Friday, 4 October 2013

Roy's Super September

Being a runner, we are often ridicule by those non-runners as being crazy, with the latest being a person writing to theStar to tell us runners to stop having marathons and causing inconvenience to his weekend.

Well, unknown to these uninterested non-runners, there are also another breed of runners. Some call them ultraman, superman, ironman. Whatever you call them, their mind is set up to run as much as possible. This has make the Ultra-marathon scene more popular with more races catering for these "man" blooming. This post is about the personal journey through the ultra month of September - a race every weekend.
It all started with River Jungle Marathon in Hulu Langat on September 1, 2013. Being a boutique marathon, it is a perfect start to kick of a series of mega distances races. Starting from Choon Hwa school at Pekan Batu 18, this year took us through a modified route due to the landslides on the original route. A pretty hilly route makes for a good training and tested nutrition in preparation for subsequent races.

A week later, it was the Men's Health Night Run. Being a Skechers sponsored event, this is a must do event for us. Only 12KM in distance, this race is to be a warm up and since I was pacing Jason for his come back race, this was to be my interval training. With the weather drizzling, it was a good training in wet condition. Also an opportunity to test out the Kraftfit compression that I picked up a day earlier.

From road racing, the following week was to the jungle of Sabah for The Most Beautiful Thing race. Opting for the 50KM category, this was a race that has almost everything. The race organizer decided to spice things up by making the route tougher than a year before, and topping it up with the biggest rainstorm in recent years there, the race became an adventure of a lifetime. Overflowing rivers, diversion of route, leeches, over 60% DNF - it is just a relieve to see the finishing line and to top it up, completing it based on the original planned route was a real satisfaction.

Before getting much rest, another adventure begun down south at Singapore with the Craze Ultra. This was to be my first 100 miles adventure and with me missing the last year edition due to medical condition, nothing is going to stop me from attempting this race. Having pick up a pain on my right metatarsal bone during TMBT, there was concern of even starting this race, but all that was forgotten with a bit of taping and friendly surrounding during the start of the race. Tackling 160KM is a different ball game. It is all about soldiering on checkpoint by checkpoint slowly and with the supports of pacers, team mates, runners, volunteers, it makes the journey a little tad simpler.

The organizer of SCKLM made September much more challenging by changing the original date from June to 29 Sept. I always suspect it is not due to haze but just to torture me. Having committed to run for NASAM - Yes to life after stroke campaign, it was a race I cannot miss. Arriving at Dataran Merdeka with Eugene, soon all tiredness from weeks of racing was forgotten. Intended to run real slow as a recovery race, I started chasing the pacers from behind. I was looking for the 4.30 pacers when all the races this month took its toll and I had to start walking. Ended the race over 5 hours but I was glad to close off over 300KM of races in September with Malaysia premier marathon race.

Getting through all these races may sound crazy but it is possible with a few right criteria in place. For those looking at venturing into ultramarathon, do ensure that you look into nutrition, mental training, race details, clothes/tools apart from your regular training. These are the preparation that often makes the difference when things get tough.

For nutrition, I go with Hammer Nutrition as it works real good for me. Heed, Fizz, Gels, Solid Perpetuem, Bar, Endurolytes and Anti-fatigue pills combined makes my nutrition completes apart from the solid food that I consumed during ultra long distance. There is a fine line between little and over consumption, it is a matter of getting the right balance.
Mental training is very individual. When the going gets tough and you are down, the only person you can rely on is yourself. Train in all conditions to prepare for the worst. Ultra is a lonely sport, it is a survival adventure. Prepare for ultra not just to complete, but prepare to survive on all eventuality possible.
Studying the race details - elevation, weather, rest time, route, is a must. Unlike marathon where the route is pretty clear and there are a lot of runners near you, ultra can be very lonely and you may be alone for a long time at an unknown place without clear marker in the worst weather you have seen, so make sure you prepare well on this area.
Clothes/tools preparation comes from months of trial and error. With each race, there is a different requirement, so make sure you try out a nd figure out what you need way ahead before the race.

Ultra running is huge topic by itself, it is not possible to write/share everything here, so if anyone is interested to explore further on this topic, drop us a note at Ask Expert (

And to make things a bit more interesting. there is still another 50KM of race at the TNF Singapore the following week before I get the weekend off, and that is just the beginning of more to come.

Till the next race, signing off for another survival adventure.


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