Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Putrajaya 100KM 2014...

Event: Putrajaya 100KM 2014
Venue: Taman Sri Empangan, Putrajaya
Date: 22 November 2014
Time: 7.00AM
Distance: 100KM (101.1KM by Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Sapphire)
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 5
By Frank

The Putrajaya 100 is an event by runners for runner organised by Team Pacat consisting of friends like Arman, Zinov and Zul. Established runners themselves, I know their capabilities in organising runs judging from the portfolio and hence took the opportunity to sign up my first event by them.

I didn't want to let my mind sway back to what it was before my escape to Europe and hence running is my way of preventing that from happening. Putrajaya 100 may just be 1 week after the Penang Bridge Marathon, but I guess if I tackle it carefully, it should be fine. I wanted to keep the momentum going and since Jamie downgraded his distance to 52KM where no pacers are allowed, I registered for the 100KM distance. There's a 160KM distance but no to that for I've my own reasons.

My legs were still shaky after last week's marathon and knowing this will be a tough course to crack due to the intense heat, I needed to plan in advance. As I will be experimenting new methods too, I will be going in without any energy gels and will try to minimise on sugary drinks intake. Prepared some snacks such as macadamia, cashew, almond, raisins, dried guava and mangoes and told Roy that I may need an apple pie in the noon.  I also had one last chocolate waffle from Scotland's ASDA hypermart which I pack in my bag.

Fast forwarding to race day, I hardly had any sleep at all despite turning the lights off at 8.30PM. With the run starting at 7AM, the need to arrive before 5AM to deposit our special needs bag and to collect our bib number was too demanding in my own opinion. If trail events can collect them till the race starts, I don't see why a road event can't do the same too. Besides, the first 2 checkpoints which are the same is very near to the starting point. And the best part was, the organisers were still giving out till 6.45AM!

I arrived at about 4.45AM with Jamie coincidentally arriving too. Collected our bibs and deposited my bags while donating some tees and shoes off where some NGO's will come collect later. Hung around with Jamie, Nick, Ben, Soon Chung and Jonathon while waiting for time to tick away.

Fat forwarding to the race start at 7AM, the 100 Miles runner started off in a wave of 20 runners. About 3 waves and it was the 100KM runners turn. I was in the third and last wave, a simple "GO" by Arman, and we were off. Raymond started with me while Roy with Tick Hock. The main priority was to settle into my heart rate zone where a 140 to 150 beats per minute will be ideal. And I managed to find just that as I ran around the CBD area of Putrajaya heading towards the first check point 11KM later.

I felt good at the first checkpoint and out of a sudden, my pace increased. And this is where I lost Raymond as I ran towards Pullman Resort where I bumped into Renee. As we ran along, I was caught by surprise when I arrived at Taman Cabaran which was the third checkpoint. Despite knowing the second checkpoint was the same as the first, we still got lost and that includes the runners from the 100 Miles category, Jeff, Ben and Foo were some of them there too. Lost and bewildered, everyone started questioning each other and also the volunteers there. I was pretty disappointed with the volunteers there as they didn't know anything at all. Sigh...

Everything was in a mess at just 15KM into the run. Together with Renee and 3 other runners being Sonny, Jourgen and another expat, we asked the volunteer where to head to, to continue on the right track. They asked us to turn left which was actually wrong! And thus, all 5 of us ended up at Dengkil. However, we were lucky as there was an entrance to South Park which will eventually merged back to the correct run route, well of course with some navigation of course.

Once back on the race route, all 5 of us broke free from each other. Soon, I found myself on a highway which I think will eventually lead to Kajang. Being in an open space, it was surely hot and with temperature starting to rise, so is my heart rate. I find it difficult to continue with my pace and had to resort to walk and run strategy.

I was all alone for a moment in time though I can see runners ahead of me. My legs were stiff and hurting already and I still had 75KM to go! Too early to be experiencing this. But as I took out my phone to update Roy on my location, I managed to find some of my strength back and restarted my run and soon exiting the highway into the housing estate of Taman Bukit Rimba, a very nice place.

