Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Eco-X Race Report by the Average Joes Part 2

On to CP4 DUMAs:
The route from CP3 to CP4 was far. It was at least 2.5km through rubber plantation. Then we had to run 1.9km to a T Junction, then another 1.2km to the CP.

It was already noon by then. Time is a factor, not so much of fear anymore. Doc was latching himself to me and Steve. Fever setting in, and he was feeling cold, despite the heat in the afternoon sun. We ran and walked fast. Frustration abound and we started to joke about those signs.

You see, the night before, Doc was telling Bandit that he will be the access baggage in his team with two very fit kick boxers.

Then it was the Brooks running shirt that was given as part of the goodies. Doc’s T had IPOH RUNNERS written behind it.

It suddenly hit us that Bandit will have the last laugh, as Doc is now our access baggage.

And the fact that the DUMAs Joes took the hashing trail, was evident enough that we are living up to the IPOH RUNNER’s slogan…

Oh well. Since we are still at the same position since we started the race, we might as well do some park ranger work. Steve was seen picking up Powergel and Powerbars wrappings, strewn all over by the other participants. Being environmentally friendly chap that we are, we tried picking up as much rubbish thrown by participants as we could.

At this point, there was one team in front of us. A Singapore team. A mix team. We said our *hi*s whenever we crossed path. Feeling slightly dejected that we might not be able to do reach in time, we pushed and pulled everyone together and ran the race of our life…to CP4.

We met the French team that called themselves Ayam Brand at the last 1km to CP4. They are finishing their race and are running to CP10. Definitely a very nice bunch, unlike some claimed to be friendly neighbours that we some knows. (well, you all know who la!)

CP4, it’s caving time.
We reached CP4 with 30 Minutes to the cut off time. Had our harnesses on and headlights on, we ran into the cave opening.

A bit daunting. I’ve not done caving. I do not know what to expect. The cave opening was only big enough for 1 person. Steve almost got stuck between the opening. I need to suck in my tummy. Was pleasantly surprised that Bandit did not jam the whole opening up. (Sorry bro, can’t help it)


It was DARK. Pitch black. The headlights with 7 LEDs bulb didn’t even seems to disturb the certain eeriness in the cave. There wasn’t any lights, let alone any noises in the cave. By this time, the Singapore Mix team was behind us, and told us that they will be following us in the cave, for fear of getting lost.

We found the first few route pretty easily, though in pitch darkness, with the bearings supplied and good map reading skills(or rather, luck), we soon found what they call the Mao Tze Tung Chamber. Aptly named as it was the hiding spot of the communist during the Emergency back then. There was this BIG read STAR drawn on the cave wall. We did took some time to suck in what we deemed, part of history.

Moving on, we crawled, scrambled, climbed and we finally reached the spot, which we saw rays of lights flooding into the cave. It was the cave opening. And we are at CP5.

At this point, the Singapore team decided to cut infront of us...oh well…at least they lived up to their Kiasu namesake…

CP5, the Flying Fart, eh, Fox.
Imagine our delight, when we saw the Monster Girls, OP Adventure and Pura Pura Kura Kura team just in front of us at the flying fox.

We were told by the CP5 marshal that there is 10 teams that has not checked in at CP4. out of which, at least 3 already quited the race by CP3.

Those were words of encouragements. We, being the very very last team, didn’t do so bad afterall, we managed to catch up with the last few teams despite doing some extra races by ourselves.

The view was spectacular. We, at the top of the cliff in the cave, with the cave opening on the other side of the rope. Elevation was 75m from base camp. The line looked at least to be 70 meters long, the marshal at the other end looked only as tall as 2 inch.

One by one, each team are checked and checked again for their harness and carabiners to be functioning and doing what it was supposed to do.

Marshals lock each and everyone in.

The Monsters Girl screamed.

The Pura Pura mix team shouted and waved.

OP Adventure Looked cool. But silence was only broken by Bandit’s bitchy scream as he glide down the rope at maximum speed. He said he farted on air…well…that, you have to ask him yourself for more explaination why this is the flying fart for him, and not fox.

The Average Joes took the time to let the excitement sink in. If this was exciting enough, we can’t imagine what it would be like in those harder technical rope section. We could only pray that we will be allowed to do it. No matter what it takes.

After landing at the other end of the rope, participants has to climb all the way up again. This is where the rock climbing skills that some of us has been doing come in useful. The edges are sharp as the stones and surfaces was carved by the elements. It was a pretty tiring climb as we emerged at the starting point of the flying fox again.

