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Race report: Tailwind Eco Penang Challenge 2017 (100miles)

-“Sure or not? Is it that hard? Cannot be.. ” , those were my exact words, when people who had ran ECO Penang Challenge 2016 (100miles) told me. I have heard many cases of people getting lost and that the trails where un-clearly marked. All I could do was to download the maps given into my Garmin Fenix 5, and keep my eyes peel for signage. That was my plan before the race start. But, as the weeks approaches and my training weeks comes to an end, I soon realized that I am not ready. With the help from fellow runners and my close friend, I manage to get some write-ups on the ECO Penang 2016 races and several videos on youtube.

As I flew into Penang, I decided to stay at one of the recommended hotels (Summit). The location was good if you own your own transport. However, if you came in from outstation. It’s best to find another locations, as getting Grab or  Uber, proved to be a challenge (no issue for normal Taxi). The accommodation is attached to a shopping complex, which seems to be pretty dead. Except for the following stores; Econo-save supermarket, watson, KFC & spa. I didn’t know about the spa until 2 fellow runners told me (its located at level 5, access via hotel). By then, it was too late. We where already in our shuttle bus to the starting point; (Tokun Dam). Hahaha, guess that will have to wait.
I was excited yet worried on what would lie ahead. But as soon as we reach the starting point, we met up with several familiar faces.

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From left -back: Ritchie, Wei Lun, Me, Raymond, Nana

The race directors (Ng Seow Kong and Allan Lee) when through the race briefing with us. It was in-depth, but a bit too late for me to download any info in my head. We then took a last photo as the 100 miles participants before the flag off. As the countdown started, so did my nerves. I could really see my heart-rate going off the roof. “3, 2, 1” Off we went. Just then I realized I haven’t turned on my navigation on my Fenix 5. Duh!!. Stupid me. I had no choice but to wait for 1 minute, before I could start running. As the GPS signal was received and the map was loaded, off I went on my stride. I tried my best to catch up at least with the middle pack. The weather was humid. We started off to CP-A(Juru), there was not much to see. My focus was on the run. I soon made my way to the middle pack and caught up with my buddies; Amirul and Ah Jong. Nana and Ruth where also running with them, at that time, I just want to reach CP-A to pee. Hahaha (me and my bladder). As I reached CP-A, it was a quick pop of 2 watermelon slices and off to pee in the portable loo (Yes, I am civilized). The next target was to CP-B(Fisherman’s Port). I strategy was to cover as much ground as I can while my legs and body was still fresh and before the break of day. As I reach CP-B, the humidity was staring to take a toll on many runners. I poured water on my head reload my soft flask and off I went. I recalled on what I’ve learned with Hammer Nutrition read-up. Stay hydrated with sufficient fluid & electrolytes, take small sips and not big gulps. So far so good. Just need to ensure my hands do not start to swell, as that is the first sign of dehydration.
As we ran pass the coastal, fisherman were going out to sea. The view was magnificent.However, I didn’t spend too much time taking photos. Just manage to snap on and off i went on my journey. Unfortunately, the surroundings had rubbish scattered.

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Just ignore the guy in the picture and look at the scenery behind.

To be honest with you, I do not have very good recollection of CP-C(Permatang Tinggi) till CP-E (Machang Indah). But I do remember the great fan service by the volunteers at CP-D (Bidara). You all rock!
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All I knew, was that it was damn hot and humid and I was just making sure to stay hydrated and follow my gels and salts consumption frequency. I was so delighted when I reached CP-F (Sungai Lembu). 62km done, just 104km to go. Hahaha! Unfortunately, it rained and wreck my plan for changing my shoes and shower. I took of my wet socks and dried my feet. While letting them rest and dry off, I charged my ipod and watch. Loaded up on some lunch and water, talked crap with Odef who was ready to leave CP-F. At that time, the 100km runners where just checking in and manage to meet some of them. Caught sight of Victor and Yimster. After resting for about 30mins, it was time to hit the trails again to CP-1. I knew this next 104km will be a killer. Applied Vaseline on my toes before changing to new pair of socks. Re-apply some 2Toms on my inner thighs, change my shirts and off i went. Surprisingly, that 30mins break was what I needed for my 2nd wind. I was off running again.
I soon reached CP-1(Lunas). I think this hill was at Lunas. I don’t remember that well. hundredmiles04 We had to run up that hill, which I almost trip and lost my balance. Thank God, HE was watching over me. As I came down, the top 10 100km runners caught up with us. It was then I decided to take a walk for a while and recollect my strength. Took the time to say my rosary and thanked the Lord that He had gotten me thus far.On my way to CP-2 (Hidden Landscape), Victor and Boon caught up with me. It was a delight when i was no longer feeling alone. I finally had someone to talked to. We were all going about the same pace, which was ideal.

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Running with 100km runners: (from left: Boon, Me, Victor, Ebi)

I recalled that when I reached CP-3 (Pump house), I felt really drained. I was here that I started preparing myself mentally for the hill climbs, starting with CP-4 (Suling Hill). I was lucky, that I had Victor  with me, and he was giving me pointers and  preview of what I would be expecting for the rest of the journey. We made our way quickly through CP-4, and move to CP-5 (Sungai Lembu). The intent is to rest, shower,  change shoes and reload before going for the dreaded climbs of CP-6 to finish.

When we arrived at CP-5, it was already night fall. Hence, dinner time. Thanks to Chew Hanyu for helping to get my drop bag at CP-5. I quickly got my stuff out, took of my socks, and off to the showers. I really needed to cool down. Victor was at the medic, due to a minor cut on his hand. At that time, the 50km runners started to check in, manage to meet up with Ooi Siam Meng (Misai), Penang Ultra 2016 buddy. The saddest thing at CP-5, was seeing other fellow runners who had already DNF-ed. My heart felt for them. But, they were still very positive and gave me encouragement to push on for the last league. I texted my family telling them I was fine and had another 54.6km to go. Only with God’s grace and strength, will I be able to complete these killer climbs. I replenish all my electrolytes, salts, gels and batteries. I filled my flask with Recoverite for my muscle recovery before we headed out. I personally feel the effect of recoverite, especially after a vigorous workout for > 19hrs.

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Victor and I left CP-5 and headed to CP-6 (Tokun Riverside). I recalled, the hardest part was moving up the trails at night. Trying to be very cautious of your steps while trying to stay awake were the 2 most challenging this for me when comparing trails to road races. Any miss step would mean, a fall that could cause you your life. I’m glad that God was watching over us. By the time we reached CP-8 (Kampung Besar), daylight has broken. It was easier to do trails at this time. Unfortunately, fatigue has also caught up. The only solid food that I have been consuming was fruits at each CP and rice at CP-5. So far my strategy of liquid food (Hammer Gels and Perpetum) with a mix ratio of (1:2) was sufficient. There were occasions where i felt really drained and needed an energy boost, this was when i had to pop in a packet of gel with caffeine. Thanks goodness for the discovery of caffeine (Friedlieb Runge in 1819).

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Translation: “Life so good why make it difficult by running 100miles?”

Our strategy was to capitalized on the downhill after each climbed. Run if possible. My Quads and Calf muscle were on overtime during the entire event. And my right hamstring didn’t help as i pulled it on the way down towards CP-10 (Tokun Hut).

I’m so grateful to Wei Lun, whom already DNF-ed but still was kind enough to support Victor and I at CP-10 and CP-11 (Seraya Trigona). Spraying us with cold water to cool our temperature did helped. It was like a refreshing shower. By CP-11, we where sure we will finish the race, as long as we do not get lost. By then we had 1.5 hours buffer, and if we are careful enough. We should finish the race by 6pm. But, as we where taking our time down the last 6km, two 100mile runners caught up with us. At that time, I had to check with Victor if it was okay for me to go on and finish the race. I kinda felt bad for leaving him behind. (yes, i do have sympathy. hahaha!) Since, he was okay with it. I left him and started running downhills at 6-8km/hr speed. At that time, the last two small climb was considered manageable as my 2nd wind and adrenaline had kicked. “Beer is calling!!!”, was what I kept telling myself, as I had brought 5 cans in my cooler box since Saturday early morning. To my delight, when i came into the finish line, I was awarded 9th placed for men category. More importantly, I have collected 6 points for my ITRA. Now, I am qualified to apply for  #UMTF2018 and #UTMB2018. Amen!

