Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perhentian Island Challenge 2011: I survived

 At the start of the elite
 Perhentian Island Kecil (small)
 Arriving at the big island camp site
At the finishing.

Perhentian Island Challenge is one of those race that has intrigued me for eons. It seems like you not only do running, but swimming, kayaking and some obstacles. But then that was years back. Since it was taken by a new management, the format has been slightly less complicated, but tough nevertheless.

Another reason to do this is because I haven't step foot on that place before. So, it's more or less like a holiday.

I joined the elite category, which comprised of running 9k on the big island, then swimming across 1.2k to the small island, and finally running 14km to the finishing. Novice were only required to run 14km on the small island.

The problem with this race is you've got to put on or carry the life jacket plus your gears during the swim. How you do that is up to you. Prior to the race, I was trying to figure out the best way to minimize drag. I tried swimming in a life jacket and it was really slow. Andrew Loh gave an idea of getting a trash bag, then putting in everything including the life jacket, then tie it to your waist during the swim. He got that idea from a participant who did the same last year.

Race day. The elites have to be ferried to the small island for the opening ceremony. Then back to the big island for the start. Kind of unnecessary I think. When the race started, the strong guys rushed to the front. I was just trying to get into a good pace. I didn't know the route well, and don't want to push too hard. We started at 10:15am, and it was already hot. We ran some sandy beaches section before heading into the woods.

Then things got harder. The elevation went up and down steeply, but it was something I could handle. After the worst of Tioman Eco Challenge, I could stomach this. But still I was too cautious on the footing on downhill slopes. I didn't want to risk it. One mistake and you could easily get injured.

I caught up with Razani, who was wearing the S-Lab4. We ran some sections together before getting out onto the final stretches back to the start, where we had to embark on the swim. It took me 1:06 to finish the loop.

I had put the trash bag in my back pack. I took it out, then proceeded to dump everything into it including the life jacket. Then made a knot with a string. Unfortunately I forgot to dump in the race vest and my cap. While doing all this, Cheah Mei Mei was beside observing. I didn't realized until she offered to keep my cap.

So it's off to swim! A few strokes and it wasn't easy to adjust to the awkwardness. Found it kind of hard to kick because i could tangle my legs with the string. In the end I resorted to hand pedalling more than kicking. Also I realized that the current was pushing me northwards, so I adjusted my bearings.

The swim took 40 minutes, and boy I was glad to land. I tore open the bag, then wore back the shoes & hydration bag. Cheah Mei Mei was there to returned my cap. I was really thankful for that cause I wouldn't survive without it on the next run.

The smaller island route was pretty easy on certain sections. But the open hot sandy beaches were torturous. Reminded me NOT to do desert runs like MDS. I met 2 guys without enough water, so I gave them mine.

Certain parts really had me down. I think it was due to the heat & humidity. When in the jungle, it can get pretty stuffy & humid. I was reduced to walking certain stretches.

The last stretch at the staircase gave us a beautiful view. We have to go to the bottom to get to the checkpoint, then up again to descend to the finishing. Sweetest thing about this part is I managed to pass 3 navy guys on the way up.

Then ran down as fast as possible to finish in 8th with the time of 4:22. But I was truly knocked out from the heat, trails and swim. Sitting there at the finishing, and looking back at the other island really made me wonder that I survived this.

Great thing about this race is you get to camp with the participants. Be ready to stay in tents for 2 nights. But it was fun meeting so many new friends, and not to mention swimming among the reefs nearby. I would come back again for this.


Jimmy Tee said...

That was a late entry on PIC. Still waiting for you to share your adventure in TMBT ! How's your recovery since?

yipwt said...

Hey Jimmy,

Congrats on winning the 50k TMBT. I am getting lazy with blogging...Maybe I'll just quit.


Jimmy Tee said...

Don't quit man! Lots of people still want to hear your experience. I am busy preparing for my exams now, and i will be back in Malaysia on 18 Dec. We should go running together again! How are you training for MR 25 ultra?