Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kinabalu 24th Climbathon 2010 Race Report

It all started somewhere in April this year when Yusran asked if anyone is interested to join the Climbathon as he was bulk booking the hostel at the Park HQ.

Kinabalu. I last climbed up in 1992 when i was in RMC. I am proudly holding the old height certificate of 4101m. It was in 1997 when they re-surveyed the height and found out that they over declared the mountain to be 6m higher.

Fast forward 18 years later, i found myself at the mountain again, ready to conquer her within the stipulated cut off timing that i believe not every human could achieve.

Involuntarily, i signed wifey up for the run. RM60 to climb Kinabalu is a big major bargain. RM60 to just get a chance to hike up Kinabalu is a bargain. Never mind if we could not reach the top.

Without much thinking and thoughts, i signed up for myself and wifey, not knowing what to expect, or not to expect.

"training how?", it was the constant questions i get from wifey when i broke the news to her.

"I set you up for SCKLM 21km, then Newton 25km and it should be good milestone to gauge if you are ready for Kinabalu", i tried to convince her, obviously signing up the other races without her "aye-ing" as well.

"In fact, i get you a trail shoe and i bring you into the jungle just to get a feel of it", i smiled.

She knows it's all too late to say no.

"Air ticket booked", i told her two months later.

Too late.

We arrived KK on Thursday. Stayed a night in KK town just to soak up a bit of the city that i grew fond off when i was working in Sabah about 2 years ago.
With wifey catching a flu and started to have fever, i was a bit worried. But she was determined to do the run/walk/crawl. Some of her friends said she was crazy to do it without training. Some were just lost for words. Her mum was worried she will pushed herself so much she might have a heart attack going up.

Panadol became her good friend and despite not feeling top of the world, seafood dinner was something that no fever can stop us.
Not helping was the hotel we were staying had bad rooms. We changed a total of three times before we decided to just stop changing despite the last room has a leaking aircond that threaten to flood the room if i did not put the rubbish bin under it.

The next day, we checked out and made our way to the Sabah Tourism office along Jalan Gaya. Organiser has free transfer from KK to Park HQ. The transfer alone is already more than the entrance fee (Park HQ is about 90KM from KK town).
Talk about being Kiasu. We registered ourselves in the waiting list the day before! Luckily they allowed us to do it!

At the tourism office, we met up with Leonard and his friends, which later became our friend too. Hi to Gavin and Denagharan!
The journey up from KK to Park HQ took about 2.5hours. Along the way, i met up with Allan Lee, a friend i know in Facebook, but not in real life. So, hello Allan!
Not forgetting, in the plane, i met up with Wendy's friend, Pui San, which recognises me. I sometimes felt like an idiot for not paying attention to people i actually know in Facebook.
Once we reached the park, we went to register ourselves. No hassle here and it was pleasant to find out there is a t-shirt for participant. There were none last year. So, this is considered to be pretty inconsistent for an international race that was held for 24years already.

Then, we moved ourselves to the hall for the race briefing. By then, I've already met up with Yusran and Shiraz. I've known Shiraz for some time through the races we entered, in particular the Langkawi Ironman for my past 3 years. This present good opportunity to know another friend. Not too bad for RM60!
We went for dinner soon after the briefing. Got to load up and eat. Have to force to eat. It's too early for dinner at 6 freaking 30 pm!
Wifey's cold/flu/fever did not show any sign of subsiding. But she said she was alright and excited to do the race the next day. Way to go!

The next day, we got up at about 5am and got ready. It was a short 4km ride to somewhere near Timpohon gate where we will be flagged off. By then, participants has already gathered at the starting line. It was a jungle party!
Sharp at 7am the race started! The men veteran and women open was flagged off with at least 300 participants tearing down the road towards the old summit trail. I followed wifey for as far as i could, or the marshalls allowed me to. Armed with my dSLR and more things that i should be carrying, not forgetting the wrong clothing gears, i looked more like a tourist than a racer.
Kilometer after kilometer passed and wifey hiked up higher and higher. At 2km mark, it took us 1hour to covers. That could meant we can be at Laban Rata within the cut off period if we keep moving.
Wifey's spirit was high, but the fever and flu looked like it got better of her. Me following was just to ensure that she is alright; it wasn't planned.
Women and veteran has up to 3.5hours to go up to the peak before being cut off and asked to start descending. At KM3, we were still good and i kept assuring her that Laban Rata is very do-able. At KM3.5/KM4, the terrain started to change and so does the trees/shrubs around it. The knee high steps that we had climbed the past 2 hours suddenly looked more welcomed compared to what lies ahead from KM3.5 and beyond.
Realistically at 3rd hour of climbing, we know we won't get to Laban Rata. It took us almost 20minutes to move 500m. I guess physically wifey was worn out and with more challenging terrain, it became increasingly difficult especially if you have never faced terrain like these before. Still, we kept moving until they cut us off.
As expected, we managed to reach KM5 in 3.5hours. Something that i am very proud of wifey for being able to achieve this despite all the conditions that she was in the past 48hours prior to the race. In fact, i know for a fact that she is still elated and find it hard to believe she actually did scale that high to 3001m, that is already twice the height of Genting!
3.5km shy to the peak and there was not any regret not able to reach Laban Rata at KM6. We then slowly find our way back down, which took equally as long as wifey was not confident enough to run down/move down faster.
Along the way, more and more people that has reached the top or those that has been cut off overtook us. We just took our time and took a step at a time, literally.
We finally reached Timpohon gate, which we took a 15min break before walking back on very weak legs, downhill on tarmac to Park HQ. I know wifey was in pain as her knee and ankle threaten to give way and cause her to fall. Luckily, with about 2km to go, the sweeper truck came along and took us back with them.
We crossed the line as a customary practice to end any race and this time, it should be an exception. We walked across the finish line and went back to the hostel. 

Tired and after a shower plus dinner at 5pm, we fell asleep at 8.30pm - with me resting for my race the very next day.

That, i will cut it short as the laptop battery is drying up. Enough said that i have only 2.5hours to reach the peak, a feat that i don't think i could even do. I have very realistic target and i went on my race with very clear knowledge that i will only go as far as my body will allow me to go. Infact, i told myself to only go until KM3.5.

Happy to say that i went past that and came to the same spot at KM5 before they cut me off officially after 2.5hours of the race. This was a bonus enough as i was battling fatigue from the climb the day before with wifey. There was no regret of escorting wifey up at all. I ran down from KM5 to Timpohon gate and it took me only 45minutes.

I ran/walk the last 4km. Pleasantly suprised to find the finishing line was very much alive and cheering for people that has finished the race or attempting/participating it.

I crossed the line and got myself a medal. Wifey was waiting for me at the finishing line. And i know that the medal belongs to Wifey for her brave attempt in the climbathon.
My calves was stiff like a log for the next two days. I fully recovered today as i am typing this. I will attempt this again next year. I will continue to attempt until i get to reach the peak. Then i will continue to attempt to reach the peak AND finish the race in 4.5hours cut off for men below age 40.

Along this trip, i met so many wonderful people. People i've seen along my racing years but never actually talk to them or make friends with them. Zahrin, Aik Liang, Leonard, Khalil and of course the legion of new friends in Denagharan, Pui San, Gavin (congrats!) and even a foreigner from Austria, Gunther Huber that had 9th placing!

Over the two days, i managed to cover 5+5+5+5+2+4=26km in total or almost 32K steps taken. That were decent mileage!
Kinabalu. I have high respect for you. You never fail to keep me in awe of your sheer greatness. I will be back to tame you. Just you wait.
Wifey - you on again for this?


  1. proud of you two. great feat despite of the obstacles. Even I dare not take up the challange. Great job Aileen and Stupe! You are one truly inspirational couple.

  2. Ian - u r too kind. We just does this to set example for the kids too. There is a lot of things one can learn and teach their kids in sports - most important is about perseverence and doing your best.

  3. well done. I've managed to climb until laban rata in 1:57.

    I'll come back in 2012.

  4. Bro, kau lain. Power tu nama tengah ko! Well done!

  5. errr... regargding the pic of aileen kissing the 4.5km sign, was she:

    a) forced by stupe to pose kissing the signboard?

    b) hanging on to the signboard because she's too tired?

    c) wiping her snot(considering she had flu) on the signboard?

    d) smelling the signboard because it's made from sandalwood?

  6. for daring to suggest such comments, Bandit shall:

    a) wake up with a head of horse next to him?

    b) sleep with the fishes tonight?

    c) gets thrown with aileen's other shoe that she's reserving for stupe?

    d) all the above?

  7. HAha! Its mountain sickness la. She hallucinating.


  8. well done aileen! stupe, u're the bestest hubby in the whole wide world, wohooo!

  9. What an adventure.
    Back to back climbing up the mountain is just awesome.
    Great report too.
    And, well done to Aileen as well.