Monday, September 17, 2012

TMBT aka The Most Beautiful Thing Ultramarathon 2012

My first ultra marathon and it was a trail ultra instead of the road ultra run.I signed up for this run many months ago together with Steve andYS.Uu Ban decided to join us at the last minute.Having Uu Ban on board definitely make our trip to Sabah more interesting.

On Friday morning,14th September 2012,four of us took a MAS flight to Kota Kinabalu.There we rented a car and headed straight to Kundasang.We booked a place in Cottage Hotel which is within the walking distance to our starting point. 

After 2 hours drive,we arrived in Kundasang.The beautiful scenery of Mount Kinabalu and its surrounding can be seen from our hotel.We checked in and decided to have a quick dinner before collecting our running packs.It was getting darker and cooler by 6 pm.At this point,I discovered that I did not bring any sweater.Luckily Steve has an extra jacket for me.Many thanks Steve! 

After a quick dinner we rushed off to Kinabalu Park to collect our running numbers.Then it began to rain.The weather was getting colder especially when there was strong wind blowing.The collection was in big hall and it was a very smooth process.Each runner gets a T shirt and 2 bibs.That's all.No freebies like those given out during shorter road races in Malaysia.

Then it was the race director presentation to all runners.He went through the rules and regulations of the race,the dos and don'ts,what to do in case of an emergency during the race and a short briefing on the route and terrain of the run.When we were leaving the Kinabalu Park,it was still raining moderately with strong winds.At this moment,I began to worry about the run tomorrow and started to have some regret of signing up for this run.Later at our hotel,I forced myself to sleep but the strong wind pounding on our room glass window increased my anxiety level.Somehow managed to get a few hours of interrupted sleep.  

To my surprise when I wake up the next morning,the sky has brighten up with nice cool fresh air but there was still occasionally strong winds.I knew God has answer my prayer.I began to feel optimistic and was looking forward to the run.We took a group photo before leaving to the starting point.(picture above:you can see that Steve is the one among us who come very well prepared.He has his wind breaker on)

Picture above:These are some of the local volunteers for the run.Even the local feels cold in this kind of weather.

The open area near our hotel where runners gathered before the start of the race.There were about 400+ runners with 140 persons doing the 100km event,113 persons doing the 50km and 118 persons doing the 25km event.

Immediately after the start,at about 500metres from the starting point was our first climb which lead us pass through some vegetable farms.Everyone was still energetic and cheerful.Many were seen snapping pictures and talking while walking.The first 10 km was still manageable and I took some pictures too.

The scenery of the farm and mountains around us is definitely something different for city folks like me.Steve,YS and Uu Ban were with me throughout the first 10km.It took us about 1h 30 minutes to reach the first water station. 

The first water station cum check point at 10km.It was a simple set up with a small tents and boxes of mineral water and medicines.No 100 Plus or any isotonic drinks.At water station we filled up our bottles,signed on a piece of paper acknowledging that we have passed through.The persons in the orange jacket (picture above) were the race crews.    

From water station 2 we proceed up hill towards Mount Kinabalu Golf Club and later passing through many vegetable farms.It was running and walking through farms and not through jungle as I initially thought when I signed up for the race.There was no thick foliage coverage and we began to get "roasted" by the sun.  

From water station 2 to water station 3,the route was still manageable.It was quite a flat and down hill route.The scenery remains the same;farms all around us.The interest to snap pictures has gone and I was more focus on my run.Caught up with Steve at water station 3 while YS was not far behind me.

Uu Ban were some where behind three of us as he was busy "emptying" his bowels.Later I heard he went off route three times to do his "business".Something must have gone wrong with his bowels on that day.I was still feeling good at water station  and decided to run a bit faster as I know it will be mostly down hill until water station 4 which was about 10km away.
**pictures posted here are taken some where from the start until 28km**

Running down hill seems to be easy but only if you run for a short distance.The next 10km route was mostly down hill but the road was fill up with small to medium size gravels.This was hurting my feet and the strain of running down hill cause lots of pain to both my thighs.Occasionally I have to stop and walk.