The altitude drop from the top of the flying fox to the bottom was about 50m.

Me and Steve went to the edge of the Cave mouth to see where we were. We could see the NS Highway, and make a quick mental note of where we were exactly, should be travel on the highway.

We then quickly find our way out, more bearing taking and darkness in the cave again to find our way out.

We reached CP6 after decending the rocky and jagged cliff of the cave.

At the bottom of the cave, we were told my the marshal that we do not make it to the cut off time of 12pm, which of course we knew.

Adamant that we are not technically able to do the technical rope section, we decided and head on to CP7. It’s a do or die thing, if they do not allow us to do it, we’ll make sure that non of the marshals get out of CP7 alive. *Evil grin*

From CP6, we had to run about 1 km to the turn off of Nomad Adventure Park.

The Average Joes decided to act dumb(well, we already did that for half the race, why not just carry on with it?) and checked into the mystery test.

We did not beg anyone if we could do it.

We did not threaten anyone for it.

We did not throw tantrum and cry if we are deny of it.

We just want to do the rope.

The mystery test at CP7 involved moving a numbers of item from one end to the other. But there is a catch, the plank they supplied isn’t long enough to reach the other side, and no team member could touch the ground in between the two points. We can’t throw the boxes, planks, pipes and can. We have to transport it over, and our DUMAs over.
Wasn’t very tough. Maybe because at this point, we’ll do anything to get to CP8…

We got through the CP7 with 1.5minutes penalty(really, what are 1.5minutes compared to us getting there 1 hour and 30 minutes late???)

Joyous that we could do the technical roping…we scrambled quickly, before the marshals decided that we did not make it to the cut off time. ;-)

At this point, we didn’t see Team OP Adventure and Dunno La. We thought they went on to CP8 already.

On to CP8
The route to CP8 was kinda dangerous in some portions. It is the mountain’s ridge, with sharp edges and loads of loose rocks everywhere, we just had to be extra careful. Again, loads of maneuvering under huge rocks and tiny crevices that was kinda difficult for me and Steve to squeeze pass.

It was it’s own adventure, as the whole mountain seems quiet, as if observing what we are doing, spooky, and yet, exhilarating!

CP8: Point of No Return.
Nope, we are not talking about any sexual stuff here (after Doc’s bending over at CP2, it is kinda hard not to Not talk about sexual innuendos…LOL)

We saw the Monster Girls and another mix team that we know as Wasabi 1. The Singapore team was 3 teams infront of us. They skipped the flying fox and took a one hour penalty to do the technical rope section. I guess it is kiasu spirit at it’s best…taking 1 hour of penalty just to get infront 3 teams of the DUMAs Joes???

There was a long queue at the rock climb area.

The first technical area involved participants to climb up a rock surface that looked like a chimney. It was almost 10 meters high, and with lil surface but roots to grab on. Team mates has to belay their own members, and officially, after the watermelon Steve and chopstick Doc went up, I am the last participant of the race. At that point, I am just glad that I could do the technical section.

We didn’t get to do the rock climbing until 1hours and 30 minutes later as there was a bottle neck at the high traverse section.

When it finally came to our turn, we took all the time I could to savour each and every roots and rocks that we cling on 10 meters above. I felt like spiderman that moment, abeit a clumsy one.

After reaching the top of the climb, we are to face a fixed line task. This involve the participant to clip themselves onto safety lines, and walk across some pinnacles of the mountain. Sharp rocks, big gap with views of the jungle below and shaky hands working on those carabiners. Adrenalin rushed through every nerves and muscles. I got stung by bees 3 times..and yet, I do not feel the pain, nor those cuts and gash on the shins and calf or fingers felt anymore painful that it should be.

Bunch of junkies we are.

We reached out turn for the high traverse. We could immediately see why there was a bottle neck previously. The two horizontal cable(6mm steel cable) was suspended about 40m between two ridge. On the left is the jungle and on the right, is the kinta valley…magnificent! To add to the difficulty, the cables are on a gradient, meaning, we had to move ACROSS and UP to the next ridge. A quick check of the altimeter registered a 89m at the starting point and 93m at the other side. Moreover, because of the angle, the top cable and the bottom cable sort of close into each other towards the end.

So, you could be starting with the top cable ON hand’s length and end it with the same cable under your armpit…tricky tricky, especially the last 2 feet, as the cable tends to be slippery, and foothold, jittery!

