Monday, July 05, 2004

AXN KL Race 2004 - Report

Wow! What a race. We didn't expect to be able to finish the race in the stipulated time. But both Teams Made it.

Read on.

Team Alpha: OP Azly, OP Hisyam, OP Ee-Van

Team Bravo: OP Adlee, Yusoff(OP Adlee's Brother in law, replacing OP Zuflin),OP Asfani

Adventure Starts
Both teams arrived at Taman Rimba Kiara at about 0900hours. We proceed to look for a shelter, jsut in case the sun decide to comes out in it's full glory and make us sweat even before the race starts. It was like a blessing, as the morning before, it was raining since 0200 hours until 0730hours. Expecting that the race will be wet, dirty and slippery, i smsed most of the members informing them to get ready to go down and dirty. Obviously, no one replied my sms...maybe they were still sleeping at 0730hours.

We immediately did a logistic check on all the equipments that we should have, and shouldn't have. OP Azly's front tyres need to be rotated as it was set at the wrong direction. So, there goes 6 men, trying to change and get the tyre at the right rotation direction. Not very encouraging, considering that we have to do it ourselves should any punture occurs. Nevertheless, we got things sorted out and most teams were seen warming up and showing off their mountain biking skills by doing bunnyhops and rear wheel lifts. Not to be outdone, a few of us join the crowd, well, in the most *tak malu* way, we are actually trying to get some TV crew to notice us.

Race Director, Yuen Li, called for a briefing after all teams collected their race bibs and check point infos. Each team has their handphone sealed with some emergency numbers stuffed into the plastic. Should the seal be broken at the end of the race, the team will be automatically disqualified, and hence, not ranked.

We were briefed on the race format and what to expect. There were a major surprise, One of us will abseil down the tallest flagpole in Malaysia. Abseil, yes. Flagpole? NO!

Somehow, we knew that something like that will wonder they asked for the smallest size to be able to climb up the ladder.......

After Briefing Shocks
Yeah, we were, we didn't expect what to expect. Everyone went back to their respective team. I sticked the whole map together so it make one big major map and highlighted the route that we will take.

The MAP!!!

Seems like a long long way to go, from Taman Rimba in Taman Tun all the way to KLCC. No problem in driving there, but cycling and running? We just thought that since our head is leg is wet, might as well get our whole body wet as well... we are all ready to go!

We were told that there is a *Matrix Zone* where we will be required to collect points, of which, 30 points must be from *M* points and a total of 80 points must be collected. This is how the planning for the *Matrix Zone* looked like:

Both teams planned their strategy, to get the fastest route using the least energy, to emerge victorious...oh well, at least we tried..LOL...

how serious was the planning? just look at us below:

Alpha in foreground. Bandit seems to be enjoying it...

And The Way We GO!!!
Even before we knew it, we were lining up at the starting line. With some countdown ala new year celebration (I could swear it was new year..), we pushed off and reached our first MCP(no, no Male Chauvanist Pigs). The MCP1 was called The Tire Tiring Test. Basically, it involve the team to carry 2 car tyres and run for 2km around the Taman Tun Park. We reached the place last and was forced to wait for the first team to come back with the tyres. Split between wanting to go back to MCP2 to do the second matrix test, or wait for the tyres, all 3 decided that we should wait. And wait we did. The excitement must had gotten into us, as we were clowning with the camera man again...LOL...our 5 seconds of fame...we wished! Not long after that, we noticed someone rolled down the tyres and it went right into the lake, then we saw some participant diving into the lake to retrieve the tyre...oh well...wet they are...

Our tyres came and we ran for our lives. Only to be stopped by the marshalls and they asked us to crawl under some sheet with the tyres..ah..not a problem, just like crawling under the 3-Tonne trucks back in the good ol-days.

By this time, fatigue has set in slightly, from the excitement and exhiliration. We were stopped at the small river and was asked to toss the tyres across the line..ah...i have to do it, and did it after a few tries, it wasn't as easy as it seems. Then, we were asked to run up the slope...oh well...up we went and down we this time, i was huffing and puffing and Doc was still ok. Bandit was still ok, but i was joke draggin the 90kg body of mine...

