Saturday, May 28, 2016

BOH Eco Trail Run 2016 Race Report

I wonder why they call it a fun run when it is anything but! Jokes aside, this morning's Boh Eco Trail run was really a pretty much fun filled affair and I had a good time even though I was struggling along the trails of the lovely Boh tea plantation in Bukit Cheeding, Banting.

Dammit, another medal? Can't the bum bring
home some snacks for a change!

I almost didn't make this trail run cos of two reasons. One, I'm not a trail running person and my last trail run was about two years ago, which incidentally was also the Boh Trail run which was held in Cameron Highlands. Two was because I got the invite a little late due to some email issues. But all things worked out and I decided I'd take up the complimentary media invite by Boh Malaysia. Besides it was held on a Saturday and didn't interfere with my marathon training plan in any way.

The Boh Eco Trail run is basically a fun run to raise awareness among the public on peat preservation and forest fire prevention. All the proceeds from the run would go towards the Global Environment Centre's work in the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR).

Peatland forests are the most important ecosystem globally for preventing global warming and Malaysia has the third largest surface area with this type of forest. In their natural state, peat swamp forests rarely burn. However, excessive draining of water can lead to the peat being susceptible to fires. With temperatures soaring higher in this El NiƱo season, the peatland has lost much water and become vulnerable to fires. In recent years, fires in neighbouring areas have also spread into the KLNFR and damaged part of the forest reserve.

All systems go!
So, come race morning, my wife and me woke up bright and early to head out to the race location which was not really too far away from home. According to the Google map coordinates provided, it was just a short 30 minute drive away. Everything was going fine and the directions by Google maps were spot on at least until we were 8 minutes (supposedly) away when Google which always gives you the fastest route possible took us to a new gated residential neighbourhood and expected us to drive through it across the gates and into the plantation!

Obviously this was the fastest way there before but that was before this new neighbourhood went up and the area got fenced off. Guess the Google street car needs to make its way around these parts again. I was adamantly arguing with the guard and saying Google maps say we have to go this way. I guess he got fed up and let me in and told me to go see for myself that this was the only way in and out.

With the Orang Asli children

After a drive around the neighbourhood, I sheepishly made my way out again and I could see the 'I told you so' look on his face. As I was exiting the gate, I saw a few other cars that were also sent the same way as I was by Google maps. At least that proved I wasn't really a doofus after all. A few quick calls to the PR company that sent the invite to me and I was on my way in the right direction. The route took a wide circle around from where I was and another 30 minutes of driving on the SKVE highway.

After an uneventful drive, we finally reached the race start location with still plenty of time to spare. Cars were already filling up and parking was limited but I managed to get a bay just a few minutes walk away from the venue. The place was wet and muddy since it rained the night before and I knew things would get a little messy. It was time for me to gear up, which was really minimal since it was an 8km trail and according to the literature, was well supported.

Are we there yet?

Gear for me was a green Saucony Hrydralite top and Inferno half tights with my spanking new Peregrine 6. I was eager to see how it performed since I've read so much good things about the shoe. Once I was ready it was straight to the race venue to pick up my bib and wait for race start. My wife was busily snapping pictures and told me she would be ready to get a vain shot of me when I got back ... LOL!

The start of the race was a surprise cos I was still walking to the flag off location when the start horn blared. I gave my wife a 'what the heck' look and started off with a slow trot cos the start was uphill. I wasn't even warmed up and my calves were tight as hell. I knew this was going to be a difficult run. I haven't run or trained for trails in nearly two years and any trail runner worth their salt would know that trail running is an entirely different ballgame altogether.

Runners flagged off
Soon enough I was overtaking all the more enthusiastic runners who bolted off at the start, many of whom were in regular road shoes. I'm not sure how they were going to keep their footing with road shoes on. I was cruising at an easy 6:30 pace but my calves were still taut as steel! The legs were taking a lot longer than usual to loosen up. By the first water stop, I decided to stop and walk for a bit and this was where Evelyn caught up with me.

I decided to stick with her cos having some company would take the mind off the troublesome tight legs. And anyone who has run with Evelyn knows that running with her is never boring. We ran, walked, hobbled, enjoyed the view and chatted all the way until we reached the peat forest section of the trail which was really my favourite part of the entire run. Since the trail was very narrow, I went off ahead on my own. This short stretch really got my rhythm back up and I picked up my pace.

The beautiful scenic view inside the plantation

Soon I was out of the peat forest only to be welcomed by volunteers serving freshly cut coconuts. This was a sight to behold. I think I spent quite a bit of time here savouring the refreshing coconut water, which was actually a bad call cos by the time I was done my tummy was so full of water that you could hear it swish as I ran along!

There was about 2 km left to go and I decided to step up the pace. I was so focused with my running that I completely didn't notice my wife, who had walked 1.5km into the trails taking pictures. I only realized it was her until she called out to me shouting 'woi, I can't chase you down, la!'. You have to give me some slack cos she was dressed in green and looked just like the rest of the volunteers .. LOL!

Stopped to let her take some pics and she told me to quickly continue, which I did. The last 1.5k was done quickly and I was finally done. To be honest, I was winded. This took a lot out of me. I really need to work on my trail running again after the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

The complimentary BOH tea packs
Waited for the wife to comeback from her photo taking in the trails, mingled for a bit and we decided to head back early cos I was hungry and needed a proper breakfast. Overall, it was a very well organized event and the volunteers did a great job. Each and everyone I passed had some words of encouragement to keep the participants going.

I'd like to thank BOH Malaysia for the invite and I must say I really did have a good and enjoyable time running through their tea plantation. The view was breathtaking and the peat forest trail was simply awesome!

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