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The dash to the finish (thanks Sunny Lee for the picture)
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Picture with race director (Allan Lee)

This run would not have been possible if it was not for the following:

  1. MURA (Malaysia Ultra Runners Association) & Chandru – for giving me the slot to run the 100 miles, especially with such a heavy bib no of 1601. (Hahaha!)
  2. Endurance Nature-Malaysia and volunteers for, helping with the organisation, water stations/ checkpoints, traffic management, route markers, timing device (Race Yaya). You all did a super job. I appreciate you all! You all are awesome.
  3. Fellow runners; Victor, Ebi, Boon, Odef, Wei Lun, Ritchie, Raymond, Amirul, Ah Jong, Misai. You all inspire me to push on till the end.
  4. Hammer Nutrition Malaysia, Garmin Malaysia and Revolution Run Borneo for allowing me to represent you in this race. Thanks

Opinion

  1. Technical – To me this race was very technical for the 3rd portion of the race (last 45km). It was more technical compared to races such as TMBT and TNF Thailand. The trails, really required the participants to get down and dirty to climb and even slide, run, jump, walk and roll down the route. It is really deserving its recognition of Asian Trail Master & ITRA (International Trail Running Association)
  2. Signage – The signs marked with reflective strips at night is very useful. The letter “E ” marked on trees/ poles/ road, were very clear. The GPX file given in the website was 100% effective.
  3. Checkpoints
    • beverages – sufficient
    • foods – would propose to add more cup noddles at CP with noodles.
    • ice – could do with more
    • medic – available only during day. Night no medic at checkpoints
    • volunteers – very helpful and assertive
    • Weather – normal Malaysian weather with high humidity and heat. Can’t comment any further, except, more heat and hills training
  4. Traffic management – great job by marshals.

For me, my gear used for this run was as followed:

  1. GPS watch – Garmin Fenix 5
  2. Nutrition – Hammer Nutrition Malaysia (gels, endurolytes, perpetum, recoverite)
    • Gels & Perpetum- 1:2 ratio for 1L hydration, consumption for ~10km (energy and electrolytes)
    • Endurolytes- for salt replenishment every 4 hours intake to top up salt lost
    • Recoverite- for muscle recovery during Sg Lembu CP @ 62km, 112km and fininsh.
  3. Shoes – Hoka One One Speed Instinct
  4. Hydration bag – Salomon S-lab set 12
  5. Buff – buff UV
  6. Shirt – Under Armour Heatgear
  7. Headlamp – LED lenser
  8. Hiking pole – Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
  9. Phone – Iphone6
  10. Sunglasses – Oakley Fast Jacket
  11. Running socks – Injinji Trail
  12. Running shorts – Kalanji & CWX
  13. legs, body & mind – father, mother & God
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Race Report – Titi Ultra 200km

Last year I ran Titi 100km as my first 100k ultra. I do not remember the route very clearly. However, I do remember the climb was #$%@. Hahaha sorry for my language. For those who have not done any road ultra and you are thinking of doing one, please train for it. Titi Ultra is not a simple road ultra, it is know as one of the Toughest Road Ultra in Malaysia for a reason. Your training needs to include hills repeat, heart break hills and heat training. I said this because I experience the pain last year and I didn’t want to experience the same thing this year.

This year, being crazy and all. I registered myself for 200km. This was after meeting Odef, Chandru, Ben, Victor, Darren and Jerry in Putrajaya 100miles, Amirul in TMBT and Umar in TNF. These people are like poison to me. They make me itch for more each time I meet them. Thanks guys, Love you all.

Manage to take a photo with one of the World’s Greatest ultra runner from Japan, Ryochi Sekiya.

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Picture of me with Sekiya-san

The race starts on Friday, 17th March 6pm and ends on sunday 19th March 10am (40hours). Only the brave registered for the 250km, which had to completed in 42hours. The finisher rate for 200km category was <50% last year. Hence proper strategy would be required to perform this race. Prior to starting the race, it rained. But only for a short period. As we where about to start, it stopped and the sun was out. It was a nice weather to start the race.

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Photo session before the flag off (photo courtesy of Titi Ultra)

As we countdown and the horn was sound, I prayed to God and asked for his guidance, blessing and strength for this journey. For 200km runners, we were required to perform 2 loops of 100km.

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course map and elevation
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course CP and cutoff time

This was a mental game, as you reached CP11 (start location), you will be tempted to sit and not move. From the start, I try to break free from the crowd.I like to do this because, my strategy in races are normally to gain as much ground early in the race as I do not know what to expect later in the race. Upon reaching CP1, my legs was still good. I managed to complete CP1 and 2 within my expected time. On my way to CP3, I met a runner from Sabah (Sugeng Asianto), we manage to keep each other company as we were about the same pace. The race leaders were way in front. Both of us managed our pace well as we focused on going uphill <11:45min/km and downhill was free gear. On average our pace should not exceed 11:45min/km with a target to complete within 38 hours.

As we reached CP5 -48km (Poum) baggage drop location, we had about 20 mins to spare before we headed out. Sugeng and I refueled on what we needed in out drop bag. I changed my socks to a clean new pair of Injinji (after applying vaseline). This is to ensure my toes are continuously dry and don’t have any blisters. Put on my Ahon gaiters and off we go.

We continued our rhythm till we reached CP8 (75km) – TPRC. The volunteers here were great. They kept us on the upbeat with encouragement and jokes. I was even promised beer at one point in time (maybe i was daydreaming). CP9 (85.5km) – telekom towers volunteers were also great. These are true ultra runners who helped with water stations. They knew what other ultra runners need in an event. They were very well equipped and always ready to helped. These are the team that will be organizing the Cultra (Cameron Ultra) in July 2017.

Nothing much happened between CP9-CP10, except that the fog was bad. Lucky for me I brought a pair of torchlight. This saved us while running. I was able to focus the light beam on a further distance as we ran. Hence, allowing incoming vehicles to see us from a far. It also helps us in plotting the best shortest path ascending or deceasing. The view on the Lake was gorgeous. I was too lazy to take out my phone, hence there was no picture from me.

We reached Water View (completed 1st loop) by 9:11am. By then the sun was up and it was a different ball game. We manage to see the race leaders as we where coming back to Water View  (CP11). the 250km and 200km race leaders were too far in front. These guys where amazing (Wilnar  Iglesia-250km and Fedoh  Ompiduk-200km). We rested for 45mins; meals, shower, shirt and pants change & sock change. I manage to put on my 2Toms sports shield, and took 10Oz of Hammer Recoverite before we headed off. I took the Hammer Recoverite because I wanted re-energizer my muscle before heading out for my second loop.IMG_6748.JPG

By then, it was already 1030am and the sun was killer. We just managed our climbed up hill in a continuous motion and continue to hydrate. Lesson learnt, always drinks lots of water. Better to carry 2L of water and have sufficient hydration, rather then try to be light and get dehydrated.

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You can see from the photos take, we where actually drained. But, we had to push on. Our goal was one CP at a time. We took a 20mins break at CP 12 and CP14. I remembered that the breakfast I took at Water View cause my tummy to be slightly upsetting. Hence making me looking out for toilets along the way. I was even looking for a well covered bush or drain by the highway to do my #02. I didn’t dare to do it in public cause someone may just video me doing a #02 and it goes viral. Hahaha! Imagine running from CP12 to CP13 looking for toilet only to find out that it was only gas. Then from CP13 to CP14 & CP14 to CP15 same thing. Luckily by CP15, investment was made. I felt so much at ease after that. Nothing else mattered before then, it was only TOILET!.

 

As we reached CP16 (Poum- 148km), I was already hungry. Hence we took a 30 mins break for prayers and replenishment. I tried to take a short 10 mins nap but couldn’t. Had cup noodles, UBEnergybar and fruits before we left. Just as we where about to leave, it rained. And me being stupid left my rain coat at Water View CP in the morning. So, it was shower time for me. Rain was pouring really bad. so was the thunder. I was wondering if the race organizer where going to cancel the race. As we moved on through the night, the rain stopped. But by then (~9pm), and we had passed CP17 – Surau juction and I was sleepy. I was already walking zig-zag and trying very hard to keep my eyes open. While Sugeng was starting the hallucinate. At that moment. I was already looking out for a nice flat surface to sleep. Unfortunately, we were on the main road and cars where moving pretty fast. We tried to BS and talked nonsense to stay awake. A nice warm coffee at that time would have been perfect. I couldn’t describe by delight as we reached CP18 – Chennah (163.5km). I wanted to lie on the medic bed but there were other runners on it. Hence, we just go the the shop near buy, ordered drinks and rested our heads on the table.

30mins later…. Wakey Wakey, time to get up. We got up, drank our drinks and off we went uphill climb to CP19 (175km). That power nap was good. It gave us a sudden boost of energy. We soon caught up with other 200km runners. By then, the Adrenalin had already kicked in. It was game time. Any opportunity of a run downhill was not taken for granted. We tried to gain as much ground as possible since we are still wide awake. We son reached CP19 and had our coffee. At that moment the 250km runner was resting for his final 25km run. That is fast!

