Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011 – Pt 2

Sabah Adventure Challenge

Frankly speaking, the only reason I registered for this event end of last year is that I gave up waiting for the Ironman Langkawi registration to open. I needed an extreme event (well sort of), something different from the regular 10km and 21km runs which I normally take part. So I registered for the Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011 in the ultra trail run category – a 60km, as stated in the event website. I also registered for another biggie– which I will share about with all of you later.


Preparation wise, I just had to run ! No mountain bike, or other gadgets which I need to get. But of course I mixed it up between trail and road running. Cycling is also another form of cross training. And I did just that. I had Kenyir Triathlon and Energizer Night Race a couple weeks back. With the mileage I am putting in for the training, and the races, both compliments in my ‘training package’. The only part which I lacked was weight training/strengthening. I do core workouts too, but they are far from sufficient to gear up for what awaits me in Sabah.

I started trail running actively starting earlier this year, but after Kenyir, I did just none. I was more focused on road running, and recovering from the weekend races. The weather in beloved Kuala Lumpur, of lately, wasn’t helping either. My long runs are mostly done on weekends, and daily week run during lunch break or in the evening after work.

Preparation to Negeri Di bawah Bayu

I was not worried packing on the last minute – I have and need not to buy my gears. Semua sudah ada.

Preparation1. Powerbar cycling jersey (the collar protects my shoulder and neck rubbing against the backpack.

2. Deuter back pack with 2L hydration pack

3. Oakley shades

4. 2XU Visor

5. Cycling gloves

6. Polar watch and heart rate monitor (the most important)

7. Salomon trail running shoes

8. Socks

9. 2XU running tights

10. And plenty of other finer mumbo jumbos.. as I had to make sure I have everything mentioned in the mandatory list; Iodine/Water purifying Tablets TAK ADA; Energy bars/gels ; adequate amount per day) – BELI (but tak beli pon…); Freeze Dried Meal (x 1 per day)(tak beli) ;Anti-diarrheal pills xde and tak beli..;Whistle – takde…borrowed Ala’s; Headlamp – CARI FROM ENERGIZER LAST YEAR—couldn’t find so had to get a new on in Kota Kinabalu; Glow sticks (2 per person) ADA_got 1 from Stupe. ; Insect repellent ADA.

Then there was the food stuff; brown bread, tuna chilli spread (2 cans), jelly sticks, budak kecik cakes from Tesco, what else.. that’s it kot. I was NOT suppose to bring my laptop, but since I ‘promised’ my AM that I will email her my artwork, I had no choice but to bring it. Kononnya can do some work at the airport while waiting for the boarding announcement. But ended up being the last passenger to check in !)

Day 0

That’s day before race day. I couldn’t believe I just landed in Sabah ! After 28 odd years living baru nak jejak bumi Sabah. It was also my first time on board AirAsia (erkk).. The driver who received us participants was a local. Joseph. It clearly struck to me from the very beginning at the airport, that the locals are very friendly ! Got to meet Kalai and Anton from Hong Kong as we arrived at the airport, and later Jan and Vincent from France. We got on the organizer’s van which took us to the official hotel in Tanjung Aru. Another bus will take us to Tambunan which was around 2 hours away from Tanjung Aru.

It was a good thing we get pit stop at Tanjung Aru. I was tired, sleepy..and upon reaching Hotel Mega dÁru I had to go through the mandatory list check (the organizer actually check if you have got all your gears with you as per stated in the mandatory list) . It would be great if I can lay down my head a bit. Later on caught up with Stupe, Bandit, Ala, Budin and Zul—all my running and tri buddies. They were busy setting up their mountain bikes. (phew luckily tak payah susah2 to bring so many things !!!). Next time perhaps.

Day 1

I took time to set up my gears. I didn’t realize I was nervous until I noticed I was slowly and carefully checking through my items. I thought it was light enough until I weight Yip’s camelback with my hand. So light ! Yip said he only wanted to race..meaning no stopping to take photos. I on the other hand was planning to snap some , for memories’ sake. It is my first time to Sabah, and first time to take part in SAC. Excited mucho.

I would be relying on my heart rate monitor during the race. Moderate zone. Nothing more than 70%. Why ? I don’t want to push it hard. I don’t know for sure what the terrain will be like other tan being tough and extreme. It will be a long day. I will still have another 25km plus to go tomorrow. (so i thought). I didn’t want to bonk. I wanted to enjoy the race for today.

Azly Anwar @ Bandit told me I should just stick to Doc as he will be doing the solo. Part of the reason I was nervous is that I was afraid I might get lost for being too slow in the race. Lucky thing Yip and Budin (Budin and Zul from AirAsia took part in the team adventure category)gave me a crash revision course on map reading using the compass.

It was great to see so many other adventure racers at the start line, most from outside Malaysia. Name it, we had participants from other various parts of the world; France, US, Portugal, UK, Italy, Canada. Not forgetting our neighbours Singapore and Brunei  Rosli Tajudin that’s you !

Race start

As soon as we were flagged of, I knew I would stick to the back bunch. Some starting at a 15km pace, some 10km.. me? I had to go to the loo again.. drank a lot of water before the race.. my sphincter couldn’t handle it anymore kot. Haha..too nervous. Anyways.. it wasn’t long before I made my photo stops.. just to capture the beautiful Tambunan using my camera a Canon Ixus 300 HS – just that its not robust enough. So I had to keep on putting it back into the Camelbak or else run holding it in one hand. I ended up putting it back into my bag.

Breathtaking views, and CHALLENGING steep hills (remember not all steep hills are challenging) and also super steep downhill my knee would pop any seconds. It was raining the day before, so what is expected after a downpour…mud !!! It was slippery all over.. I was more concern of my precious running tights then myself, well, at least at 2 points when i slipped and landed on my bum. The decline (going down hill) was almost 85 degree.. Every uphill is followed by downhill, but no way any of us could speed it up a little with the dark brown chocolate mud. It was slippery at spots with no trees, dead leaves or roots to give us runners more grip . These were times I pretended I was ski-surfing ..haha.. yeah, I could almost ski/surf on the mud coz it was sooo steep. The shoes gave me enough grip, but if the mud keeps on covering the spikes on my shoe sole, I can still slide.

My quads isn’t strong, and I didn’t want to burden it more. Plus the fact that I can’t imagine how far more we had to run, and what kind of terrain (surely more and more hills), I made sure I didn’t overwork any muscles..the quads especially since mine is so weak (tuh guna strength training da…).

There were only 4 checkpoints for day 1.  I clearly remembered running from check point 2 to 3…especially towards the end. I was running (and running) since I had enough of walking going up and down the hill until I saw another lady runner, Trish Tan. I passed her, then stopped to cool myself at a bamboo water pipe – yes those type that you would see at the entrance of homes/offices used for decor. But this one is obviously used to channel water to the villagers around that area. I chilled (and relieved) myself. Let the water run on my head and face, (masuk baju siket..wahh, best nye..hihi).. A local who happened to be watching me and Trish must be laughing his head off ..macam tak pernah jumpa air. Imagine racing at the Sahara.. gosh… tak boleh nak imagine must be wayyy harder.

I had a local boy running with me, in the hot sun, (by size and guts he was running faster than me actually), for nearly 2km.. until the junction towards check point 3. I was just glad that I made it to checkpoint 3.. (so fast I thought!) ..I didn’t see many racers behind me, but at the checkpoint 3 there were quite numbers of ultra trail runners, and a couple of adventure teams. Saw Zabil, Azam, Karyan and Raymond taking their break. Azam happily smoking his cigarette..uhmm.. anything for recovery eh? I just need plain water down my throat and some ice to cool my head (which I just did at the bamboo water pipe stop).  So CP3 stop was brief. But still manage to take a few snaps with the locals over there. Tata-ed them and off I went. Passed Karyan and Raymond, and headed to CP4.

Long journey to CP4 .. That was where I bumped into Rosli Tajudin a friendly and chirpy guy from Brunei.  Hello! Rosli if you are reading this ! It was certainly nice to finally find someone after that long slow jog/run between CP3 and CP4. It was already getting dark that time. All the up hills were walked. And when it gets flatter, I’ll just resolve to a slow jog. But with Rosli, my jog was slower than his power walk !!! Yes laju (Malay for fast) ! We were together until checkpoint 4. The volunteers and officials were all very supportive cheering on as Rosli and I made our way to the last check point for ultra trail runners. And then we continued walking, fast. Fast enough to overtake another lady runner who appeared to be slowing down. If she was faster, I might (I said might) need to speed it up a little. But again, this is a long race and I didn’t want to tire early. It wasn’t long before I dropped Rosli. Rosli joined pace with the other lady while I continued ahead. Alone. Again.

One thing about running, since you can at most times do it alone, be it during race day or training, it leaves you ample of time to be with yourself. Almost like a getaway. The thing you DON’T normally get back here in our sometimes ‘ever normal’ daily routine.

I broke into a couple of slow jogs as I found my energy back but was halted by the sight of a group of cows lazing at the side of the track. Oh shucks.. My 2nd encounter of cows near/blocking the race course. Should I run ? Surely not !! So I… Made a few eye contacts with the cows to make sure they are okay with me passing by.. and as I passed them, I made sure my ears were doing their job.. to listen to em cows in case any of them follows me. Hihi..

Line clear, and I continued running. Came across another check point. CP4X. Another one eh? Stopped, signed in, and was surprised when the marshal congratulated me. Eh, dah abes?(finished already?) I was all set to continue running ! CP4X was also the transition for adventure races to pick up their mountain bikes for the mtb section. Met with the Faisal , his wife and a few other runners. I saw the ranking on the marshal’s list. I am ranked #28 out of the 90 ultra trail runners for day 1. Not bad !

A waiting van took us back to TVRC (Tambunan Village Resort ) where we started. It started raning heavily as soon as the van started moving.. phew… and it got even heavier as we reached TVRC. Trying to imagine how Team Alpha Bravo and Red All Star is doing. Budin already told me the day before that he was ready to race in the dark as he has invested on his ‘lighting’ gears. But…. the last discipline for the adventure racers, which was tubing, has a cut off. Initially it was 5pm, then I got to know later on it was moved to 5.30pm.

I went back to my room at the long house. Took my own sweet time cleaning up, cuci baju (yes, cuci baju lerr…)(laundry in Malay), washed, showered with cool Tambunan water (feels sooo refreshing !!!), slowly climbed back up the stairs to the room, had lunch … 2 pieces of bread with tuna. Recovery drink , a must.

I tried to update via Twitter, but I don’t think it went through. I rested a bit before making my way down around 4pm ++. Saw Stupe waiting for Doc Hisyam for tubing. Budin and team mate was nowhere to be seen. Later on I caught up with Yip Weng Tak @ Omar for an early dinner (Yip bought me dinner. Thanks Yip!). I was hungry. I had only 3 pieces of bread(with chilli tuna) for lunch. I didn’t have anything on the run course except for a piece of cake.


Yup, I didn’t take in any Powergels. No Powerbars. I just had my endurance drink, which was more than enough looking at the amount of balance left after the race, as well as salt tablets I gulped down every 2 hours. Lebih takpe, jangan kurang.(more is better than less!). I was and still am a little confused how I survived ‘that’ run .. 6 hours 24 mins on the road.. and uhmm, hum… must be that heavy dinner I had the night before with Stupe and the rest and the kinda heavy breakfast ! The race was long, but not intense. Just like my training where I did train without the bars and gels. But endurance drink is a must. [BUT FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, PLEASE CARRY SUFFICIENT GELS AND BARS WITH YOU DURING THE RACE. And DO practice gulping them down during training!]

I survived my first day at SAC. No injury. Was NOT tired at the finish line (CP4X). I get to enjoy the amazing morning scenery in Tambunan, so amazing I had to stop to take everything in, get to greet the locals, meet and support new friends along the race course, watch amazingly how Sharrif (Singapore Blade Runner) walks up hill, more local friends met along the way. Bella, Jonathan, you name it. Though I can’t remember all their names, I can remember their expression looking at us runners loitering and passing through their backyard !

Race briefing at 8pm – so made my way to the hall. By 6-7pm all the boys have made it back to TVRC. They chilled at their rooms but later joined me; Stupe, Zul and Bandit. The race director Aman Avtar Sandhu announced the top 6 winners for adventure and trail racers. Was surprised to hear my name. Haha.. 4th place for me on Day 1, for women category. Distance: around 32-33km. 6hrs ++ could have been dragged on longer if the weather was hot. But luckily the weather was on our side that day. It was not too hot, most of the time cloudy, rained a little. I missed the heavy Tambunan downpour as I manage to finish earlier (which was good lahhh..)

Day 2

Did I wake up feeling unsure how on earth I will survive day 2’s wrath ? No.. That’s not word to use here.. I did enjoy day 1.. I woke up thinking..owhh how do I survive the remaining kilometres with these tight muscles and joints. Lucky thing I did gently massage my legs and the sole of my foot ! The fact that I went through day 1 okay,no cramps, no sakit on the sole of my foot, no dehydration I was even more excited on day 2. So excited that I (ssshhh…) took out some of the mandatory stuff from my bag. I need to make this bag lighter. Left myself with the compass, whistle (pinjam Doc’s), salt tablet, camera, stickers for the local kids, a jelly stick.. uhmm.. oh yes, and the left over endurance drink from day 1. No latex gloves, no rain coat, no pear izumi jacket, no head light.. I will survive with the items i brought only. I will. I will. I wanted to bring bread on day 1, but forgot.. For day 2, still lupa nak bawak..but i made sure i had enough for breakfast.

Day 2 race start

Target was to just run, conserve that energy level, be careful not to hit the home run button during up hills, and thread the down hills carefully as to not bust the knee.. and yes, less photo taking. (not the easiest decision). We started at CP2.. 15 mins away from TVRC where the adventure racers started. I was in the same van with Tony and Edwin (Tom Hank’s hair look alike). All excited to start the race. CP2 (Check point 2); was where the adventure and ultra trail racers will start converging. We shared the exact same route except from CP1 to CP2, and the biathlon loop the adventure racers did starting at CP4.

