|Day 1 maps with instructions .. yikes!|
|Three little pigs .. me, Khaliq & Andrew. (Photo: Dev Sidhu)|
The finish point was also the changeover CP for the adventure racers, who had to pick up their bikes and crank out another 25km, followed by tubing 4km down river and running back to race HQ … I was definitely glad to be finished!
Hung around the race HQ till dinner time when most of the adventure racers had come in, then home for dinner with the host family after our Day 2 briefing. Not sure how the Desert King manages to keep this up for 7 days .. I’m knackered!
|Elevation for Day 1 according to my trusty Garmin|
|Day 1 finish! (Photo: Faisal Abdullah)|
|The view from Day 2 start .. more climbing! (Photo: Rabani Ayub)|
We eventually get going and start off with a 3.2km climb to CP3, followed by a 12km loop back to CP4 (CP3 doubled up as CP4). Amazing views as we reached the top, but I was too puffed out to fully appreciate it! I picked up a passenger in the wet undergrowth just after CP3 in the form of a leech. It latched on and I was too busy trying to keep up with the guys in front to do notice till later. It wouldn’t come off despite several swipes at it, and numerous attempts at charging though high vegetation didn’t dislodge it. Felt it sink it’s teeth in and there was no getting rid of it then!
|Skinny leech, fat leech, the bloody aftermath and bandage ..|
5kms from CP4 was a lovely orange clay track that looked deceptively dry .. then a hilarious moment when I turned round to see Andrew had fallen prey to the wet, orange clay and had left both shoes stuck in the mud! He was in his socks, rescued his shoes and proceeded to wash them off in a puddle. Khaliq and I managed to keep our shoes on, but picked up at least an extra kilo of orange clay caked to our feet.
At CP3/4 I see some of the adventure racers drop their bikes to start the 12km loop we’ve just done .. this will be the only run they have today .. I’m definitely envious at this point! The medic at CP3/4 sprays the leech with some kind of deep heat spray, but not before all the other marshall at the CP have whipped out their cameras for a shot of the leech .. not a common occurrence, it seems!
We backtrack to CP2, which also doubles as CP5 .. its mostly downhill … a great time to rest the legs and shout encouragement to the adventure racers struggling up in the opposite direction. Coming into CP2/5, Andrew catches up and we carry on together over a rickety suspension bridge ad the start of some very steep, muddy climbing. CP6 is at the top of what’s now known as ‘Hamburger Hill’ … a real quad-buster!
|First part of the climb after CP5 … super muddy and steep! (Photo: Rabani Ayub)|
|Nearly to the top of Hamburger Hill .. quads are burning! (Photo: Shamsul Adzrin)|
|Nearly at the top of Hamburger Hill .. (Photo: Rabani Ayub)|
We slip and slide all over the place and I can’t hep wondering how the adventure racers will fare when they have to navigate this section with their bikes. Riding is definitely not an option. the route thus far has been pretty straight forward, and reasonably simple to follow, with most of the track being wide and well worn. When we finally get to CP6 I’m thinking we’re nearly home free as it’s 11km back to the race finish and should be on a pretty clear track. Wishful thinking!
|Just before the wrong turning at CP6|
Somehow Andrew and I manage to ignore our instincts and take a left at the T-junction after CP6 .. when we were meant to go right. We went way off the beaten path, through a rubber plantation (that we thought was the right way), found a toothless old couple sat in their little hut and by that time got extremely worried about how lost we were! My map reading skills were confirmed rubbish and no use at all since we didn’t really know where we were anyway. Andrew’s language skills saved the day and got us some directions from the oldies that took us back to a main path .. but not before having to negotiate a rather dodgy track.
It was another 20-30 minutes of running before we had any idea of how far off-course we’d gone .. we’d definitely gone the long way and ended up behind everyone we’d passed before CP6. We saw the first few adventure teams bomb out on their bikes in front of us us well. Where we should have had a fairly straight 11km back to the finish, we’d probably added an extra 5km after ‘going bush’. It was a long, hot, exposed road back to the finish that seemed never-ending, and we caught up with a few of the runners including Fabien, Khaliq and Yip (Day 1 winner) who’d all taken detours as well.
Day 2 elevation profile
It takes far more effort than I expect to keep a steady pace to the finish, and we were all trying to assess how far out we were, asking for an estimate from passing mopeds and locals. Unfortunately, none of them gave us definitive answers, and it didn’t really help our morale when they said “very far!” The first few solo riders of the adventure race passed us on the bikes (envious, who me?) and guessed the remaining distance we had at about 6km … aaargh!
It’s a huge relief to finally see the TVRC grounds and I cross the finish line in 6th place overall. Khaliq and Andrew faded a little and cross the line minutes after me. The challenges placed on my navigational skills made me realise how much more practice I need .. and how lucky I was to have been running with company most of the time. After hearing some of the other competitors stories of getting lost, our little detour was nothing! It seems Day 2 was far more difficult with regards to map-reading, and perhaps fatigue from the previous day took it’s toll as well. A lot of runners came in far later than expected because they inadvertently took the ‘scenic’ route .. congratulations to all who participated. We do these events mainly for the personal challenge, and I’m sure we all experienced that at some point over the last 2 days. The total official distance was just over 70km, not including those of us who decided to go walkabout.
Got a new set of pipes! (Traditional ones .. called a sompoton)
|Our homestay family|
The adventure racers still had Day 3 to go, well done to them! Most of us caught their start before being ferried back to KK to catch our flights home.
I realise it’s taken me over a week to finish this report .. I’ve tried not to let it run too long, but there were so many things to see and do that it was hard not to. It was my first multi-day stage race as well, and it’s got me thinking about the 4 Deserts now! I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a great couple of days out with challenge of self-navigation thrown in to make it more interesting .. just make sure your navigational skills are better than mine! 🙂
An excellent job done by the organisers and volunteers, especially given the difficulties faced with weather and facilities. I think next year it should be a 3-day event so the runners and adventure racers all finish at the same time. I felt a bit left out waving them off on Day 3! Huge thanks also to Basecamp Venture and their generous support with Hammer Nutrition .. no complaints with my fuelling or pre/post-race nutrition at all!