Though Taman Bukit Rimba is a nice place, it was certainly very hilly as we ran through the park. Shaded from the sun, I took the opportunity to go faster since finding back my strength earlier. And since it's hilly, it works to my advantage. Arriving almost to the end of the park was this junction without any signage. I took the left turn and saw the checkpoint just below and hence thought I was on the right track. However, I found myself running in circles and knew that I should have taken the other direction instead which I did after circling back to where I came from. Soon enough, Elvin and Jason Thai came into the picture and there as it, the fourth check point.

Took a short break here as the day became hotter. Took in some Cola but had an overdose of watermelon and hence found it difficult to resume my run. But as it was uphills again, this gave me an opportunity to walk fast while allowing to food to slowly settle down in my tummy. And once it did, I found myself in Precinct 14. I managed o resume my run here and was going really well till I hit a huge roundabout with multiple turnings. There wasn't any signage here and instantly, I followed the path I was running on, which is the left.

I ran for about 2KM before soon realising that I may have ran the wrong direction. I took out my phone and started comparing the map provided by the organisers and also Google Map and to my horror, it showed that I should have turn right earlier instead. With no choice, I back track to where i came from and spotted the directional marker on the other side. Sigh...

Continued on the path and soon it was another highway I entered. Ran on the motor lane and caught up with Renee, Rich, Tiru, Jerry, Leon and Eileen. We paced and kept each other company for the next stretch is long and hot. Eventually one by one, each ran out of water. I still had some and gave them but it wasn't enough and had to stop by where the municipal grass cutters were taking a break under a tree to ask for water. We resumed our run once everyone is ready and soon we exited the highway into some park of sort. A little cross country here before we saw Taman Wetlands on the opposite side. I broke away from the group and eventually arrived at the fifth checkpoint hidden well inside a park.

Ben was there resting and I took my waffle and some nuts here. The food served here was dry and spicy and hence decided to skip it. There was even no ice here despite the hot weather! Didn't stop too long and hence continued with my return trip as this was the turning point for the 100KM category.

Weather on the return trip was much better with rain clouds hovering in the sky. Saw more on more runners coming in and cheered them on. But sadly, I spotted some 100 Miles runners which includes Siaw Hua who were lost searching for their sixth checkpoint. I couldn't help much with navigation and all I could do was to offer them water, which I had 1.5L with me. The very fast Slovakian runner (9th overall at Spartathlon this year) got lost too. He couldn't speak English and I really do not know what he was saying but I believe he was cursing. He pointed to my bottle of water and so I gave him as he was without anything. A few other runners came and they left with them. As for me, I continued on.

Fast forwarding to Precinct 14, I made a quick phone call before the rain came. But the rain did not come at all, a false alarm. I took a short break at a bus stop to massage my tired feet before continuing on. And fast forwarding to the park just before the sixth checkpoint which was the earlier fourth, I cross path with Uncle Oliver, Ken, Phang a few others making their way out. Few words of motivation and water too as I know it's a long way for them.

I soon found myself back at the earlier fourth checkpoint. Hong Lan was there and she offered me a ice cold bottle of Pokka coffee which I gulped down almost instantly. Short rest here while packing up some of the dried fruits I left here and it's off on the road again with Renee and the rest from the group earlier.

Through Taman Alam Rimba which I walked all the way before arriving at the highway. While the rest has took off, I was still playing recovery. The aim now was to get to the next checkpoint before sun set. And when I felt I was ready, I resumed my run. And out of a sudden, I heard a car honking. It was Roy with Raymond in it and they were making their way to our next check point. I hasten my pace and started using markers such as bridges, trees or lamp posts to run and rest.

Soon, I exited the highway and was back at the back of Taman Cabaran where suddenly a very familiar figure appeared running towards me. It was Roy and I was glad he was there. We walked together till the rest caught up before he left to meet up with Renee and Eileen at the back. I made my way to Taman Cabaran's entrance where the check point was and took a long rest there as I feeling wonky already. The volunteers here were either really lazy or they are just unhelpful!