Again, I went last, and I didn’t had any pic of myself taken while doing that…because I took the pics for Doc and Steve. As I was the last person, again, I took the time to savour what Ipoh and mother nature got to offer, maximum hang time there while the wind, sun and nature tried their best to scare me. And trust me, it wasn’t really hard for them to do that!

I crossed the last 2 feet and the feeling was simply awful. Scared shit eventhough I had 1 sling hokked on me and the top cable, and one prusik cord tied as safety latch, incase I slide back to the starting point of the traverse.

Soon after, the weather changed, bright and sunny one moment…and dark and windy the next.

Monster girls were getting ready to abseil when it poured cats and dogs. The wind strong sent chill down to the bones. Hungry as it was almost 4 hours when we last had any food(ran out of supplies at CP4). No more water for the past 2 hours. And knowing that beyond the cliff, is a 90degree drop about 65m below…did some quick calculation and it worked out to be about 27 storey high, assuming that each floor is about 8 feet high. That’s like abseiling down some towers in KL! Even when Doc did the Abseil in AXN last year, it was only 50 meters high.

There were 3 lines for the abseil. Doc took one, I took the other one and Steve took the last one. The wind got stronger and the rain began to pour so heavily. I was checked and all my equipments were double and tripled check to make sure that it all is functioning the way it should. Can never be too safe when it comes to safety.

Here I go. I didn’t manage to say any prayer. Stepped off the cliff and went down, cautious at first, and once I gained confidence with the prusik cord being able to save my life should I pass out out of fear, I let the rope go faster.

Rain hitting on me, adrenalin flowing, arms aching and tired. Hungry. Thirsty.

There were two instances that I stepped on the cliff wrongly and almost had my face smacked into the sharp surface. I decided to go slow, and enjoy the vegetation that is growing out of the crevices and the roots on those rocks. Just a way to take the mind away that I’m about 30 meters off the ground.

I reached the ledge soon after, unhooked and hooked myself to a second set of rope. This time, the cliff surface was smoother, and I could hear doc shouting and rooting for me. I went down fast, so much faster than the first time, this time, rather than abseiling, I was repelling off the cliff. I was down in like 10 seconds, but it did felt like eternity before I was told to jam my ropes.

Doc looked sick.

I was exhilarated.

Steve came soon after. With those permanent smile as usual.

The time was already 5.30. there is no way for us to complete the race. It’s official, we the DUMAs Joes are last, and didn’t complete the race, one CP short.

We passed the passport to the marshals and they signed it and noted our time. We were told to go to the parking area and hitch a ride back to Gua Tempurung.

There, we saw the 4 teams infront of us. Happy to see us back.

It was a good sense of camaderie. The usual face we see in most races, but we do not know their names, this kinda race is starting to feel like it’s some groupie kinda thing…well, not that we are complaining though.

I’ve told u ppl that we skipped this. The river is too shallow, we can’t board the river. Further more, we DUMAs has had enough of the raging rapids up in Sg Kampar.

The ride home to CP11
All the 4 teams and some marshals rode at the back of the 1 tonne lorry. As if not enough being battered by the cliff and river, it’s the trees’ turn to each slap our head everytime we go pass those low overhang. Thank goodness there is any durian at that height, or any Kerengga nest…

We reached Base camp. Happy, but at the same time, frustrated not being able to finish the race. But we sorta got what we came for. For the DUMAs, it was our first Eco-X outing. We now know how tough it was, and the organizers wasn’t joking last year when they say the race is tough.

We each had 2 servings of rice, way past our lunch. And had another 2 servings, when we stopped at Tapah Rest Area later.

Bandit was happy to see us back, he told us that the river boarding was too long and not too fun as the water was about ankle deep only and the water wasn’t fast.

Ah, that was the consolation that we knew…that we didn’t make any mistake risking humiliation to check into CP7 to do the mystery test, eventhough we were told that we already didn’t make it for the cut off time…

Last Words:
Doc : pls sms everyone that we’ll run TTDI tomorrow at 6pm and swim at Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

Steve: Dude, when is the next race??

Stupe: Dumb ass…


  1. HUAHHHHHHHHH..manyak panjang lebar ni woh..must go step by step? ooo baby? LOL..NKOTB style =P

  2. hahaha..NKOTB....yeah, step by step..check point by check point. i know it is long, jsut imagine those are done in 10 hours!