CP19-CP21 was basically a run all the way downhill game for us. Just took 5 mins at each CP to replenish and off we went. I was actually shocked find out, that when we finished. I came in 3rd and Sugeng came in 4th. We didn’t expect to be the top 4. Praise the heavenly father for that.

As I took off my shoes and socks for shower, I noticed that i had no signs of blisters or chaffing. Thanks to these simple rules:

  1. 1/2 size larger shoes when running ultra
  2. change socks at least every 50km with vaseline
  3. wear comfortable shoes – for me its Hoka One One
  4. put on 2Toms sports glide to stay chaffing free

 

Titi ultra result

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This race would not have been possible for me if i didn’t have the support of my family, friends and sponsors.

Thanks

Race report – TNF100 Thailand (Feb 2017)

It was the start to my start of 2017 running adventure. Since, trying my first trail run back in 2016 TMBT, I’ve kinda developed a thirst for doing trail ultra. Not because I enjoy trail runs, but it was more for the ITRA qualification points for UTMF and UTMB qualification; (The requirements are 15 points based on 3 races within 2 years). This trip to Simalin,Khao Yai, Thailand was planned back in 2016 together with Davy Voon and Melissa Wong. We flew in with Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur  – Bangkok. The flight was on time, and everything was smooth. Melissa helped with all our accommodation and transportation booking. She was known as our Genius Booker. Why? well, she was best at getting great deals for our accommodation for the entire trip. She’s kinda our travel planner “on the go trip-advisor”. Hahaha. We stayed one night in Bangkok before taking the bus to Simalin, Khao Yai (race location). We waited for the official pick-up bus at the train station. There, we manage to make small talk with several overseas runners. Some where from Australia, Singapore and Japan. These runners were well toned, unlike myself; with a beer belly, or i’d like to call it – “my spare hydration”.

We soon arrive at the race site, approximately 3 hours later. The race site was set at a very  nice resort. Unfortunately, non of the rooms where available. We soon headed to the race pack collection. There, we could see many people taking their photos after collecting their race pack. I have to say, I was kind-off disappointed with the event Tee colour scheme. I think they could have done better with neon green/ yellow or blue, rather than orange. Nevertheless, the event Tee colour could not be helped. The race pack collection was a bit disorganized. It cold have been a language barrier issue. We found out that, Thai’s in Bangkok generally speaks less english compared to Phuket. After getting our race pack sorted, we walk around looking at the event expo. There were some pretty good deals. Unfortunately, due to our Malaysian currency slump, it wasn’t any better. Hence no point in buying. While Melissa was paying for some of her purchases, we bumped into Harry Jones (an accomplished Welsh international trail, mountain, road and ultra runner who left the Welsh mountains behind to train on the trails of Chiang Mai). It was an honor to talk to an elite runner and gain some simple tips from him. He was there with his girlfriend, who was doing the photo and video taking.

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Pic session with legend. (from left: Davy, Harry Jones, Me)
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From left (Davy, Melissa, me). Guy in florescent green in background can be ignored.

We soon made our way to our shuttle bus that took us to our accommodation for the next 2 nights; Capitol J. If you are planning to do TNF Thailand next year. Capitol J is the correct place to stay, due to its locality, as the bus stops here 🙂 I was lucky that I asked Robin Tan (who ran TNF Thailand 2016) on where to stay. The North Face organizers and the hotel worked out a deal, to ensure that the runners are able to have our breakfast at 3am before we depart to the starting line.This was good. At least we did not have to look for food before the race.

The route for TNF100 Thailand 2017 was similar to 2016, except that the route was in reverse.

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course map and my actual elevation

It was dark when we were flagged off. Neverthless, we had our headlamps turned on. The run was exciting. Unfortunately, I was not able to see anything. Just follow the person in front and that was it. As they say, the blind leading the blind. Hahaha. This time, I decided to just use my Hoka One One Speed Instinct, due to several reasons.

  1. Hoka seems to have better cushioning when you do long distance
  2. My Hoka speed instinct was 1/2 size larger, it helps in hot weather when our feet tends to swell.
  3. I feel more agile with my Hoka speed instinct compared to the ATR2

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    picture before start

The map indicated a hill, then a monastery. Unfortunately, I only noticed the hill. The weather was not that bad in the early morning, about 24-26deg C. It only started to increase about 830am,  where it increase till 36degC by noon.

My strategy for the first loop was to complete as soon as before the temperature rose to much, as most of the route was barren. Yes, it is a trail route. However, due to deforestation and farming, there was not much trees around. Attached are some of the pictures on the race course, which were contribution from Melissa.

You could see how rocky, dusty and hot the route was. But, then again. That is why it is key, to always study your race course and train based on that condition. I did my heat training prior to the TNF event. Unfortunately, it was insufficient. Weather with heat such as this would require large intake of drinking water.race_course_2017-02

The route overall was manageable with several climbs and decent. The only key area which your speed would be hampered, would be from CP4 to CP5, where we were required to climb a huge hill. The pathway for that climb was a single file. Hence, you will have to wait for the person in-front to clear, before you could move. Apart from that, the hill was very rocks with sharp corners. This gave some challenge trying to run done the hill.

I managed to complete the 1st loop before noon. This was good, as i was melting. I even saw a motorcycle peddler selling ice cream. It was so tempting that I wanted to stop to buy. At the end of loop 1, I replenished my TZactive gels and UBEnergybar. Applied vaseline on my toes before I put on my clean dry Injinji socks. The 1/2 size larger for shoe concept worked. I did not have any blisters or chaffing. This mid-way break was the longer than I have planned. I was not too keen to get back out in the sun. A nice cup of ice lemon tea or coke would have been great. Or even and Ice COLD BEER!.

I soon made my way out after 30mins of down time. Didn’t have the energy to run yet, as I have just finished my lunch. Walked till I reached he start of the hill climb, where I started to pick up my pace before reaching CP1 (2nd loop). There was where I met  a new friend from Singapore (Umar). I’m glad that we met up. We had so much BS to talk about. Hahaha. We pushed each other along the way thru the climb and heat. I was surprise he was not concerned about the heat. I guess, that is what happens when you have done sufficient heat training. Our aim together was to complete the CP4-CP5 climb before night fall as it would be dangerous as it became dark. We manage to achieve our goals.As we passed the 95km marked, I could taste the cold beer that we have bought earlier and left in the cooler box. I dashed in the last 3km, till I overshoot the turning into the finsh line and had to retract back. Felt kinda stupid, cause people were watching. Hahaha. I completed my TNF100 Thailand (my 2nd trail) in 16hrs 01min.

 

 

Race Report: Putrajaya 100 Miles

What can I say,  the name of the race says it all. Putrajaya 100Miles (160km). It was a journey that I never thought I would embark. Same as my 100km. To me 42.195km was already hell. Now to go ~4X the marathon distance without rest? That’s insane! I even have friends who cycles, and they told me that they don’t even cycle that far.  Hahaha. But, as times goes by,  I soon realised (as a runner),  i wanted to push my limits and stand out among runners back in Sarawak. For that to happen,  I need to be different. Running marathons and 1/2 marathon in costumes just doesn’t make you stand out. You need to be extreme. Thus, this race came into play.  I had originally signed up for 100km putrajaya (Bib:#A04) and not 100miles. But, soon after completing TMBT. I ask God for wisdom and discussed with my family. If I do not try 100 miles now, when will I ever?

Unfortunately, after TMBT the registration and upgrade for Putrajaya 100miles was closed. Lucky for me, I contacted Jerry Young (a fellow runner who inspired me to do 100km when i met him last year in Putrajaya 100miles- 78km category). He told me that he was running the 100miles and he had a friend; LaiKin who was letting go of his bib (Bib: #A13). To my delight, Laikin was willing to sell of his bib and I managed to get it transferred to my name. In parallel, I transferred by 100km bib to Davy Woon, who was my dorm mate in Putrajaya.screenhunter_70-nov-23-17-25

The weeks and days leading to the event waws really  torture for me. I had done my training, but was not sure if it was sufficient. The elevation was not the major concern, but rather the familiarity of the route and heat. Last year (2015), there were zero finishers. Hence, this is a race distance not to be take too lightly. All that could be done was to download the maps (gpx file) into my garmin and phone.

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MapMyRun file prepared by Teampacat

The course was 80km to and fro. CP1 was still similar from last years route. But CP2 was amended. Instead of 5km return, we where required to perform an island loop. (I guess this was due to several runners who short-cut last year.) 

