categories

The Magnificent Merapoh Trail - Race Review

 
Race review by my crazy buddy Keat. While we never made it to the Amazing Race, he had an amazing race of his own over the weekend at the very beautiful and threatened Merapoh Caves.
~-~

I always wanted to be a 100km finisher. Evelyn tagged me on Facebook about TMMT 2016. I saw the pics and it is definitely one of the most beautiful trails in Asia. For sure I don't want to miss it so signed up only to realised that I was going to run a 100km trail race a week before my first road full marathon. A problem but not quite a problem, life goes on.

Training has been good. My weekdays are spent training along with my clients when I coach them. Every Saturday morning, I run with my teammates in TPRC for options of 10km Double Hill or 12km Triple Hill. Sunday runs are much longer and includes a bit of trail. The good thing with running with friends is that you pick up and learn from their experience and tips which came in handy. 

A couple of months pass by really fast and the much awaited race is here. I drove on Friday morning to Merapoh - a decision that I made because I didn't want to keep anyone waiting for me in case I finished late. The drive was also good as I used the time to psyche myself up for the race. After driving 3 hours 15 mins, I arrived at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Merapoh to collect my race kit.

Kit collection was done quickly and I headed out to eat at a nearby food court before the briefing starts. This year, TMMT 2016 introduced the 100km. It was definitely going to be an exciting race that flags off at 9pm with a strict cut off time of 20 hours. The cut off points are:

• 54km @ 10 hours 
• 84km @ 17 hours
• 100km @ 20 hours

Being the first year for 100km, there was not too many partipants. In fact there was only 111 participants for the 100km and 60km categories. The 60km category flags off at 5am in the morning. This means that many of us will be running on our own most of the time. 


At the start of the race, while all runners are still fresh, we get good company of running together. As we approach the second check point, the runner packs start breaking up. At the third check point, I could only spot a handful of runners. At this juncture, it was really dark and cold. In fact, at one point, I was actually running alone. All I could hear was my own breathing, breathing, footsteps and noise from the insects. I wouldn't say it is scary but it is an amazing experience that I never had before.  

This is also my first time using the Petzl Nao headlamp for such long duration. I have it set to 12 hours burn time in reactive lighting mode. Unfortunately the battery went low and it died on me after 4.5 hours. It was a good thing that I had my mobile phone with me so I used it for some light when I filled the headlamp with new batteries. Lesson learnt is that I need to understand a little more about this headlamp from positioning to its settings.

The 'fun' continues as we approach the first check point. We have a 3km walk in the river in pitch dark conditions. There were 3 other runners, so we decided that we would move together for safety and support reasons. The water was up to my waist level. Cold, dark and 1.5 hours later, we cleared the 3km walk. Water was cold, fine sand got into our socks and shoes, definitely something that I never experienced before. There was also slippery stones in the river and with a lack of vision, it was a little daunting initially but after some time, we all got a hang of it. 
At the first cut off point, it was a relief to take a short break. I enjoyed the apple and salt that the organisers provided. My ankle has swelled badly too so the little rest did help a little. 

Walking and running was beginning to hurt a little with every step. At about KM60, I saw Siaw Hua pass by. We decided to run side by side. We chatted non stop for about 20km. By now the pain has gone quite bad that I could hardly walk properly. I was limping! The thought of calling it quits came into mind and the horror of limping for the remaining 20km of the race didn't sound nice at all. I was worried that if I continued any further, I might just end up injured and I really didn't fancy getting injured before my first full marathon too! 

I chewed on the different possibilities and damage that could happen if I chose to quit. The devil and the angel spoke and debated. In the end the conclusion was simple. Even if I were to quit, I will still need to make my way to the next check point. This next check point will also be closer to the finishing line. Thus the decision was to limp my way to the finish line. It was better to try and try slowly than not to even try. After all, I still had to make my way to the next check point. 

As I walked on, the pain got worse but I was chasing time. I stopped a little but the fighter in me would not allow me to stop too long. There was a cut off that I wanted to chase!, The final 10km was really tough with lots of steep uphill and downhill. 

At about 95km, there was still one obstacle to go through. This was the cave that was tight and narrow. The marshal told me that after this stretch, there will be a long stretch of flat stretch leading to the finishing line. That certainly sounded good! Indeed as soon as I exited the cave, all I could see was a really a long stretch of flat area! 98km @ 19 hours 4 mins looked good. So I chose to relax a bit and let the legs take a breather. I assumed that I was going to be able to finish easily within the cut of time.
Time to take it a little easier...NOT!

As I approached KM99.5, the marshals drove by and asked if I was alright. They offered me a ride back as they saw me limping. I boldly rejected their offer. I then asked how far more to the finishing line and they told me about 1km. Damn! I went !$&&;'!!! I definitely had to pick up my pace. Pain or not, I have gone these far and I don't want to disqualify by a few mere minutes! 

19 hours 42 mins later, limping, cold, hungry, tired and ankle looking like a hippo, I finally made it to the finishing line. The pain is over. I accomplished what I came to conquer. Lesson learned @ TMMT 2016: Run when you can, Walk when you need to, "LIMP" if you must, Just never give up! 

Swollen and looking like hippo feet.
One of my fave picture moments.
Green and sunny. Can you feel the humidity?
Isn't this beautiful? I can't wait to return next year!
19:42 - 100km trail across beautiful Merapoh. A must run trail race for its challenges and for a good cause. Lock in your calendar for 21 and 22 July 2017 for the 3rd edition of TMMT. For more information check out https://www.facebook.com/runningproject/
I shall wear this with pride!

My next mission was to drive myself back to Kuala Lumpur. All I wanted was a good hot shower and to sleep. I needed a good sleep to recover and get my body ready for next week's Standard Chartered KL Marathon! My very first full marathon after my very first 100km trail race.

~-~

Obviously my crazy buddy did recover and is all ready for his virgin full marathon. He wrote me this piece of race report on Sunday itself that I enjoyed so much that I just had to share out. Obviously I also know that he recovered because he went for a RPM session and went on coaching his clients like nothing happened. Tough nut and hmmm I am wondering if I should ask him to be my pacer when I run the 100 miles Craze Ultra in Singapore in 3 weeks time...

Meanwhile, you can read more about this craze buddy or mine. Check his FB and Instagram for more fitness updates and challenges.
https://www.facebook.com/Wooi-Keat-1226645894012224/

THANX for reading! Do also stalk the following channels for more updates and to show some love too: