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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.

 

Category Archives: Ultramarathon

Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 Miles (78K) Race Report

When entries for this year’s final edition of the Putrajaya 100 (rebranded Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100) opened some months ago, I didn’t bite. It has been a bruising year at work and I’ve struggled with moving the mileage beyond what’s needed for general fitness. In case you’re unfamiliar with the venue, Putrajaya didn’t get to be infamous for nothing. Even when Nick signed up for the 78K category, he earned more ribbing from the gang than admiration. There was even a hint of sympathy for him too.

So it was unbelievably perplexing, that in the course of  the next couple of months, more of us found ourselves to be part of Nick’s troupe. For the life of me, even now, I can’t believe I was suckered in. And like lemmings, Lum, Cherly and Jeanie came along too! The monies paid, there was really little chance of not turning up, even if all the running I did leading up to that night was just the maintenance sort, fluctuating between 30-50K weeks.

However, at least on the runners’ side, was the favourable weather forecast for the night. Evenings have been stormy (conditions which I love) and certainly beat being put on a slow roast. The list of mandatory items were long and carrying the load presented an equally challenging task for the long haul. But you can’t negotiate on safety.

The plan was to pack as light as I could. Where possible, I brought along alternative gear in my carry box. The red Saucony Palladium packable jacket was eventually replaced by a RM5 Daiso poncho when rain didn’t appear to be on the cards. I also reduced the number of nut bars I carried and ditched the single pack of gel, relying on 2 remaining bars and a bag of mixed roasted nuts for fuel. From my experience in TNF Hong Kong, my primarily nuts fuel plan worked pretty well, staving off hunger while providing denser calories. A single 500ml soft flask was included being a much lighter option, instead of the UD bottle. I decided to bring along a clear lens shade as eye protection from rain, insects and what-have-you.

Book was placed there as a reference for the pack size.

My final load was comfortably packed into the UD SJ pack. The new Salomon 1L race vest would’ve been ideal but there wasn’t much room in that one, unfortunately. Apparels were also of the bright and light variety, Saucony’s Speed of Lite vest and shorts, a buff and a safety vest over all that. Footwear duties went to the Kinvara 7 instead of the earlier intended Guide 9. Again, it was part of the “go light” strategy. Socks were the Pacific & Co ones which feature reflective nubs. No compression wear. Drop bag facilities were extended to only the 100K and 100 milers, so the Petzl Nao will have to be carried throughout my 78K distance.

Frank was kind enough to drive Jeanie and I to Putrajaya and since we were early, we made a short detour to Equine Park for a light snack. I had a large bowl of ABC to stay hydrated and cool myself down but skipped actual food since I wasn’t hungry. It’s never easy running in a heavily stuffed mode. When we got to the race site, and having gone through kit inspection and race number collection, it was just chilling around sipping on the Americano which I’d brought along. It was getting clearer that there would be no rain that night. Thankfully, the air was cooling with a slight breeze going.

Prior to flag off, Arman gave a quick briefing covering the important safety reminders and route updates. Finally, along with 40 or so other runners, I was finally let off. I emptied my mind of any doubts or emotions and just went with the flow. The number of 78K runners was smaller than the nearly 100 52K and close to 140 runners for the 100K categories.

Photo credit: Rany Tan

With Jeanie running strongly, I decided to hang back. Nick, Lum, Cherly, Frank and Leong (who turned up to lend support) were all close by and we took things really easy, walking frequently and not the least bothered that people were passing us. The night was still young and self-preservation was of utmost importance.

Photo credit: Run & Explore

When we got near to the hotel where Nick’s wife was waiting, we put on a grand show of 5:45 surge. Naturally as soon as we passed the section, we resumed our walk break! Nothing like these nonsensical moments to take the mind off pressing matters :) .

Photo credit: Nick’s wife. I was just a blur. 5:45 pace ma….

We got to CP1 pretty smoothly and after a quick refill of the bottle and a bite of 2 slices of bread,  we resumed our journey. Several mouthfuls of ice-cold Coke helped to freshen things up too. Not long after that, we had more company in the form of CY, Richi, Zijill and Julia who biked along. As much as I’d like that ice-cold beer (CY and Richi kept reminding Nick and I), I kept my focus on the task at hand. Thankfully, the McDonald’s along the way was so crowded I wasn’t tempted to head in for a snack!

Photo credit: CY

It goes without saying that with many of the gang present, there would be more than one photo taken!  I felt a little bad as we were proceeding rather slowly, and these guys were on bikes. After CP2, we lost them, thinking that they could’ve backtracked to support Frank, Jeanie and Cherly. It must’ve been difficult for them but they somehow appeared again when we arrived at CP3! We’ve covered 26K, which wasn’t even halfway but I was comforted that we’ve about to start the difficult 13K to CP4, the halfway point, and the same distance back to CP5 (CP3) for a total of 26K.

Photo credit: CY

With the clock past midnight, Nick and I gingerly (and should I say, briskly) got through the Muslim cemetery stretch before the route joined up with the highway to CP4. Along with Nick, we covered another 6K before I spotted someone hustling at great speed towards us. Somehow I knew from the running form, that the person was Frank and I was proven right. He had put in some serious afterburners to have caught up with us. Jeanie and Cherly were still in the game much further back.

As we continued our run-walk strategy towards CP4, egging Nick along, we cheered the returning runners from the 100K category. Then there was Jeff, on his way back and in the lead in the 100 miles category. After sharing some pain management tips with me, we wished him the best as we moved along. Several stretches of this sector were in total darkness, so it was great to have Frank’s powerful headlamp to complement our Petzls.

Status update at approx 35K mark for us, from eventual 100-mile champ Jeff.

CP4 was located at the top of a steep climb but boy, was it a relief for me to get there. Nick was in some pain with his inflammed knee. We urged him to consider resting longer and should conditions turned for the worse, he could at least hitch a ride on any marshall vehicle heading back to the staging area or earlier CP. With some hope that somehow he’d make it, Frank and I departed for the final half of the race. Perhaps triggered by copious quantity of Coke, there was a greater sense of urgency and I felt that the timing was right to focus and close down the distance to the next 2 CPs (52K and 58K respectively) the best we can. My legs were still fine and there was some confidence in my strides and I thought, “Just go with the flow”. With Frank, we made some good progress, passing runners along the way.

Then in the distance, we spotted 2 lights – it was Jeanie and Cherly! So good to see that they were still in it! And with that we went our ways. Our spirits lifted, no doubt. Next party we ran into was Piew, Yan Leng, Kien Siong and Li Leen – our next bunch of supporters. We hit the 2 CPs in very good timing, with pace ranging from 6:10 to 6:30, passing more runners than ever before. Fatigue started creeping in only after the 58K mark, with the discomfort stemming more from the pain in the metatarsals than anything else. I had encountered no cramps, no gas in the stomach, no water retention issues on the extremities, just some mild discomfort in the tummy – nothing a hot drink can’t settle. I’d been fueling well on nuts, bars and some bread slices but a hot drink would’ve been great. But Frank has been kind enough to pace along and we were still power walking!

By the time we embarked on our final 8K, Piew and Yan Leng had had to leave us. The progress was slow but it was already too near to completely stop.

7K to go! Photo credit: Khairul Nizam

With 4K to go, Frank and I were operating on getting to the next lamp-post or bin and so on, but with the spirits lifting as we drew ever nearer to the finish, we ran more than we walked. We passed 2 more of our category before crossing the finish line in 12:55, and not a moment sooner as the day was warming up quickly.

Relieved to have finished. Photo credit: Jeff

All in all, it was a great outing for me. My expectations had been really low, with hardly any significant mileage, but with friends’ support and right fueling, I somehow finished in a relatively comfortable state, with no injuries. Thanks to the GCAM gang, whose names I mentioned earlier, for turning up and Frank for not abandoning me over the 2nd half of the race. We covered the 2nd half faster than the 1st which was a wisely executed strategy, getting us the 5th and 6th position respectively. It was only at the finish that I learnt that Nick has decided to stop at the 52K mark on account of his condition. We were just glad he made the hard call as there are upcoming races to be run – and yes, we need him for more vain shots! I should thank all the volunteers, crew and the PACAT organizing team for the hard work out there. It’s never easy putting everything together and staying out there for the runners for such a long period of time! This year’s edition was the last time we run the roads of Putrajaya and we look forward to finding out where next year’s edition will be held.

