I don’t usually start my blog post with an appreciation speech, but a 50km ultramarathon trail is an important milestone in my running career. I would not have been able to do it without my family and friends who have always believed in me, Nashata.com for assisting from registration to accommodation and everything in between, my running family Kyserun Krew for their weekly training, LSDs, trail running, and Gunung Nuang hiking, my other running family Naked Spirit Runners for their encouragement, and my Fuelfam Fuel Athletics for making every rep count. I dedicate this medal to all of you.
As soon as I watched Cameron Ultra-Trail’s official promotion video, I knew I had to do it. I can feel it in my guts that 50km is the distance that I should sign up, despite the crazy 2240m of elevation and little voices in my head doubting my capabilities. I had 6 months to train, and it has been 8 months since my first 50km ultramarathon (road condition). I did not have much time, and the elevation that I will face in this race is no easy feat. I set to work immediately within the limited time that I had. Trail running and strength training became a regular part of my routine, and as the race day approaches I hiked to the peak of Gunung Nuang twice.
Never underestimate the importance of studying a route with its checkpoints, especially for a long distance race.
Finally, it was Race Day. I can tell that the race director and his team have put in a lot of effort while planning the route so runners will get the biggest bang for their buck – after every tough segment of the race, runners will be rewarded with a magnificient view or a very pleasant downhill. Checkpoints were also strategically placed with enough food and drinks. My biggest regret was not utilizing the special bag drop facility (the crew will bring your bag from the starting point to CP4) to stash an extra pair of road running shoes, because CP4 (at 18km to 42km) we will be running around the Boh Tea Plantation on gravel and road. Unfortunately, I packed another pair of trail shoes so they weren’t very helpful to be utilized on road conditions.
Personally, I found the Boh Tea Plantation was the hardest segment of the race. It wasn’t very hot however because Cameron Highland’s high altitude, I felt as if the sun was shining right above my head. Sipping on isotonic drinks were really helpful to prevent cramps and the dizzy spells. After 34km, reality hit me hard. I could not run anymore despite refueling with solid food. I was mentally exhausted. Even the sight of the vast green tea plants and the fragrant smell of freshly plucked leaves were unable to uplift my spirits. I gathered whatever that is left inside of me and dragged myself to the next checkpoint to head out of the tea plantation. After heading out of the tea plantation, there was only 8km left and that cheered me again because the finishing line feels a lot closer now. I completed 50km in about 14 hours 18 minutes (unofficial timing) in one piece.
Ultramarathon brings out the best and the worst in everyone. Due to it’s extreme distance and long hours, it digs up emotions that I never knew could exist. Never before I have felt the highest high and the lowest low that I could possibly feel in one day. It also brings out physical pain on muscles that I never knew in my body. Yet, it gave me an indescribable satisfaction that could not be attained through other distances. Despite all of the hardship, preparation, and emotional toll, I could not find a single reason to stop participating in another ultramarathon. Eventually, I hope to make 50km a regular distance in my running calendar.
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner