Thursday, March 05, 2015

Gunung Nuang Ultra 2015...

Event: Gunung Nuang Ultra 2015
Venue: Gunung Nuang, Pangsun, Hulu Langat
Date: 1 March 2015
Time: 6.30am
Distance: 12 hours looping on 10KM loop
Shoe: Saucony Peregrine 4.0
By Frank

My second event of the year and coincidentally, like last month's adventure at Hong Kong 100, it's a trail run again and this time at our very own Gunung Nuang. Despite moving up to Selangor some 18 years ago, I've never actually been to Selangor's highest point. And since mid last year, I been wanting to try new challenges and thus, the Gunung Nuang Ultra fits the bill. Besides, it's an event organised by a fellow friend, Jeff who has been organizing this event for the past 2 years. And without hesitation, I page Jeff over social media indicating my interest in the third edition and in an instant, I was in. The format was simple. 5KM into the halfway point before turning back to the start giving a total distance of 10KM per loop. And we have 12 hours to cover as many loops possible. The challenge, climbs climbs and climbs.

As the Comrades training for March has always been the longest and toughest, Gunung Nuang Ultra will really help. And thus, I kept in mind that I will run this as part of training rather than a race, remembering not to fall, sprain or break some bones in me. CAREFUL was the key word.

However, I wasn't careful with my sleep and woke up with a mild headache which I believe was due to my sleeping posture. Was hoping some sugar and my morning cup of coffee will help but instead, it gave me another problem. While the morning rituals back home was well, I decided to make myself a cup of hot Americano to sip during my long drive to Pangsun, about close to an hour. And while doing so, the urge to visit the potty came again. Ergh...

My last visit to Hulu Langat was like a year ago for the Titi 100 back then. And while driving through the roads there, I can't help but to think of those moments back then. Moments that I enjoyed and cherished.

Anyhow, I arrived at Pangsun around 5.45AM and the place was already filled with runners. I parked outside which was about 300M away from the race site. Had to power on my headlamp as it was pitch black but I was glad that I had my gears all packed up in my bag. Made my way for registration and although the urge to make my "deposit" was still around, the mood was cancelled out due to the toilet's cleanliness status and the number of people using it. I decided to hold on but was glad to have bump into Ken later who told me to use the chalet's one instead. Much cleaner with nobody in it, I left my mark, I mean deposit at Gunung Nuang. Feeling much better and of course lighter, I was ready to go.

And while waiting for the start, I met Daniel Chow, a reader of my blog and we chatted away even after the race started at 6.30AM. It was an immediate climb at the start and this caused some human traffic, like the start at Hong Kong 100. Despite feeling frustrated, I wasn't in a rush and hence continued my chat with Daniel. Despite having my LED Lenser lighting at 300 Lumens on me, it was still dark so it may be a good idea to go slowly with the other runners as I am not sure what to expect along the way since it's my first visit here.

The start area which due to corrosion is now being cemented. Though not entirely completed yet, certain parts were already done. And it was like a Kilometer long with patches in between still not cemented yet. Not so "trail" anymore and it can be dangerous on the descend.

Anyhow, once I found the space, I started my runs and broke free from the main crowd. Despite the climb, I attacked. Probably too "gungho" as it was just the start of the event, I was like a terrier wanting to go. With the headlamp lighting the way and with the sun slowly rising, the path was slowly visible to the eyes soon. And the environment at that time was cooling too. Pretty spectacular I will say since it's my first visit here.

Up up and up.

The climbs were pretty steep and tough with technical terrains at certain parts of the route. And the turning point is located some close to 500M above sea level! Soon, the leading runners was already making the return and I hope the turn was not far. And the sounds of water flowing from the stream on the right indicates that. Made my turn and with mostly descend now, I increase my pace.

I literary dashed down to the starting point and completed my first loop in about 73 minutes. Removed my headlamp, took a sip of water and off I went for my second loop, this time in broad day light. And the best part was that I was still having fun.

Nice bamboo formation.

