1st edition of Langkawi Ultra Marathon was held on 17th July 2016. This event was well organized by Malaysia Ultra Running. The format of race was a road ultra, that covered 2 distance; 50km and 100km. Last year, the organizers had a trial run for the race course, with selected runners. Hence, this year was an exciting year for the organizers and participants alike. The race director was Jeff Ooi, who is also an active ultra runner, sportsman and Hoka One One ambassador. The race pack collection was held at Resort World Langkawi, which was also the start and finish point.
We (8 of us) arrived in Langkawi 2 days before. For me, it is always good practice to arrive at least 2 days before an ultra event to ensure our body gets sufficient rest, accustomed to the weather and humidity. There were a total of 160 participants registered for this event, of which, 60 participants were doing 100km. While the remaining 100 participants where doing 50km.
The race course routes for both distances are attached below.
If you wish to have a scenic view of Langkawi, I would suggest going for the 100km.
After collecting our race pack, we headed out to view the race course on car. The elevation map attached was no joke.
It was really filled with rolling hills 80-90% of the way. Apart from that, there were also wild monkeys basking in the afternoon sun. This was when, I took note of 2 things in my head:
- OMG the hills
- Will the monkeys bother me during my run?
Lucky for us, during the race period, the monkeys were fast asleep. Hahaha.
The 100km started at 12 midnight, while the 50km was at 1 am. There were several familiar faces before the start of the race. Manage to meet Tan Tick Hock( music man – my inspiration for my first Putrajaya 78km last year), Yim Heng Fatt (superb tri-athlete, iron man, fast marathoner and ultra marathoner), and not for getting Susan Swier (fastest female ultra marathoner that i know of) and Willie David Christopher (fast male ultra marathoner). These people are of different league compared to us beginners. I just try to learn as much as I can from them. There were 4 of us, whom were running 100km from Kuching; George Chapman, Davy Woon, Dzul Mambo and myself.
As for the 50km, there were 7 people; Linda Then, Melissa Wong, Charity Sim, Josh KM T, Tony Liew, Brandon Lim and Joanna Chung.
As usual, for ultra events, there are several mandatory items; (whistle, headlamp, hydration, reflective vest, emergency blanket, hand phone ). I normally bring additional stuff.
Why? Well, I will share that in my other post. As the countdown begun, butterflies and the jitters starts to kick in. This was my 2nd 100km road ultra event,(Titi100 was my first). No matter how well, you think you have prepared, it is never enough.
As we started running, we already came across our first hill at the entrance of Resort World. At that time, I could not help myself but to think, “Darn!!! We will see this hill again as we finish.” But, the good thing is that you know what to expect for the last 3-5km towards the finish line. Apart from that initial hill, the first 10-16k was fairly flat. However, certain parts of the road was still under construction, while other parts where pitch black, (especially along the airport runway). That is why the headlamp is vital.
Lucky for me, I came across a runner from Johor; Faridzul Anwar Saipon (seasoned trail ultra runner), who was running about the same pace as me. We used our time to chit chat and made the time fly-by faster. He gave me many pointers on ultra trail runs, and also what to prepare in your training. As we approach AP2 (check point 2 at Telaga-Petronas), I knew it was the end of my “delightful” minor rolling hills, but the beginning of the rolling up hills leading towards AP3-crocodile farm 25km (nothing like Jong Croc Farm in Kuching, guess the crocs in langkawi stay uphill versus the ones in Kuching) and AP4- Jalan Datai Golf club 34.5km mark. The rolling hills were never ending. I remember at AP3, the volunteers told me that langkawi Ultra is not as hard as Titi100. Hahaha!!! Very funny…lucky for us the water station was sufficient for us to replenish.
I quickly filled up my hydration bladder and headed out to AP4, in the hope that I can get back in time to AP5-Crocodile farm to meet the 50km participants (AP3-crocodile farm 25km was their U-turn point). Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the rolling hills of 9.5km would take > 1hr. It was harsh for me. Not forgetting the sudden heavy rain. My shoes and socks were all wet. The only consolation was that they had watermelons, marshmallows, and drinks (water, cola and beer) at AP4. Yes, you heard me right. BEER!!! Yahoo!. I was so happy when they asked me if I wanted beer. As expected, I said,”YES please”. I gulped down that can of beer, as if I was doing a beer mile event. I soon felt re-energized. Picked up my pace and push towards AP5. Upon reaching AP5 (croc farm-44km), I took my time to change my Injinji socks, Hoka Clifton 2 shoes, batteries for my headlamp, replenish my TinZaitun Madu Kelulut gels, filled my hydration and apply 2Toms Sport shield. I was certain, that due to the heavy rain and sweat, all that Vaseline and 2Toms sports shield applied earlier before race would soon wear off, and I would have to suffer the chaffing for next 56km. I am glad that I made that decision. It was well worth the additional 5 mins. Within 30mins, I was off from AP5 going towards AP6-Jalan Teluk Yu. All I can say was that, from AP6 to AP7 (61km- Jalan Ayer Hangat), it was the point for me to push on, or take my sweet time. I decided not to stop for the fried Noodles/ Kueh tiaw. I only refuel with my TinZaitun energy bar and Madu Kelulut for the entire race. It was sufficient fuel for me, thanks to Jetson Hoo at Serapi Bayu for the great product.
The remaining 39KM, although less then a full marathon distance was a torture. As it was about 7:30am (breakfast time). I knew i had to go on before the scorching sun from 12noon onwards. Lucky for me, I had decided to replace my suunto ambit 3 with a Garmin Fenix 3 a year ago. The app that I used on my watch allowed me to predict my completed time. Hence, I was able to pace myself properly. This final 39km gave me plenty of time to pray and reflect on life. It was a time for me and God. Trust me when I say, God and I have been very close ever since I started running. This was due to the amount of time i have to reflect and pray, each time I am on the road. I know my mom would be proud. (Hahaha, the black sheep have finally found the Shepard).
AP8 – 74.5km, was a happy milestone for me. Because I got to enjoy my can of Sapporo beer again (thanks to the volunteers at AP8). The beer made the uphill climb seemed manageable. Maybe I was intoxicated, or dehydrated due to the hot scorching sun. I knew I could not run up the steep hill. I will sure burn out, as my training never covered such elevation. I was prepared to paced myself at 10min/km all the way up, with the intent to run down hill on the other side. Approaching AP9 also had a huge climb up to the Navy base and Langkawi Port. The view was marvelous. Unfortunately, I did not take out my phone and snap pictures. The only thought that came to mind was, “less then 1/2 marathon distance, you can do it”.
As I approach the entrance gate of Resort World towards the finish line, I felt a sudden boost of energy. I knew my fellow kuching runners who did the 50km ultra would be there to cheer and welcome me. I push on with whatever energy I had left and came in at 14:00:12hrs placed 11th overall, and 10th in the mens category.This was a milestone for me. I could not have done it without the support from God, my family, friends and of course my Hoka Clifton, TinZaitun and 2Toms shield.
Would I go again next year? Sure, why not.
If you are interested, checkout Langkawi Ultra FB page.