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Checkpoint (CP) cut off and support summary

CP3, Taman Cabaran was still the same. CP4 had some light changes due to the field used last year was already fenced up. To me, CP5 (Taman wetlands) – CP8 (Promenad Precint 7) was all new. Hence, the fear of getting lost. This ultra event, specifically requires you to be tentative while on route, since the markers are placed very far apart (~> 4km) from each other. It would be advice-able if you had a buddy to run with. Some runners were lucky to join the route familiarization runs, prior to the event, which was organised by teampacat. While other like me, we had to rely on what we had and prayed that all goes well.

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Photo of some of us doing P100 before the flag-off

We flag off at 7am. Unfortunately, due to some technical errors, we didn’t have an individual timing chip. But rather old school manual timing records. Well, guess that is why I have my Garmin Fenix 3. The run from start to CP1, Nusa Perdana was comfortable.  I was trying to gain as much distance as possible before the mid-day heat. Sadly, there was no marker for the CP1 mid-way U-turn, (last year was available). It was replaced by 2 marshals.  We soon reached CP 1, refuel and headed for the core Island loop (CP2). Since this route was amended, it was considered a scenic route for me. Manage to enjoy the trees and morning air.

As I completed the CP2 route and headed out for CP3 Taman Cabaran, I could start to feel the heat. And that was only 9:10am. The initial weather forecast for Saturday 11am to 6pm was supposed to be raining. But, as usual, the rain never came. Instead, the sun was shining down on us. While we were on the highway heading for CP4, Taman Rimba Alam, the heat registered on my Garmin was ranging from 34-37degC. That is with me all covered up. So, I’m guessing the actual temperature was probably ~ 40degC. As i was walking/ running along the highway, i was telling myself “lang ho ho chomik I ki cho 160km?” (translation from Hokkien would be; life so good why go run 160km ). Well, then again that has always happen while I’m running and scolding myself for the self torture. I was even thinking, why isn’t there any peddlers selling drinks by the highway for us? I’m sure even if they charge RM3/can of cold drinks, people would buy. Hmmmm. Maybe next time I should do that. Hahaha! A cold ice beer would be great under the hot sun.

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Race course temperature & elevation vs distance from Fenix 3

I was so delighted as i reached CP4. The watermelon and toilet break was a delight. You can see the smile on my face when i reached the CP4 in the photo below. The volunteers at CP4 asked me if I wanted any drinks or food. I told them that someone should start selling at the highway. Unfortunately, no one was business minded enough to take the hint. After stocking up, I left CP4.

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Me at CP4 in delight. I may look silly with my  Ahon gaiters while running on road, but it helps in preventing pebbles going into your shoes. Try it! (photo courtesy of AShe Ek)

Thank goodness that CP4 to CP5 Taman Wetlands was partially among the trees with some roads. I manage to take some shelter, while heading to the wetlands at CP5 for lunch break @ 2pm. I sure am glad that i decided to wear my Ahon gaiters. Going through the highway and Taman Wetlands, there were areas where it was very dusty and had many loose pebbles. I am happy to say, the Ahon gaiters did its job well. Hence, I was not an idiot for wearing them. I have had similar issue while running Titi100 this year with the stupid pebbles. The last thing you need while tackling your run under the hot sun, are blisters or cuts on your toes.

CP5 (50km) Taman Wetlands was a rest well needed. I recharged my ipod, my garmin and replenished my hydration at that point. I started to stock pile my TZactive gels and UB bars for the next 110km. It was also here, that I reapply my 2Toms sports shield. Although the instructions says reapply after 24 hours, I did not want to add an additional suffering for this run. You can imagine the chaffing and heat torture? That will be just too much to endure. After spending about 30-45 at CP5, I decided to depart. Next was CP6 Taman Warisan. Although it was just an additional 8km away, I could not run any further for now. Hence, I decided to increase my walking stride.The funny things was that, each time I was going downhill, I would try o run. But, each time I run, I would over shoot the route and ended being off course. There where portions where i was even off course for> 2km. So, silly of me. There was a point that i decided to take it slower and safer. Lucky for me Chandru caught-up. That was when I decided it would be more  efficient of me, if i would buddy with him rather than being to smart and run by myself. We made our way to CP6 and soon after that to CP7 Taman Saujana Hijau.

As we reach CP7, it started to turn dark. It was essential that we completed the 2.5km loop round the Taman Saujana Hijau before it became too dark. We manage to catch a glimpse of several wedding couples having their photo taken. Even at the Taman, we manage to get lost. Hahaha. Maybe too engross at the wedding couples.

We quickly depart from CP7 and made our way to CP8 Promenad Precint 7, also known as half way point (80km). Yahoo!!!! While making our way there, Chandru and I were talking about hot cup noddles and coffee to keep us awake for the 2nd leg of the race. We even passed 7 eleven and marked it as a go too place in case of emergency. But CP8 was not as close as I had hoped. the 13km distance was never ending. The words “are we there yet?” kept circling in my head every several kilometers. You can tell when fatigue have kicked in. Previous 100km ultra runs didn’t make me feel this way. The pedestrian walkway towards cyberjaya was bad. You can clearly see the effectiveness of our development and planning. We build but we do not maintain. The walkways where uneven, due to underground roots from the trees which have been planted but not maintained. The “road ultra” soon turned to be trail ultra as i was tripping over roots. I was like a child in a glass store. Need to bee very careful not to fall and break anything. Hahaha.

We met the top 3 runners  (Jeff, Yimister, and Odef), making their return route. There where going strong. “It must be CP8 halfway point cup noodles and cold beverages”, I thought to myself. We soon reached the last stretch to CP8. It was dark, the lamp post where there. But as i mentioned about our efficiency, we build but we do not maintain. We spotted several people where dating there. I do hope our super bright headlamps did not spoil their romantic date night. Hahaha. I’m pretty sure they where cursing at us as we passed by. Both of us were in sheer delight as we arrive. Finally, the hot coffee and cup noddles for dinner. Much to our disappointment, there was no hot water. Neither was there any ice. OMG! I was like $#*@ in my head. But, I guess that is Ultra, (need to be self sufficient). Lucky for me i had my UB energy bars. Gave one to Chandru and had one myself. It was my fuel till we reached CP5 again.

As we were leaving, we met several runners coming in. It was a good sign, that there will be more finishers this year. I’m sure they were also disappointed to know that there was no ice and cup noddles. The journey back from CP8 to CP7 and CP6 was pretty fast as we where hungry. We managed to stop by at 7-11 on the way to CP7 to get a can of cold coconut juice and cold mineral water for a quick cold shower. The shower was great and refreshing. We started to pick up our pace and ran for several km before we overshot and missed a turning. We ended headed the wrong way for about 1km until i notice my watch was saying that we where off course. Hahaha, guess i need a talking GPS rather than the watch. We back tracked and was back in the game. Soon we reached CP6, where we had some cold drinks and watermelons.after replenishing our hydration, it was off we go to CP5 Taman wetlands for the maggi and hot coffee. It was almost 9pm when we reach CP5 Wetlands. Nevertheless, the key was that we arrived. The maggi was the best maggi I have had in weeks. Manage to have my 3in1 tongkat ali coffee to keep me awake for the last 50km stretch. We spend about 30mins at CP5 before we departed.

It seems that our previous cut-off time buffer was depleting. As we left CP5 we had 1hr 30mins buffer till the cut-off. By the time we have reached CP4 Taman Rimba Alam, the remaining time before the cut off was only 50mins. That meant that based on our current pace, we would reach CP3 Taman Cabaran with less then 30mins on the cut-off clock. I didn’t want to risk that, especially that we have gone so far with the soreness and blisters. Along the highway from CP4 to CP3, we tried to gain momentum, but exhaustion have finally kicked in. Both Chandru and I were actually zig-zaging along the motorcycle path at the highway. I could barely keep my eyes open.Only thing kept me awake was the occasional praying of the Rosary.(Yes, i do pray and i do bring my Rosary during my ultras).

I regained my awareness once i was done. I soon asked Chandru if he could run, because we had to chase after the cut-off time. He told me to go ahead, I then bid my farewell and prayed that we will meet each other at the finishing line. I took a sachet of the TZ active gel and a gulp of water. Then, within minutes, I started to pick up my pace and ran. By the time I reached CP3, I had 30-40mins on the clock before they close that checkpoint. I prayed that all fellow 100 milers manage to meet the cut-off. I quickly refuel and proceeded to CP2. Upon reaching CP2, I had regain the buffer to cut-off by 1 hour. That was a good sign for me, as the fear of getting lost may occur. The next task ahead was the CP2 core island run and CP1 home stretch. The CP2 core island run was where i bumped in to several 50km and 78km runners. Everyone was going strong. I only had one goal in mind. That goal was to complete the 160km. I was so happy to return back to CP1 and only have last 10km to go.