The sun has set and it was dark when I left for the next check point which was just 6KM away. I had my headlamp and blinker on as I tried to follow Renee and the group ahead. I eventually caught up with them at the lake side and we all together made our way to the checkpoint. Soon Chung and Jonathon was there unlike  the previous check point, I find the volunteers here very helpful and friendly indeed. Well done you all!

As the sky finally open up, I requested for a hot cup of coffee and Hong Lan made me one. Thanks a lot my friend as it help warm me up as I was feeling rather miserable already. And with it, I continued with my journey which was a 10KM out and back route. This was the route we missed earlier in the day which causes us missing the second checkpoint. And to make it up, we had to do twice here. But as I ran, I did some calculations of my own that I only needed to do 1.5 times here as I had already made up some distance from running the wrong direction at Dengkil and Precinct 14.

The first loop was done in the rain. I wasn't in the mood to talk and thus ran on my own. I hasten up on my return trip and eventually made it back with Yik Yee there waiting. Despite feverish, this friend still came all the way to support us. Thanks Yik Yee.

The half a loop was with Soon Chung. I asked if he was sure to follow me as I was already feeling tired and grumpy but he mentioned it was fine. In the end, I was glad he did as the conversations with him made my entire walk faster and less painful before arriving back at the checkpoint.

One final rest, a quick one and it's off on the final 11KM with Soon Chung. Was really glad again that he accompanied me.We walked around the CBD area before eventually entering back into the housing area. It was a slight uphill climb here and hence was till walking. But once we made the turn around, it was easier and hence I restarted my run. And soon, the Gemilang Bridge came into sight with Taman Sri Empangan next to it. Steps after steps, strides after strides, eventually I completed my run together with Soon Chung in a time of 18:05:35 hours. Though my worst 100KM run, it was still acceptable I guess since I went missing a couple of times.

But in terms of performance, I didn't think I did that well. I couldn't keep my heart rate down and my food intake was poor compared to Craze Ultra. However, I do know now that I can survived on water and also food such as nuts and waffles. No energy gels needed! Anyhow, it's all about experimenting and this run was all about it.

A few friends such as Soon Chung, Jonathon, Roy, Raymond, Hong Lan and Elvin helped me a lot. Then Jason for the "finisher's coffee". And of course, not forgetting another friend supporting me from behind the scene as mind over body it is!. I THANK you all for helping me in whichever way in my fourth 100KM run. This is for you all!

All in all, the Putrajaya 100 is a decent event. It has its flaws but knowing it's an event organised by runners themselves with minimal support and sponsors, we as runners can understand. While some say runners were to blame for not studying the race route which I tend to agree too, I personally do think that organisers have to take most of the blame here. But since the damage has been done, it's really up to them to do a post-mortem to see what went wrong and how to improve on the next edition. Am not going into too much detail on what went wrong but here in point forms is what I thought was worth looking at:

- Improvement of directional markers, and if possible for both sides of the roads whenever possible
- To inform volunteers and marshals of the run route, and also to inform them to be more pro-active in helping the tired runners
- To look into the food and drinks served. I find them too dry, spicy and insufficient at a few checkpoints. Even ice which was important for such a hot event wasn't enough especially at Checkpoint 5
- If organisers were to give out Emergency phone numbers to the runners, please do make sure to answer them when called or at least return call
- Where was the bike marshals that were suppose to be on the road looking out for runners at check point 4 and 5 as per stated on the website? I don't remember seeing any.
- Collection of race bib and drop of special needs bag at least 2 hours before the run? I don't see why can't they still be accepting till at least half an hour before the start?
- Enforcement of mandatory gear? Don't see a check and the poor Slovakian runner was left with nothing during his misadventures looking for check point 6.

* All photos here credited to the respective photographers. Thank you.

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