I am not sure if my body was there at the start line. Oh well, once we were flagged off, I found myself at the back once again. Super ultra out- of- my -mind Yip was already at the leading end of the 1st third of the hill.. wallaweii.. how lah.. it wasn’t long before I went scurrying behind a huge mount of red soil..need to do my little ‘business’.. so soon huh.. ya la.. long day right?, no worries of overtaking anyone on the longest hill  I have ever seen in my entire life. (only 29.. masih muda..kan? hihih). No seriously, if you (yes, you) are ever going to Sabah, go to Tambunan, and look for this longgggg road uphill at Kg Monsok. It near this hanging bridge.. Must have taken some of us nearly 30mins to get to the top..

I was that slow that somebody (one of the participants) asked me, ‘Ju start lambat ke?’ (Did you start the race late?).. I laughed and said, ‘this is how i normally start..from the back. ’ wasn’t long before I started to overtake those in front of me. Slowly, but surely. Haha.. I saw Tony Quay and his friend stopping for a photo..damn..the view was absolutely amazing. Did I stop? No. I just continued on.. It’s fun to give some alteration to my race approach.. little Julie kicking in saying just proceed. Waved at Tony, and went off. Ahead was a cross junction. There were a group of runners who appeared to be unsure of whether to go straight or turn left. I asked a local who happened to be there where did most of the runners go.. he said , to the left. I quickly checked my compass to confirm.  true we headed west. LOL.. it wasn’t hard. I was after time because I know I am slow. But with a long day ahead of me, slow is secondary. What’s most important for me was that I kept to a comfortable pace so that I can survive anything which comes my it hills or step downhills..or even the heat ! Yes..the heat causes the body to use more energy to regulate the body temperature. I have had my plans already on how to tackle this.  Just wet the head, and cool off when I need to , especially when i pass any stream, or bamboo pipe. Just like day 1.And don’t wait till you feel thirsty before you take another sip of water !

Thing is, there was no sight of water along the way. The river? Yes..but uhm, we had to cross them using the hanging bridge. I didn’t want to waste precious time going up and down the banks. So I headed on, and cooled myself of at CP3, and CP4. The road from CP3 to CP4 was extremely long. I overtook some more runners.. went through most of CP3-CP4 alone until something terribly funny happened..I got my foot stuck in a 6inch red Tambunan mud.. Tried to tug my shoe out but it didn’t work !!! dayemm.. then the other feet sank in. The red wall next to me was muddy and soft as well. Lawak nye.. uhmm.. how on this red earth do i get out. I didn’t want to take my feet out from my shoes as I didn’t want to get any messier than i already was at that time. Rescue came a few minutes laster. Not quite sure if anybody manage to take a foto of me stuck in the mud. Izzi from Italy who was also doing the ultra category helped me out using an adventure walking stick. So did the rest in helping Mr Izzi didn’t fall in his attempt to help me. Pheww..saved. Thank you all who stopped and help !! no matter how careful you tread your steps, you still can get stuck , and need help. Uhmm, just like life kan? So , don’t be shy. Do get help when you’re stuck !! And do help, when you see anybody else get stuck.. !

I thanked them and went off, again. I was not after anyone. Just ,myself, and the time. I don’t need to give myself a challenge.. I am the challenge !!! The chocolate mud ‘cake’ glued on my shoes , making it heavy !! From CP4 to CP5 was all downhill. I stopped for a bit, saw another lady runner there. Saw Rosli Tajudin. I think he stopped racing. Took a bottle of water with me from the checkpoint and off I went. I passed Raymond and Karyan. Then saw Doc Hisyam; boy was I excited to see him coz I didn’t see any of my friends after CP2 on day 1. I was heading downhill and the adventure racers were going uphill. Doc did the adventure solo.*respect !*. Ahead I saw Stupe and Bandit !!!! woohoooo !!!! I wished them all the best  I couldn’t tell how proud I was that they made it this far (okay, I don’t how far either of us have went through for the day, but i know still far to go leh..).. I didn’t have anything on me to measure the distance i have covered or the gradient. The checkpoints were my markers..good enough. Further down the road saw Zul ! alamak, alone? Mana Budin?! I told him keep on going and don’t quit. He was doing great by not giving up. He told me he missed Budin.. alamak again.. come on red hot all stars !! Further down the winding tarmac road I passed another group of guys, from Singapore if tak silap. Road was so steep I had to switch going down forward, and backwards. Walk backwards .. save the knee. Passed another cross junction to see more local kids volunteering and directing us races to CP5 ! I stopped to pass them the kiddie Disney stickers I brought with me from Semenanjung (Peninsular Malaysia). I gave some out earlier on. Still have a couple more in the bag.  Some kids nearby also started running towards me. Nasib baik ada lagi. Continued on to check point 5, checked in and off I go. Again, the local kids were helpful ushering us to a narrow path between the village houses towards the second hanging bridge.

