As I treat the minor cuts on my fingers and my sore thighs, I chuckled at myself for being overly confident and optimistic last year during Mardi Maeps Trail Run 2014. I thought “It’s only for 12 km, I can do this in 1 hour 30 minutes”. I was so wrong – It took me close to 2 hour 30 minutes. So I ended up with more than just cuts and sore muscles; I ended up with an ego bruise too. This year, I knew under 2 hours is not a realistic target for me. I never forget how I grinded up the steep stairs and hills, cursed at myself for not training my glutes and quads enough (they took away the stairs route this year, thank God!), how I wished I brought my own water because I knew nothing about increased humidity in the trails, and most importantly, how I wished I had proper trail running shoes.
This was me back in 2014, making my debut trail run at the very same event, with friend I knew when I was studying in Canada.
From 2014’s route: Thank God they took this super steep route and killer stairs out of the route for this year.
This year I was back, mentally prepared and armed with the correct equipment (but still physically under prepared due to consuming too much Eid goodies), ready to take on the same trails again. They retained about 80% of their 12km route, so I could recall with some sense of familiarity and nostalgia as I ran. As we proceeded deeper into the trails I could hear the birds and crickets, amazed at the vast expanse of green despite still being in the city. I even spotted a snake!
Trail shoes? Checked. Bladder pack? Checked. Nashata’s Ultra Top? Checked.
Taking in the fresh air after conquering one of the many elevations and uphill climbs. The view was rewarding!
It was raining the night before. So we have been warned by the organizers that the trails are slippery and muddy. There were occasions when the downhill was too steep, so everyone had to sit down and slide or crawl slowly. Thankfully, Nashata’s Ultra Top has thumb holes so the end of the sleeves acted as finger-less gloves. My palms were protected from the rocks and thorns but unfortunately my fingers had minor scratches. But hey, it’s all part and parcel of trail runs.
How I improvised Nashata’s thumb hole as finger-less gloves for trail runs. At least my palms were protected!
Shout out to Kak As, a random runner I met yesterday. Our pace matched each other’s so we kept company through out the run.
The most noticable improvement made this year was the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle), No Cup policy at every water station. Styrofoam cups can be an eyesore, and contribute a significant amount of waste. The organizers deserve a round of applause for keeping the trails clean, and I hope this concept can be implemented at every race that has multiple water stations.
I had a bladder pack as well but a plastic bottle is handy for refilling purposes.
Overall, I rate the route of this event as easy to intermediate, as there are relatively minimal technicals compared to other trail runs that I have experienced. However I highly recommend some serious amount of lower body strength training if you are running in Mardi MAEPS for the first time to be able to tackle the technicals and hills. I think I will be back next year, and upgrade to the 18km category instead.
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner.