Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sabah Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2009: Another DNF

Mount kinabalu view from the park

At the start of the race, just a few hundred meters from Timpohan gate.

This is as far as I went up. Almost 7.5km mark.

Freezing cold...

A runner going down..

Another rest house at Gunting Lagalan...

Going down...

The prize giving ceremony...

With Isidro (center), who reach the peak in 2:25. He's also in the Philippines para Olympic team. His marathon PB is a 2:36

Chong would made it to the top in 2:45 and he only runs indoors and MTB!

As part of the sky running circuit, this is labeled as the steepest mountain run compared to the other nations. 2300meters vertical up in 9km..This year, it was my 2nd run up.

After Tony, Tey, and Yee Choy came back from the men veteran, Raymond and I was left with a bunch of advises on how to tackle it. Tony managed to reach Sayat-sayat, while Tey reached laban rata and decided to snap photos afterwards. Yee Choy did superbly well and game the peak in 3:13, and reach the finishing line just after 5 hours. Georgie, an aussie girl, even managed to get 15th.

It's only this year, I finally figured out the right strategy to tackle the mountain within 2.5 hours. You've got to reach laban rata in 1.5 hours, and another hour to reach the peak.

I wasn't nervous of the race as last year, but I knew, it won't be easy. No, suffering would be the right word.

The horn blew at 7am, and the whole bunch of us ran. Passed right through Timpohon gate, for a brief downhill before slowly running uphill. As I was wearing the heart rate monitor, I could see I was pushing 170..then 180 as we reach the stairs. Everyone was panting, and trying to push as hard as possible going up.

I think I made the first 1km mark in 11 minutes. Roughly, you'll need to run at least 15min/km just to reach laban rata. So I was pretty happy about it. But how long could I pushed in this zone?

Soon, I'd figured out using huge steps might helped. Rather than using cadence, I was trying to gain as much height per step. Cycling does helped in this case, if you've train on high gear. It works almost the same way. However, at 5km mark, I had some cramps in the left calf, and had to stop to nurse it.

With some rest, and caution, I was able to continue.

But with higher altitude, I could sense my movement was slowing down. And it was getting colder.

And I finally reached Laban rata at 1:43. However the next route up Sayat-sayat wasn't easy. I think I did pushed too hard, and was left with not much energy to tackle the rest of the route. It was going a few steps up, stop to take a breather, then continue on.

The clouds have settled and it was sure cold. And my fingers went numb.

To my dismay, I reached Sayat2 at 2:30, which is at 7km mark. I knew it was futile, but continued nevertheless, as I wanted to see how far I could go.

Then I was surprised to see Leonard from behind. He didn't made it last year, and had wanted to try it out again, but he said it's always the same spot he had reached. Now, the air was really cold. Walking up seems like impossible without stopping for a few breath.

I was amazed with the guys coming back from the peak with wristbands. They ran down the slopes like it was a flat.

Soon, I turn around and headed down as fast as possible. The path down wasn't a fast one. I had worn the Adidas Kampung and it's only good for uphills, but downhill, you would go limping if you stepped on a sharp rock.

At the finishing line, was happy seeing the rest of the gang. However Raymond Ng had a fracture on his finger after falling down the steep stairs. And I've seen some blood on the trails as well.

Although it's another DNF, but I think I've given all I got. The thing lacking was having an inferior engine to do it. So, for next year, it'll be high heart rate zone training.


The race is tough because of the cut off time of 2.5 hours up to low's peak, then another 2 to reach the finishing line. You just got to be able to hold a high heart rate zone for at least 2 hours to make it to the top, which is pretty hard. But not impossible.

The best option is to reach laban rata less than 1.5 hours, and given you have still gas in the tank, make it up to Low's peak within the next.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ultra cycling: Double Peaks Genting Fraser

View in Google Map

The road to Sempah...

At sempah to fix the seat...

Stopping at Bentong...

Heading towards Tranum...

You can see the mountains to tackle...


Having a rest while waiting for the 1pm window.

Ready to go up...

The clock tower at Frasers...

Had some fruits...

Near the dam at KKB. It's hot now...

This used to be filled with water..!

That's Fraser at the back...

The road to Gohtong Jaya...toughest route to tackle..

Finally almost reaching Gohtong Jaya

Why in the world I choosed cycling...?


At 2km mark...

It's conquered!

The idea is not actually mine. It was Steve's, who had told me during the post IM dinner many moons ago. Basically, ride up both peaks in one day. And from some blogs, it did seemed some did try, but none scaled both yet.

I've given it some thought, and think it's doable within a day time frame, if you're able to reach Fraser Gap within 11am for the time slot up.