Saucony was also a sponsor for the Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 this year and all 100 mile finishers, over 20 of them, won themselves new pairs of shoes!

Photo courtesy of Frank.

With the longest run done, it’s time to enjoy a little downtime before revving up the legs for an early 2017 marathon over the next few weeks.

Note: I wonder if there’s any leftover Sapporo’s from that night? ;)

Media Release: Vietnam’s Ultimate Ultra Marathon Is Back!

Vietnam’s Ultimate Ultra Marathon Is Back!
Now With Added 100KM Distance
The Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2016 is set to be bigger and better than ever, with 1,500 runners arriving in Sapa on September 24

This year 1,500 adventurous runners – many of them Vietnamese – are set to descend on the beautifully located mountain town of Sapa on September 24 and 25. They will race on some of the toughest and most beautiful trails of any trail race in the world.

Some will tackle a half marathon (21km), others will aim to complete the full marathon distance (42km) while some hardcore individuals will be aiming to complete the ultra distances of 70km or 100km.

The race opens up parts of Sapa that normally remain out of reach making it a magnet for adventurers who want to see truly remote Vietnam. The buffalo-beaten race trails venture far from the normal tourist path through the land of ethnic minority villages and the magnificent rice-terraced valleys that Sapa is famous for.

Race director, Asger Koppen said: “This race was created due to my love of these mountains. I have always wanted to share the beauty of this area with those who love the great outdoors and now adventurous racers can see more of it than ever on our new 100km route.”

Double VMM 70km champion, Simon Grimstrup of Denmark will be returning this year to help with race organisation. He said: “I’ve raced all over the world and the VMM course is both one of the most stunning and most challenging out there. It is a very special race because of its ambiance and the great camaraderie between the participants.”

The race is supported by Topas Travel and Topas Ecolodge, the unique resort where the finish line is located. Set on a hill top deep in the mountains, Topas Ecolodge transforms into a unique running party venue at the end of the race. Crowds of runners cheer finishers across the line throughout the day and a DJ, BBQ and bonfire ensure the party keeps going until way after dark.

Charity
Over the last few years the Vietnam Mountain Marathon has donated thousands of dollars to good causes. This year we will continue to give back, with $20 from every single race entry donated to the local community.

Drone Video And Photography
For a video featuring the race route, please see: https://www.facebook.com/ VietnamMountainMarathon/videos/418913654974094/. High res photography is attached. Please credit all images to Vietnam Mountain Marathon. More photographs are available on request.

For more information on the race visit www.vietnammountainmarathon.com. For media enquiries contact David Lloyd, Director of Sport at Topas Travel: david@topastravel.vn or (+84) 4 3715 1005

 

 

Sleepless in Putrajaya – Toyo Tires Putrajaya 100 Miles

Returning for the 3rd year, the Putrajaya 100 (P100) has seen an increase in popularity amongst local ultra devotees. Covering the roads of the country’s administrative capital, the distances offered range from 52K right up to the 100 miles. The easy-going, non-competitive format is what draws the runners to the event, not forgetting Toyo Tires which signed up to be this year’s title sponsor!

While the format may be friendly, the route certainly isn’t. Putrajaya is notorious for its scorching heat, high humidity and in my opinion, harder surfaces. With the event run entirely on roads, participants will be well advised to not forget about incorporating strength training on top of putting in the miles.

Early bird fees run till July 31st 2016, and past year participants also enjoy a discounted rate. So if that nagging voice inside your head can’t stop calling out for a longer distance than a marathon, why not commit to this one and train up for it? Still unsure? Head on then, to the event website http://p100.teampacat.com/. There are plenty of information such as a list of mandatory gear, pre-qualification requirements and also GPX files for each of the distances which you’re able to download to your watches. The newfangled ones can even point you the right direction, I was told.

