Suffice to say, lots of hard, intense training had to be put in. It was basically down to making sure I could just make the distance in one piece with as little agony as possible. Don't ask me why I do things like this cos I simply have no real answer.
|My dog looking strangely at my pinkish trophy.|
We arrived there close to 10.30pm (can't really remember) and the place was thriving with runners already. The entire GC group arrived almost at the same time and after suiting up, we all headed to get registered for race start and have our mandatory gear checked, which wasn't really checked at all. I just told the volunteer scouts that I had all the mandatory items listed (which I did have) and they just believed me. I suppose that's why there were quite a few runners flouting the law by running with only a bottle of water and no other mandatory item.
|The GC Team - One for the album/|
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang
The start was relatively flat and easy for the first 2-3k and I headed of at an easy paced trot. My entire strategy was planned on a slow and easy race seeing as how I heard lot of warnings about steep and really long climbs throughout the way. Boy, they weren't kidding!
We reached the first climb just about 3k or so into the run. It wasn't as bad as I thought and I was able to handle the climb without too much trouble. A little walking here and there and soon enough, I was up at the summit of the climb. What followed was a nice long downward stretch spanning about 4km or so. The descent was slightly tough on the legs, even at that early stage of the race. There was some burning going on somewhere along this stretch cos the air was acrid with smoke and dust. I had to cover my mouth and nose with my hand and thankfully the clear lens shades I had on kept the dust out of my eyes.
|A smile to hide the pain.|
Pic courtesy of E.T. Tey
I was a little slow out of the CP1 and Jamie had headed out already. Just as I was heading out, the rest of the GC group arrived. Said my hi and byes to them and headed out. From this stretch onwards, I was basically on my own. Thankfully, it was an easy and relatively flat section (one of the very few flats) of the route. It wasn't long before I hit CP2, which was barely 5k away. All systems were still feeling fine. Grabbed some sandwiches and fruits to replenish and topped up my hydration bladder and soft flasks, texted the wife to say I was still going strong and headed off for the next check point.
|A short glimpse of what the inclines resembled.|
Pic courtesy of Yim Heng Fatt
What was really missing here was company to run with. At least that way, I could focus on running but alone, my mind was wandering and defeatist thoughts kept creeping up. So I did the next best thing, I went and found company, discreetly that is. Saw a few runners in front of me and they were running at a pace I could probably cope on these tough climbs and I tailed them as close as I could without breathing down their necks.
|Just before the start with Yan Leng stargazing.|
Pic courtesy of Razif Yahya.
The two of them were doing a remarkable job so far. They were going steady and some of their enthusiasm rubbed off on me. It was also great to have familiar faces along side to run with. Soon enough, we reached the summit of that 9km relentless climb. It was downhill all the way for about 3k to the CP3 checkpoint and the halfway mark before we turned around and headed for the finish, 26k away.
I decided to stop a little longer at this check point to rest up before tackling the route in reverse. Took the opportunity to fill up my fluids, grabbed some food and fruits. My Garmin was running low on battery by then and I hooked up my powerbank to it. At this precise moment, my previous McGyver cable tie modification decided to snap and I was left having to hold the watch and the charging clip attached to the powerbank for the second half of the journey. I wasn't too pleased with that.
|The agony finally over.|
Pic courtesy of E.T. Tay
That long descent was pretty scary with thick concentration of foliage on the left and right sides. It was dark, lonely and really scary. Not to make up stories or anything but there was this particular spot somewhere halfway down the descent where I was all alone with no one in front or behind me when a gust of strong wind just appeared out of nowhere and leaves started rustling behind me.
I seriously felt every hair I had stand on end and goosebumps just appeared by the hundreds. Every 'pontianak' (vampiric ghost) movie I ever watched as a child came flooding back to me. That was my fastest pace of the entire run! The moment I saw another runner in front, I decided to tail him for as long as I could for the company, at least until my cowardice streak subsided.
|A well deserved breakfast.|
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang
Not soon enough, the reverse CP2 was in sight. It was a huge sigh of relive to see the checkpoint. My feet were killing me by this point and there was still about 14k or so to go with one final steep climb thrown in. Since the next check point was just 5k away, I took in only minimal replenishment and then headed out. Thankfully it was a nice flat section but even then I still had to run/walk the section. It was then that I looked at my Garmin and discovered the watch had stopped recording data for close to 5k. Dammit! I was incensed. I am going to flush the watch down a toilet bowl at the finish and buy a 620!
|The elevation data of the run.|
Once we finally reached the final summit, it was all downhill to the finish. I took a deep breath and started running again. The onset of cramps were felt around the top front of the thighs and I had to take things slowly to make sure it didn't strike me on this final stretch home. The ORS I've been taking on the hour, every hour must have played some part in keeping it at bay cos soon enough, that crampy feeling went off and I was able to speed up a little. I was completely spent by this time but the thoughts of the finish line not too far away spurred me on. I gave everything I had to keep moving.
|The happy GC team after the run.|
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang
Was it worth the pain I went through? Yes it was, absolutely. The experience I take from this is immense. I may have cursed, bitched and complained about it throughout the 53 kilometers but deep inside I was happy for what I can bring out of this. It will go a long way in preparation for when I'm finally ready to tackle a 100k (and I will) but not just yet. Right now, it's still small baby steps. More running, more training and more conditioning is needed but at least I'm moving in the right direction. Another important thing is I came out of this injury free.
Overall, it was a very well organized race. One of the better ones I've seen in a long time. True, there are some things that can be improved but generally I give it a huge two thumbs up! The volunteers manning the check points are easily the best crop of volunteers I've ever seen. The ever courteous and helpful boy scouts and girl guides deserves a huge pat on the back. Thank you for making this race all that much easier for us to go through.
And on a final note, congrats to the GC team for the great job you guys did out there. So, when's our next 50K?