I did try to roped in a few guys. Only one said he'll come. Well, on Sunday, I failed reaching him, so I concluded he'll not come. Oh well, the ride must still be on.

I started from HOA at 7:35am, riding in a moderate pace up Sempah, reaching at 8:25am. My seat was too low, so I set it up higher. Then, it was blasting all the way to Bentong.

As I passed the bridge for the next 26km, I met with a lone cyclist going on a easy pace. I passed him quick, but he seems determined to follow. And I was going at speeds nearing 40kmh, while hanging low on the handle bar. This was not a leisure ride, and I was determine to reach Bentong within 2 hours.

I looked back and he seemed within non drafting distance. Odd...usually cyclist will tend to stick quite near behind. It wasn't until the junction to the highway, that I finally figured out it's Sam Matsunaga in his white Specialized bike. He passed me by, but I quickly worked my way up to the lead, and finally reaching the Shell station at 9:23am. some time to spare. So I stopped by one of those old chinese style coffee shops for a drink and refuelling. Then it was off to Tranum. I didn't know how far Tranum was, but give and take, I'd guess reaching Gap will be around 100km.

The road to Tranum was tough at some parts because of the 'invisible' uphill slopes. There were lots of lorries by the road side packed with durians.

I managed to reach Tranum at around 10:45am. I try rationalizing if I could make it within one hour to Gap, which spells 11:45am, and I'd still be within the time frame. So, I pushed going up the hill. Scenery was nice, but really not in the mood.

Finally reached Gap at 11:55am, but actually it's already closed at 11:40am. Nothing much you can do, so I had drinks and nasi lemak at the store nearby. So, time from HOA-Gap is around 4hr20min.

Two chaps was interested getting into some conversation, and it was quite a relaxing atmosphere, just to sit and enjoy the scenery. They were quite surprised with the lone cycling from Gombak, and they were actually heading towards Raub.

1:03pm, and it's off rushing towards the peak. Now the route ain't so bad. Of course there's climbs but manageable. After 8km of uphill, managed to reach within 32 minutes, and then it was off to munching some langsat with durians.

2pm. No time to lose. Sped off in TT mode towards KKB. Surprisingly, the lake level has dropped almost 5 meters. It was so much, that I could see grass growing underneath the bridge. Meter at KKB traffics was 147km, and took a bit more than an hour.

While the air at more than 1000 meters at Fraser was chillingly cool, it was now a hot sunny affair with the afternoon sun beating down. Did a stop at a mosque for prayers, before speeding off to Batang Kali (3:56pm), and the meter was around 166km.

Now comes the killer part. From Batang Kali to Gohtong. I've never rode this part of the route before. At first it was some rolling slopes, and then after the waterfall stop, bam, it was all the way climbing. And climbing. And more climbing. I couldn't put into words how tough it was. There's no flats, none. Coupled with the heat, and slow grinding, personal self torture was what I thought I was going through.

Courage, I need more courage. At times like these, you question the sanity of the goal. From the distance, I could see the buildings at Genting perched so high up. Just thinking of hauling my bike from here to there, is an impossibility. But like in life, there's setbacks. There's huge walls you have to break. You just have to keep on going. As long as the legs could rotate, as long as the bike can slowly inched up at 6km/h, then the fight is still on.

Finally the cable car station came into view, and after some climb, I've finally made it to Gohtong Jaya which stood at an elevation of around 950 meters from 25m in Batang Kali. I needed to refuel, so stopped by the usual mamak.

Time was not on my side. It was close to 6pm when I started the ride again. It's either safely descending back HOA within the daylight, or going up.

I choosed the heavens. And slowly, it was back to self torture. After so many times up Genting, the climb was manageable. It was tough as nut, but I knew what to expect, and trying to conserve energy while not on the hard parts.

At 4km, the steepest hairpin in history looms. I stood up, jerked the bike with hand power for a few times, and kept telling myself, if I could beat this, I could make it to the summit.

I finally did, and had to stopped for the first rest just above. Then it was going up again. The scenery was beautiful with the sun's setting rays casting a golden ambience hovering around the mountains below. But I've got no time to appreciate.

The pagoda was in view. This is perhaps the 2nd hardest climb, and if you could beat this, genting is all yours. Some standing climbs, and it was all over. I had to stopped just at 2km mark for some rest.

The peak was so near, yet so far. How do you conquer Everest? You can't run up, can you?'s placing a foot, and then the next forward. At this point, I had given almost all I had. But I knew it had to be done. It was exactly that, one pedal rotation after another. If I was too tired to push while sitting, it had to be done standing.

