Monday, September 16, 2013

TMBT 2013 - My DNF Story

After months of preparation in trail running, together with other runner friends, I finally set foot at the starting line of TMBT 2013 held at a remote village of Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, 14 Sept 2013.

TMBT is the abbreviation for The Most Beautiful Thing … what at name! But for those who have participated in this event, they say it is The Most Brutally Torturous!

Do click here to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC).

Yours truly (KC Leong)

A convoy of buses, big and small, took almost two hours to travel from Kota Kinabalu to a remote village – Kampung Lingkubang, Kota Belud. There was no fanfare or pomp other than a few village folks playing the local gong in welcoming the runners.

The event started one hour behind schedule. Finally, when all the runners were assembled, Mr Aman Avtar, the Race Director, started the race at 8:00 a.m. with all categories – 25km, 50km and 100km – in one go instead of the staggered start.

The start of TMBT 2013

The runners were running happily after waited for so long only to realise that we have to queue to cross another river via the suspension bridge. At least another 30 min to 1 hour were wasted. The action only started after this point where the route took us to jungle trails, river crossing of chest deep, running pass padi fields; running alongside river, stepping through many streams, and going into wet jungle trail.

As highlighted by the organizer, the route is tougher this year. Other than running on the plain of padi field, the route took us to higher and higher ground. To me that was a manageable level as the training ground at Gunung Nuang, Kuala Lumpur was much tougher.

Come! Let me help You! The first river crossing

Something unexpected and dramatic happened to me after running for about four hours!  At about 15km distance, there was sign of leg muscle cramp. I was worried because after running for countless times on road or trail running, I only encountered one light cramp many years ago. I do not have any muscle relaxant spray or any medicine to relief the cramp. The higher I ascended the hill, very swiftly, the cramps developed into multiple areas – the inner thigh, quadriceps, calf muscle and even my toes. The bad news was that not only one leg but two! I tried to sit but the pull was painful; I tried to stand again but that did not help either. At the moment of distress, a few passing-by runners who were very helpful immediately took out their muscle relaxant spray and started to help. While sitting on the ground, one runner even help to stretch my legs.  Ms Yap gave me three Hammer brand anti-muscle cramp capsules; another lady runner even gave me a sweet-sour plum to suck that was good to relieving cramps. 

Beautiful scenery - running alongside padi field and river

After that, even a slight elevation to climb seemed to be a daunting task to me. I struggled to walk to Checkpoint 1 then to Checkpoint 2 and I decided to throw in the towel and I surrendered the bibs. At that moment, it started to rain heavily at 2:30 p.m. I finally arrived at Water-station 3 at 3pm. The torrential rain was raining heavily only to stop after 2.5 hours.

In that water-station, by that time, the number of DNF runners increased to almost 40 persons. After waited for 3 hours in cold wet clothing, I finally get the transport to the finishing point at the posh Kota Kinabalu Heritage Hotel, Kundasang area.

The villages are linked by many of these suspension bridge

Post-race Analysis
Training – I need to train harder in overcoming the hot-cold, expand-contract conditions when the shoes or legs are wet suspecting in causing the legs muscle cramp, and also precaution in preventing cramps early (to get some tips from triathletes). So the next time when I train at Gunung Nuang click here, for the four streams crossing, I have to find those deeper parts to cross ... :-)

ST crossing one of the streams

Event Organization – For an event that span across 100km with a complex network of trails in jungle, the organizer did a good job in successfully organized this event. The trails lined from one village to another and finally emerging at the finishing point. Other logistic issues are hotel accommodation, transport (airport to hotels; hotels to starting point), water-stations, medical, checkpoints, road and trail signage, baggage collection, activities at finishing point, overnight stay at finishing point, etc.

Carin Leong and friends

Areas for Improvement – In many runners’ opinion, the entire race organization rests heavily on one person, the Race Director. It would be good if there is a Command Response Centre where designated persons responsible for various activities such as transport, medical, etc. can handle the situation swiftly in a more focused manner.

With Ho at Checkpoint 1

Do click here for my TMBT 2012 ... and the Hotel Carlifornia (take notice of the spelling) at the finishing point.

Posted by KC Leong

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