Be sure to also like the Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/putrajaya100miles/. You may want to read up my 2014 report here where I signed up for the 52K but ended up running 56K! The 52K runners battled the heat that year but this year, they will be fighting sleepiness, as will the ones from the longer distances.

Race Report: P100

I was dreadfully over optimistic when I signed up for the 100K category months ago. The intention was to make this my first 100K leading up to next year’s Comrades but a few factors beyond my control scuttled any such thoughts. Wrote in to the organizers to request a downgrade to the 52K category which was promptly given. Halfway through last Saturday’s race, I wished there was an even shorter distance!

Like Nick, I opted for simplicity which meant no compression gear, no additional food other than several Hammer Fizz tablets and 2 handhelds. Even though Putrajaya isn’t that far from home, I still had to wake up at 3:50am just to make sure I secure my parking before collection my race number. My chance I got a space next to Frank. As I feasted on my cup noodles and soy coffee, I had to make some adjustments to my race gear as the SpiBelt decided to snap there and then. It was fortunate then that I brought along the Inov8 Ultra Belt in which I could stash the electrolytes, arm sleeves for sun protection and phone.

With super-mega star, Razif aka RayMau

With super-mega stars, Frank and Jeff.

With eventual 3rd placed woman in the 52K category and Comrades finisher, Shanaz.

Pre-race mood was typically laid back befitting of an ultra event, unlike shorter races. Camaraderie was strong as are many the presence of many familiar faces. I was hardly awake and really should still be napping in the car but I got caught up with catching up with my friends and the many photo ops. Even as the clocked ticked closer to the start time, indications were already clear that the day would be hot. After a short briefing my RD Arman, the insane 100 milers were released. The 52K category folks were let off with just a simple “Go!”

The plan was to run steady and get the training run over with as quickly as we could, this being the longest run this time of the year before Chiangmai and Newton to close off the year. The first few Ks were nothing out of the norm, the route was familiar and runners were still pretty much running in small clusters. Even so, we were somewhere up ahead amongst the 52K folks and were soon passing the 78K, 100K and 100 Milers who naturally had to take the pace down several notches. Much respect to these runners. Mentally I’m not anywhere close to their bravery, not at this gawd-awful spot called Putrajaya.

Still in the early stages. Photo credit: Isaac Osman

Approaching CP1. Notice the strong shadows? It wasn’t even 8:30am! Photo credit: Running Malaysia magazine.

Everything was dandy and we checked into CP1 (10K) in excellent time. Things started to become drastically worse not long after CP1 when instead of heading straight under the bridge, a bunch of us went up the bridge to cross over to the other side where Herriot-Watt University and Maritime Center were located. There was a municipal truck which blocked the signage at the bottom of the bridge and we followed the only sign visible, which was up. After some deliberating at the top of the bridge between Nick and a few other runners, and spotting some already running along the path fronting the University, we decided that that would be the right way and off we went. Along the way, I asked one of the municipal worker if she saw any runners who had passed earlier and she replied in the affirmative. That assured us somewhat not knowing then that those folks also went the wrong way! It wasn’t until 3K later that a back-tracking runner from the 100K category directed us to head back.

Clawing our way back. Photo credit: Running Malaysia magazine

Coming into CP2 or 4, I can’t remember. Photo credit: Yong Chee Keat

Too hot! Photo credit: Yong Chee Keat

Our hearts sank quicker than rocks in a pond. Every minuscule problem in an ultra is amplified – a wrong turn will cost you buckets in time and distance, not to mention unnecessary precious energy expended.There wasn’t anything else to do but double back the 3K (contributing in an extra 6K) we came from as quickly as possible. When we arrived back at the bridge, we debated if we should just proceed to CP2, bypassing the correct stretch, since we had covered that when we were lost. A handful of seconds were all that we spent on that question. There really wasn’t any other way. In an ultra, you deal with mistakes and problems, and do what’s right. Our conscience won’t allow it, so off we went to make up the missed portion of the route. Incidentally, that was the hardest stretch to run because of the unforgiving surface. Where possible, we ran and walked on the grassy sections. Shanaz pulled away midway through this section and Nick brought up the rear. By the time I got back to CP2, I reckon we had lost 1.5 hours. I was well and truly famished and dug into slices of bread and a cup noodles. Hunger won over the absurdity of eating hot cup noodles in the oven-like conditions. Nick then went off to collect his ice-cold drink from his loyal support crew while I wondered why I signed up :D . I thought if I should wait out the heat since I had plenty of time but wisely decided to get going and get the dang distance wrapped up.

From there I was pretty much on my own. I don’t analyse my thoughts during these tough moments in an ultra. Even when I was alone in unfamiliar territories in conditions much more miserable (e.g. TNF HK) than that afternoon in Putrajaya, my mind was mostly just set on one thing – keep moving forward and finishing the job. The other thing which helped tremendously then was channeling positive vibes to fellow stragglers and even joking with kids on their way to an Upin & Ipin concert. It’s wonderful what a simple nod, wave or “Keep going!” can do to a fellow runner and your own psyche. Some time later, I finally arrived at CP3. The area was cooling with plenty of trees, so a breather was in order before making the journey back. Because I was smarter by that time, I took a couple of shower breaks along the waterfront near the Pullman Hotel. There were taps at one of the beach and waterfront toilets and I made sure that my head and upper body were thoroughly soaked several times along the stretch. As a result, I was able to string together longer stretches of running and arrived at CP4 without encountering a Fukushima-scale meltdown. By that time it was already noon. I swallowed a few more slices of bread, ditched the smaller bottle and pushed off to cover the same terrible section again. I ran into Shanaz and Nick, both of whom were already on their way back to CP5 but I was quietly egging the skies to open up. Rain clouds were already blowing in in the distant and it was only a matter of time before it rained. When it did, and just like sea monkeys, it was so sweet. I’m one who’s always rejuvenated at the slightest contact with rainwater and when it rained that afternoon, I managed to put in a decent run to get back to CP5, the final one. Stopping just long enough to refill the bottles, I took off again, mostly walking. The brief shower had stopped but the conditions were much more tolerable since.

Fell into stride with Beau Helmi and we walked towards Wisma Putra before I picked up my pace further. I even managed to pass some friends with 5K to go, mainly by walking fast. With 2.5K to the finish, it was all running and quick shuffling. Just as I crossed the line, the watch died. I remembered seeing 56.3K but it didn’t matter. Time recorded was nearly twice that I’d targeted.

A few more steps. Photo credit: Soon Chung

Look Ma, no cramps! Photo credit: Elvin Tan

That’s a wrap! Photo credit: Soon Chung.

Despite the tough conditions, it was great to finish without any injuries, cramps and stomach discomfort. I could’ve eaten more but largely depended on keeping myself well hydrated at all stops except for the section where we went the wrong way. Surprisingly I didn’t find it too troublesome to run with 2 bottles for such a long time/distance. My hats off to all finishers especially those in the 100 miles and 100K categories. They’re from another planet, for sure.

In closing, my thanks go out to the PACat Adventure Team led by Arman, Zul and Zinov along with the merry band of crew. Everyone worked hard and this being a debut year, there were certainly areas for improvement. The event was run as a non-competitive one and depended largely on the integrity of runners. Due to that reason, some key sections weren’t manned which meant runners could run any which way, intentionally or otherwise while in a daze. There were so many photographers who covered P100 that we runners have many fond (and painful) memories to last us several days/weeks/months before many would yet again click on that damn registration button to bring on the next painful adventure!

Onward to the next race, then!

Press Release: Pure Wilderness – Running in the Land of Genghis Khan

  • The registration period for the 17th Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 42km and 100km trail run, taking place on 5th August 2015, starts on 1 October 2014.
  • Adventure seeking runners can now register for this unique experience on www.ms2s.org.
  • Runners from no less than 13 countries participated in 2014; new race record set for 42km distance.

