|Smiling faces at the start|
It was good to see all the usual suspects again, mainly friends and acquaintances from the last couple of years racing the SAC Ultra Run (organised by the same race directors). I knew there were more than a few strong contenders for the men's 100km race, including last year's winner Jiri Vystein. Aman's race briefing was very thorough as usual, whilst I was hoping the weather would hold and I wouldn't to have to use too many items from the mandatory equipment list!
Judging from the route changes from last year, and the increased elevation gain (4500m D+), this was going to be something of a challenge! I'd just taken on a new job at the beginning of the week, and my plans to get some decent rest went right out the window with my hydration strategies!
I'm sharing a room at the Kinabalu Park Headquarters Hill Lodge with Ford (fellow Hammer-Salomon athlete), and Anders (aka Desert King, winner of RTP Sahara 2010 and Atacama 2011). From his Facebook updates, Ford has been training like a demon, and Desert King is making a comeback after nearly a year off with injury.
|George, a former schoolmate and triathlete, now turned ultrarunner.|
Come race morning, the rain's stopped and the skies are looking promisingly clear. The first hitch in our race plans is when our transport doesn't arrive to pick us up. That's the last time I'm trusting the lady at Reception! Next time I'll remember to take down some numbers as backup. 10 of us (all staying at Hill lodge) end up trudging down the hill laden with all our luggage to Reception, where we manage to snag a mini-bus headed to the race start by the Kundasang War Memorial. We're all there in plenty of time, and get stuck in dropping off our luggage and drop bags. There's a small ripple of stress when some runner realise they haven't got proper tags for their respective bags, but I have a roll of red duct tape and a marker pen ready so pre-race nerves are assuaged a little.
|With Anders and Aman (Race Director) before the start|
|Steve and I just cresting one of many hills!|
|Running in the cabbage patch.|
|My favourite pic from Dr Dev Sidhu :)|
It really felt like a long, hot, uphill struggle to the 50km checkpoint. It's also the finish point for the 25km and 50km events, and I was glad to get there. Ford and some other familiar faces were there, all in various states of physical and mental agony. I tried not to think about quitting there, but the nausea was really quite overwhelming by now, and my headache just got worse. I moved slowly, refuelling my pack more for something to do than to think about going out again. Vincent, Sebastien and Dave all came in after. I saw Kate, the eventual women's winner, come in, refuel and head out .. exactly what I should have done, but my will was gone. Had some soup with rice, together with coke in the hopes that I would throw up ... no luck there. At least the food stayed down, and after some consideration, I got going again. I'd lingered there over 45 minutes. I figured I'd take it one checkpoint at a time .. finishing didn't seem like a possibility right then.
|Shahran at his 50km finish, Well done, mate!|
|Andrew Loh, such a lovely and humble chap .. and my night-time bodyguard.|
|Great night shot of Anders|
|Dave Spence, great company and the only person I've ever seen carrying tomatoes as race food! :)|
I'd have liked to have stayed at the finish to watch the others who were still struggling come in, but I was all done in. My nausea continued on till the next day, although the headache thankfully subsided by mid morning.
Kudos to everyone who started, regardless of a finish. The conditions were tough, and well beyond what I'd expected. Glad all my Hammer Nutrition stayed down despite the nausea, and even more glad that I changed from the Sense to the S-Lab 4 at 50km!
|Lovely ultra ladies!|
Congrats to Jimmy Tee, winner with a new course record, and all round nice guy :)
Check out the pics of the race on the TMBT FB page as well as links to race reports from the runners' blogs.