Water station 4 was not at the bottom of the hill as expected.The organiser really made us suffer by making us climb another steep hill in order for us to fill up our water.This was really torturing especially when the afternoon sun was scorching my body.Outside the water station 4,a TMBT photographer was waiting to take pictures of runners.I saw him waiting patiently for me to get closer to him.My heart tells me to at least walk fast or run just to pose for the picture but both my thighs were stiff.I have to stop and stand for 15 seconds before continue to walk.

Finally I walked near to him and he took few pictures of me.I told him that the route was very tough and the weather was very hot.He asked if I wanted to stop and pull out from the race.I said no and proceed to get my water. 

Had a brief stop at water station 4 where the organiser checked our essential items like hand phone and head light before allowing us to continue.The sign at the WS4 showed that I have covered a distance of 38km and the end is near.

Coming out from WS4 and walking along a main road,a lady invited me to eat at a Hari Raya open house. I politely declined.Luckily I found a sundry shop nearby selling cold drinks.Bought 2 cans of cold 100 Plus for RM3.00.It was so nice to be able to taste some cold drinks.I was walking and was unable to run anymore.

There were no runners in front or at the back of me.I was walking alone some where in a secondary jungle.The tree foliage has blocked off some sunlight and the wind was blowing so it was quite cooling after 40km.Then Lim and Lau phoned me asking if I was coping well.I told them the route was quite difficult and I was feeling very tired.The trail leading up to water station 5 (the last water station) was hilly after the small stream.It was walk,stop,stand for 10-15 seconds before continue walking.The process repeated until I reached WS 5.   

Finally reached the last water station and met up with the same photographer again.Had a brief chat with him before continuing.Uu Ban who was way behind me finally caught up with me.I was surprised to see him.I asked him to go ahead as he seems to be energetic after 47km.He declined and decided to walk together with me until the finishing line. 

Uu Ban and me crossed the finishing line together.Our time according to Uu Ban watch was 9 hours 44  minutes and 45 seconds.The finishing point was just a simple set up.They hung a finisher banner across two poles with few persons managing it.A lady hung the finisher medal around my neck together with a local hand made souvenirs beads with the word "TMBT Ultra 50 KM Finisher".However I did not see any official photographer taking any pictures of us finishing.    

After the run,we are entitled for free flow of foods and drinks.Here we were served with cold can drinks like Coca-Cola,rice,porridge,eggs,bananas,chicken curry.I was so hungry that I took two large full bowls of porridge and it tasted so nice.(probably I was too hungry)

The hard earned medal.I think I under estimated the toughness of this race.There are few areas which I did not look into and take things for granted.
1)The terrain:I never bothered to find out the actual level of difficulty in climbing a hill even though the organise has e mail us the map with the gradient of decent/accent.I don't even understand how much is a 1000metre elevation like.

2)Training:I have never did a proper hill run.The hills around my areas which I do my usual training is nothing compared to what I encountered on the race day. 

3)The foods to bring and eat during run:took this for granted.I just packed few bars of chocolates and have never try taking it during training..However I discovered that I was unable to take chocolate bars and Powerbars during this run.Only taken 2 powergel and a piece of Gardenia bread for the whole of 50km.   

According to my friend Fook Seong who also did the 50km run,the data recorded by his watch was: total ascent 1920m,total descent 1980m, moving at altitude 666m-1767m,average altitude was  1231m,temperature 23-35C.

Conclusion:a very nice experience for me despite all the suffering and the poor preparation.A totally new and different kind of challenge.Next? TMBT 100KM.....??


Francis said...

TMBT 100? Yes Go for it!

YS said...

Nice report! Can I share it on my FB status?

Strangely, my GPS showed 2474m elevation. Wondered what Steve's GPS showed?


ok YS..
no problem.

But i think you can write better.When you going to blog on your TMBT experience?