By then the sun had already come out and the heat was staring to come back.I knew this would be the longest 10km for me. The stretch to the U-turn (after dataran putrajaya) was not far, but from there to Taman Seri Empangan was another story. The Persiaran Putrajaya was never ending. I was just going at one step at a time. By this time I could not run and more, but should have more then ample time to complete. Finally, I reach the left turn to the bridge as we approach Taman Seri Empangan. This was where, I felt tears of joy. I bumped into Low KahWai, who asked me to pose for pictures as i reached the final 500 meters. Thanks to his motivation, I some how manage to gather the final burst of energy in me, and dash to the finish line. Unfortunately, the organizers did not hold the finisher banner for me at the finish line. Hence, my finish was not epic enough. Hahaha.

I would like to thank Team Pacat for organizing this event. There were several areas for improvement, such as CP8 food, ice and beverages. The wonderful volunteers and medic, thank you for being so helpful. Your support is greatly appreciated. Not forgetting Renee and Chuan, although we just met, kind souls like both of you, is what pushes us to finish the race.And of course a huge hug and THANKS to all runners, friends and family that supported me.

If you are interested to purchase the attire I was wearing, please contact the following links:

  1. HOKA ONE ONE shoes 
  2. Ahon gaiters
  3. 2Toms sport shield
  4. TZ active energy gel
  • UB energy bars
    • Shannon Francis Lee (Pls PM me)

Always Run Happy, Run safe and Run Injury free.

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Me running to the 500m finish line (courtesy of Low KW)
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From left (Mohd Arif, Me, Davy) posing for pics after our finish. (Photos courtesy of LowKW)

 

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List of finishers for 2016 P100 miles.(yahoo I came in 4th)

 

Race report – TiTi Ultra, my first 100km race

Just like your first kiss, your first payslip, your first car. You will cherish and never forget the memories. Doesn’t matter if it was good or bad memories. That was exactly how I felt after running my first 100km back in march 2016. It was actually about a week after my 40th birthday, and nothing would be greater for me then blessing my big 40 with a 100km under my belt. The week leading to the TiTi event was havoc for me at work as there was a huge change in our factory then. But, I am glad that God did make things happen the way it did. 

Titi road ultra was know as one of the toughest road ultra in Malaysia. The reason for that tag line was because it was. No training of mine could have prepared me for what was laid ahead. I came to KL with 2 other fellow runners from Kuching, Ah Sung and Steve (Ah Ven). We had all registered for 100km. We flew in on Friday evening. We stayed in Apple motel at Jalan Alor ( yes, where there’s lots of food). Unfortunately, that night we didn’t get much sleep. The hotel encounter some electrical failure at about 1am- 4am. Thus, the air-cond was not working. Lucky for me, my room had a window. Had a few hours of nap.

The next day we traveled to Hulu Langat where the event was held. We took a taxi  (there was no Uber at that time), luckily the driver could find the place. Hahaha. 

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From Left: Ah Sung, Aven and myself

When we arrived there, the 200km runners where well on their way in there 2nd loop. I was lucky to met the legendary Oliver. If you do not know who Oliver ( Singapore ultra runner) is, then you must be living under a coconut husk. (Just kidding) he had just completed the 100k and was not planning to continue with the remaining 100k. I don’t blame him. The weather was just too scorching hot. As all participants were preparing before the start, you could feel the scorching heat even underneath the tent area. The temperature was about 36-37deg C. This had not include the heat from the tarmac. It would be safe to say that overall temp was about 40degC. That is hot!

After the opening speech by the race director (Ng Seow Kong). We had our flag off. Everyone was pumped as we all run from the start area towards the road. You could see the race leaders building their gap in the front. I was trying to keep myself with the middle pack as I wanted to have as much bigger as I can for the first few checkpoints. But soon, my enthusiasm was short live as we started to ascend uphill. I recall the first CP was only 9km away but it took me more than an hour to get there. The heat and hill was no joke. My training at that time include hills repeat but apparently, it wasn’t sufficient. Neither did I in life heat training into my schedule. I as we reached the top of the first hill, the descent was simple, just need to keep our feet on free gear all the way. And make sure that you don’t trip on your own feet, else it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

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Pretty good food & beverage list for CP.

As I reached CP1, I recall the water I consumed was a lot. Thank goodness for the cold drinks and fruits. It was refreshing. After the first CP, I continue my journey to the 2nd CP. But, I soon lost my momentum. As I started to feel fatigue and heat kicking in. I was hoping that my 2 friends would catch up along us to motivate each other. I soon started to walk while maintaining my pace at <11:50min/km.  There was a point I even thought about just throwing the towel. That was when I started to pray and asked God to give me strength. Then, Ah Sung caught up to me and was going strong. He was following a German fellow, (who soon became my running buddy for the entire race). I started to to follow both of them from behind. And soon after made some small talk with Dominic (German fellow). We help motivate each other to go towards each and every checkpoint(CP). Our strategy was to maintain our walking pace uphill and run down hill at every opportunity we could. Unfortunately, there were more going up hill then down before the 50km half way point. We keep telling ourselves, “what goes up. Must come down”. But it didn’t. It seems the hill ascent was never ending. But, lucky for both of us, the journey didn’t seem boring as we both had our own stories to tell.

route map 100kWe soon reached 50k mark for our baggage drop. I took the opportunity to fill my hydration and load up on my nutritional bars and gel. Even had time to change my shoe to Hoka Clifton 2. I was earlier wearing Zoot ultra tempo 6.0. The shoe was good. But it didn’t have suitable cushioning for longer and hotter surface runs. 

We soon depart from the 50k mark and headed into the village loop. I recall where we had to carefully avoid the goat droppings on the road. It was good as it kept up wide awake. Once we hit 64k, we know it was the home stretch. Basically, the mirror of the earlier hilly 37km. This was good news cause what goes up must come down and soon will be all down hill. 

We completed the route in 15hrs 32mins.  This could only be possible with the blessing from God, the support of my family and friends. And not forgetting, the companionship of Dominic throughout the race course. Thanks.

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Dominic & I. We where both using Hoka Clifton 2
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Representing our country
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my splits

I and also glad to say that I completed my first 100k ultra without any blisters or chaffing. This was possible from the following 3 products that I use and swear by it.

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Look, my feet still looks nice after 100km. hahaha!
  1. 2 toms sports shield,
  2. Injinji socks
  3. Hoka Clifton 2.

All these 3 products are available in Revolution Run Borneo, Green heights mall.

If you are keen to test your limits. Do sign up for Titi Ultra 2017. The link is as below. There is a special discount for MURA (Malaysia ultra running association) members. This year, they have an additional category, 250km. I will stick to 100km and try to improve my timing.

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Me looking like S#*@ in the hot weather. hahaha

Remember, always Run Happy, Run Safe, Run Injury free.

Race report – TMBT; My first trail ultra

TMBT – “The Most Beautiful Thing”, or some may call it, “the most brutal trail” was an experience for me. It was not only my first trail ultra. But, it was also my 2nd trail run of my life. I did 3km road + 10km trial hybrid challenge last month (Sep 2016) in Permai, Kuching organised by grit event. That event was just a small tip of the iceberg compared to what TMBT had install for us all. I was never considered as a hiking or jungle trekking person. The only jungle that I’ve been, was the roads of the city concrete jungle during my daily runs. Hence, signing up for this event was actually a spur of the moment. It started after I met up with Jetson Hoo from TZActive , who agreed to sponsor me energy gels for my marathons and ultras. I had never though of doing any trail ultra. But after talking with him, I decided to drop my Osaka marathon 2016 (same weekend), and signed up for TMBT 2016. He asked me to signup for 50K. But me, being me, I decided to just go for 100K. Did I regret making that decision. I have to say no. That’s because I have completed the race. Of course during the 100k, I did tell myself, “you fool, you could have just done 50k and you be sleeping in the room now”.

My training program leading to this event was actually more on road ultras and marathons. I was doing 1 major event (marathon or ultra/ month). My weekly regimen was:

  • sunday – 3 loops hearbreak hills (33K) & 5K recovery
  • monday – hills repeat 11K
  • tuesday – HPRC 12K
  • wednesday -10K-16K hills
  • thursday – HPRC 14K-16K
  • friday – rest
  • saturday – 16K charity hills

I only manage to squeeze in 1 session of jungle trekking at Jagoi due to family time during weekends. Hence, I was pretty much under prepared for TMBT 100K.

The worst fear I had was the 30hrs cut-off. For an event to have such a long cut-off, the course must be really technical and challenging. The longest I have been on the road, on my own two feet was 14hrs ++ during Titi100 this year.

