TMBT 2017 was held on 16 September 2017. For the 100km category around 334 runner participated. It was a point to point course where runners had to go from the start line (Lingkubang, Kota Belud), W1 to W11 before finishing at Mount Kinabalu Heritage and Spa, Perkasa, Ranau. The route takes runner through remote and rural local villages, vegetable/pineaple field, steep never ending gravel/tar road, jungles, river crossing and ridges etc. The overall ascent for the 100km category was estimated at 5255m. Cut off time (COT) was set 30 hours after flag off (6:20 AM).
More info on the race at:
1. My A race was finally upon me. I took the morning flight to reach race pack collection (RPC) site on Friday around noon. After some issues, finally got my race bib and went to check in the hotel. Got something to eat, buy some stuff and got the gears ready. Dinner, followed by just chilling/relaxing and went to bed around 9 PM.
2. Woke up at 2 AM, oats, hard boiled eggs and coffee equals to toilet. This menu never dissapoint haha. Put on gear, shower and everything and got on the bus at 3:30 AM. It was less than 2 hours bus ride to start line. Performed the subuh prayer, toilet break near the bushes and had to que to cross the bridge to the start line. It was already daylight and the view of Mt. Kinabalu was breathtaking and set the scene for the race. Scanned the timing device and went to the open field with the rest of the runners waiting for the start.
3. At 6:20 AM I started the longest race of my life. The first part going to W1 was on tarmac and it was a gentle climb. After few minutes, it started to become steeper so got the pole out. I felt good climbing at a pretty decent pace. I was looking forward to the downhill which will come later after W1. I ran all the parts where I can because I anticipate congestion in the trail. I decided that I would drop back once I got in the trail.
4. I wanted to also ensure I got on the trail with similar ability runner. I ran the downhill or go fast whenever possible. There were still people in front and I was somewhat pressured to go fast from guys behind so I was sure I wasn't running my race.
5. We were running with Mt. Kinabalu as a back drop, across villages, paddy fields and crossed beautiful rivers with these hanging bridges. It felt surreal running in such conditions. I was doing ok but felt sore on the quads and hamstring. Nutrition was good, I ate and stopped to rest a bit.
6. The trail were pretty steep and it was getting steeper. W4 or W5 I think was the infamous pineapple ridge. The climb was never ending but the view was nice. It took a lot to get through that section. By the time I got to W5, my quads were pre-blown and had to walk a bit. We also had this 5 minute van ride which was kind of awkward but welcomed. I planned to run downhill after that and I know there were some downhill. So I ran the downhill going to W6 (halfway) and told my self that I would take care of everything then. I pushed through and the quads were getting worse before I finally arrived at W6. I had to stop and sit by the road side at times because my quads were pulsating. It's been a while since I experienced this. And I had another 50k to go.
What a way to find out whether u can do a 100km hike/run. This is one has to go down as one of the most challenging thing I've done. Happy to be out there with other people suffering while traversing through the most beautiful thing. Let your heart hold fast For this soon shall pass There's another hill ahead 📸 FB Nasier Lee & Sharifah Khalidah #tmbt2017 #tmbt #trailrunning #vert #kotakinabalu #tmbt100
7. At halfway, I changed my shoes, socks, buff, shirt. It felt so good and I'm glad I brought some spare clothing/shoes. I felt like it was unnecessary at first but turned out to be a good decision. They were serving some solid food. I went with some macaroni soup, fruits, coke. Filled up my tailwind, 100 plus and coke. Also brought red bull with me. Put on the lights for the night and also my rain jacket since it was raining and I was cold. It was the only cold resistance article/clothing I had with me.
8. I planned to get out W6 at 5PM and I managed to go out at 5:21PM. Not bad I thought. I was still within the 20 hrs target I set. So out I went. I was hoping the quads were ok. The first few steps was painful. My quads were stiff as hell. I walked and it went away. But it was sore. I went down the trail with the intent to run the downhill as planned. I mean, this was it right? I waited for this downhill. However, my quads were cramping. I had to stop and stretch at first and later I had to accept that my quads had properly blown. Every step going downhill hurts. Kinda sucks but I didn't want it to bother me too much. I can still hike this rest of the race.
9. I met a lady and she was also having problem going downhill. She said she was in pain and I gave her panadol to ease the pain. We kept changing positions eventhough she was walking (fast) while I on the other hand was running (slow). During the first half, she would always pass me at the climb with ease. My gut feeling says that if I pace her I would probably be faster going up and who knows, my quads might recover. She didn't use poles so I packed mine away and didn't use my pole for the remainder of the race.
10. It was dark and cold and we're doing some pretty intense power hike (to me at least). We were not strolling. We passed a few people going uphill. I had to really keep up the effort not to get dropped. Considering the final climb was the toughest one and my quads were blown, my only chance of finishing with a good time was to not slow down going uphill. So I continued pacing and later there were also another guy with us. So all 3 of us basically spent the majority of the 2nd half hiking together.
11. The loop up to veggie farm and back to W8/W9 was really tough. It was night time and we were going up to the highest point in the race. It was cold and drizzling. I saw many ran down back to W9 but I know I just didn't have it. My quads didn't recover. It didn't get any worse but it just stayed like that til the end.
