost the markers and for once I panicked! I had to double back for about 2km and I then saw Faisal and Faisal coming towards me. I said I was kinda lost but they insisted it was the correct way as they did follow the markers.

I headed back yet again and soon enough there were markers in front. Damn it! How careless of me and remember kicking myself in my ass! It was another good 2 km or so before I saw the school! Pulled right in and there was the finishing line! Jumped over it and the gracious volunteer handed me my hard earned TMBT 100km finisher medal! 21 hours and 4 mins, I made it and therefore completed my unfinished business.

I made it! With my trusty vibrams that accompanied me for the last 102km or so. And yes my feet survived nicely too thanks! 

Amy and Rupert came in 2 hours later with Amy coming in 3rd! Congrats Amy for persevering!

Me, Rupert and Amy. And oh boy did we finish this 100km and we are darn proud of it too!

I enjoyed the scenery of what Mount Kinabalu has to offer. As I've said before, I am always in awe with it and can never ever get tired of staring at it's majestic beauty. I can't compare this to last years as I didn't complete in 2011. But I can safely say the amount of elevation this year have really shocked my system. Elevation gain wise, it's pretty similar to Vibram Hong Kong 100 that I completed in February this year. But I guess each has also its subtle differences that makes each unique. Example, in HK100 it was all about steps and concrete steps. In TMBT, the inclines were more of a natural substance. If you've enjoyed TMBT, then I guess you would too for HK100 :)

Could do with some improvements specially on the reflective markers. That would have helped tremendously. Perhaps I would be asking a bit too much but some food, ie Maggi Mee at certain water stations would also be much welcomed. I read from a few blogs that they did get Maggi from volunteers in the other water stations/checkpoints. The temperature wasn't a big problem to me. Even at night, it was still humid and I didn't need my jacket on most of the time. Except when it rained. 

That concludes my 'story' for my TMBT, one which I did truly enjoy despite the challenges thrown in. For those who did complete this gruesome challenge, well done. For those who did not, don't fret. There is always next year!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vibram Hong Kong 100 2013 - Closed!

Surprise surprise! Who would have ever thought that this event will sell out in a mere 3 days? Into it's 3rd year for 2013, it has been a very successful 100km trail event. And having taken part in 2013, I'd say it's one off the better and well organized 100km ultras there is. The mountainous Hong Kong view is absolutely breathtaking, be it day or night.

2011 was the inception of Vibram HK100 bringing together approximately 250 ultra runners scaling the hills (I'd say they were mountains!) of HK with a combined elevation gain of over 4,500m! That's at least scaling twice of our very own Mount Kinabalu! It was successful to say the least.

In 2012, word of mouth went off like wildfire and it brought together over 750 participants raring to scale the hills of mountains, every 100km of it in the given 32 hours cut off time. But it only sold off I think a month or two after registration were opened. Many did falter and succumbed to the high elevation. Not to mention the chilly and breezy temperatures that would have dipped to below 10C overnight. Still, I'd thought everyone had enjoyed that tough journey and for those who did cross the finishing line, it was triumphant indeed.

Next year 2013, there was a lot of buzz expecting the number of entries to pick up even higher. And here we have it, a record sold out just after 3 days. If you did manage to register, it's now time to put your legs and body to the training ground. I have been there and done that and it's not your usual walk in the park 100km event. The hills and elevation will eat you alive. And so will the bitter cold. 4 months and counting. Good luck!