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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Genting Trailblazer 2009

“If this is not fun, I don't know what is.”

When I first know about Genting Trailblazer few months ago, I told myself I have to try this muddy experience. Since the format of this race is that you need to run with a partner, I tried contacting some friends but to no avail, none were available. So, at first thought, I said to myself, “Well, maybe next year.”

Ready to be awakened.

In fact, the main reason behind me getting myself the Cascadia 4 was, obviously for Genting Trailblazer (and other trail running events in the future). And I started to tame myself with some trail running, namely at Nuang, and FRIM, and Kiara.

Last Thursday anyway, some friends jokingly said why not I just join the fun and take photos during the run. What I initially thought as a crazy idea, really made my mind crazy that I decided to give it a try.

To become a runner-grapher, pirate version that is.

Putting the risk that I might not come home with a good condition digital camera as I don't have a tough one, I car pooled with Syah and Ian from Taman Melati as early as 0615hrs on cool Sunday morning upon agreeing that they'll do something to turn me into a pirate, and in return I will stick with them and take as much photos as I could.

Oh ya, Ian and Syah coupled up as team Macam Bagus (actually, they were betul-betul bagus).

Misty morning at Genting Highland

Upon arriving at the venue and after collecting the race kits, we went to get some breakfast. We had plenty of times before the race begins, enough to order roti canai and half boiled eggs.

Team Macam Bagus's strategy: Roti canai and roti telur, with half boiled eggs.

Ian ordered roti canai banjir, and he further 'flooded' his roti canai with half boiled eggs. It looked deliciously good that I'm making a self note to try this one day.

Daud and Shaqi teamed up to form Grim Duo, with their 'takut-nak-makan-pagi-you-know-why' strategy.

My strategy? Humm..

Since I was only the designated photog-runner, I had just one roti telur. I drank up the whole bottle of ORS-ed water which I brought along. It's always my race-day routine to drink as much ORS-ed water as possible, starting from the night before a race to the morning of race day. It may help keep muscle cramps at bay.

The atmosphere that morning was awesome. When we gathered at the field, loud music was already bursting in the air and these people were doing warm ups. I was surprised with the number of turn outs. I'm not really sure how many were there, but the running trail will be cramped with runners later on.

The instructor was doing the hip hop dance warming up...

… followed by everybody else. At times there looked almost like a flash-mob. They surely had fun.

I settled at the back with team Macam Bagus and Grim Duo, taking some more photos while giving myself a good stretching session.

Team Grim Duo – discussing on their strategies on how to beat team Macam Bagus.

Small, big, bigger, biggest!

I don't now why, but when I did this un-stylish pose, they all followed me. Ahahaha.

Stretch it out!

If you don't have a proper trail shoes, a pair of football shoes might also do the trick.

There were two categories in this event, Championship category (14km run, with prize money for top winners), and Adventure category (14km run on the same course as Championship's, but without any prize money). Unfortunately, there were no pirate category, or else I might win!

The Championship category were released at 8.30am if I'm not mistaken. I reckon not more than 50 teams were in this category. There were lots more teams in Adventure category, maybe because the entry fee was cheaper respectively.

Championship category runners ready to be released.

Adventure category runners waiting in anticipation for their turn to rumble in the mud.

I can even smell the mud scent, honestly! This is only the beginning.

Mud, mud mud. Legs, legs, legs.

Macam Bagus.

“We Rawk!!!”

One guy even dared to do trail running with his Pallas Jazz. This is a good example of “If there's a will, there's a way”

We were released at about 0840hrs. Making my first few steps, I suddenly realized how much I missed sports events like this. It's really like a 'payday' after putting hours upon hours of training. And for my case this time, my training was at the minimum. Good enough for me to survive it, but not enough for me to beat both of the teams.

My target of the day was to keep in close proximity as much as possible with team Macam Bagus, Syah and Ian, who both had just finished 25km of trail running the weekend earlier at TNF run in Singapore. Just imagine how tough was it for my slow-inexperience self to be pacing with these two fit runners. But, that was the challenge on my plate that morning, and I took it delightfully.

This is the 14km route we all have to run. 80% of it was covered in mud.

And the fun begins!

The first few kilometers had us running by the golf course, on a tarmac. The misty condition that morning was a bonus and I don't think we can ever have it anywhere at our normal running ground down there in Klang valley. At some points, the visibility went down to almost 10 meters, that's how thick the mist was that morning.

Syah and Ian can't wait to get into the muddy terrain so they ran fast on the tarmac, making it difficult for me to catch up.

There was a sign by the golf course which says “Dropping Zone”, which the gradient of the tarmac started to increase. Some has resorted in walking, and here Macam Bagus has cought up with a member from Grim Duo.

Not so long later, we started to run at the long awaited off-road terrain. The condition was not that bad yet, pretty similar to the trails at FRIM, with not so crazy steep climbs.

They were really having fun, and this time I was not jealous because I was there too, though just as a photog-runner.

