Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Xterra Teaser 11km Trail Run Race Report

Intense Weekend. Two days of races happened at Putrajaya under the "Xterra Teaser" events. The whole idea of this was to allow everyone a taste of what Xterra is about - offroad fun and adventure. The teaser event allow those that sign up to experience what it is like to race the course made for the coming Xterra World Championship in May.
Manageable
I've signed up for the World Championship qualifier and Family Challenge in May. However, as luck has it, they ran out of slot for the Triathlon Teaser which happened on Feb 9. My own fault actually as I was too caught up with work. In fact, the original plan was for me to run the 22km Night Trail. That took an unfortunate turn as I failed to sign up as well!
With Arman. Ultra-geek
However, the Organisers knew my plight as they had expected me to race and the lucky chance came a week before when the winner of the Xterra Night Trail (for 11km slot) emailed the organiser that he will not be able to run it and hence the organiser could pass the slot to me!
Race Kit collection
Helping Out and Racing It Out
A recent conversation with the MWM Race Director (Karen) and as shared by Mr. Wan (the very experienced Race Director of many races) has reaffirmed that every athlete should at least volunteer ONCE every 6-races he/she enters. Which sound legit as I've been helping out, supporting or doing what I can outside of racing in the past years. This way, the athlete WILL gain valuable insight into how the races are organised and what it takes to make things work. Surely we all took it for granted that "magic happens", more often that not, many things requires a lot of hard work. The intention was to help out even if I am racing both days of the teaser, after all, I am of no podium potentials and I derive more pleasure interacting and helping out during races.
Helping to "light" up the trails
The trails has been set months ago and has seen many using it as part of the preparation. The marking, however, can't be done in advance due to vandalism and some were removed prior to the races even. Peg markers with re-white stripes were even removed by people. So, the challenge were really to get all marking done as close to the race as possible - which was why some of us were at Putrajaya on both Saturday and Sunday to help out.
Getting Ready To Mark the Trail - 4pm.
 Yeap, that was how close it was - 2.5hours to race start and we need to get in to ensure everything is OK! Myself, Lee and Keng Pin were given the task to mark about 7km worth of Trail from Water Station 2 (PCP) to Water Station 3 (Sungai Langat), specifically for the 22km runners. Being racers ourselves, we should be able to judge better the level of information needed to navigate the trail and in the dark.
The tools
Plan was to put as many signage as possible. Azrul will work from reverse Water Station 3 and work towards us (along Sungai Langat). The marking went well, but slow as we need to ensure all LED lights are placed adequately and all signage sufficient. We managed to walk and mark 5km before meeting Azrul at the end of Dengkil 30minutes before race flag-off; and already as I look behind while putting/leaving the LEDs on the ground along the open field where the gas-line runs through, local boys were already removing/taking these LEDs for their own joy...I am having some issues with my Garmin Connect, so the best map you can see is from this website i upload as spare/backup.
5-mins to 11km Gun-off!
I arrived 5-mins before the gun off and had no time to change my shorts for the race. I somehow managed to remain calm, pinned the number on my 2ndSkin Team shirt, pop in Hammer Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue tabs (4 and 2, respectively). I literally grabbed the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupika pack with two Camelbak bottle, wore the Skechers GoBionicTrail and ran off to the start line- with 3 minute to spare (see time in photo above!)
Sorry about the socks...hahah (yes, office socks because they are thinner)
I ran with my camera that evening to try to capture as much as I could, and I know it will do poorly in the dark and me moving. The weather was great and looked like it will be a dry night run after all.
Love the Blue Sky!
A quick jog to the race start and already the crowd for the 5.5km run has already started packing up. Not much time to say hi to many as I wanted to get in front to take photos...
From the back as the announcer started counting down!
Hanim and Andri - Trail couple
All ready
On Your Mark!
Hello Simon! You can see how everyone hand is on their watches to start the race....
And....
GO!
I ran to the front to get away from the main pack. In a trail run, the nightmare starts when you get held up at the back, because you can't move and some could not have the same level of confidence to jump around to move.
What was he checking?
As I take the first corner, I noticed a familiar face! Hello OP Sir!
Yeap, I stopped for photos and take photos as I run. It is how it should be! Have fun!
Running by the Putrajaya Lake
500m into the run I realised it was reverse of 2013 Xterra 5.5km loop. Having the knowledge of last year's trail and how the terrain will be like sort of allowed me to run more confidently and just follow the markers (RED arrow). 
The Quarry
A friend capture some photos of the 11km runners going up the quarry. Thanks Monza for the photos!
Thank you Monzar!
Thanks Monzar.
It was still bright at 7pm and I decided not to run with the MJ808 Magicshine headlamp on my head. I noticed many has headlamps and a big majority do not. Big mistake as the race director DID inform to bring a headlamp! For me, the drive is to finish the race as fast as possible and judge if lamps are needed towards the sunset. Meaning, I have about an hour to complete it. 
Fast downhill
Keep heads off the low hanging branches!
About 15minutes later or about 3km later, I caught up with the back pack of the 22km runners. Many already starting to walk and they will be running/walking well into the darkness of night. I only hope they have lights! However, the LED light idea is good as it allow some level of visibility for runners as they run into the dark.
Running besides the 22km runners
Bumped into KH Tang
And Arman!
was pretty stoked as I continued to power on
Image of the tunnel and how the LED lit the tunnel
The race then brought the runner to PCP and the route made us run up stairs. It was a pretty good Rocky Balboa moment.
Simon Cross overtook me at PCP...Tough man to catch back!
It then lead us up to the first water station where the 11km will run down towards Race venue and the 22km will make a turn to go down via the PCP technical trial (which were marked by the me and a few others prior to running the 11km)
Running down the drain...careful!
It was almost sunset and to share, this is the view you will see from the top of this Pondok at PCP. Thanks Monza for the pic!
Empty road in Putrajaya
As I ran back towards the starting line via reverse Xterra 2013 route again, i bumped into more friends marshalling. Here is Fadzly. :D
He and Shikin has been volunteering for many races! Thank you!
And this is how the trail looked like at about 8pm...Yeap, DARK, saved for the LED light. :D
5.5km participants can be seen going down the trail
And as I came out from the last bit of undergrowth, I saw the whole barren plot of land next to Pullman lit up like an airport runaway. Photo is from Monza. I did not managed to take any pic at that point of time.
You got to be blind not to see the orange dots. Thanks Monzar!
I kept the pace up till the finishing, with Dave (Race Director) telling me to run faster as Simon Cross was just right infront of me. So, I did...and took photos as I approach the finishing line.
I crossed the line in 1:07:43 and without headlight. It was good run and fun, but I secretly wished I could had ran the 22km instead. The run earned me a medal (reserved for top 200 of each 5.5km, 11km and 22km category). As I made my way back to the car, I chance upon OP Joe again. Turned out, his daugther ran the 11km trail too and he was there to give her the support.
Nicely done sir!
I ran on empty (no food before and during) and went straight to my car to replenish and change/shower. Hammer Heed (sports drink) worked as recovery for me that night. Not ideal, but was good as organiser placed fruits (Orange and Apple) at finishing, which I thought was superb idea.
The dry pack soil covered my GoBionicTrail
My 1:07:43 run earned me as Top-5 finisher for Men. I know there is no prizes (cash) involved in the Teaser event, as it is meant as an introductory to the main event in May. The fastest runner was Damian which turned in at 56minutes fast. Next runner were 6minutes slower and the 3rd, 4th (Simon) and 5th(me) came in about 40 to 1 minute gap of each other. 
Surprise Podium
Turned out there were a plaque to reward top-3 runners of age-group category and I came in 3rd for my age-group. No complains there. First time being on the Podium (as in 1st to 3rd)! Nice end to the night!
With Sean, the Race organising chief from Radius International
More Photos
Some selected photos from the race (after) and more can be viewed in my Facebook Page Here. Remember to LIKE the page ;-)











Race Pro
- Good race route. A lot of effort has went into this to allow for a no-loop 11km and 22km distance. Tracking/finding an offroad trails of these distances is not easy due to restriction at certain area where private properties (of locals) is not well demarcated.
- Great idea with the LED lights. Other race would just give you reflective tapes. If you do not have a headlamp, it's "Good luck to you!" (and by the way, race director already reminded you to have one)
- Good that finisher medal is limited to certain numbers - got to make everyone work for it!
- Sufficient water at all stations (it has been advised that you carry your own water and nutrition anyway)

Race Con
- Some area not well marked or the markers too far. 
- Lack of marshal around race course.
- Lack of medical personnel at critical points.
- Seems that the original plan to provide "finisher t-shirt" did not materialise. Organiser should be able to address this. 

Reflection
On the first con, I can answer that as it could be because some trails only has that one option (to go straight). However, the LED markers has been placed all over the trails. There were feedback that the LED markers went dead at some places. This could be due to bad contact. But the following markers should make up the missing lights.

Having raced in darkness (caves, pitch black) and dusty condition (where the dust reflects back all the lights you throw in front), the key to this is to keep your eyes on markers and signage that are always placed at eye level. Mistakes such as looking down (3m in front to the ground) and case of "following the leader" in the trail (aka not looking out for the trail markers yourself) usually lead a large numbers of people lost. So, if you are the leader, ALWAYS make sure you get the trail right!

Next : The Feb 9, 2014 MTB XC Route Report
Yeap, I did not race the triathlon as I failed to register on time and there was no empty slots available for me by the organiser. But I had loads of fun being the sweeper for the MTB XC race. Superb 35km single loop. More of that later!
ForeverAlone moment in the trail as sweeper

6 comments:

  1. I think i like the led concept.. simple and jimat.. Maybe just need to put consistently for example tiap 30meter ke.. sbb byk yg ltk dkt2 and some area jauh2.. but for me still ok la.. concept mudah slagi xda lampu or marker.. jgn belok... lol.. anyway yg sesat ni kebanyakannya lari xpakai headlamp and ikut org depan..

    The route is nice.. and congrats for your podium...

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  2. so, to answer you question : What was he checking ?( i'm teh guy in teh pic) i was checking my car key in teh salomon pouch. sad story, i had no timing recorded or else i think my timing 1h:05: would have get me something.

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    Replies
    1. how come you did not run with your timing chip on the ankle Nik? :(

      A 1:05 is a 1:05. you are a trooper in my opinion. :)

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Yeah..i wore it on my forearm..that must be why..gonna run the championship aoon

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