Gracefully made my way through the bridge, which underneath ran a rapid river. The journey up the SAC-made-famed Hamburger Hill started soon after I crossed the bridge. It was a virtually vertical climb up. An adventure team was ahead of me, and one of them couldn’t get her bike up, it slipped from her, as she was herself slipping down the earth wall. Landed her a hand, and also asked another ultra trail runner behind me, Faizal Jamil from Terengganu to help out. Hi Faizal ! if you’re reading this 

Up, up and away.. several adventure racers we passed were already slowing down.. simply slippery to go up .. and no other way up, except for keep moving. Creativity and quick thinking comes in handy too. I took the right side of the track where there were dead lives and some dead branches hoping that I will prevent me from sliding down. Hey, it worked. At the top of that slippery section I was welcomed with a sight of green patch. Unlike a normal HORIZONTAL green field, this one was near vertical. So, up again .. *kept on thinking of the adventure racers going up this hill* Ahead was a hut where several photographers waited to get ‘the’ shot of our face struggling up. They were doing a fantastic job ! Got to know from them that the next and LAST check point was ‘just’ UP ahead. Can’t wait.

So there was I at CP6..phewwww….!!!!! The marshals and officials were excited as I was  and they were doing a fantastic job cheering for EACH and SINGLE of us reaching CP6. To the brother who lent his voice to cheerlead all of us, THANK YOU.  I must have spent 4-5mins there responding to request to take photos with me  to the marshals and officials who took foto with me at CP6 using their camera, kasi email itu gambar sama saya okay.

I thanked them and proceeded .. according to the map given to us, it will be an 11km stretch that we have to go through on the east side of the river. Navigation is important and I made sure i checked at cross junctions that I am going on the right path. I passed 2 guys, apparently fire fighters from Singapore, before reaching another cross junction. On my left, forked the main road, and on my right, a smaller path, and a medium sized hut which stood in between, its owner sitting near the entrance. I asked if the racers ahead of me took the left or right fork. He didn’t give me any specific answer, just that there were racers taking the left turn. ‘But taking left will bring you through a longer route, this one on the right is shorter’ ,so he said. Took out my compass, and it showed that I should take the right fork. By that time, the 2 fire fighters /trail runners caught up. One of them said we should just stick to the main road. I suggested that they check with their compass to verify if my map reading was right. I was. So we continued to the right, together with Faizal Jamil (who confessed that he can’t read the map) but saw no obvious sign of racers passing by that route. Mountain bike trails, shoes prints.. none that was obvious taking into account that more than a dozen of teams and adventure racers are ahead of us. Well, we forgot it was a HOT day. We forgot that even if there were prints, they might have levelled and dried up leaving no signs.

Came across a junction at the end of a path where I stopped and waited. Turn back??. But it wasn’t long before an adventure team passed us taking the right.  So we proceeded to the right, more confident, but still checked the compass. I continued running, well, actually most of the time walking.. then run again.. the 2 runners from Singapore slowly disappeared like a speck of dust as I went ahead. Faizal Jamil was not exceptional. Humm..alone again.. 11km in the extremely hot Tambunan heat and sun. There was nooo water in sight.. unlike yesterday.. So hot i took out my visor out. I just remembered I can’t be too tan.. *jokes aside..*.. hey, stop laughing ..! I DID put that face sunblock before the race.. but I didn’t think it even matters that I was ‘nearing’ the finish line.. that’s the longest ever ‘near’ I had to endure even Ironman didn’t feel so long because we ran and cycled in loops. Anyways, I was running non stop for quite a while. It was flat enough I could run, but it was like running to no end. I just kept on running. Took out the jelly stick which I bought from Tesco and ate them. That was THE only ‘solid’ food I had throughout the course.[again, avoid having only this. have the proper Performance bar/gels. Recommended : Powerbar !]

Then an official car passed, and the doctor said its not too far off to the finish.. yeah, not too far coz he was in a car and I was on foot. I knew I shouldn’t believe him from the beginning. Only after that I saw 2 other trail runners ahead.. Caught up and stuck with them. That last 3-4km felt very long even with company. It was hot like crazy too..I was not tiring out, but  struggling a bit to catch up with their pace of fast walking. I joked with the guys that they had stick long lengs their 2 steps is equivalent to four mine ! So better walk than run at that point. So we walked. Then we came across civilization..the tarmac road. . Excited, and continued walking.. STILL a long way.. yeah..long..coz it was hot..even the 2 buffalos (kerbau betul laa) we passed were chilling it in a pool of mud. I nearly couldn’t see them as they were like

Soon enough we made that last turning into TVRC !!! Woohoooo we’re back !!! Crossed the hanging bridge and ran towards the finish line. Yeayyyyy !!!!!!!!! We made it !!!!!  Thanks Faisal Abdullah and friend for that last pull. Yeah, pulling my moral up to keep going. And hey, I was relieved I am done. And.. only discovered later that we ran a total of 36km ++ for day 2. Day 1, around 33km ++. 3km difference is an adventure race is a BIGGG difference.. especially when you’re racing in the unknown and extreme heat.