Just after the 0.9km, there's this steep slope, and then, it was the last 500 meters. My bike was going sideways, and I tried not to get too excited. You need patience, and perseverance to pull it through.

300 meters, and it was still tough. Finally reaching the peak, at around 7 pm plus. Afterwards, it was pure happiness. The double peaks is conquered. However, I quickly refill for the 35km descent. Darkness was already in the sky.

Now it's surviving descending Genting in the dark. And I regretted not bringing the bright LED light for the front. This means, I will need to feel the road, while guiding the bike at dangerous speed descent.

There's a minor climb after Gohtong, and then it was reaching Sempah around 8pm on the dot. Like it or not, I'll have to descend in the darkness. It was pretty ok with the sky not totally dark. At least I could see the white lines. A car behind was pretty helpful shining the road in the front for some time before my chain jumped. I had to stopped to fix it. Nothing too hard, just bring up the gears a few notch, and then it was riding again.

Reached HOA at 8:42pm. I slowly packed the bike , drove home. I was famished, and needed to eat. So I fixed back the wheelsets to my commuting bike, and went hunting for food.

Some stats:
Distance: 224.8km
Total ascent: More than 3200 meters
Gear: 39x25 lightest

The only flaw in this plan is to miss the 11am window at Gap. Starting at 7am sharp from HOA will help. Getting a compact crank will help. Getting a lighter bike will help.

If I were to rate the hardness of this ride, a 10/10 is what I can think of.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Double Peaks Genting Highlands-Fraser

This sunday....we'll see if this can be done.

There'll be 3 major climbs. First, sempah (easy), tranum to Fraser Peak (kinda ok), then Batang Kali towards Genting Peak (the killer).

HOA-Bentong-Tranum-Fraser Peak-KKB-Batang Kali-Genting Peak-HOA.

Start: 7:30am HOA

Note that Fraser Gap ascend traffic starts at 11am (or odd hours).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Putrajaya Half Ironman 70.3: A race to remember

Sofian, Raymond Tan, me, and Emma...

Guaranteed no jelly fish sting...

Thanks Ishal, now all I need is 50mm high profiles.

Running on pavement was hard...

Finished in 5:26 (minus 10 for 3rd wave)

After months having doubts on the event going on, finally an email confirmation came to validate its' presence in Malaysia.

Didn't have much hope for the race, except just finishing within a good time. And I've got friends doing this the first time, so I think it would be something more memorable for them, as a must do event before IM 2010 langkawi next year.

I'd came on saturday evening to get the registration and bike done. Notable was the lesser bike racks compared to a full IM event.


Race day: They had us released in waves. The pros goes first, then followed by the age groupers. Met with fellow tris whom I think made this whole race, a fun affair. oh well, the swim was pretty bad. Made a few detours and had to come back to the main traffic. The turning point took forever to reach, which had me in wonder if this is really longer than it looks. The water visibility was pretty ok. Only thing is you can't see the murky bottom. Finished in 40 minutes.

The bike was a pretty fast affair. If you had a TT bike, you'll be flying. If you have both a TT and high profile wheelsets, you probably might break the sound barrier. Occasionally I was cresting 40km/h.

Now, at the end of the first loop, we had to make a left turn back to PICC, and then back to the main big loop. That begs the question why. Simply it's because the main loop is a bit too short perhaps like 26km only. Some didn't really complete the whole distance because they overshot it.

Managed to bumped into Roger and Keat seong during the bike course. Chatted a little and somehow we lost touch afterwards. It's only at the end of the bike course Abu went pass. Dush whom I exited the swim together had went way ahead. Finished the bike in 2:50

And now for the run. Came back with the crowd cheering, so I guess it's a have to run just to make up the show, or else I'd prefer a cool drink and a seat. We ran on the main road temporarily, before going right next to the lake's side path. A nice cool breeze was whipping, and the sun has yet to come up in full force.

Up till now, I'd be worried of getting baked. Putrajaya has too many road pavements and less trees. So the cool weather did helped.

I did enjoy the run with aid stations along the way. There was fruits, gatorade, and iced water. Sometimes I had the whole bottle down my neck to cool off.

There were lots of supporters to cheer us on. So that kind of lighten the mood of having going through the 2 loops.

I was determined to run the whole course, and not walk. Tried to follow some Mat Salleh but even their jogging pace had me running faster than I could.

In the end, caught up with Roger, and finished the whole race in 5:26 with a running time of 1:56
I was just happy with sub 5:30

Thanks to all supporters who had captured photos, cheered, and made the whole event merrier. As for the management, I'd hope they continue this next year, but with a less confusing bike course, and also nicer Ts.