Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trail Running—Back-To-Back Training Part 2

I suppose it was just a matter of time, but because some of us signed up for the 100km ultra trail marathon this coming November, we had to accumulate sufficient mileage during training. It seemed somewhat impossible to find the time and proper training ground to achieve the total 100km, but we reckoned that we could at least come a little closer to that distance. To do this, we had to organise a two-day back-to-back jungle trekking session between the now familiar Kibambangan Water Resort and Terian.

Those of you who've not been following this blog, it's still not to late to follow the reports on past outings here and here.

A bit of clarification before I proceed with this report though. The title above, i.e. Part 2, may be a bit misleading. This trip on the 30th of August, was actually the fourth outing; not the second. Before that we've been up there in the jungle 3 times already. However, it wasn't until our third outing that we decided to set up a facebook group for training, and then invited others to join us. That first outing which was opened to others was then referred to as Part 1, and this outing therefore became Part 2. Part 3 (to be reported in the next post), though can be considered as an independent one on its own, should have been a continuation for a two-day back-to-back training for those who signed up for the 100km ultra trail marathon.

The crowd was much smaller than the previous one. It was after all the Hari Raya holiday. Most of those who were present were familiar faces, but we also had some new faces—Eric, a frequent adiNation runner who was up to some interesting new experience in the hills; Laurel, the chap who wore a pair of tights which attracted not only the girls', but also the men's attention; and Laurel's dad, who turned up and behaved more like a tourist rather than a jungle trekker.

Before we started, as usual we spent a bit of time chatting with each other while making last-minute checks on our backpacks. Teo, the most decorated trekker of 'em all, was also there. Except "decorated" in this case did not mean decorated as in a soldier awarded with war medals of honour. In this case, Teo was decorated with all his state-of-the-art equipment. Jonas unveiled his new hydration apparatus comprising a camel bak pack with a 1.5 litre bladder and two front pouches each holding a 750ml water bottle. I could see Teo just itching to outdo Jonas.

I think Dr Soma surprised everybody when he turned up, despite having suffered a severe cramp during the last trip and had to turn back long before reaching Terian. In fact, as if wanting to make a big impression, he turned up with a brandnew striking pink hat! Check out this photo below where Soma, the guy devoid of muscles is standing beside Boyd, the guy who's everything about muscles.

Judy took the opportunity to take a picture with Stephenie and Laurel. And at this point, just a friendly advice to the girls not to spend too much time looking at Laurel's amazing tights.

Some of us had a bit of time for some laughs too (check out Jonas' water bottles).

Group photos before we started the torture.

A few minutes after starting the journey, we took a short break in the jungle. By then Stephenie, Laurel and John Chin and the rest of the leading pack had already rushed up the hills. Stephenie and Laurel had intended to only do a 40-minute run before turning back. She's scheduled to fly to China on 1 September for a 300-km eco-race comprising 10 disciplines, so this was just "light" workout for her.

Upon reaching the dirt road, we started the climb. I had felt great then, but had to control my excitement from rushing up the hills. I had to keep reminding myself that there're still many more kilometres to cover not only that day, but also the following day.

However, a part of the training was also to keep a minimal pace to ensure that I can finish the race in November within the allocated 36 hours. So a few minutes later, I was already gradually leaving the pack behind together with Judy.

And then suddenly, we heard a kind of stampede from over the hill. We thought a herd of karabaus were coming our way. But then Stephenie and Laurel emerged and running from the opposite direction in annoyingly relaxed fashion. And I have to shamefully admit that instead of looking at Stephenie's fit body, my eyes were again drawn to Laurel's tights (Damn, am I absolutely nuts?).

I somehow had the impression that John was supposed to go all the way to Terian and Buayan with the rest of us. So I was fairly surprised to see him walking back not too long after Stephenie and Laurel.

Well, Judy and I walked together for a little longer up to the hut at the end of the clearing. Then I decided to increase my pace. I stepped into the jungle and pulled ahead of Judy soon after. For the rest of the journey I was walking alone. It was kinda weird—and boring—to walk alone for hours

I reached Terian about 3 hours later, crossed the hanging bridge, and then found myself not knowing where to go to next. I spent some minutes asking for direction to Buayan. I was finally directed to a steep hill akin to the Gunting Lagadan-Sayat-Sayat climb. That absolutely drained all my energy. But the good news was that after about half an hour's climb, I reached a moderately flat terrain. Shortly after that, I came to a camp where a man was busy chopping firewoods together with his wife and two young boys who probably forgot to put on their pants that morning. I stopped for a minute to ask about Buayan. He said, Buayan was about 2 hours away.

I continued along that path and was a bit worried that I was soon going downhill for some 2.5km. I was still thinking of the punishment of having to climb the hill on my way back when I came to a stream. I carefully made my way down to the stream and then suddenly realised that I had probably just enough time to return to Terian for the 12:30pm lunch as planned. And so I started the 2.5km climb, all the time thinking what the hell am I doing in this jungle alone on Hari Raya, when I could be enjoying a bunch of kuih mur at home!