MCP2 - Blood Circulation Improved 100 times
We arrived back at the starting point to go through MCP2. Sounds easy enough as we were given bearing and distance and are supposed to note down 8 icons along the way and fill them up in order. But, being the second batch of ppl doing this(and possibly the last) didn't help as some of the icons and objects were sabotaged and moved away from it's original position. Because of this, we lost some time and were penalised to walk a total of 8 rounds around the stone reflexology track without was painful. It wasn't fun. But it was funny to see us walking like some cartoon. We did 3 rounds each, a total of 9 rounds.

We thought the ordeal was over, only to be given one sparkler(Festive season meh?) and was asked to run to the otehr end of the park to cross the lake on some makeshift styrofoam bridge, carrying the lighted sparkler across. The bridge gave way under the body weight. We can't do no *crouching tiger, hidden dragon* kungfu stunts to fly over the lake, so, we had to be happy to get wet and dirty at this MCP. We got over this and ran bck to our bike...time for the torturous climb up the Kiara Park.

MCP3 Here We Come
Doc, as the usual MTB warrior climbed the hill with not even any problem. Pulling strongly away from me and Bandit. I told myself, i've done this before, and i can climb this. I can. Half Way up, i was forced to eat humble pie. My body overheated and my heart was pounding like mad. I looked behind, Bandit was overtaking me. Good for him. I pushed myself further, only to succumb to my own weakness. I dismount the bike, sat down on the incline, removed all my gears and almost passed out. I felt useless. Bandit came to my rescue, to make sure i am ok. Other participant that passed me also asked if i was OK. I am glad, that at least, the sporting spirit is there amongst the participants. Doc ran down and helped me with my bike, he pushed my bike up to the landing and bandit make sure i could walk with him. Team spirits prevail.

We reached the MCP3, and there was decision to be made. We either take the running loop, which is worth 25 points or do Trail A, an offroad hill climb, which will lead us to Trial E, worth 10 points, which is a moderate trial. We took the running loop. It was at this point as well, that Team Bravo catches us. They were bugged with one tyre punture and they now caught up with us. That is good. both teams are going to run togehter in the secondary jungle of kiara.

The run was a long one. Took us almost 30 minutes and we have to retrieve 2 sets of password as the passport that we indeed did ran the whole trail and not tuanged. We were glad to see the first password. *TOK PENGHULU* was what it this time, the Fitness First all Woman team was hot on our back. We gladly gave way and encourage them and encouraged them further. Fitness instructoress...they are fit, no doubt. We ran and ate at the same time, time to top up the energy level and there is a constant reminder from anyone of us to hydrate.

We saw the second set of password, it was *(where the) FAKAWI*. Hahaha... now it make sense...TOK PENGHULU (where the) FAKAWI...get it? Doc was fit. All i an say is that. he was like the scouts/recce soldier, checking if there is a shorter way to bypass, rahter than following the proper trail. Way to go Doc.

We emerged at the other end of the trail. Went to pick our MTB and took Trail F. It is only 5 points but it was because it is a techincal offroad downhill. Yeah, time to test the bike shocks. I ended up shocking my left knee, as i crashed it against my gear shifter.It still hurts like hell now.We Managed to get out of the jungle easily and me retriving what looked like the sunglasses that belongs to OP Adlee. We found our way out and emerged at Bukti Kiara Country Club. We went for MCP5 Kayaking.

MCP5-Kayak Test
Sounds easier than MCP4, which was Horse riding. Me and Doc has no confidence in the handling of the horses, but Bandit was. Then again, it was a team decision and we went for the Kayaking. We reached the MCP5 and was asked to choose one member to be blindfolded and kayak to the middle of the lake to retrieve one pingpong ball to get the 10 points we need to get out of the Matrix Zone.
Doc happily get himself blindfolded(we always suspected there is some kinky side of him) and we pushed him into the water. it was hard to give direction. It was like one of the series from Survivors. Both me and Bandit had to give command to him to navigate around the lake to get to the basket where the balls were. Shouts and cheers from the crowds didn't seems to help as it drown our voices and instructions.

In theend, we managed to retrieved the ball, much faster than the other teams that arrived before us. Happy that we had fullfiled the whole Matrix Zone activities, we headed for CP1, the first official Check Point for this Race.

CP1 - National Science Center
We arrived at CP1, to be ranked as the top 25 team. Team Bravo overtaken us and we had to do our first Mystery Test. We were told to go down to the Science Center and when we reached the bottom of the cliff, we saw what the mystery test was all about. 4 banners, laid on the cliff, wet with soap water and the task was for all three members to climb up the 18 feet posters. It was slippery. It was wet. The ground was mashed from the previous participants, not giving us adequate grip. We saw how the other teams did it, and decided that we will improvise on it. I lied down on my back, anchoring my heels into the ground. Doc climbed on me, using me as a makeshift ladder, bandit was last to climb on me and doc. It wasn't a pretty sight, especially so when my face was looking at teh sky and have to face teh full length of both Doc and bandit rubbing their body and crotch on me on the way up the incline. Both of them got to the top. Problem. I am still at the bottom.

Bandit was the hero. He anchored himself on the rope, lowered doctor down and pull me up. It was no easy task as i am 90kg, easily the heaviest participants. I ain't heavy, i'm their brother. :D

We got off from CP1 and went for CP2, Behind SC.

CP2 to CP 3 - Run Forrest, RUN!
CP2 was up the hill. We were told that one of us has to run in the secondary jungle behind SC to some meeting point at Jalan Setiabistari. It is a 2km run in the jungle and a KM 2km ride up the road to CP3. Doc volunteered to run, as he feels that he is much fitter than both me and Bandit combined. This left with me and Bandit to ride up the hill with 3 bikes. We took turn to bring it up. Bandit almost met with an accident as he lost control of both bikes going downhill. I took over from there and we reached CP3. Doc took a good 10 minutes after we reached to get out of the jungle. Team Bravo was there earlier and Yusoff had a cramp. No worries. We helped each other and massaged each other's thigh to loosen up the tense muscle. OP Asfani emerged from the jungle and it was followed by OP Hisyam aka Doc a minute later. Hydrated, we went downhill to our next check point near Help College.

CP4 - Where's the Chics?
We forgotten, it was a non working Saturday and there is no College students around. Damn. We came out from CP3 to reach CP4, which was at the *jejantas* near Help College, where there is one Esso Station was. We had no choice but to cross using the flyover, carrying our bikes. By this time, fatigue had set in. Every steps we took up the stairs was a potential cramp on the Muscle. We got our Passport signed and chopped and we are going to Bangsar Shopping Centre, the place where CP5 is.

CP5 - Faster Than A Ferrari and Getting Lost
We took the Jalan Semantan Road to Jalan Maarof. The climb was relatively easier compared to the previous few climbs. Only different was, this stretch of road is BUSY! I was on my highest gear. Pedaling like some mad dog. Bandit and Doc was not far behind, doing the same. But hey, we were faster than most cars that was stuck in the jam. We even overtook a Ferrari twice! LOL...and who say Shuey's car can't be beaten? We touched CP5 in a moment, but it was hard to manourve around the traffic. After refilling our water and pouring a full bottle of water on our head and body to cool down(hey, it was 3pm in the afternoon already). We checked the map and folded to the side where we will be using for this stretch of the journey.

The instruction says: "Follow Jalan Sena to Lorong Maarof" Problem was, we didn't see any Jalan Sena after BSC! I then decided that we should just follow the main road, all the way downhill. This was also where i touched the speed of 60km/h on my bike. Somehow, my instinct told me that i'll overshoot the next CP. Which i did, and mislead the whole team to pass the CP by more than 1km. I stopped near Jln Telawi to recoup and to check the map again. Oh no, there is no Jalan Telawi. We are lost.