12. Based on my plan, I was suppose to run going to W10. But it was impossible with the quads and the surface. We were in the trail, it was slippery and muddy. I had to take it easy and be extra careful. It felt like forever. I looked up and the sky were starry. It was beautiful. I looked up several time and it was just unbelievable. We only had less than 20km to go. I just need to keep doing what I've been doing for the past hours.
13. At W11, I was really struggling. I didn't eat anything substantial. Only gels, water and some bananas. I was sleepy but determined to toughen it out on the last climb. We decided for a short rest so we would't get stiff. The last segment of the race took me the longest. We were climbing for around 2 hours and was wondering when it'll stop. It was steep and didn't seem to end. It's mind boggling to think that this kind of terrain exists and we had to go through it to finish. It was hard. I was getting anoyyed. I just wanted it to end.
14. About less than 2km to go, I went for a toilet break and got dropped. I knew I was going to finish so I spent the last bit looking around the beautiful sunrise beaming the mountain ranges with the clouds and all. I didn't have the energy to get the phone out but it was beautiful and I was alone on the trail. So I would walk and gaze at this beautiful thing laid in front of me. The intense hiking, climbing, finally got to me. My goal was reduced to just finishing. Luckily I was nearing the end. I tought it would be nice to finish under 24 hours and I did. Got to the finish line and felt the cold of the morning. I did it.
15. I kind of sit there for a while staring at my bag. I didn't eat or drink anything at first. I wanted to sleep but had to get out of the clothes because I was getting really cold. I decided to shower and then breakfast. I had a nice chat with the runner I met on the trail. Got on the bus at 8 AM and finally reach the hotel around 10+ AM. I ate some more and slept. Later went to KK for dinner and just walk around.
16. Race itenerary kind of went like this:
05:30 AM: Move to KLIA2
08:00 AM: Depart to KK
10:30 PM: Arrived at Airport and took a taxi to Metro town (RPC)
11:30 PM: Race Pack Collection and got a grab car to hotel
12:15 PM: Check in and lunch at nearby restaurant and buy some stuff
06:00 PM: KFC and Prepare gear
09:00 PM: Sleep
02:00 AM: Eat & prepare/put on race gears
03:30 AM: Bus to start
05:30 AM: Arrive
06:20 AM: Race start
06:20 AM: Finish and shower
07:30 AM: Breakfast
08:30 AM: Bus back to Hotel
10:30 AM: Eat and sleep
05:00 PM: Move to KK for dinner and walk around
09:00 PM: Back to hotel and sleep
08:00 AM: Breakfast and walked to tjg aru beach
10:30 AM: Check-out and grab car to KK Airport
02:00 PM: Arrive KLIA, wait for ride, eat
07:00 PM: Home
17. The race:
Registration: RM630 (including bus transfer from and to race site)
Travel to race kit Collection: From airport approx 30 min.
Traveling cost: Flight: RM457, Taxi to Metrotown RM40, Grab to Hotel MegahDaru RM20, Misc Uber/grab: RM30
Travel distance from hotel to start line: 73km or 1h 45 min
Waiting for toilet: No issue / bushes
Sorting out drop bag: No issue
18. Race Detail:
Finishers = 252/334 ~ 25% DNF rate
19. For RM1,555, (not including personal food/meal) I think it was worth it because the course lived up to its most beautiful/brutal thing name. Again, running in places like this is always worth it. Pre-race information I think was pretty good with the dropbox folder containing all the information needed. The FB was lively with videos and pictures of the course prior to the race. Registration was easy. I think it is possible to get a return night flight on Sunday but I didn't want to risk it and also wanted some rest Monday before going to work again Tuesday.
20. In terms of organization specifically RPC, there's a lot to be desired. I don't want to gripe but considering I've invested a lot of time and money to race this, plus all the advertisement in the web page etc., my expectation were high. The RPC took place in Metro town where the organizers office was located. It was in the 2nd floor. The place was already crowded with people from all the categories when I arrived. It was congested with people and their bags and stuff. There was no expo but I was only looking for gels anyway. It didn't take long to get my bib but I had to get out quickly as people started to fill up the place. I ended up buying my gels at the nearby bike shop. Basically, it was just a sport store converted to RPC site.
21. The compressport bag was pretty cool I think. But there was nothing in them except a discount voucher for rudy product. The event T-shirt + finishing T was ok. We also had to bring a photocopy of our IC and me plus few participants had to scour the place to make one. It seems all photocopy machine broke down that day so I ended up taking a picture of my IC and emailed them to the print shop for them to print. I was told it was stated that we had to bring our photocopy IC. I felt it's a bit awkward since in other races, it's not needed unless we were picking up someone else's bib. But they must have their reason and it was stated prior. So maybe it was my fault for not reading or taking it seriously but I still think the whole thing was weird. Maybe it's the norm for a 100k race and above race? To me, it kind of felt like the organizers wanted to make the RPC convenient for them though it should be the other way around. Just saying.
