Friday, 26 April 2013

- Gunung Datuk Expedition: Words by Wahizah Wahid -

On Friday 19th April, we met at Woodlands Square and boarded the bus at 9.30pm. Hirda could not join us but she sent us off and bought some food for our breakfast. Thanks Hirda!

We then changed to a Malaysian registered bus at Tuas Checkpoint and proceeded to Negeri Sembilan. Traffic was smooth throughout the journey as we were woken up before we could even sleep soundly, let alone dream.

We reached Gunung Datuk Base Camp at 3am, registered our attendance and settled ourselves at a BIG hall. Tried to get some sleep to rest our body from the bus-battered sleeping position.  We woke up before dawn, had a cold and refreshing bath, perform our Subuh (morning) prayers and had a light breakfast before meeting the guide, a lanky and friendly guy by the name of Zul.

Gunung Datuk is 884m above sea level. The distance to the summit is approximately 4.6km one way.  What lies ahead was nothing near the MacRitchie trails that we frequented or the Bukit Timah Hill that we braved during the wet weather. It was a steep and treacherous climb, filled with intertwined roots and scattered rocks, through muddy patches and overhanging branches, some of which were thorny and spiky.

Perhaps, it helped that we have been around superfast Freaks (read: you guys!).  
We made it to the halfway mark in a good time.

We had a short rest at a small clearing where there was a wrecked gazebo with only the rooftop remaining.  There, Zul informed us that the summit can only take in twenty people at a time; hence there was a need to stagger the second half of the climb.  We let other fellow climbers (a big group of university students) proceed with the climb first while we indulged in our common hobby – camwhoring ! 

The terrain by then was less rocky and consisted of gentler slopes and wider paths. We did not stop for breaks until we reached the camping site just before the summit.  Many climbers were waiting for their turn to ascent the summit. There were three sets of steel ladders secured by ropes that looked kind of unsafe.  The first set was fairly easy but the second had a 90 degree incline and felt relatively shaky.  There were climbers who chose not to venture beyond this point. The last set was the scariest of all!  We dread the thought of falling over the side had we missed a step!  It undoubtedly required us to focus and exercise due care.

We were fortunate to have an experienced and patient guide who was able to assist us in conquering our fears by showing us the best ways to move about the steel ladders to and from the massive boulders that dominate the summit.

What awaited us at the summit was worth the pain and hardship we had endured throughout the climb.  We were rewarded with a superb view of the clear blue sky, the extensive greenery of the surrounding plantations and the nearby mountains.  Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah). Indeed, HE is the greatest Creator.

Unfortunately, we could not stay long at the summit as there were others waiting for their turn to taste the fruits of their (hard) labour.

Going downhill was easier on the heart but hard work for the knees and leg muscles.  The steep incline made it difficult to come down fast without risking a slide and possibly hitting the rocky paths or tripping over the twisted roots.  Nevertheless, we did not stop for a rest but kept going.  Our focus then was to reach the base camp as quickly as it was safely possible so we could eat!

We were sweating profusely, almost as much as the climb upwards earlier on, our energy almost totally depleted and relying mostly on our mental strengths.  We could feel the muscles on every part of our bodies working overtime.  At one point, one of us lost focus, slipped down and hit a sharp stone, and suffered a cut.  It was fortunate that one of the climbers had a plaster with him. From then onwards, we moved at a slower pace and let some others overtake.
At last, we reached the water catchment area and knew that the end point was near.  What a relief! Some of us started to sing while others cried, “We DID IT!”

We rushed to bathe so we could eat as soon as possible.  The bus would be fetching us home soon! We have conquered our fears and scaled Gunung Datuk.  This is our maiden climb. And for me personally, never had it crossed my mind that I would be doing this at a grand old age of forty-four!  As famously and often declared by our comrades across the causeway – Malaysia Boleh!  So Can WE!!

*Written by Wahizah 
*Edited by Mazlin Ithnin 
*Pictures Credit to Siti Hirda, Nur Iryanie Haq, Ada Mey

Monday, 22 April 2013

- Happenings over the weekend ...... -

These are some of the activities the Freaks did over the weekend ......