We asked around where is Bangsar Aman Apts and no one could give us the direction. We asked where is Jalan Limau Purut, and yet, no one could give us the direction, again. Then, we saw Team Bravo, also overshooting the CP like we did, and told us it was the other side, near where the Jalan Maarof Mobil station was. We retrace back and came to the Limau Purut.

Alamak...we had to climb some hill with our bikes. My calf was screaming and Doc had worries written over his face. He is small sized, and he knows his limit when it comes to carrying his bike, especially up slopes and stairs. He told me to help him with the bike, i told him not to worry. bandit was going strong, he was up the hill in a jiffy. I went to get Doc's bike and Doc went up the stairs.

We are finally at CP6.

CP6 - Federal Hills and JKR lot numbers.
Oh no, This stretch is almost 6 KM long... We were told to do a mystery test. Shucks, jsut when you thought things will get easy and we can move our arses to Museum. Written on a piece of paper was 4 sets of instructions. I was dead tired. I can't think. I left teh thinking to Bandit and Doc. This was where we met Team Bravo again. Alright, Budak Boy together again! First set of question was to go to Jalan JKR 2569/12 on Jalan Selangor to count how many mini Malaysian flags on the gate. Second was to go to Jalan Kedah and see what was at the end of the road. Third was to Locate where is Lot 2XXX/XX and count how many light bulbs on the house. Fourth was to get to the mini roundabout to be signed off and proceed to Jalan Travers.

Great. This Federal Hill is like one big maze. Nevermind there is all the Jalan of the States in Malaysia situated here, to locate them is harder than just knowing your Geography in school. There was 47 light bulbs, 2 mini Flags and the end of the road wasn't Boys2Men, but some Istana(see, i was dead tired, that i can't even register it until now!).

We find our way to the roundabout again. We managed to get this part of the Test done in about 35minutes. All thanks to the STOP. THINK. DO. principles that we had agreed upon should tiredness sets in. Doc and Bandit was the hero, i was reduced to waterboy. LOL.

CP7 - Sepak Takraw??!!
We exit the maze at Federal Hill, to the main traffic of Jalan Damansara/Travers and headed to the National Museum. A total of 2.5K. We entered Museum via the parking lot and drop off our bikes there. Team Bravo was with us all the time at this point. We were told to go into the Museum compound, where the CP7 was. We went inside, got our passport chopped and hey, there is a mystery test. We were required to kick the takraw ball across the net. Sounds easy. Well, not when our leg now felt like some jello and standing up requires more grit than strength. OKOK, we weren't exactly crawling, but the regulation says that one team member will throw the ball, one more will *timbang* the ball and the last one will kick the ball over the net. Again, sounds easy. LOL...we only managed to get the ball over the net after the 4th tries. So much so to the amusement of some tourist at the Museum.

We checked the watch, it was already 5pm. We only have 25 more minutes to run to Bird Park's back entrance in Lake Garden. Stress comes in. We came so far and now, we have to run. No more Biking, Just pure running. And run we did.

We tried to take the escalator near the museum to get to the top of the pedestrian crossing. Only to be met by one big guard that frown on us trying to use the escalator... we were scared shit and ran our way up the staircase. At this point, me and Bandit could swear our legs will cramp, despite the salt and sugar mixture that we had, and the water that we drank. Bird Park, here we come!

CP8 - Back Entrance of Bird Park.
We Ran our life from Jalan Perdana to Jalan Cendarawasih to Jalan Tembusu to Jalan Lembah to reach CP8. It was a long run. Especially when time is not in our favour. We timed orurselves. taking only enough rest to prevent the legs from cramping. Upon reaching CP8, we were told to enter the Bird Park and report at CP9 and CP10.