Exchanged congrats with the 2 runners, took some fotos, and went back to the room at the rumah panjang. S..llooww…ly made my way up the stairs.. chucked my camelback on the floor in front of the door, then s..loowww.lllyyyyyy made my way down to the basin to wash my shoes.. then to the toilet to run the water down my legs…aaaa, soooo nice..Then…sllowwlyy up again, this time walking backward, up the stairs.. hum.. Settled down in the room, getting my heart rate back to normal.. the ultra heat began sinking in and I could feel I was getting a little uncomfortable..uhm..a slight fever on its way? True. I just need to lay down and rest a little. Nak mandi tak jadi mandi..nak minum recovery drink, didn’t feel like it.. nak makan, no mood to eat even after Budin bought me fried rice from town..) i just laid down trying to calm myself down. Didn’t feel dizzy, just hot.. Budin advised that i took Panadol.. which i did. The temperature eased a little , and I felt better after that. Lucky thing the room was cool !

Now, the part you might laugh reading, and.. might want to avoid the next time you go for an adventure outing. I had diarrhea after the race. Why? I was lazy to change the endurance drink in my hydration pack from day 1. I went through day 2 on a slightly basi endurance drink. No, like seriously.. it didn’t taste too bad. I didn’t want to waste since i mixed nearly 3L of endurance to drink just to make sure i met the race director’s guideline. Well, for a person who doesn’t drink too much every time i drink or sip in that endurance beverage, 3L was way too much for me. And even after day 2 i had lot more left. Moral of the story, be flexible and make sure you count yourself in every decision making, that includes when deciding how much water you want to bring to last you a day. Good thing was, I did not over hydrate or got dehydrated. No signs of extreme fatigue, cramps, headaches or nausea. All system good except for my G.I. Got it cleared, then took my recovery. My heart rate monitor went wanko on day 2. I had to rely on my own ‘feeling’ and listened to my body well, just like I did before I used any kind of heart rate monitors.

Then slept. Or tried to.. Budin later passed me some food but i didn’t eat right away. Need the tummy to get comfortable first. I am glad I finished in 1 piece with no injury. So that was not the end of day 2. My friends were still on the course and I had no idea how many more hours before they cross the finish line. I really hope not too late, at least before it gets dark. Come on Stupe, Bandit, Doc and Zul !!!

I had an early dinner by the river side with Budin (thanks Budin!). We chatted a bit while enjoying the beautiful Tambunan sunset. Still no sign of Stupe and Bandit. Doc was back and getting his much needed rest after 23hours on the course.. again, much respect to the brave solo adventure racers. 8pm and I was at the hall where we had a buffet dinner. Yip, Tony and most of the racers were there already. We were presented with a cultural performance by the locals  and.. the racers were invited up on stage. I obviously just want to be the spectator but couldn’t run away after the hostess insisted that i join the rest on stage. So there was i, on stage dancing away..not free style. Just gotta imitate what the rest were doing. I suck at imitating dance moves.. LOL. Doc got it on video. And haha.. Budin got it in my phone camera.. lawaksz. But what the heck ,it was my first time to Sabah,and I was actually having a good time with my friends, and new adventure buddies. Khaliq Samat, nice to meet you. I did have a good time ya know. I hope you did too. Sharrif or more popular was dancing away also on the stage ..hahaha..Kalai, nice dancing with you. Tarian Sumazau is a Kadazandusun traditional dance usually peformed during the harvest season in May during the Kaamatan Fest in Sabah. Click here to read more on Tarian Sumazau 

Prize presentation

First and foremost, thank you organizers for making this event happen, tough, challenging, fun and memorable.  To all ultra runners, congratulations !!! two thumbs up for all of you no matter what your finishing time or rank was. The fact that you had the guts to race Sabah Adventure Challenge is a proving point that you’re on that track already. So, congrats !!! To adventure racers, like wise. You guys did a greattt job. While ‘great’ is an understatement looking at the obstacles and level of difficulty that you guys had to endure, I can imagine how hard it was. The trail runners faced their own set of challenges. Two the 3 ladies who came in last while we were having dinner, my standing ovation for you ! Ayyo, i can’t imagine racing in the dark, but they made it back after 8pm. Stupe and Bandit received the racers’ when their arrival was announced by Aman who at that time was announcing the ranking for the ultra and adventure racers, and presenting the medals to finishers.