With the crowd now broken up, I literary have lots of space to run around. With the path clearly lighted now, I can see clearly the terrain now. However, as much as I was enjoying running, the thing that got me worried was the insects, particularly the bees. Some can be seen hovering around the u-turn point area, and one little fellow came exploring of all places, my arm pit! I let it there for it to roam around for fears of it stinging me if I shooeed him away.

Continued my run and soon my second loop was in the bag. Took some Cola and a tiny peanut butter sandwich as I was beginning to feel hungry. Chatted with Jason and I joked to him that I wanted ChaTime when I next come back.

As my upper body felt a little sore, I brought along my trekking pole for the third loop. Though I began by running, it was at a reduce pace especially with the pole around. I felt a little clumsy with it but it did help with supporting my upper body as I pushed myself up certain slopes. I managed to reach the turning point in not a too shabby time but had to clumsily make the return trip. Legs were really sore and I was really hungry too! I was really hoping that food will already be serve when I get back down.

And yes, on the way down, I was told that lunch is served with fried rice and fried chicken on the menu. Any edible food will do for me as I made my way down. It was hot when I completed my third loop so I guess it will be a good time to stop for lunch. The fried rice was actually pretty good though was a little on the spicy side. Fried chicken was also very tasty. I guess I was just hungry. And while enjoying my meal, I chatted away with friends around. I spent about half an hour before resuming my run.

For my fourth loop, I ditched my trekking pole and armed myself with my GoPro camera. First time snapping photos while running, Gunung Nuang was the perfect place to start.I walked all the way to the turning point as I was just too heavy to run with the rice and chicken in my tummy. And therefore along the way, managed to snap some photos of the surroundings and also selfies with fellow friends. Selfies, yes I can imagine myself doing that!

Took me about an hour to reach the turning point. I was sweaty and it attracted the bees again with one of them checking out my arm this time! I waited for it to fly off before I started my run as I felt better with the food settling down. Managed to run walk back down and while doing so, saw Hazel who delivered a message from Jason saying something special is awaiting for me below. I thought it was Pokka coffee but upon arriving, it was bubble tea from Share Tea! I was just joking about the ChaTime earlier but really appreciate Jason and Hazel for buying this cup of tea for me.

With Jason, Khairi, Jeff and the guys from CompresSport Malaysia.

I rested while sipping the tea together with Jeff, Jason and Colin and Egeune from CompresSport. And when I decided to resume my run, my tummy once again was heavy due to the tea. Had to walk again but this quickly settled down. Nothing much happened along my fifth loop as I completed the minimum requirements in about 10.5 hours. Not too bad I guess with the stops in between. And I still had plenty of time for one more loop.

With Ken on my 6th and his 5th loop together.

And so my sixth loop, was literally done to catch up and to support Ken who is doing his fifth. Besides, it was also to morally support Zijill who was running at the Beaufort 60K at the same time. A little miscommunication with Ken though as I waited for him to return from his toilet break at the support station. I was happily eating oranges there when I thought the time taken was too long already. Apparently Ken took off from the toilet but glad he wasn't too far ahead as I managed to catch up to him. And from there, we just chatted along the way which really time passes faster. Soon, we arrived at the turning point, thank the volunteers there and made our return trip by walking all the way down.

Looks like I am finishing it off here but this isn't my last loop. Just like this photo very much.

And just after the last bend, we ran a little just to make sure we ran to the finish line side by side together in 11.01.00 hours with a position of 20. A good last loop with Ken here as we are travelling together this month end to the Twilight Ultra Challenge.

I truly really enjoyed my time at the Gunung Nuang Ultra. Many thanks to Jeff and his crew for organising this. Overall support and service was excellent but if there is one thing that I may suggest will be a 2.5KM/7.5KM marker along the way. I guess it will really help the runners know the distance they are at rather to keep relying on their GPS which may sometime be inaccurate or by remembering the environment around.

As for Comrades training wise, it's good to have 60KM in the bag on the first day of the toughest month of training. However, this is also a wake up call that I have still much to do especially in the strength department.

Now I am looking forward to visit this place more frequent now. But it's so darn far! :(

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