First help-yourself-water station. I stopped here thinking that the cups were already filled with water, but the guy said “Help yourself dude!”, and I went pass by without drinking any (need to stay close to Macam Bagus team).

The terrain soon get more challenging with steep climbs where running was no longer affordable (or you'll end up hitting the wall too soon for pushing into anaerobic zone too early). So, with the many runners at the front and back, we all did the fast walk-climb up.

The start of up, up and more ups. This was the mud-free zone climbs. But later on, the climbs were tougher, and muddier, and trickier, and tougher (did I just say tough twice?).

What goes up, must come down, right? Yeah, right. But the downward routes were nothing but 'difficult'. The safest way was to slide down either by squatting down and slide (if you are skillful enough), or just make use of whatever fat left on your butt to cushion yourself as you glide down on your bum.

I could no longer hold my digital camera with my hands as from here onwards many more tactical movements of hand, legs and body were required as we go through. So I just hung my camera at my fuel belt, hoping for it to survive the remaining journey. Luckily it did.

At this very moment, I really wished Olympus would sponsor me the Miu Tough digi-cam that will be tough enough to handle this situation. I was thinking how good if by having a tougher and water-proof digi-cam, I could photographs the entire interesting journey and share with you guys.

The last photos you see above, can only tell you 40% of the whole journey. What came afterwards were much much much more tough. Totally muddy at some places where even with my trail shoes, I lost traction few times. I can't imagine how one would be able to get the sufficient grip or traction for their footings without using trail shoes in that super steep and slippery terrains.

The journey onwards can be considered as crazily long, muddy and steep climbs. Without clinging and pulling yourself up with the support ropes along the route, I don't think anybody can bring themselves up. Majority of the tracks were ranging from 40 to 70 degrees inclination. I pulled myself up either by using the ropes, or trees, or bamboos, or one of those little thorny trees.

Yeah, I once or twice grabbed those tiny sharp thorns and cried like a small baby while pulling myself up the muddy slopes.

Here, we can also easily see some runners fell down, either due to wrong footings or they just slipped down, or they were just dead tired. Many were cursing, huffing and puffing their way up. This was where the real challenge of trail running came to play, when you were forced to enter your anaerobic zone that causes more production of lactic acid. With more of this lactic acid building up in your muscle, your are getting closer to runners' worst enemy – the muscle cramps.

I have to always remind myself to keep on hydrating while on the run, no matter how the condition of the run was. Or else, one might end up having cramps if no proper rehydrations were done. I only carried my fuel belt with two 200ml bottles filled up with Gatorade, and I was surprised I survived without any cramps (yeay, the secret training works!).

We also had to cross few small rivers, where I took the opportunity to take the muds off my shoes and clean my gloves.

After I-don't-know-how-far-we-have-run, we came back to a tarmac section, indication that the finish line was getting closer. I was secretly hoping that there won't be any more climbs, but I was disappointed.

Flat tarmac, a short break before going up a little bit more into the obstacle course area.

I can't even attempt any run even on this not-so-steep climb. Feet felt as heavy as rock.

At the end, we reached the obstacle course area, where I feel, the organizer did a great work. There were up-to-knee-deep soft mud section, followed by three chest-high ponds, a ramp-and-jump-into-mud-water stuffs, run-on-bamboo obstacle, fences obstacles and lastly the army crawl under the net.

As the obstacle section would require us all to get into the water, I had to keep my camera inside a zip loc bag, which I then have to hold with my hand, or with my mouth, or just tossed it on the ground or asked any spectator to hold it for me while I get myself wet, wet and wet. I lost few valuable minutes here, explaining why I was no longer able to stay close to team Macam Bagus anymore. Some of below photos I took after I finished my run, and some I grabbed from other resources.

The chest-level-deep ponds. I leaped over them all as I didn't want to get wet that early. Lompat macam katak daaa.

Up and down the boulders, and off onto the wooden ramp followed by jumping into the muddy water.

Walking in the water was not as easy as it looked. But it was fun though.

This lady was doing a breast stroke!

Up and down the wooden ramp, and into the muddy water once again. I think there were about seven or eight muddy water ponds we had to cross over at this obstacle course.

This required a good balancing skills.

Three fences we needed to climb over.

The second last obstacle. Up the wooden ramp, jump into the water, climb up the rope web over the pole, get into the water again, before getting to the last obstacle.

Army crawl – the last obstacle before each team can run together to the finish line.

Photog-runner in action. Holding his digi-cam inside a zip-loc bag with his mouth. Again, I wished I had a tougher digi-cam.
(Pictures courtesy from the infamous Tey)

As I ran towards the finish line, one official stopped me and asked me to wait for my running partner before I can finish my run. I quickly stopped my stopwatch and ran to the sides, and with that, I considered I've finished my race. Not by going through under the finishing chute though. (I pirated this run, remember?)

Oh yeah, and my unofficial finishing time (based on my stop watch)?

2:00:00 on the dot!

Irregardless, I had the most joy and fun in this event. A definite yes if anyone would ask me to join this event again next year (InsyaAllah).