Top 5 I cam in 4th overall for the ultra trail run category (women) behind SUPER Fast and Furious Jerri Collet (SG), Clara Ng (HKG) and Bertille Tillot (FRA). Wow, the most international ranking I’ve been on, and certainly a surprise for me, as the first Malaysian woman to cross the finish line for this year’s ultra trail run category. 

Summing SAC up

A certainly good experience for me. Race well organized despite the organizer’s office ransacked a couple of weeks leading to the race. To Aman and team, congratulations ! The 2 days was tough enough for me. Next year I will certainly come back. It will be fun to meet again the new friends I have met at my maiden SAC. Didymus Talaji who got the 1st place for men received a free slot to race the Kimberley Ultramarathon, Australia , happening on the 2nd September. I hope he gets to race Kimberley !!

Apart from the race, the local touch did add some sweet memories to my 4 days in Sabah. From my arrival at the airport to the local’s backyard at Tambunan, every moment was a new, and definitely a memorable one. Catching up with my triathlon and running buddies was also wonderful. Stupe, Bandit, Budin, Zul, and Doc Hisyam was cool – almost like a reunion after our ‘long’ hiatus from triathlon and doing Ironman. Ironman was in 2009. In 2008 we all , yes, we ALL ran up Genting during fasting month, for the first time. Starting from McDonald’s Genting Sempah to Starvucks at First World Hotel. Hahaha.. LOL.. and 3 years later, there we were in Sabah.  That long four days in Tambunan felt short right after I finished the race. Julie want more? year..I am coming back !!!!

Post SAC blues

Oh yeah.. it hit me..Never thought it would.Just like Langkawi. My body was aching, but my mind…aikzzz… still in Sabah.. Why? Not every day is an adventure. Back here in KL its the same ole every other day. Clock in to work..wait for 5.45pm, then head home.. Not every day we get challenge our physical, mental and mind. I just had lunch this afternoon, and my friend’s friend is calling me ‘sewel’ @ not right up there just because I told them I went for a recovery walk in the afternoon , in my office attire. So what? Who’s the pussy here? If you are not up to the challenge, then don’t complain or bring down the emotions of those who are able to face the challenge. I survived SAC and the endless hills there.. the heat, and 2 years ago, survived Ironman.. so apa ciput la nak walk in the sun, during mid day, with my work baju with an umbrella.. But can’t blame the guy lah..

The SAC taught me something. Always finish what you started. Even tak habis, you know you gave it your best. And not everything is about finishing. The journey through is important. Keep on going is another tip which I can share with you. I made sure I had sufficient rest even though I didn’t stop for long. Signed in, drank some water, iced my head, and off I go. I smiled, waved and spoke with the locals. I ran with some of the kids, and supported fellow racers whenever possible. Well, they helped me as well when my foot got stuck in the sticky mud !!

Sharrif the blade runner from Singapore is an inspiration. I just can’t imagine how he manage to go through up those hills and down the steep slippery hills. I know he’s not for the race, only for the race. It is a proving point, that the only thing disabling us, is our mind. Body says yes, mind says no..da da dad a da…You can if your mind says you can. Of course, the body has to be well prepared for that. I heard from fellow racers that the blade runner had to endure the blisters around his knee area, where his prosthetic limb attaches at his knee. I saw him on day 1, climbing the lonnggg hill to CP1.. i didn’t see a single frown on his face.

He was all smiles throughout, and even before and after the race. Sharrif, this race post is dedicated to you. It was nice to meet you at Energizer Night Race (that’s when nearly all the runners were complaining but i didn’t sense any grudge at all from you.), and happy to be meeting and running with you at SAC.

To all looking into SAC, I am recommending you guys to take part in this race. If you don’want to torture yourself, BE WELL PREPARED. Physically and mentally.Train. No other shortcuts. You need your mileage, trail running, some strength training and getting familiar with running /racing in extreme weathers.

My tan lines on my arms are obvious, so ugly i have to put on my sweater everyday at work to avoid passing colleagues or visitors to the office from being distracted.. my bad I didn’t put the arm sleeves on. But what the heck, i had a jolly good time in Sabah.  For now, Sabah will be in my memories. And in photos to, which you will see below this long post. I even got myself a Sabah flag keychain at the airport. I don’t need anymore souvenirs. They are all in here.. my heart  *ish, apa Julie jiwang2 ni.. hhihihi..* Aramaiti !!!! Jumpa lagi geng !!!!

*thank you to all who supported missJeweLz in her preparation for SAC. My road and trail running buddies, to my support car driver(s) who accompanied me during my evening runs after work . to marmalade, TQ 🙂

Matanoi Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011
Matanoi Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011 – photo courtesy of Rosli Tajudin from Brunei

Sabah Adventure Challenge – Pt 1 (solo trail run start list)

Sabah Adventure Challenge – Pt 2 (race report)

Sabah Adventure Challenge – Pt 3 (photos from day 0 – day 1)

Sabah Adventure Challenge – Pt 4 (photos from day 2)


28 thoughts on “Sabah Adventure Challenge 2011 – Pt 2

Add yours

    1. Kevin : thanks !!! trail running is definitely a different game from road running. but certain things remain; you need speed, power and determination !!

    1. Heyya Stupe 🙂 as i said, training. no other shortcuts. and of course, determination as well :p all the best for next year. i think i’ll stick to the ultra first and try the solo adventure year after ! see how it goes. glad to know that Kam is also interested ! Julie

  1. An awesome(and funny) report Julie. Congrats on your ranking! Saw Stupe’s video log and it was literally scary. I wonder how you guys slept the night before the race with all the adrenaline rush.

    DEmotivators are everywhere and some would even ask me why would i pay just to run or wake up early on weekends. Would def try SAC, but prob 2 years from now, hahaha.

    Anyway congrats again and best wishes for your next biggie 🙂

    1. Heyya Cath ! 🙂 thank you ! didn’t expect it actually 🙂 so it was certainly a sweet surprise for me! i slept okay the 3 nights i was there. had to refresh the body and mind between the 2 days of racing. yes, demotivators.. always out there, lurking somewhere.

      anyways, looking forward to your debut in SAC. 🙂 or any events for that matter. and thank you again for the good luck wish for my next ‘biggie’

      cheers, Juliana Ali

    1. Thank you anakpanyu @Bahri ! 🙂 yes, if ikut SAC next year, jumpa di sana !! PD Triathlon ada join ? 🙂

      Regards, Juliana Ali.

      Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. -Ibn Sina-

  2. I am proud of you lady !!! You knew your body very well and strategise your race to perfection. A very comprehensive report – picked up substantial tips on trail running from the report.

    1. Thank you Onn !! 🙂 glad you picked up a few pointers from the post. but main pointer: don’t forget your Powerbars and gels !!!! Yeah, almost perfect race for me. good enough for a first SAC timer !!1

      Regards, Juliana Ali.

      Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. -Ibn Sina-

      1. Julie I disagree with you said “good enough for a first timer”…It is NOT good…….It is in fact “VERY VERY GOOD for a first timer!!!” Now waiting for the fotos…….

        1. Onn, whatever you say !!! 🙂 thank you for the motivation. now semangat siket nak share pics with you all !!!

          Regards, Juliana Ali.

          Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. -Ibn Sina-

    1. Thank you Dymus !!! 🙂 🙂 apa2 progress pasal Kimberley Ultramarathon, kasi share ok !! 🙂

      Regards, Juliana Ali.

      Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. -Ibn Sina-

    1. Heyya Razif. None of the above 🙂 im not pub hopping neither event jumping ! huhuh.. what about u ?

      Regards, Juliana Ali.

      Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. -Ibn Sina-

  3. Dear Juliana,

    Firstly I was so touch reading the journal and congrats to your achievement. I saw you many times during the SAC and you did well with the others. Keep on training and you will be doing better timing in future and always believe in yourself to achieve. Once again nice to meet you and see you again in SAC 2012.

    Best Regards,

    Shariff Abdullah
    Singapore Blade Runner

    1. Salam. TQ Shariff for the words of encouragement. It was nice to meet you as well. You inspired many not only through your words, but more importantly your actions which leaves long lasting impact in our lives. People like you are always inspirational to many, because that is what we live by; motivation, and inspiration ; important fuel to keep us going. Congrats to you again for making it at SAC. Looking forward for the 2012 edition !insyaAllah !

  4. Woot! Woot! Ju you start lambat (slow) but then you never stop. haha.. are Up to do the 100km one in November?

    1. Hello there minicooper. Yeah, started slow cz I had 1 toilet stop early in d race and the steep just overwhelmed me. Haha. How did u do ? 🙂 d 100k one?? Now quite sure ! N u?

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂 do share the post link to Ur friends who attended SAC . Have u seen d photos slide show? I uploaded plenty. !


      1. Hi Ju,
        I just love the route despite having to go through 60km ++ of hard undulating trail route, going up and sliding down steep terrain …(tak cukup space nanti).. Read my experience here :

        Yup, I seen your SAC photos all 3 pages. Anyway Congrats! The November is set 100km on 5th November sounds tempting, it’s a month before SG Marathon and 2weeks after the NorthFace so most likely I will go. How bout you?

        Haffiz (minicoopers51)

        1. Salam.

          Hi Haffiz. yes, i love the route too, now that its over. the 70km++ felt short after the end of each day…! what makes it more exciting for me was that i can’t imagine what to expect next other than hills, and lots of hills. but indeed it was a good experience for me and my legs. haha.. feel free to share my post/album links with ur friends who attended SAC, or intending to try this event next year. for the 100km tuh, still deciding at the moment. if you’re doing, all the best and train well for it !


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