CP9 & CP10 - Technical Rope Section and Fear Factor
We ran and register at the table. But the queue was long. As per agreed, bandit will do the Two Line Bridge. With the Cables being placed like 30 feet from ground level and only 1 safey line should things goes wrong, Bandit seems to be more than eager to go. I was responsible for the Diagonal Abseil. The push off point was at 60 feet off the ground, this also meant i have to climb higher. It was pure fear factor. Confession time : I am afraid of height. I never told any of my team mates before, but despite being in the construction industry for the past 3 years, it is still one phobia i can't get over with. Bandit got over his relatively easier. I was still fumbling with my harness and cribs when Bandit came down and say "i've done mine, bring more on". Wow...he is an inspiration.

The climb was long and hard, body aching and leg trembling, i got to the push off point, everything downthere looked so tiny. the Marshall seems to cool about the whole scenario. That put me at ease a lil. After securing the roller and my cribs and the rope to the belaying device. I went abseiling down, i swear i almost throw up. The only other reason why i hated Roller coaster ride was because of the butterflies i get in my tummy when i go down...and down i went...distracting myself with some antics and cheers from my teammates. It was so soothing, that i believe, i overcame my own fear of height. Well done brothers in arms!

But the worse wasn't over. The 3rd member had to do a mystery test. It is non other than... Fear Factor Style. WORMS. Eat WORMS. YEap. W-O-R-M-S. A full spoonful. Doc was prepared for it. My salute to this Cili Padi Doc. He munched it all down and drank some salt water for taste. He even asked for pepper if there was any. The marshall girls was seen with their face green whenever someone have to eat the worms... From there on. We headed to our next CP. It was non other than the most exciting event of this race : Abseiling down the Tallest Flagpole In Malaysia at Dataran Merdeka.

CP11 - Top of the World, a love hate relationship
We ran from Lake Garden, Passing through CP8 to get to CP11. Running from Jalan Lembah to Jalan Perdana and exit at National Mosque. We chance upon a Mix team, that got lost and missed CP7 altogether. Poor them, they had to back track after we gave them the direction to get to Museum from Masjid Negara. We ran pass MGS(Methodist Girl School) and started to give Doc encouragement about climbing up the Pole and Abseiling down it. We chance upon one Mat Salleh Mix team where one of the member suffered some cramps at his quads. Bandit offered some ointment to ease the muscle pulls. The said thanks and we wished each other good luck. Obviously time wasn't on our side as it was already almost 1800hours.

We reached Dataran. Checked in at the CP11 and shoved Doc to the table and say that he will be doing this portion of the race. It was meant to be this way, as he is the smallest among all the 3 of us, and he had confidence in the abseiling part(unlike me, that hit my butt square on during the test, inviting jeers and laughter from all the participants). Team Bravo arrived shortly and OP Asfani was asking me if i've seen his wife. he is gonna do the abseiling for Team Bravo (which means that he ate the worms in CP9&10!!)

Me and Bandit planned from there while Doc was climbing inside the flagpole to get to the push off platform. We removed our harnesses and kept everything aside. The mix team that we chance upon near MGS was also at CP11. The only girl will be climbing and doing the abseiling. Well Done. We offered more ointment to them, in the name of sportsmanship. We took our breather and we keep shouting for Doc and to encourage him. We know he can't hear us for the fact that he is more anxious about the whole techincal rope ordeal than our cheering. but i could swear that i heard him shouting for us!!!

We saw him over the ledge, with strong wind blowing(the flag was at full mast what...), he came down at good speed. Not many people can claim he/she had done it. But in this AXN race, at least 53 person can have this bragging right, and the 2 of them is non other than our own Old Puteras. OP Mohd. Noorhisyam Salleh and Op Asfani Musa, Our *Tabik Spring* to the both of you!

CP12 - Highly Evolved.
Last check point to get our passport chopped. It is at Land Rover Malaysia's showroom in Jalan Ampang. The longest stretch of running in this race which is 3km. It was about 6.20 when we pushed off from Dataran Merdeka. Cutting through Medan Pasar, Lebuh Ampang and into Jalan Ampang, it was a long long stretch of road to go. body was heating up. Adrenalin was pumping. We did a quick equipment check:
Bags: ON.
Harness: ON.
Water: ON.
Food: ON.
Map: ON.
Balls: One pair left on the flagpole.