  • Our in-house Ultraman, Razif Yahya has completed his 9th Ultra-marathon at TNF100 Philipines. A big congrats to him and more to come from him ...... 
- Ultra Ray at the finish line - 
- His hardest-earned medal - 
  • Our own King, Sam did the 2013 Triathlon MetaSprint Series Sprint Distance Relay event and completed with a podium finish. Good job King !! 
- Doing his running leg -
  • While most of us did our usual runs, some of the ladies from Freedom Freaks decided to scale a mountain in Malaysia. Gunung Datuk to be exact. More review of the climb from either Wahizah and Nur Iryani someday perhaps ...... A job well done ladies !!! 
- Super ladies !! - 
  • Last but not the least, some of us did our usual weekly LSD run at Punggol Waterway. What a way to start the Sunday with a routine 22km to prepare for Sundown Marathon. A great turn-out because it has been a while since we have more than 5 runners doing a LSD run together .... Kudos guys !! 

More runs to come in the future. Do check our Facebook page for more updates and future runs. 
Thanks and regards.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

- 2013 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon : A race review from Joe Woo -

Mumbai Marathon 2013 aka Tour de Mumbai 2013.
This will be my solo assignment and also the first time I'm representing the Freedom Freaks to run the marathon.
I would like to thank coach Izat, fellow brothers and sisters in FF for the supports and encouragements before my departure.
The decision to sign up for the race was made back in July 2012.
No special reason, I just thought of conquering this "Odd Race" for years and I finally seized the chance for this year.
Training was started way back in November 2012.
Did my own runs and LSD around the neighbourhood.
Much prep and sufficient of mileage was done and taper the last week before flying off...
Reached Mumbai few days before the race. The weather in Mumbai was like, hot in day but cold at night.

Saturday, 19th January 2013
Woke up in the morning for a short run. Purpose of the run is to test out the weather and ground condition.
Weather was pretty cold then.
But the run was forced to do it slow due to the traffic congestion. You never want to know how badly traffic was like in Mumbai!
Nonetheless, manage a 6KM and soon settled my breakfast before going for my racepack collection.

Late morning, I reached World Trade Centre to collect my marathon racepack. 
The place was catered to all overseas participants only.
Local participants had collected their racepacks a week earlier.
And because of this, there weren't much queues. System was fast and I collected my stuffs within half an hour.

- Racepack collection - 
After the racepack collection, the whole of afternoon was my own time own target activity. Nothing much, had lunch and merely shop around the town. I then decided to take my early dinner too and head back to hotel for an early rest.

- Freedom Freaks, represented !! - 

Sunday, 20th January 2013
Tour de Mumbai, let's go !!

Woke up in the morning with a positive mood! 
And I can't wait to run my 9th marathon in Mumbai for the first time!

- The start-line - 
Soon, the race flagged off at 5:40AM. I started my run steadily and clock my first 21km in 1:51:33 hours.
I was okay then. 
Along 24KM, my legs were feeling tired. But I bear in mind of AA's advice.
"Never slow down. Be confident and whack your very best for the first 30K. You can do it, bro."
Hence, I did not slowed down and kept my pace maintained at sub-6min/km.
Reached 30KM mark and time checked, 2:38:45 hours.
Cool! I sticked to AA's tip and made it a good Sub-3.
And now I have more than enough time to play with the last 12k where "dramas" usually happen.

I must say the first 28KM attempt was smooth and steady. 
The route was relatively flat and the weather was bearable.
The ambience was good too, especially those little children in the village, they're so lovely and very supportive.
- The lively supporters - 
And when I thought things were going well ...
I lost my consistency at 34KM. 
I hit the wall as expected and suffered a stomach upset the same time.
My body was feeling fatigue at that point of time.
I really thought of giving up and and just walk all the way to the finishing line like how I did in SCHKM & SCKLM last year.
It wasn't a big deal anymore as I was pretty confident to end the race within Sub-5 even if I walk.
The loss - Losing a PB.

