Finally, here is the final part of my ultra marathon journey in the recent Penang 100. You may read the previous part of the story here...
First 50km was done just under six hours and I got out from CP4 at 6:05, after a 15-minute break. It was around 3.10am, thank goodness that I didn't feel sleepy (yet), something that had kept me worried about this race. Maybe because I had Khairul as company. But, I'm all on my own from this point onward, after 'dumping' Khairul who took a longer break at CP4 (he told me he took 40 minutes of break and I wonder what did he actually do during that very long break...). However, I didn't 'dump' him without having some assurance that he would finish this race. Looking at his condition at CP4, no signs of cramps or blisters forming, still looking fresh and (I believe) still has lots of energy to spare, all hydration and gears plans went as planned and under control, I was confident that he would cross the finish line of his maiden 100km race. He looked comfortable with the race so far although we went quite hard in the first 50km - doing that distance under six hours. And what made me more confident to leave Khairul was the fact that we would have the luxury of time to complete the race - 12 hours spare before the cut off time. So on average, we need to cover 10km in two hours (something that is really, really doable) and still have two more spare hours as buffer. As for me, I had a stretch target of completing the race under 15 hours which means that I would have nine more hours to cover the second 50km of the race or equivalent to 1 hour and 45 minutes for every 10km on average. It sounds really doable too but I have to bear in mind that I couldn't take that luxury of time lightly as I have to deal with two more uphill sections - first, the 3.5km, 200m+ max elevation, Category 3 elevated road from Kg. Sungai Pinang to Teluk Bahang and secondly the dreaded 5km, 746m+ max elevation, Category 5 climb to the peak of Penang Hill (or Bukit Bendera).
Right after I exited CP4, the climb over Lebuhraya Gelugor towards Teluk Bahang awaited me. Not to waste any energy unnecessarily, I walked all the way along the 3.5km climb. There few a couple of other runners overtook me at flatter sections of the climb and as much as I wanted to run too (talk about being kiasu not wanting people to overtake), I told myself to be patience as there will be downhill section where I could run. Nevertheless, I kept a close monitoring to my pace and continue doing brisk walking and that helped me to maintain my pace to under 10 minutes per km during the 3.5km uphill section. The stretch was winding and dark, only lighted up by our headlamps and the occasional vehicles that roam passed us along the route. I had two other competitors trailing behind me, a guy and the other one was a lady from Singapore who is the eventual 3rd place winner in women category. If not for the two who kept me on my toes and kept me moving consistently, I would take my sweet time during the uphill section. It felt like forever to reach the top and I had at times fooled by those flatter sections which I thought were the starts of the downhill section but they were not. Instead, further climbs followed. I had to check the elevation profile on my watch to see whether I was there yet or not. Finally, it was near the Tropical Fruit Farm that the downhill section awaited me. And I ran flawlessly going downhill, 6 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometer. Cool 4am breeze accompanied me as I passed the Teluk Bahang Dam that was quite a sight to behold (what else can you see at that hours? :p)
|Arriving at CP5, feeling a little sleepy as it was already 5am.|
[photo by ET Tey]
Between CP6 and CP7 at Gurney Drive roundabout, which we finally got me out from Balik Pulau area towards the city center, I bumped into many other Penang runners doing the morning runs on the opposite direction. They were running from city towards Batu Ferringhi. And many of them cheered for me, given their shout outs and even a simple thumb up which kept my spirit high. It was just about eight kilometers between the two checkpoints that took me pass Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong. It was daylight again and the roads started to get busy on that Sunday morning. It was mostly flat but I had a strong urge to walk more and longer that I run. The Singaporean lady was still behind me but still within my sight. Anytime that I walked, she would close the gap with me. And I noticed that she was trying really hard to overtake me since CP4 and she even stopped very briefedly at the following checkpoints and got out ahead of me eventhough she arrived later than me. As much as (I think) she wanted to overtake me, I was in no mood to let that happen either (I take this as a healthy competition to keep me going haha...).
|Cooling off myself with iced sponge at CP7 before going for the monster climb up the Penang Hill|
I had never given any attention on the exact location of Penang Hill and even until that checkpoint, I still had no clue where it was? I thought it was not too far off from CP7 but I wrong, again! as we need to run for another 3km+ passing Youth Park before arriving at the foot or the entrance of Penang Hill. Saw the first runner of the 100km category going on home run not far from the entrance of Penang Hill. Five kilometers journey to the top started counting right at the entrance gate. I couldn't believe what I saw when I stood at the entrance - it was steep right from the beginning. As I tried to get use to the steep climb and getting my heart rate stabilized, I could not move more than... maybe 10-15 steps before I had to pause and take few deep breaths before continuing again. I passed and got passed by many other hikers along the climb. Few of them knew about the race and what was I doing there but they still shook their heads when I told them that I had been on my feet for the past 85km or so since 9pm yesterday, and was deprived of sleep. There were no sight of runners in front or behind me. So, some of the hikers walked by my side just to keep me company and keep me 'entertained' while I kept asking them whether it was still far away from the top (although there were distance markers clearly placed at the road side every 100m lol!). I also asked how long it would take to reach the top and I got different answers which wasn't helping me at all.
|This is really a bad ass, heartbreaker hill...|
|Didn't stop long at the top of Penang Hill but it was enough for me to enjoy the coconut provided by the race organizer.|
|Going downhill in a brisk.|
[photo by Yap Yue Teong]
|Nothing beats the feeling of crossing the finish line of your race...|
[photo by ET Tey]
From the official statistics released by the organizer, out of the total 227 who registered for the 100km challenge, only 86 finished and that is a lowly 37.8%. It proved how tough the race was or how not prepared the runners were, depends on how you interpret it. Overall, it was a very organized race - volunteers were great, friendly, helpful, hardworking; water/aid stations were superb and had all the necessary and useful stuffs - light foods, plenty of ice, bananas, instant noodles (although I didn't consume any), coffee, dates and lots of analgesic cream; great route - not all that easy but it was maybe once-in-a-lifetime experience to cover Penang Island on foot!; and the finisher's buckle was one-of-a-kind and maybe the first of such in ultra marathon events in this country. It was my personal highly-recommended event to all runners out there! and that shall wrap up my Penang 100km Challenge race report :-)
For full results of the 100km category, click here.
For my race details on Garmin Connect, click here.