Well, I made it back to Terian at about 12:45pm. And just a minute or two after my arrival, Boyd had also arrived from Buayan. I found out later that I was a mere 20 minutes away from Buayan from that stream. But just about then, the other group comprising Dr Helen, Judy, Teo and Mia were already done with lunch and were about to embark on their return journey to Kibambangan. Dr Soma had started back even earlier than them.

As we were eating, one by one the rest arrived from Buayan. Liaw arrived with a bright smile on his face. Jonas suffered a cramp in his calf. His 3 litres of water was not enough to support the entire journey to Buayan after all, and Dr Liaw had to ask for some water from the villagers there. I wondered how would it be like for a white man to ask for drinking water from the villagers. That would have been a pretty sight to watch... y'know, like chicken and duck talking to each other? Anyway, Eric was the last to arrive from Buayan, and he, too, suffered cramps in his legs.

I lingered on for a little longer. And then at about 1:50pm, about 40 minutes after Dr Helen's group left, I started off for Kibambangan, leaving the rest behind. The last I saw them, they were still enjoying lunch.

The climb from Terian to the top of the hill was so punishing that I had to walk very slowly. All the while, I had to keep reminding myself of another workout along this same route the following day. As I had expected, it began to rain heavily and the path became slippery, thus slowing me down substantially. But it stopped after about an hour.

I walked alone all the way until about 30 minutes before reaching Kibambangan when I caught up with Mia again. By then Boyd had overtaken me and finally finished a few minutes before us.

Dr Helen, Judy and Teo had arrived a few minutes earlier.

It was quite a relief to complete the workout, but we were conscious of more punishment to come the following day.

After a short rest, we went down to the stream to dip our feet in the water. Then as Judy was about to take this shot, Helen suddenly used her hands to cover her midsection. I don't know if that was to cover her tattoos. And speaking of tattoo, I have posted about it here, so I'll carefully refrain from repeating it lah.

Then suddenly we were wondering what had happened to Dr Soma. He started ahead of us all, but yet had not arrived. Then Liaw arrived and said that he overtook Soma a few kilometres back. We kept an eye on the other side of the hanging bridge, and every time we heard or saw people coming, we thought it was Soma. But each time we were wrong, until finally when we saw that grand pink hat bobbing from afar. Finally, the skeleton arrived and crossed the bridge in triumphant fashion.

But that was not the end of the story. Jonas arrived with his bottles on his chest, but no one knew where's Eric. He complained of having cramps and went slower than the rest. It was fast approaching 6pm and getting dark soon. We tried desperately to call him. We wondered if he was in some kind of trouble in the jungle and contemplated a search and rescue mission. Helen addressed us and asked if any of us would like to volunteer going up the hills again in search of poor Eric. I could see a flicker of excitement in Teo's eyes, and I could've sworn that he would offer to run up the hills to Eric. But instead, he shook his head!

Finally Boyd was able to get through to him. Eric, with his legs almost failing him, had somehow ended up at the Inobong Sub-Station some miles away. Liaw drove his car there to fetch him and brought him back to Kibambangan again where he parked his car.

It was also around then that Helen, Judy and Teo decided that they have had enough trauma for now, and opted not to do another trip to Terian the next day. Maybe they have become mentally unhinged because of the experience. They said they would rather go to Bukit Padang the next day. Come to think of it now, I'm not sure if they meant Taman Tun Fuad Stephens in Bukit Padang; or was it the Mental Hospital in Bukit Padang for treatment.

When we left Kibambangan, the Part 3 of the training scheduled for the following day was doubtful. Everyone was tired. But all I could think of was to go home to a hot shower and a big meal. I wondered what the next day would bring us...


Tekko said...

I wish I can join you guys. It sound so wickedly fun!

Cornelius said...


It's a hell lot of punishment, but it's quite worth the experience for the city folks, that's for sure.

Although I was not in the 60km jungle race in Tambunan earlier this year, I'm quite convinced that the actual race course in November is not gonna be this tough. It's good to train in a tougher terrain though.

yltan said...

Interesting. When is ur next torture? Wanna join in the torturous fun. Sounds paradoxial??

Cornelius said...


My knees took quite a bit of beatings last week, so I'm giving them a rest. I'm beginning to feel a bit of pain, especially in my right knee.

This Sunday there will be a triathlon clinic in Tg Aru. I will probably go and look-see for a bit. After all, we rarely have such clinics here in KK, so I might as well grab the chance to learn a thing or two.

Next week I believe Judy will be leading a couple of trekkers up to Terian on the 16th which is a public holiday, but I'm not sure if she'd make the announcement in the fb group.

Unfortunately, I won't be joining her this time round as I'm planning to join a 120km cycling challenge on the 18th. So instead of pushing my legs on the 16th, I'd be resting and carbo-loading then. Why don't you get in touch with Judy to find out more about her plans on the 16th.