Mongolia (24 September 2014) – Wild horses, wild yaks and seas of wildflowers: The Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 42km and 100km ultra marathon truly offers pure wilderness to the participants. “It is one of the most remote races worldwide. The untouched nature in the Hovsgol National Park is the main reason why many of our runners refer to the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset as the most beautiful 100km run on the planet”, says race director Nicolas Musy. The course in the National Park in Northern Mongolia follows lake-side single tracks and horse trails. It includes steep hills, windblown lowlands, craggy mountains, marshy forests and spectacular views over mighty Lake Hovsgol and all the way to the Siberian Mountains in the far North.

Horses watching the runners at the shore of Lake Hovsgol.

Trail run in the Mongolian wilderness.

Register now!
The registration period for next year’s race starts on 1 October 2014. Runners with an appetite for a special adventure can now secure early bird rates for the race package online on www.ms2s.org. “This is not a one-day event. We offer a week full of discovery and adventure”, explains Musy. Participants gather in a picturesque camp at the lakeshore, sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts and get in touch with local nomads and their culture. In the days before and following the race, runners can enjoy a variety of leisure activities: horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, hiking, or mountain biking.

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset: Early morning at the lakeside single trail.

Refreshing shower for runners and yaks alike. The Mongolian weather is unpredictable.

Runners from all around the world compete in this unique marathon.

The registration period for 2015 has now started! Check out www.ms2s.org

2014: New record for 42km
Runners from 13 countries gathered at the shores of Lake Hovsgol in August 2014 for the 16th edition of this spectacular race. French runner Alex Balson, who lives in Northern Mongolia and is familiar with the course, set a new record time for the 42km in 3:48 hours. An impressive time, especially considering the difficulty of the terrain and the accumulated elevation gain/loss of 2,255 meters in the marathon distance. For the 100km ultra distance, the accumulated elevation gain/loss is no less than 3,365 meters. Sean Smith from Australia managed to come in first in 13:37 hours. Especially remarkable was the breathtaking finish in the veteran category, where 69-year old Marc Progin from Switzerland and Hans Andersen from Denmark sprinted head-to-head through the finish line and shared the first place in 14:52 hours. The fastest female on 42km was Rose Kennedy from the United States, while her compatriot Rhonda Stricklett won the 100km ultra distance in strong 14:25 hours.

Beautiful: Lakeside single trail along the “Mother Lake”, how locals call Lake Hovsgol.

Only in Mongolia: Running through a sea of Edelweiss.

Lake Hovsgol is one of the most voluminous freshwater lakes in the world – and a unique scenery for an unforgettable run.

Marshy forests in remote Northern Mongolia.

Preserving the National Park
The Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset is organised on a non-profit basis. All proceeds are used to keep Hovsgol National Park pristine and clean as well as to support the culture of the local nomads via the “ecoLeap foundation” registered in Geneva, Switzerland. “We want to keep this pristine mountain area as beautiful as it is now. That is why we fund a litter control project and its ongoing operation including hiring park rangers, providing eco-friendly garbage bags and raising awareness nation-wide through TV ads and education of local children and families”, explains race director Nicolas Musy. The ecoLeap foundation also supports the local culture, adds Musy: “It is not only the pristine nature that makes this part of the world so special. It is also the unique culture of the nomads and their way of life. The nomads should be proud of their abilities and culture.”

This is how running in Northern Mongolia looks like: wild horses, untouched nature, impressive mountains.

The picturesque camp at the lakeshore. Runners sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts.

Photo Credits: www.ms2s.org / Peter Troest or www.ms2s.org / Khasar Sandag

Press Release: Vietnamese and International Runners Win at Vietnam Mountain Marathon

Local and international runners triumph in the mountains

The second Vietnam Mountain Marathon took place over the weekend of 20-21 September, with almost 400 runners from 40 nations descending on the mountains of Sapa to take on trails of 10, 21, 42 and a monstrous 70km in length.

And this was no ordinary race – the buffalo beaten paths took the runners into remote parts of the Sapa hills, across rice paddies and even right through villagers’ front yards as local kids cheered them on.