22. Race Hydration/nutrition were ok but coke was to me in short supply unless you buy them from the locals. Maybe I was too tired to notice but I remember having coke only at halfway. In terms of food, Meggi cup, some mushroom soup, Some crackers, bananas. I think it's alright. Solid food at halfway was ok. Macaroni and rice. I think it'll be a waste anyway to have a full choice buffet because no one will eat much during the race. But i think there should be coke especially near the end despite the locals selling them.
23. The transport to race was good. I don't mind squeezing a little bit on the way back as long as I got back to my hotel. Waiting time was ok since finishers were spread through out. Shower facilities were good too. They had a room at the hotel near finish to clean ourselves. The post race meal was ok with choices between rice and pasta. I had no apetite and forced myself to eat the pasta so can't comment much there. Don't know how it is for the runners later.
24. The course. Awesome. I chose TMBT for my first 100km because it's in the end of 3Q 2017 so I had some time to train after SCKLM. I also wanted to use this race to set a race related benchmark and also logistics, like flights/packing and stuff. In local races you can just chuck everything in the car if you're driving and don't have to worry about flight weight limit etc. I also did it for the elevation. I wanted it to be tough but at the same time scenic so if I struggle to finish I can at least enjoy the view (which I did). I also think if I do a really tough race I'll benefit from the experience and learn a lot regardless of how I finish (which I also did).
25. The first half of the race was especially great. The view of Mt. Kinabalu, crossing streams through hanging bridges, going through paddy/pineapple, veggie fields and such. I especially enjoyed the time when we can literally see the inside of the villagers house and the people close up. The things we only usually see in RTM channel. But when it got tough, it's really tough. The steep climb seems never ending. Some part of the trail were really technical, rooty, rocky, slippery and some were quite dangerous haha. But that what makes it fun. It was all natural, raw/genuine. It's different from the single track hiking trails like in nuang/angsi etc though those type are there as well. And if you add in the weather, the cold condition, being wet for hours and the fear of dogs chasing you at 2 AM in the morning hahaha .. it's insane. It makes you wonder how the top runners can go through all of this so fast.The water station was spaced quite ok but some were really far. But I think it's mostly down to how fast you can get there.
26. My race. Well, my plan was working only for the first half. After that I was hiking all the way to the finish. I had never run/hike sleep deprived at night or in the rain or both. Well, apart from the time I got lost at irau and had to spend the night with no supllies. Anyway, maybe some slowdown was expected in the 2nd half. Regardless of the conditions, I'm kind of dissapointed the way it went down towards the end of the race. I was feeling crappy and had "I just want this to be over" attitude kind of like I did at Cultra. The difference was, at cultra I bounced back. In this race, my legs didn't allow it. Oh well. It's kind of embarassing to compare my time with the leaders and I was also 4 hrs off of my target time. For what it's worth, I had gave it my best. But still I went through the data and compared expectation vs reality.
27. It's pretty obvious I was waaaaay to fast going to W1. I was about 26mins faster than my predicted split. I kind of hit all the splits except at the highway with a difference of about 13 mins. This was when my legs were pre blown. But, I sticked to my plan, pushed through at the downhills and going in perkasa I was 31 mins faster than predicted split. I thought it'll get better after the rest half way.
28. After halfway, I failed to run downhill and struggled up hill. But I was doing ok climbing up to W8. I was climbing faster than predicted at W8 and didn't use pole at all which was a suprise. This was when I was pacing the lady. But the downhill section W9, W10 was when the gap opened. Heading to finish was the final climb and it was hard. I struggled there too.
29. I think going too hard in the first part was the main reason for my quads demise in the 2nd half. A difference of almost half an hour from predicted split (twice!) in the first half was just too much. I also never trained running downhill and when you combined all of these, well, RIP quads. Something had to be done about it if I wanted to execute this walking up and running/descending quickly down strategy in a 100km.
30. Secondly, there were less downhill going to W8 and data showed I climbed quite good there with a -3 mins difference from predicted split. Climbing or hiking with our without poles is essential. I also didn't specifically train walking fast and I think it's an essential skill to have.
31. I had a plan but failed to excecute properly. The hardest thing to me was to hold back. You kind of think that it doesn't have an impact later in the race but it does. That's just the natural law of the game. In training, consistency is king and specificity is queen and I wasn't specific in my training. If I wanted to run downhill I should've practice running downhill. The use of pole is also something I might have to reconsider. I have a feeling poles slowed me down especially in the trail where I have to think about planting not just my foot but the poles as well. Without them, I felt a more natural rhythm climbing. It does have its benefit though maybe in a more open trail or road and it help with balance keeping upright.
32. The race was beautiful. I truly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the time spent not racing in KK just chilling. The organization can probably do better. If I'm investing considerable time and money, I expect the services to kind of match the value, like I would in a restaurant etc. I can't help but compare the organization to other races I've participated in which was why I found some things perplexing. With a little bit more effort on organization/coordination, which I think can easily be rectified, this race would be one of the best race in Malaysia. It is to me up there among other iconic races in Malaysia. I'm gonna do it again someday maybe with the family there. That'd be nice.
33. That is it. After this rest period going to kick off 2018 with MPKJ half in october as a fitness test and will take it from there. Can't wait to not run.