Warning: This is going to be a long read. Expect a relatively detailed report of the event
Muhaizar, fellow Dirigo mate, asked Chooi Fern, Daniel and I if we were interested in taking part in a mix team (1 male, 1 female) adventure race in Malacca. It was the first time I had ever heard of such an event. This event includes running AND completing several tasks along the way.
He commented that running alone can be boring and that this was something different to break away from the monotony of running. As Muhaizar explained further, we were intrigued! Although we displayed interest, we were still undecided until 1.5 weeks before race day! There were many things that we had to consider (transport, accommodation etc). Yep, the last minute heroes. HAH!
Logistics were easily sorted. Muhaizar offered his place and said that we need not worry about anything. He handled the registration and collected our race kits. Thankfully, we managed to purchase our bus tickets just 2 days before leaving to Malacca.
It is the holiday season and I was still very much in the holiday mood. I didn’t think much about preparing for this race. The whole week was filled with easy runs, some core workouts and swimming sessions coupled with A LOT OF FOOD! I had a lot of late nights too which was why I woke up at noon on Saturday. I had a few hours to pack and get some stuff sorted before leaving to the bus station.
I arrived just 10 minutes before the bus left! PHEW! As you read on, you will notice that we had a lot of “JUST IN TIME” moments. The bus left at 5pm sharp.
Without much traffic, the journey took about 2 hours.
Muhaizar picked us up from Sentral Melaka at around 8pm. We went for dinner with a few of his friends who were also participating in the race the next day. We were supposed to head to the Serama camp site at 8.45pm for a short race day briefing. Of course, we were fashionably LATE!
The organizer held a separate briefing session specially for us. The race distance was 16 KM with 7 obstacles to complete along the way. It was 90% trail/gravel with 10% of road. After the briefing session, we left for Muhaizar’s crib at 10pm.
Took a cold shower after a long day of being on the road. We chilled for a bit before finally deciding to sleep at 12.30am.
Chooi Fern and I got up pretty early. We set the alarm at 4.55am. The whole house was dark and quiet. The boys were still sleeping soundly.Sleepy faces.Matching socks! These socks have the right amount of cushion to prevent blistering. I wear them for all my trail runs!
I took a cold shower and changed into my race outfit. I continued to roll around on the bed before finally deciding to get up to have breakfast. I had a slice of chocolate raisin bread, biscuits and a cold drink while reading a comic book. By then, it was already 5.50am and the boys WERE STILL SLEEPING!Muhaizar finally got up at around 6am. The race flag off was at 7am and we were a good 15-20 minutes’ drive away from the race venue. He seemed really cool, as though we had loads of time to kill. I thought he was joking when he mentioned (the day before) that we were going to leave his place at 6.30am.
We left at 6.35am (finally!). The rest of us were feeling very nervous that we would miss the flag off! Muhaizar was cutting it so close! We arrived at 6.55am (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Obviously, we missed the final briefing at 6.30am. HAH! As we got down from the car, Muhaizar said that these events wouldn’t usually start on time, sometimes even an hour later. I believed him and slowly strolled to queue for the toilet (which took forever!). While I was still in the toilet, the marshal announced that we were 5 minutes away from the flag off (WHAT?!).
I rushed to the starting line just seconds before the gun went off (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Muhaizar was nowhere in sight! I poked my head into the crowd, trying to locate him. I wasn’t all that concern because I knew that he would be able to catch up with me. As long as I made sure that I started with the pack, we will be fine.
I started off alone and ran ahead. I made my way to third place. Soon after, Muhaizar caught up with me and said that he had gone to the toilet. GASP! We had a pretty good start. About 1KM in, we made our way to second place.
The first task was a modified version of the ring toss game. We had to toss 5 rubber bands into sticks that were placed on a log. We completed this task fairly quick and we were off to the second check point.
The male had to play some tunes with the bamboos provided while the female danced along to it. This task felt as though they had ran out of ideas. Didn’t spend 2 minutes on this and we were off.
Along the way, Muhaizar picked up a black belt from the road. He tied it onto the back of his water pouch which carried 2 bottles of electrolyte drink and told me to hold onto the other end of the belt. Holding onto it meant that I couldn’t swing my arms much. He was going really fast and I couldn’t keep up, I had to let go of the belt. I was tired and my legs felt like lead. By then, another group had overtaken us.
I slowed down to consume my gel. We were in 3rd place when we arrived at the 3rd check point. We were given two raffia strings and we were required to braid it in a certain way. Instructions and a model were given but we didn’t want to waste any time going through it. Muhaizar seemed like he knew what he was doing and I just followed his instructions. We had some trouble with this task and we took quite a while. Chooi Fern and Daniel caught up with us. Crazy fast! They were in the IPT category which flagged off after the Open category.
4 teams went ahead of us when we finally got the green light from the marshal. GAH! Muhaizar said that we could still make our way to top 3.
He left me for a while and told me to run ahead. I ran, without looking back. Soon after, he caught up with me. He had made this rubber band loop big enough to loop around my waist with the other end attached to his water pouch. I thought that it was rope that he had brought along but in actual fact, he made it from scratch! He was so resourceful. It helped quite a bit, especially when it came to going up the hills. I felt a forward thrust. All I had to do was make sure that my legs were still moving. He told me to relax and maintain proper running form.
He was blazing away through the trails. We managed to overtake one or two groups (I cannot recall) before reaching the 4th check point. Here, the male was required to make a catapult for the female to use it to shoot one of the few cans that were hanging on strings. Muhaizar was pretty experienced and he made it with ease. I, on the other hand, took quite a bit of time trying to hit the hanging tin cans with it. WHOOOOPS!
3 teams took off ahead of us before I finally managed to hit one of the cans. As we were about to leave, Chooi Fern and Daniel arrived. They didn’t know what to do but we didn’t have time to stay back to help them. SORRY!
The rest of the tasks were back at the base where the race started. This was our last stretch of running before heading back to base. Muhaizar ran fast and I had to follow closely. Running downhill was a real killer because he was directly in front of me. I couldn’t see what was ahead and where my next step was. If either of us slipped, it would have been an ugly mess.
There were SO many times where I wanted to give up to slow to a walk. My mind was blank and fuzzy, I was tired, I couldn’t feel my legs, I could barely breath and I was THIS close to puking. If I was running my own race, I wouldn’t have pushed myself THIS hard. Muhaizar kept throwing advice and motivational mantras at me. He told me to keep my mind focused and strong. There was no room for slack.
A few KMs in and we overtook our first target. Soon after, we spotted our next target. Muhaizar further increased his speed and said that we had to overtake them. All I could think of was: OHMYGOODNESSAREYOUKIDDINGME! I was dying, literally.
Just a few hundred meters away from the base and we made our way back to 2nd place.
There were 2 tasks to be completed simultaneously. I went to do the flying fox while Muhaizar went on to separate 5 different types of beans.
Having experience in climbing and having done the flying fox before, I geared up pretty quickly. The marshal told me to read the safety rules first but I totally ignored him. My brain was still too fuzzy to process anything and I already knew what I had to do. After collecting the ribbon for the flying fox task, I went to help Muhaizar.
It was a mini obstacle course. We had to go over the wall, push down a barrel filled with water, roll it across the field, put it upright, commando crawl under the tape and ring the bell before going through the obstacle course again in the other direction.
Lastly, we had to pick a tube, get into the water and paddle across the lake. We were still in 2nd place when we got into the water. I paddled relatively fast but the other team was even FASTER! Just a few meters before going back to shore, they overtook us.
We collected our ribbons just seconds apart. The last stretch was about 200 meters of running to the finish line. We were THIS CLOSE to catching up to them. We finished in 3rd place, just seconds (and 5 meters away) from the team ahead of us. They did an AMAZING JOB! Hats off to them!
I couldn’t be happier to finally cross the finish line. I was totally drained of whatever energy I had left.
Muhaizar and I were chilling at the café when we saw Chooi Fern getting onto the tube. She didn’t know how to get onto one. Instead of lying on her back, she went on her belly. She spent a good few minutes spinning around and not getting anywhere. The worse part was that Daniel was already halfway across the lake! HE DID NOT WAIT FOR HER (HAHA!)!
We ran down to the lake to give her some tips on what to do. After shouting our lungs out, she finally managed to paddle her way across the lake. At the same time, we were scolding Daniel to go back to drag her along (in the end, he did go back for her). We had a REALLY GOOD LAUGH!
Had a nice icy cold shower before noming on our Subway sandwiches that was provided. SO FAMISHED! Every bite was OH-SO-GOOD! Probably the best Subway sandwich ever! Team THUNDER TIGER (Muhaizar’s idea)! I was shocked to know that Chooi Fern and Daniel (Trade Hunter) came in 6th place (one team was disqualified). Later on, I found out that they had spent close to 20 minutes at the 4th checkpoint! They had a 5-10 min lead all the way to the 4th checkpoint! Gah! Wasted. This goes to show that speed alone wouldn’t guarantee a win. At least they can learn from this experience. Till the next race guys! DRENCHED! Free flow of food and drinks! After the prize giving ceremony, lucky draw and photo-taking session, we left for round 2 of food! The ATM (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) gang packed some grub and we headed to the famous coconut shake place! COCONUT SHAKE tasted so good, especially after a hard run!
I want to thank Muhaizar for this really fun experience! He was a really good teammate. Although I was pretty much a total blur case, there were no arguments involved (he was very patient!). He took good care of me throughout the race, making sure I had enough to drink and guiding me along the trails. He pushed me really hard and kept me motivated. If this were a road race, I think I would have hit a PB! Also, he made our stay pleasant and fuss free. Everything was taken cared of. All we had to do was show up and run!
It was a good catch up-run session. We haven’t met since the Standard Chartered KL Marathon!