At 35KM, no excuse, I WALKED! I walked about a distance of 1.1 kilometer.
And weather soon getting hotter too.
As I've already given up myself and carry on walking, a local runner ran to me.
He persistently persuaded me to keep going and shouldn't give up so easily.
I explained to him of my condition. He paused his run and checked if I'm okay.
He still encouraged me to slow down the pace instead of stopping and walk.
He said: "Dragging your feets and walk in a marathon, it's as good as to surrender yourself and lose the battle."
He tapped on my shoulder with a smile and showed me a thumbup before leaving me behind to carry on his run.

I felt ashamed after learning his words. 
And soon I picked myself up again.
Instead of walking, I stopped and rested for awhile, did some leg stretching.
I bitterly carry on with a slow jog at 7-8min/km pace.
It was really a challenge.
Time and time again, I felt the pain, but I overcame the difficulties.

At 39KM mark, the sun was mercilessly burning.
But surprisingly, I felt alright and I thought I was able to run again.
I waste no time by whacking my best in this crucial moment.
Nearly 600m towards the finishing line, the local supporters were shouting at my bib and cheering at me.
It was really awesome!

Finally, after so much of struggles throughout the second half, my effort paid off.
I raced and completed the Mumbai marathon with a net time of 4:00:59 hours.
Thank god! I was really glad and proud of my achievement.
- Made new friends after the run - 
- Another hard-earned finisher's medal - 
- My official result - 

Landed my "Personal Best" in India.
I told myself that I've made the right choice for coming all the way here and finish the race strong.
That moment, the satisfaction was priceless. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

- Lantau50 race review by Fred Tai -

So the decision to join this race was right after completing my first Vibram HK100. It was the variation of terrain and view that motivated me to sign up for another race. With  fresh pain still lingering in my battered quads from  the uphill and downhill plus endless stairs, I decided to choose the shorter version of the Lantau race as I was curious to find out how I would fare in a 50km race. However, the registration for the race was already closed, so  I went on the waitlist and luckily I got in!
Planning for races is one of the few things I take joy in. Lantau50 was nicely placed 2 weeks right after Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon (SMMM) in Queenstown, NZ. I completed the SMMM in approx. 7:10hours; it was a pristine mountain trail with total elevation gain of 2200m. So coming to Lantau50, which had a total elevation gain of 2700m and 51km distance, I reckoned that I should be able to complete it in about 8:20 to 8:30 hours thereabouts.

I took an evening flight in, arriving late night and checked into the hotel in Sheung Wan, woke up early morning and caught the 655am slow ferry from Central Pier 6. It was cold and breezy once I reached Mui Wo with temperature around teens. 

Met up with many friends there; namely Adrian, Thomas, Alvin, Farhan and a few others. Camwhoring session ensued, and I saw a few of the HK trail elites too.

The Lantau50 and Lantau100 shared the same start time, and at the start point it was pretty much a Singaporean/Malaysian affair, as I saw many familiar faces (though I do not know all of them). Right before the race started, there was a lion dance performance. When the timer went off, we were still pretty much chatting away with each other.  We started off pretty far back on Mui Wo Beach, and ran about 200m to a cone, then made a U-turn to head back to where we came from. After  about less than 1km, we started the climb upwards on Lo Fu Tau (465m). It was a bottle neck when we started the climb as everyone scrambled to be ahead of each other.  Myself and Adrian Wong(AW) started together and we paced each other step by step. Somewhere around here, AW reminded me that the actual action starts after CP3, where the flat ground starts… hmm…I was thinking to myself:Was that a warning from him that he would smoke me after CP3? The climb towards Lo Fu Tau (465m) was not as tough as I thought it would be, so I was hoping for the next climb to Sunset Peak (854m) to be a bit tougher. I cameto regret this in the  later part of the race.

Right before CP1, I saw Kim Hong (KH), Singapore’s top adventure racer. He  was running the Lantau100, and he stopped to remove some debris from his shoes. At this section AW zoomed ahead of me. Towards CP2 it was a bit more of an undulating terrain with some bush-whacking . Somewhere around this section, I caught up with AW and saw Janelle. AW and I continued on our journey. We did some sort  of police and thief action and I must admit that the downhill run was rather fun and technical too. Which also meant that with one wrong footing, one can get some hard knocks! :P

An experienced ultra runner once told me to expect uphill after every downhill. Sunset Peak was all about climbing 854m and it was 9km to CP3. 

Just a few hundred metres into the climb, KH appeared from nowhere and went past  us almost  effortlessly. We were trudging our feet together, again step by step.. The downhill towards CP3 was rather steep and tricky. I was sure that sliding down might be easier than running down, but still, I didn’t want to dirty my new compression tights, so I chose to try to run the downslope instead .. haha…

When we reached CP3, we stopped for a breather for the first time in the race. I gulped down some Coke, and KH who was ahead of us earlier joined us for a chat. CP3 was where the Lantau50/100 participants split up. KH decided to join us to do only the 50km as his intention was just to clock mileage with this run. So after a couple of minutes of chatting, KH asked AW and I , which of us would like to lead the pace since there were  3 of us. I literally gulped when I heard that. So anyway we took off, with KH setting the pace, AW in the middle and me the last. We ran for about less than 1km, and I found myself struggling to keep up. It was technical trails with some climb over rocks on a few dried waterfalls, which to me was not runnable. They were dropping me fast with their pace, and I was struggling to just keep them in sight. CP3 to CP4 was 11km apart. I told myself, AW is darn right, the race actually starts after CP3. Smell no smoke at all!! I had breathing difficulty and was seeing stars, but I trudged on by just walking. It was not wise to try running when feeling giddy on a rocky section. I was trying to figure out what was happening to my body, was it low blood sugar or low electrolytes? My inner thigh cramped up with each steps. So I took in gel for energy, and decided to suck a quarter of Nuun effervescence tablet.  The tablet seems to work, cramp went away, but the feeling of seeing stars and giddiness lingered on until CP4. This was a very demoralizing section, I seriously thought of quitting and DNF. It was purely a mental tussle here, one part of me said it was tough, it was a  hot day, you have got nothing to prove, everyone is overtaking you because u are slow and walking and another part of me said you have completed TNF SG100, FAR114, HK100, so what is a Lantau50, just keep the forward momentum.
As I approached CP4, I saw this familiar faced Master Scout from HK100, a very friendly chap and he was all talkative. Another runner was complaining about the poorly marked section between CP3 to CP4, and I overheard him saying that there was already a Lantau100 participant that lost his way and passed through his CP.  It did not strike me whom that lost runner was, until a few more steps up Lo Yan Shan (303m) and my thoughts gathered back; the lost 100km runner was Kim Hong! I decided to put on my ear phone, and blasted it away. As the music blasted away, I found strength in my legs again and started running like someone being possessed. I overtook a handful of runners, and then more, running every minor ups and downs.
As I passed CP5, the marshal shouted 5km more! So I ran harder, thinking that this last part was to be “flatter”, but no, it still had the small ups to climb and mini downhills. Only when I hit the Mui Wo jetty then I knew that I was slightly over a km away from finishing. I crossed the finish line in 8:18:18(huat ahh!), with gun time showing 8:20. AW completed in 7:58, gun time 8:00. Looking back, I would have DNFed earlier if not for God’s grace and strength, and I could not have asked for a better finishing time given the amount of walking I did from CP3 to CP4. J

*Pics credit to Fred Tai and Adrian Wong.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

- Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2013: A race review from a 1st timer Full Marathon finisher, Teck Heng -

Hello again... Yes, I know I was late to complete this race review. The main reason was because I did not have access to BLOGGER.COM while I was in China. Seems like blogs in China are only restricted to using, a China Online Social Network, therefore I didn't manage to get any updates on the full marathon that I did in the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon 2013.