As I thought the fun ended at the finish line, I was surprised with another fun in the shower room. The water was so cool and it was so refreshing to wash my self down.

I really had fun. The smile tells you everything..
(Photo courtesy of Ian)

I actually felt guilty for drinking and eating after the run, as I did not pay anything to the organizer.

Ian kindly gave me the event t-shirt and Milo shoe bag. Thanks Ian.

Will I come back next year? InsyaAllah, yes.
(But I won't run in sarong lah ye!)


KOOKY KASH said...

macam best!

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Correction, MEMANG BEST! :)

Diket said...

Hahaha...dah lama tak berkubang ye? Well done mate. Next year kena sign up so that makan kuih & mee goreng tak rasa bersalah.

Btw, the sarong might help you float in those ponds :)

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Sekali sekala makan budu,
Makan budu dalam perahu,
Belum cuba belum tahu,
Sekali cuba tiap2 tahun mahu.

Memanjat bukit kaki pun lelah,
Jantung dah rasa macam nak pecah,
Menjadi lanun memanglah salah,
To organizer, saya mintak maaf lah.

ShahM said...

Syoknyer..gua xtau plak ada event camni..teruja plak tgk.

Bro, bley bgtau brape dia nyer entry fee?

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Eh, macam-macam ada.
For more info, visit gentingtrailblazer dotcom
Terus bookmark website tu, supaya tahun depan senang nak register for race. :)

Anonymous said...

Waaah best... macam mud wrestling... lolx... will train for next year!!! Hopefully will be as muddy as this! Kooky, add this to our 2010 calendar!


..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Yes, best n fun n muddy but reaaaallly tough at some terrain. Make sure enough training.

What's your team name gonna be?

Wanna hire a photog-runner for your team? U know my number, right? Hihihihi.

tolldoll said...

it looks grueling!! could you turn back or stop if you decided to pull out of the race? (i always think like that... how could I not feel tired everytime i start a race)

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

It is grueling if you are not well prepared or well trained for it. It applies to everybody, and for every kind of multisport or endurance race.

Training is the secret ingredient here, nothing else.

Oh yeah, u can stop halfway if u decided to pull out. But hey, u r a weekend warrior right? Warriors mana boleh pull out maa! Must fight to the end!

(BTW, kalau u stop n pull out pun, u still need to walk back to starting point. so, better walk forward and finish up the race).

Anonymous said...

Nik... if I do get a team it'll be called CXB... Confirm Tak Bagus!!! But seriously... it looks fun! Will definitley train for this. Sampai kat mudpool, I stop la... hehehe... mud wrestling!!!


Zayani said...

mcm best je..hmm..sdih tak bleh join sbb i trlalu muda..haha
p/s:sure sjuk kn²??

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Start yourself a blog.
It will be more interesting to be able to share your experience (for me at least).
Or, kat FB pun boleh lah kot. I guess. Hehe.
Yeah CXB... kasi gegar sama itu trailblazer tahun depan okay!

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

It's ok. Takleh join races macam ni tak semestinya kita tak perlu ada healthy lifestyle, betul tak?
Study n family perlu diutamakan, next then baru la sports/hobby/etc.

Good luck for your 10km run kat PBIM nanti. Kasi gegar sama itu Penang Bridge.. tapi jgn kasi runtuh sudahlah.

P/s: Genting sekarang dah kurang sejuk. Global warming kot.

Thanks for dropping by.

amsyah said...

Good report, lah... and i can count on you for trailblazer 2010 ok... mesti mau join punye...

u did very well, Nik... great to have you around.

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Thanks for the ride, thanks for the bib #, thanks for many other things.

U n ur team mate did very well too.
Well done!

The Corporate Athlete said...

nik, interesting report .... u r a good photo-blogger. Great to have you around. Next year kita register cepat2.

p/s - shucks, I'm one of the last commentator. My office blocks blogspots again!!!!

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Thanks. I'm still learning, and lots more learning need to be done.
Photoshop pun i tak sentuh lagi ni.

Great to be running with Macam Bagus and Grim Duo too. Thanks for the support and the Pirate 101 crash course. ahahaha.

Anonymous said... giler..hope next yr i also can join you guys..i like this type of sports ehe..well done!

CheRaMicHe said...

nik, are u sure u wanna took the pic of the football shoe? :P

thanks, grabbed lots of pic from u. hope next time to compete side by side with u.. im sure guys from GBS can rotate partnering with each other as one might not be available all the time kan?

..::EnAikAY::.. said...

Thanks. Yes, whoever likes to do it, can definitely do it.
But to enjoy it, we have to clock enough training or else we end up suffering.

Actually i wanted to snap the pic of people digging their noses.. ahaha.

Go ahead and grab any photos u like. Yeah, we can always compete with each other, so that we have more things to share during the post race makan-minum session.

The pain and tiredness will go, but the memories remain forever.

Fontonk said...

bro, ada lagi tak event ni?