There was actually a large group of us that flew in from Kuching for this event this year. Much more than 2015. We consist of runners from Hornbill Pacesetters Running Club members, O-run Utan Running Club members, and some Hash House Harriers. Our goal was to finish the race we all signed up for.

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(from top left: Rahim, Eldon, Peter, Carp, Me, Gary, Jackie, Yaw, Gina, Davy, Charity, Ah Yii, Mei Fern, Fook, Noor. from bottom left: Robin, Brandon, Billy, Josh, Trevor, Alex)

The 50K and 100K runners had the same flag off time. Since there where 253 participants for 100K, it was key for me to try to break away as soon as I can. This is to ensure that there is no time loss during the bridge and river crossings before W1. The first obstacle already required us to go uphill, then downhill and followed by more uphill. I thought Titi100 was hard. This was much harder.We soon reached W1 before turning left entering the jungle. The ground was wet, but lucky for me i had my Hoka Speed Instinct on. It helped me with the traction I need going up hills and cushioning when I ran downhill. Soon, we reached a river crossing before W2 (Tambatuan). You could hear the villagers playing the gong, welcoming us. W2 had pineapples, bananas and drinking water. I refilled my hydration before heading out for W3 (Lobong Lobong), which was 9.8K away. W2 to W3 was not that difficult as compared to the track going to W4. After loading up at W3, we went down the football field (being careful not to step on cow droppings), and later down the concrete hill, before reaching the overhanging bridge. Lucky for me, at that time the crowd was still small crossing the bridge. We then had to go up the pineapple farm. At that time, I had 2 thoughts. One was, “should I try to go uphill using my trekking poles?”. The other was, “I pineapple, I have a pen. Ungh! Pineapple-Pen”.

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I remember when I reached the top of the pineapple hill, my face looked like crap. I was so happy to see the TMBT marshalls from afar, thinking that is was W4 with cup noodles. Unfortunately, it was not W4, but rather the cameraman. That is why the picture below of me looks like crap. Hahaha. The cameraman asked me to smile. But that was the best I could at that time.

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Why did I signed up for 100K trail look

Going down the pineapple hill was much easier, compared to going up. But, there where several path that was just about a foot wide. I recall some runners where running with that small gap, while I move aside and let them pass. One small miss step would mean “baby bye bye bye” – N’sync. I recall, I asked the Marshall how far was W4 cause my fenix 3 showed that it was over. According to them, it was just another 1.2K. I recalled, i ran more that 1.2K but still didn’t see W4. It was more like 3-3.5K. I was hungry as it was lunch. I wanted my cup noodles. I was so happy when I saw marshals wearing the TMBT yellow shirt as we went downhill at the Kiau Nulu village. That was the best cup noddles I ever had. Hahaha.

I was energetic once more after refueling with cup noddles and TZactive gel. Down hill was a breeze, with gaining momentum in each stride. Soon we reach the tarmac, a slight decent before the huge climb of 610m. This kinda reminds me of Penang Hill during Penang ultra. Except that when you reached the top of Penang Hill, you could drink as many coconut juice you wish. But for this, there was nothing there. The only consolation was that it was mostly tarmac rather than trail. This made it much easier for me, as I am more of a tarmac person.  Nevertheless, there were occasions where I thought I was lost as there was nobody in front. Lucky for me I met Jami Ramirez, who accompanied me till W6 Perkasa.

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Going to W6 was very enduring as the weather was

At W6 Perkasa, first thing to do was to remove my wet shoes and socks. Followed by a fresh pair of warm cloths.I was obviously drench, cause I was trying to be macho and didn’t wear my rain jacket. I applied vaseline on my toes before changing to a new pair or Injinji Trail socks. I also had to change from my Hoka Speed Instinct to my Hoka Challenger ATR2. (I actually prefer the feel and support of the speed instinct, but it was wet. And I still have 50km to go.) I kept my dirty and wet Ahon Gaiters on, as it was still doing its job by keeping pebbles out of my shoes. I also took this opportunity to re-apply my 2Toms sport shield on my inner thigh. I didn’t want to have chaffing since I still have after another 10-15hrs to complete the remaining 50K. I am very glad I made that choice. I didn’t have any blisters or chaffing even after 23hrs 40mins.

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(Clockwise: My Hoka Challenger ATR 2 & Hoka Speed Instinct, 2 Toms sport shield, TZActive energy gel, Bala’s home made energy bars, Ahon gaiters)

I think the organizers can improve on the food at halfway point. We had tomato soup, rice, mix veggie and macaroni mayo. I was hoping for some meat. Especially after seeing the KFC billboard.  Nevertheless, beggars can’t b choosers. Or as the Chinese saying goes, “no fish, prawn also can la”.  While I was still thinking of my KFC, Jami had left. This made me anxious, as it was 4:30pm and I wasn’t planning to trek by myself at night. Especially in the jungle. 

Much to my delight, Eldon came into W6 Perkasa. Hence, we decided to push on together once he was ready. As we turned right to W7 route before heading downhill. We had a magnificent view of mount KK.

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(Magnificent view of mount KK (just ignore us in the photo. Hahaha)

Soon, a large group of KL runners caught up with us with 2 Sabahan. This was good, as we took turns pushing each other on to each check point. We soon reached W7 Kouluan, which was 11.9km downhill. Of course this was after passing a tomato farm n a tree trunk make shift river crossing. Unfortunately, W7 had only drinking water. The consolation, was that the volunteers there was entertaining. It motivated us to proceed to W8 Mesilau . Since W8 was just 5.2k uphill, we started to pick up our pace and advanced on.

From afar, we could see a lighted up building, (about 3k away). I recalled saying to Eldon,” I do hope that is W8 checkpoint”. Much to my delight, it was. There, at Melisau we replenished with sweet hot coffee and hot cup noddles (2nd cup noddles for the day) with banana. I recalled, meeting many runners who either where resting before going to loop the cabbage patch CP1, or just got back from looping at CP1 -> WS8-2.

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Overall 100Km course map
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WS8 -> CP1 -> WS8-2 loop

The W8 (Mesilau) 7.6km loop was very challenging. Not technical, but rather muddy and dark. It require very careful trekking and good headlamp/ torchlight to ensure no vegetation where damaged and clear course marker identification. Going through W8 loop during the day would be much easier, as you could look ahead (lesson learnt).

After completing W8 loop.the only thing came to mind was not to rest. But, was to refill our hydration and head downhill 8km through jungle and farm, to W9 Liposu lama. I recalled going on and on yet not reaching W9. even the map on my fenix 3 showed that we have exceed the distance but haven’t arrive. Maybe it was due to the GPS accuracy when I turned on UltraTrac mode, instead of normal GPS mode. Irregardless, I was in delight when we reached W9. By then we only had 16km+ left. We met some runners resting at W9, but soon moved on as we left.

At this point, I could taste victory. W10 did not feel like much of a challenge. But going from W10 (Kibbas) to W11(Perkasa) 11.5K was a totally different matter. Although, it was just a 11.5K uphill. The elevation and course “ada kick”. It require us to go up 850m. With an estimation of 1.5hrs/ 10km. this would take us close to 2 hours. By then, fatigue have kicked in and we were both walking like crabs (sideways). At that time Eldon keep singing Aku anak kampung – Jimmy Palikat. (Hahaha. my favorite kampung song). After repeating several times, i decided to take out my phone and put on my run playlist, which consist Taylor swift – shake it off and Katy Perry – Roar. (I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!). This was the boost we needed.

We reached the finishing line 6am Sunday morning. Yes! we did it. My first trail ultra.

My thoughts of Trail Ultra – never ventured, never gained

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Eldon and I with our finisher medals and TZActive gel sponsor banner.
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We both finished 37 placing overall. Not as good compared to many others, but good enough for me. (wink)

As mentioned in my facebook. I would like to thank God our heavenly father for giving us strength and protection through the course (of course we had cuts, bruises and sprains, but it could have been worst). Our families, friends for the morale support, Eldon for the company through the 2nd half of the course. TinZaitun for the gel sponsorship. Charity for my raisin bread (wink). And not forgetting the many new friends we met along the way. Hope to meet you all soon in other events.

I would like to point out that through the 23++ hours of torment, I didn’t get any blisters or chaffing. And this was due to the products (which was mentioned earlier & also in my other blogs) that have been faithful to me through my marathons and ultras.

  • 2 toms sports shield
  • Injinji socks
  • Hoka shoes

You can get yours at Revolution Run Borneo at Green Heights shopping mall Kuching. Make sure you quote #ultrabala when buying, to receive an additional discount on your purchases.

Remember, Run Happy, Run Safe, Run Injury Free.