I am going to start off with some experiences I had during the whole trip then followed by photos with captions, maybe one or two small, small paragraph.

  • Since I am overseas, I search online for a room to stay in somebody's house. It happened to be slightly more expensive than staying in a shared room in a hostel. Hostel bed would be around SGD30-40 in Hong Kong. If it's a private room it would be more expensive at about SGD80 average. I got a room inside a resident in Hong Kong's apartment at SGD60. What's more, the apartment is just across the street at the finishing line. I can see the finishing line out of my room window. And after the race, it's really hassle-less to go back to that apartment, take a shower and rest for the day or two. (Room is booked via 
  • I was worried about the cold weather (17-19℃) in Hong Kong. Should I wear more or less? So I went online to search for SCHKM 2012 and viewed the gallery. I found that most of them are just wore long sleeve compression tops and bottom. So I decided to follow suit and just put on an additional t-shirt over my compression top to pin the bib. Actually I used to wear 2 layers of tops for running long distance just for one reason only - nipples abrasion!!!. 
  • Unlike runs in Singapore which I joined, I was surprised that most male runners in this SCHKM will just pee at the trees along the route(a distance away from the route). I was too shy to try. Ended up at 25km, I queued up for almost 10mins at the portable toilet. In future, if I need a leak, I'm taking the mother nature's way! (Oppss) 
  • SCHKM's water points were amazingly good. The water provided are in sealed in palm size packing. I wasn't sure what drink that was, but it was cooling and refreshing. It was from Wastons I guess. And the water stations were good. The wet sponge were better. The chocolates were awesome. They are unlike in Singapore's running event, just a tentage with 4 to 6 table tops. SCHKM's water points were a long stretch of long table over about 50-60metres and the drinks were arranged in flowing manner. 'Water - Sports Drink - Water - Sports Drink - Water' in that order.
  • The First-Aid stations were good too. The volunteers gave some deep heat oil to runners to rub on their legs. I never tried them so I was not sure what they were giving out. No smell unlike the Salonpas which always triggered me snzeee.
  • The finishing part of the run was great as well. 
  • All the helpers are fantastic too. I hardly see any single helper sitting, sleeping on the chairs or even playing with their phones. They were all in high spirit and cheered sincerely for everyone. One auntie even "scolded" us for running so slowly and she said that she wanted to go home early and told us to run faster.
That's all I can recall of my 1st Full Marathon in Hong Kong and I will definitely be back in 2014 to conquer the SCHKM again. A 'must-do' for any runners !! 

At Changi Airport T1...So excited. :]
Hong Kong here I come ! - 
Absoluthal Limikzst - Thanks to him, to collect my BIB as I afraid that I unable to collect them in time. -
These are the items in the race pack. Quite simple. I like. - 
Here's my first Full-Marathon bib. 3011 ! - 
- Year of Snake. I didn't know they gave out these medallion every year. - 
- The finishing line, a day before the race. - 
- Recce the place - 
- Planning my pace - 
Was quite excited at night, so sneaked out into a hot dessert snack bar and had my supper..
I was quite worry that I didn't have enough food to complete the 42km as I usually will go hungry when running a 21km run.

Bib on, Game ON ! - 
- Look at the number of portable toilets and people in the line ! - 
- Watsons water station at the warm-up area - 
- Abs with some runners from SG too ~ I don't know them, never mind la, take photo first. :

Final pose before going to the starting line

At the starting line. - 

First photo on the run. - 

- 4hrs mark reached. Still happy with a sub 5hr timing though - 
These are what they give out at the finish line in a goodie bag. - 

- My 1st 42km medal - 

The results... 4:46:48. My next target timing for a Full Marathon run will be a sub 4hr 30mins !! 
(If you can't see the image, you can actually click and it will give you the original size,
as I adjusted all the images to SMALL for pleasure viewing. :]

Overall, I'm happy that I can complete my 1st 42km run in under 5 hours. With more trainings and determination, I believe I can achieve a better timing in my future 42km runs that I will join.