We paced ourselves to the last CP, ie CP12. Stopping to stretch the tired muscles and to catch a breather. We made small target to run to. Bandit was superb at coordinating these. His instruction to "run to the next bus stop", "run to the last tree" does wonder. We were, indeed, running only based on these small target and kept telling ourselves that we've made it so far, better make it into the ranking.

At the Junction of Jalan Ampang and Jalan Sultan Ismail, Bandit showed up a Poster of his batchmate in the Cadbury poster. OP Nazril was in the ad. Yeah, he was smilling alright. Lets hope not at us.

We reached the KLCC-Public Bank HQ junction. There were a lot of crowds, at this point of time, we had been running with this other male team. They had a baggage in the form of one member that is slowing them down. Doc had me and Bandit as baggage. his patience was great. Just like what a doctor could be. At this point, we've not seen Team Bravo yet. We secretly hope that they are not far behind.

When we reached the junction of Jalan Ampang-Jalan Tun Razak. Both my teammates offered to offload the bags and maps i've been carrying throughout the race. The Land Rover Mystery test is what i am responsible for. I've always loved driving. I won't give up the chance to drive a TD5 Rovers...At this point fo time, we reached Land Rover at about 1850hours. Got our passport chopped and i had a test sheet with me to be given to my driving instructor. I was disapointed. It wasn't the TD5, it was the Freelander. Nevermind i say. Both Bandit and Doc has to run up the incline and down the incline to pass me an AXN sticker, before i am given the key to the car to drive them.

Doc had to go through some puddles of water before reaching me. I hopped into the car, fasten the seat belt and started the engine. There were time penalties if i drive too fast and if i drive too carelessly. Since the car is an auto transmission, i decided not to rush it and just go with the flow. I went through some crusher run into some embankment that was slanted at 45 degree. Great, the car held on nicely. At this point of time, the instructor recieved a phone call. I was at the makeshift wooden bridge when he shouted "YES!" I thought he meant that i drove pretty well, but it was actually he sealed a deal. So, i broke the ice. I asked him about the car, which was a 2.5L V6 and cost about RM188k OTR. Ahead of me was some bumps, where the Traction Control will be utilised. I went up and down slowly, not wanting to be penalised for anything i shouldn't do.

I went through the test drive without totalling the car. Which was good. Happy that i dind't gain any time penalty, we went ont o get our passpot signed and we ran back to KLCC.

The Finale - Anda Tentu Boleh
We were happy that we came this far, within the stipulated time of 7 hours. Not bad for first timer. Not bad for Weekend Warriors. When we crossed the road near Ampang PArk, Doc pointed to the Kembara on top of the LRT station that reads: "Anda Tentu Boleh". Yeah, We Boleh. OP Boleh. Proud that we came this far, we didn't want to spoil it all by getting overly excited about finishing the race.

We planned our finishing. we talked and cheered each other on. We smiled. We laughed. We almost cried when we see the finish line. The crowds and marshalls cheeered us on. We Jogged in line. And at the word "now!" all the three of us got down on all fours and crawled to the finish line. We wanted to create an impact. We wanted to take away the seriousness of the competition. We wanted to have fun. And fun we had. As we surrendered the passport and the sealed phone to the Race Marshall to time us in at 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Team Bravo arrived almost 15 minutes later. We went on to hug and cheer them on. Just like how an OP would do to one anohter. Esprit de Corp.

The Wrap ups
OP Kam Kasturie was at KLCC to congrats us. Then it was followed by Doc's and Bandit's batchmate(sorry, i was too tired to remember your name sir!) and OP KC Yu, was there as promised to congrats and help us get our bike back home.

We've made it. We can't believe that we did. But we've done it. After this challenge, though it might seems as petty to some. It was great achievement, because we've put in what we promise we will do, in the name of Old Puteras and in the aspiration of the Sportsman Prayer.

Photos after the race:

No, we are not going picnic Bandit

How many men it takes to change a tyre?

Upak Singing to the Tree?

Check out the head band

Alpha After Race

Bravo After Race