Monday, December 3, 2012

The Most Beautiful Thing

A year ago, I saw The Most Beautiful Thing in Sabah and ran 50km of its beauty. I was hooked!
This year, I did it again. No no, not the song Oops I did it again by Britney Spears!...Please, please remove Britney from your thoughts! Grrr! :P

To many, running 50km or even walking that distance is crazy. Wait till they hear about runners doing 100km. Now that can only be insanity, beautiful insanity. Obviously they have found another beautiful thing in that distance which I'm still searching for...fearing of...thinking of...
Maybe one day, I don't have a clue when, but one day, I hope to find That Beautiful Thing.

As of now, 50km has enough beauty for me :D

It is more beautiful this time, somehow, don't ask me why, cause it really is...beautiful! And again, I did another 50km trail run, which to me is The Most Beautiful Trail with the jaw-dropping backdrop, Mount Kinabalu. A living picture perfectly painted by the Almighty.

Mesmerized by the mountain backdrop? Or me? Hahaha!
Photo by Rabani Ayub is spectacular!

Let's go trail running!

14 Sept
Day1 - The calm before the storm
Journey to airport KLIA with Michelle & Jeff, 1hr delayed flight turned out to be much more comfortable using Airbus300 model (I think!) which transited in KK before heading overseas. Much wider seats, more "premium" food choices.
Afternoon happenings were registration, briefing, last minute shopping and off from KK to Rina D'Villa Hotel, 500m or so from Kinabalu park HQ.

Very detailed briefing not to miss!
Everything was smooth except for burnt rubber smell inside our bus which I alerted the driver & his assistant to do something. Stopped at Nabalu, about 7-8km from our hotel, driver checked and discovered cables of rear brake lights were scorched by exhaust heat as the exhaust pipe was practically falling apart! We waited, changed bus and arrived just before sundown. Hope we won't be scorched by the sun tomorrow!

15 Sept
Race Day
Woken up by somebody's cock! Yes, a cock crowing  Cock-a-doodle-doo !!! Not your cock. A crowing cock alarm. Ok, rooster. 

 Those who slept using their running attire sure stayed warm comfy. The rest cringed getting into their cold race gear. Bbbbrrr! Freaking cold! After morning necessities done, breaky time with the others, checked out, loaded luggage into vans and we're ready to go. Where's the mountain? Sky was cloudy.Wind was kinda strong. In an instant, the hope was NO rain.

Arriving at race site, looking at Mount Kinabalu made me frozen in time. Be Still. Overwhelmed! The beauty, the grandeur of nature made me felt so tiny, so insignificant. Truly Our Father is The Creator!
 I just can't stop admiring the awesomeness!

With every participants gathering in an open field, the colours captured by photographers were simply Beautiful! Unlike road races, nobody was seen doing warming up jog. Either the Beautiful aura stunned everyone or there's simply no point to warm up especially for 100km and 50km. For 25km, guess the first 2-3km downhill will suffice as warming up session.
Colorful photo by Dev Sidhu

730am sharp, Race Director, Aman, flagged us off. Whether it's 25km or 50km or 100km, first time or second, it truly was The Most Beautiful Thing. 
I started from the back, slowly inched myself through the crowd and once on downhill tarmac road, I started a slow run.
Barely a kilometer into it, what captured my my eyes was a cute little kitten. He was running with us. Little Beautiful Thing.
Little kitty joining in the fun. He sure doesn't want to miss out!
 TMBT's climb came rather early, an early challenge guaranteed to warm everyone up. Power or brisk walk automatically took over. Same goes to heavy breathing halfway up. Managed to snap a few pix and that's also when I waved bye-bye to Michelle before going on my pace once the hill flattened out.

Another Beautiful Thing
The first 10km before WS1, it was snap run snap run. The trail was undulating gravel road. Passed through a vegetable farm, reached WS1, didn't refill as I had 1litre from the start. My time 1hr11min, as planned.

 Gravel road changed into tarmac, uphill this time, but not for long. The route changed back to gravel with pine trees on both side. It was here I stood still. Stunned. Not cramps. Not menacing dogs blocking the way. No, not that. I was amazed by the view...The Most Beautiful Thing. Once you see what I mean, you'll understand why it's named as such.

Allan Lee, 100km runner caught up with me just right after we came out from the pine tree section. Both of us ran together for a bit, chatting, took a couple of shots before he went ahead on his pace.
The route started cutting into vegetable farms and altitude kept rising. Reached WS2 on 2hr26min. This time refilled water bladder with two 500ml bottles. Downed a packet of gel. This run my plan was either gel or ORS at every hour and food every 2hrs. Usually I'm not very disciplined following the nutrition intake schedule but this time I wanted to avoid cramps and out of fuel situation.

Just before approaching WS3, Shahran caught up with me. Great to have a friend to chat with when nobody seems to be around.
After refueling, we ran together for a km or two before he continued on with his faster pace. I have slowed down from 30km onwards even though it's downhill.Quads getting tired and started twitching as if asking me to slow down or else they will give me the cramps. From then on, it's slow jog mixed with brisk walk all the way to finish line for the 25km runners. WS4.
The journey to that point was brutally long. Descending hill on gravel was not fun! And from far away, a white line snaking down a hill was the road we had to climb, about 2km, before reaching WS4. So you can imagine how runners felt upon reaching it. :D

I took 5hr30min to cover 38km with12km remaining. Saw a beautiful finish banner...for 25km runners. How I wished it was for me! Hahaha!

After reporting and getting equipment checked, I stuffed my self with bananas, hydrated with 100plus and rested about 10min, which did much help. Before heading off, I drenched my cap in cold water. That was refreshing.

Just before I was about to continue on, Jeff Ooi, doing the 100km, arrived. Told him I'm heading off and he suggested both of us accompany each other to 50km finish line. He didn't needed any rest. 100km runners...ultraman!

5min into the route, passing a village, Jeff looked for cold Coca Cola to buy cos WS4 ran out of cold 100plus when he got in. Magic! Found a small sundry shop. Both of us were smiling from ear to ear!

The last 12km for me was brisk walk all the way. Few km away from WS4 village, finally the road became more like a trail. Trees on both sides...natural more tar or gravel road. A small river where we cooled down our heads and caps. That was more like it!
 However, it's uphill all the way to WS5! Well, you can't have them all, right?

WS5, final checkpoint with 4km to go, turned out to be a gathering spot. Yee Choi arrived not long after the two of us. He told me Michelle was not far behind and I must wait for her. Hehehe!
Yup, she appeared a couple of minutes later. And the final 4km for two of us was together with Yee Choi and Jeff, the 100km ultramen.

 Yee Choi kindly shared his hiking & mountaineering experience as we brisk walked our way. That made it so much pleasant.

Agnes caught up with us about 2km to the finish line. It became a group finish for us.

For Yee Choi & Jeff, it's WS6 pit stop.

To many, running 50km is crazy. Wait till they hear from 100km ultramen. Now that can only be insanity, beautiful insanity. Obviously they have found another beautiful thing in that distance where I'm still searching for...fearing of...thinking of...
Maybe one day, I don't have a clue when, but one day, I hope to find That Beautiful Thing.

As of now, 50km has enough beauty for me :D

Photos courtesy of : Rabani Ayub, Dev Sidhu,

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