Penang Ultra 100 – race report

With the blessing from the Almighty, i manage to complete my 3rd 100km Ultra marathon for the year. In fact, 1 year ago (2015), a group of us runners from Hornbill pacesetters running club Kuching came to Penang to do our first 50km ultra marathon. It was our first experience of an ultra running event. After one year, only 2 out of the group of 9 (George Chapman and I), decided to come back and challenge ourselves to the 100km route.

We arrived on 16th Sept (Malaysia day) and stayed in Chulia Mansion, which was a superb accommodation. I would say value for money for its location and facilities. The staff are super friendly and the breakfast was great.

We collected our race pack at the famous Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama). This year, the organizers outdid themselves by getting more exhibitors compared to last year. This was good, as you can do some last minute purchasing of needed items in case you forgotten. They also had the mandatory race items check when you collect your race pack, which I thought was a good move to prevent any last minute mishap by the participants.

The race this year was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang; Lim Guang Eng. We manage to have a quick photo with him before we started the race. I have to say, the CM is a very punctual person.

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Pre race photo with CM of Penang. (from left: Wei Sung, Gary Kho, Steven, me, Eldon Chou, Lim Guang Eng, George Chapman, Kho Khoon Hiong)

The race flag off was right on the dot at 9pm. There was a total of 160 participants who registered for the 100km challenge. Traffic control by the Rela, PRDM and volunteers was good. All runners safety were well taken care of. The weather was slightly humid. You can see from the island route attached on the actual route. It is exactly the same as the 84km route, except for the Penang hill addition at CP08.

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100km run route

 The signage for the route was good except for some locations, which was not very visible (suggest to use reflective arrows for future runs). The run from CP0 to CP01 was a bit of a tussle between runners, as you try to break free from the crowd. I manage to break away from the large pack, ~2km into the race. As they mentioned, this 15.9km distance had a mixture of tarmac and concrete. For me, this was a good flat path to build your buffer for checkpoint cut-offs. The first CP was set by the roadside. From CP01 to CP02, I found it a bit of a challenge, as i got lost for about 500m,(this was my own fault for not studying the map properly before the run). Lucky for me, i found the correct path and the runners behind me didn’t get lost. Else it would have been,” the blind leading the blind”.

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check points and cut-off times for 100km
As we headed into the construction area, i felt sleepy and started to feel really drain. My aim at that time, was to reach CP2 for some isotonic drinks and maybe some food. Situation improved after the nice short break. Then, it was off to CP03. it started with a 6.5km flat road run followed by a challenging 2.8km uphill run along genting hill. The view from the top of the hill was magnificent. You could see the night light of balik pulau.  Apart from that, the beauty of any uphill was, “what goes up, must come down”. The run down hill was good and relaxing, thanks to a fellow runner i met during Langkawi Ultra (Nazri). He kept me company. Upon reaching CP03, there was a sense of joy in me. I knew, this was where i could refuel before going through the daunting half way point of a 14.3km run (towards CP04 – 49.2km), with nothing to see. Nazri wanted to take a break and asked me to proceed. I refueled with my TinZaitun energy bar and off i went.The gap between me and other runners in front of me was about 3-4 minutes. I tried to mantain a steady pace of 6:30min/km. I managed to pass several runners along the way. At this time, the weather was changing from humid to windy with lightning and thunder. Yes, it looks like it was going to rain. You could see the drains along Jalan Balik Pulau was filling up. I was so pre-occupied in looking at the drain that i over shoot and ran pass the turning in to Jalan Bahru. Luckily, the marshall on motorcycle (Eric Lim) saw me and told me that i was way off. Hahaha. That would have been really stupid of me (I actually went an extra 2km).  At this point, all the runners that I have passed earlier, have already caught up with me. (note to self, “study route properly before going for you run”).  So, Jalan Bahru was a catching up game for me. Just when I was bout to pass the housing area at Jalan Kampung air Putih, it rained. I was happy at first, cause it was cooling. But, then the rain turned to a storm. This was the point that i was really looking forward to quickly reach CP04 and grab my windbreaker.

The warm coffee was good at CP04 with some dates and or course my energy bar (TinZaitun). Manage to change from my Hornbill Pacesetter Running Tee to a dry pair of O-run Utan Running Tee. Applied vaseline on my feet, changed my socks and shoes. As this next half of the route will be more hilly, I wanted my dry Hoka Clifton 2, to do the work of climbing up and running downhill. It was here, that I met Jeff Ooi and Linda Then. I remember, the volunteers at this CP04 were all talking about the 100km race leader; Kho Khoon Hiong from Bintulu, Sarawak. He was leading the entire race and was running at a marathon pace. As I just reached CP04, he had already left CP06, which was 23km away. OMG!!!

I got my hydration filled and i was ready to go, but no before putting on my windbreaker as the rain was still pouring. Unfortunately, I left the darn windbreaker in the room. Stupid me again! hahaha. Just had to endure the rain without the jacket. Here, I decide to switch my headlamp for my handheld flashlight. Reason was, CP04-CP05 will be going up Titikerawang, and down towards Teluk Bahang (thanks Anddrew for the correction). It is always good to have a handheld flash light with a longer beam distance, especially if the road is dark and there maybe incoming traffic. 7/8 of the way up, I met 2 runners; Ooi Siam Meng from Penang, and Elvina Jimin from Sabah (who won 2nd for the womens category). Running alone at Teluk Bahang would be considered dangerous, especially if you are a female. Certain area had faulty street lighting, thus making it very dark.

We reached CP05 at Dewan MPBB with delight. I decided to go to the wash room. While Elvina decided to push-on after her brief break.(Hence, she got 2nd). CP05 to CP06 was practically rolling hills with heavy traffic moving along a single lane road in both directions. The view was nice, but running or walking at this stretch requires alertness. Slowly, but surely, I soon reached CP06. It was good to have the company of Ooi Siam Meng to keep me entertained all the way. We met Shannon Ong from Penang along the way to CP07. It was like “Do Re Me bujang lapok”. He had our laughs even making our way towards Penang Hill in the heavy rain where partial road was flooded. It was a good thing that I had my Hoka Clifton 2 on, the water gushed in, but it also flow out as fast, ensuring that my feet stays fairly dry (slightly damp).

We manage to bump into the top 10 runners for 100km men. Some seemed drain, others seemed pretty pumped. I knew i had to have my game on for Penang hill. Shannon Ong and Ooi Siam Meng told me that Penang hill elevation is a challenge when going up and coming down. They were right !

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Penang Ultra elevation
I have never hike up hill with that kind of elevation in my life. Thanks goodness that the distance was only 5.2km. Prayer and the FREE coconut juice was the 2 things that kept me going.  In Kuching, we normally get our coconuts by climbing coconut trees. But in Penang  apparently, you have to climb Penang hill to get your coconuts. Hahaha! Hence, the coconut juice at the top of Penang hill was the best coconut juice I had ever have.

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Penang hill route (pic courtesy of Penang Ultra Organizers)
I tried to make up for lost time by running down Penang hill. I tried running sideways as the road was wet and i had to be careful. I met some participants coming up hill, but they were well prepared with their hiking stick. Smart! Unfortunately, due to my unpreparedness, I sprained my ankle coming downhill. Yes, my own fault again. Just had to do another 5km from Gurney then, I would be done.

My ankle didn’t bother me until I took of my shoes after passing the finishing line.That was when I saw how swollen it had become. My left feet looked like it came from Frodo Baggins. Hahaha. But, I have something that Frodo doesn’t have… The finisher Medal of Penang Ultra.

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Eat this Frodo Baggins. (still better than your precious ring, hahaha)
At the end of it, even though this was my 3rd 100km run, I still think there are plenty of rooms for improvements.

  1. need to do more hills training. (hills repeat and heart break hills)
  2. run in all weather. (early morning, hot afternoon, rain, mid-night)
  3. study the route before your run
  4. pack hiking stick and jacket
  5. “Stretch you legs as wide as you can on your last 2km”, wise words from Kho Khoon Hiong.

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Nevertheless, I would like to say a special thanks once again to the race director Anddrew Loh and his team (including Rela, PDRM, St John ambulance, volunteers and sponsors), for ensuring our safety. Even during the heavy downpour, you all were there to direct the traffic for us. Thanks !

If you are interested to join the Penang Ultra in 2017, please follow their FB website (Penang Ultra 100).

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Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2016

When a group of us did not get the London Virgin Marathon 2016 ballot, we all decided to go for the Paris Marathon instead. I remember how much my family an I enjoyed  the Edinburgh Marathon 2015. It was one of the many memories that we will always cherish. The beautiful scenery, culture and food. And I also wanted to experience if there are any difference in running in Paris versus in Edinburgh.