International winners
Winner of the 2013 70km race, Simon Grimstrup of Denmark, successfully defended his title, beating back very tough competition. “It’s a unique experience in an remote environment with amazing views, very varied terrain, fantastic local culture and excellent trails,” he said. “It was a really tough race that everyone should be proud to finish!”

Photo credit: David W. Lloyd

The women’s 70km was won by Switzerland’s Nora Senn, who said: “I loved all the technical trails, the cool rivers and the steep climb in the end. A huge smile was on my face for the whole race.”

In the 42km race, Hanoi-based runners stole the show. The men’s event was won by Briton, David Lloyd, while American, Samantha Young, took top spot on the female podium.

She described the beauty of the course as the highlight of her weekend: “After kilometer 10 we headed up a buffalo trail. Off to the left the ground fell away into a valley with mountains rising up again on the other side as far as you could see. Shadows were heightening the contours of all the mountains, clouds clinging to the tops and there was no one else in sight.It was one of those moments of giddy happiness feeling engulfed by the mountains and thinking ‘this is why I run!’

Photo credit: David W. Lloyd

Vietnamese winners
The inaugural 10km race was held on the Sunday in Sapa town, drawing large crowds and seeing local runners top the podium in both the men’s and women’s events.  In the men’s race, Sùng A Tỏa lead in the field while Vàng Thị Theo claimed victory among the females.

H’mong boy steals the show
It was a young H’mong boy of just seven years old who stole the show, however. Appearing from nowhere on the start line with a huge grin and no shortage of energy, he joined in the race and never stopped running. Half a marathon (21km) through the mountains later, he bounded down the finish shoot smiling from ear-to-ear as the crowd gave the biggest cheers of the day.

Photo credit: David W. Lloyd

Huge sums raised
Every entry fee for the event included a $20 donation to Sapa O’Chau and a total of VND123,000,000 was raised. Sapa O’Chau runs a variety of local projects, including its own school with over 70 students. Many ethnic minority kids from the villages surrounding Sapa have limited access to educational opportunities beyond the age of ten. Even before that, many drop out of school to help their families. There is a clear need to enhance the educational opportunities of ethnic minority youths in Sapa and the Vietnam Mountain Marathon is proud to be part of these efforts.

www.vietnammountainmarathon.com

Looking Forward

Note: If this post appears thematically similar to Nick’s, you’re right. You can read his post here. Sometimes I wonder if we’re twins separated at birth :D . The truth is that, however, I’ve had this one in draft for some time.

We’ve gone past mid-year by some margin and September has already got me thinking about next year, on running and other aspects of my life. The projects that I’m looking at are all long-term undertakings and from the looks of things, huge sacrifices will need to be made. I’m prepping myself up such that I won’t find myself in denial when the time comes.

To look forward, I’ve to review my races from end-2013 right up to the recent Starlight Ultra. I revisited the SWOT analyses (yes, the quadrant!) I put up as part of my self assessment pre-GCAM14. Taking into consideration all aspects of resource constraints I’ll be facing next year, I’ve come to the conclusion that Full Marathons shall continue to be my focus for the foreseeable future. I’ve been neglecting the Halves too and so they will feature more in 2015. The HMs and FMs appeal much to me because in preparing for them, they present a good mix of training volume and challenge for me. A good fit, I’d say.

Where I won’t be continuing are my dalliance with ultra distances of 84K and above. 50 milers, 84 and 100Ks are entirely different beasts. To attempt such distances is to commit beyond the time and financial resources. For me there also has to be the whys, simply because they’re not exactly your typical walk-in-the-park jaunt, even if some events do allow an ultra generous cut-off for newbies. Incidentally my request to downgrade from my first 100K attempt has been accepted by the organizers, much to my relief. I’ll leave it here and save the rest for my next post.

Suffice to say for now that the Threat quadrant will exponentially grow. No doubt new challenges will come into the picture. C1 will be entering a crucial phase in schooling and I’ve to seriously think about post-rat race. There may be hard decisions to be made by the family. I hope that by honestly evaluating the challenges and focusing on where my strength lies, I can continue to develop as a stronger runner despite the constraints.

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