The Paris Marathon was set on the 3rd April 2016, if flying from Kuching. It would require a minimum of 18 hours flight including layover in Kuala Lumpur. We decided to take Malaysia Airlines (MAS) going to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) airport. Unfortunately, after booking the ticket, MAS underwent a major restructuring. This meant that all previous routes to Europe was cancelled. Instead, we were all required to fly to London Heathrow and get a connecting to Paris CDG. Of course MAS paid for all the connecting flights.We flew in the Airbus A380, which was suppose to be comfortable. But, i guess the maintenance and the up-keeping of the plane was neglected.   Nevertheless, we arrived safely to our destination, which was the important thing.

There were a total of 5 of us, but Frances had flew in earlier to visit her family . while Willie had take another flight from Singapore with his family. Thus, only George, Jessie and I were flying together. After going through airport customs and security check. We got our luggage and headed to the train and took the RER. It was easy to find our way since my family and I have been to Paris several times prior to this. We stayed at the
Lovely Marais Studio apartment 75 (situated at 62, Rue Quincampoix, 75004, Paris). The booking was made via booking.com. The apartment was nice and cosy. It sleeps 4 adults and we paid Euro 568 for 5 days 4 nights stay. It was well equipped.

It was also located at a very safe district. There are many pubs, eatery, restaurants situated nearby. Notre Dame was also just 10-15mins on foot away.

We dropped our luggage and headed to collect our race pack at Salon du Running – parc des Expositions; Porte de Versailles. It was one of the largest expo that I have been. It was a big as Tokyo Marathon Expo 2015-2016, and RunDisney Expo 2015. They have exhibitors from various brands and also information on marathons and ultras (road & trail) around Europe.If you intend to run in Europe, this expo is very informative.

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Jessie, George & I at the race pack collection

On race day, we arrived early to Champ de Elysees, which will be the start and finishing point. The route is basically a loop around all the scenic places in Paris. Therefore, if you are not into speed or personal records, you can bring your camera and snap pictures along the way.

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40th Marathon De Paris route
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Route profile

The route is nice to take photos, but is not nice to run. Why? Due to the cobble stone road at some of the race course. If you are not use to running on uneven ground. It will be a huge challenge, as there is potential to sprain your ankle if not careful.

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We manage to snap a photo before going to our individual starting pen.

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Our faithful Sarawak Flag (George, Jessie & I), with the guy on the far right photobombing

54655.jpgI was in the 4hrs starting group. Our flag off was scheduled at 9:40am. I found it a torture waiting at the starting gate because I entered early (by 9am). The participants where huge. In the staring pen area, they were ample portable toilets and the weather was nice and cool.

When the countdown began, the atmosphere was great. Everyone was hyped and ready to do their best.The first 1km was cobble stoned and down hill, I found it a bit hard to dash and break-free from the crowd when you are trying to watch your footing. The seasoned runners and Parisian did not seem to have this problem. I guess the roads in Malaysia (although is not as smooth as US, it was still better then Paris … hahaha). I manage to catch my pace once we passed the cobble stone section of the route. The spectators were good, but I still prefer the spectators in Japan. The supporters at certain sections of the route, (such as the park and the Seine riverbank)  actually encroached into the runners pathway, which was very annoying. Imagine you are running on a 2 car lane road. Then suddenly, it will be come a single lane road and occasionally 1/2 a single lane road. The organizers did not have barricades along the whole route. To me this was disappointing, seeing that this was considered one of the major runs in Europe. I remembered that there where even cyclist cycling in the runners pathway in the park area. I suppose the elite runners and the sub 4 runners are not having this problem, as they would be very fast. I guess I need to run faster next time. hahaha.

Hydration during the race was the other major disappointment for me. They only serve bottled Vittel mineral water during the race. This was similar to Edinburgh marathon. And my mistake was that I did not bring any electrolytes with me, as I took for grated that it would be provided. That really taught me a valuable lesson. Bring your own gels and electrolytes in your races.

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To make matters unsafe, the bottles where just discarded on the road where runners were running. Huge bins were provided, but I guess the focus was not to discard the unused bottle properly, but to just drink and throw. Luckily no one got hurt by tripping over one.

The weather did swing from 18-19degC to 24degC by 12 noon. the sudden change in temperature did affect my fluid consumption and running capability. I was starting to wonder why i wanted to run the Paris Marathon. hahaha, but then I turned to my left and saw the beautiful Eiffel Tower. The feeling was overwhelming, and gave me a gust of energy… Then again, it could be because I was approaching the finishing. I only manage to complete my run in 4:14hrs. Not as what I have hoped, but I can not complain. I enjoyed the scenery and the company of my friends there.

Would I go back the Marathon De Paris? The answer is no, I had enough of Paris. I would love to run Berlin Marathon or London. But, I love the food and beer in Paris.

Always Run Happy, Run Safe and Run Injury Free!

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Willie, Frances, Jessie, George & me

Osaka Marathon 2014

Race report written back in Jan 2015. With George Chapman, France Ngu, Lester Lim, Jerome Lee, Alex Liew, Fionara Jong.

The Osaka 2014 Marathon was never planned in my run calendar for 2014. It was more like a last minute over drinks with your buddies kind off decision. (The ones that you make wrong choices and can’t remember anything in the morning. *Reminds me of Hang Over movie). Hahaha.  We have all signed up and since the marathon slots where ballot, we were just trying our luck. Trust me when I say, that we where surprise to have been selected. We all booked our flight via AirAsia X, as they had a promotion of flight + free 25kg checked-in luggage + free meal return + AirAsia running Tee.

We all flew and landed in Kansai Airport. Once you clear immigration, you may want to get a pocket WIFI device for your visit duration in Japan. I got mine from (http://www.pupuru.com/en/) (thanks Fionara for helping to book mine). It was really handy, especially when looking for directions and face-time your love ones.

We bought a 5 days visitor pass. This allows you to commute via subway and train from Kansai Airport to Osaka-shi, for a flat rate. (I strongly recommend this, as this is cheaper). George and I have booked our accommodation as Shinsaibashi district. Not at the Comfort Inn, but rather at a branch of Best Western Hotel Fino Shinsaibashi (http://osaka.bwhotels.jp/ ). The location was superb and price was value for money. 6 mins from Shinsaibashi subway station, close to all eating shops, shopping, night life and coined laundry service available.

After we unpacked and settled in, it was time for some Japanese food experience, while we make our way to the Osaka Marathon Expo center. Japanese food in Japan is 100X more tasteful and cheaper compared to our local Japanese outlets (that’s a no brainer). We started our Carbo loding session early.

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Our definition of Carbo Loading with Kirin Beer
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Our Lunch, forgot to take down the name.

The marathon expo was medium sized. I have see larger at the Standard Chartered  Singapore Marathon Expo and Gold Coast Marathon Expo. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to see tempt the wallet. Their main apparel was Mizuno. But of course, most of the items were in Japanese. Personally, I like the Japanese gels. Not too much of a fan for the electrolyte.

On race day, the weather was reasonable (27deg C). We started the race at 9am. All participants were required to be at each designated starting pen, following our estimated race complete time during registration.

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George, Ninjas and I

The crowd was huge and you get to see many costume runners. I managed to snap a few photos. You even see Donald duck going to use the lavatory, Hahaha.

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The route was pretty nice. You had many things to see. There were many on lookers and supporters filling both side of the road. They were handing out candies, sushi and giving Hi-5 to the runners. This was good morale support, especially when you hit the 30km mark. Any support from supporters will cheerful faces and energy, will give you the adrenaline you need to push on. I personally found this very helpful when I hit 35km.

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The route was slightly hilly but still manageable. It was not as flat as Gold Coast Airport Marathon route. Along the course, you could see many entertainments such as, Japanese Drum performances, cheer-leading by schools students, traditional dances and many more. One thing that caught my attention was the medical staff. They had medical staff runners that ran the full course and aid any runners in need. This was amazing. They had clear red vest that said “DOCTOR”. There were more than 100 medical runners that caught my attention.

The drink stations where ample, they had Pocari and water. No gels where handed out, but they had bananas. We all enjoyed our run, as you can see from the photos. Honestly speaking, I will go back and run the 2015 Osaka Marathon. The course was nice, the experience was different, and value for money. But, the decision maker for me was the energy from the spectators.

Since 2014, I have been to Osaka Marathon for 2 years (2014, 2015). I never get bored of it. Unfortunately, this year I have decided not to go although a got the ballot entry. I have decided to try trail running instead.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Run Happy, Run Smart, Run Injury free!

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Me and the volunteers at the baggage collection
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Our Kuching team in Osaka 2014 (Left: Frances, Me, George, Alex, Lester, Jerome)

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