Thursday, 18 October 2012

Salomon X-Trail 2012 - Of Mud, Water & Getting down and dirty.

It has already been more than 2 weeks and I still have that enjoyable and memorable feeling from Salomon X-Trail 2012 at UPM. It's one of those memorable ones that I really enjoyed very much.

Reasons? Mud, getting dirty and trails. Nuff' said.

Missing last year's event was very heartbreaking for me. I wasn't sure what was the reason I missed it or was it because I didn't had any trail running experience before back then. I can't remember.

So having experienced a little more trail running this year, I didn't want to miss the opportunity and it was indeed a good choice. 
With the bike marshals. Raymond (Tomatoman) & Ee-Van (Tristupe)
The Men starts first. Beautiful morning!
It was my third visit to UPM Stadium having previously done the last 2 Mizuno Wave Runs at the same venue. Knowing the distance and parking situation, I decided to  leave early from home and arrived roughly 5am at the venue. I was a little shocked cause I was one of the early ones to arrive and parts of the stadium is not even lit yet. Usually for Mizuno, traffic was already a havoc at that period of time.

Oh, well. Lucky me then...

Casually started the morning with a slow walk and see whether the rest of the guys arrived. Behind the stadium, the usual gang was hanging about; either for the run or working as volunteers for the day. Brilliant organization on Pacesetters part. 

Bump into the Raymond (Tomatoman) & Ee-Van (Tristupe). They will be part of the bike marshals along the route. Both of them has already given a "preview" of what to expect from their FB and blog updates. No problems for me. I want to get down and dirty as much as possible. 

Come by 6.30am, most of the runners are already gathered at the start line. The Men's category started first and followed by the Women. It was a great and cooling morning and UPM is famous for it's brilliant and beautiful sunrise views. Over the loudspeaker, Rustam (President of PACM) was announcing last minute details. And almost like poking fun; he announced that since it rained last night, expect to be running through mud and getting wet at the same time. You could tell there was an echo of groans going around. Geoffrey and Andy who was stood by me did not know it was going to be this tough, especially Andy is wearing his new Nikes. Inside of me, I was letting out a big "HA-HA'. How sneaky mean of me. 

First part. The pool of muddy water.
Photo courtesy of KH Tang.
Once the gun was off, everyone was blazing through frantically (as usual). Me and Wei Li was just looking at each other in astonishment. We've learn by now in a race is not to "peak too soon". We laughed even more when they started playing "Gangam Style" in the background. Oh gee, the horsey dance song again. 

We ran out of the stadium and in less than a kilometer, there is a clogged up. As I got closer, it was the infamous pool of mud water. Yesh, time to get dirty! Majority of the runners were trying very hard not to get wet by climbing over the barriers on the left and right. Kudos to the organizers for building up larger barriers this year to dissuade runners from climbing over. The scene was hilarious. People are actually afraid of water!

Me as usual not caring, blazed through the muddy pond, knowing that it was part of the fun. Kinda like Moses crossing through the parted Red Sea. How biblical. 

I didn't take any shots cause I know it was time to make up some time and cut through as many runners as possible.
Tristupe ever ready with his camera.
The view and sunrise was breathtaking. 
In general, the whole route was pretty muddy; with the occasional surprise of cow dungs along the way. I was having a blast. Trail running is awesome but I've never experience anything as awesome as this. Well, minus leeches like the ones I got at Batu Dam Trail run. 

The route is pretty straight forward; totaling up to about 11km. It was the same place we had to specially apply access for Melvin and Michelle's wedding shots many years ago. 

It wasn't a tough trail run and elevation wise it was pretty easy. But there were some parts that mud was really an overload and difficult to run through. I couldn't care less as I ran through much of it, getting dirty as much as I can; ON PURPOSE. I could hear some of the runners complaining that I "splashed" too much mud around when I passed. Replied a quick sorry; but I didn't mean it that much. Anyone that comes out of these routes clean is next to impossible.

Kelvin guarding the 2nd obstacle. The crawling under the barrier gate.
A quick look from the back, so many runners climbing over. 
 Next up was the 2nd obstacle course and poor Kelvin was the only one handling that area. I believe this was a new addition to this year's run. We had to crawl underneath the gate barrier, and getting dirty on your upper body is unavoidable. Again, there was a clog up. Many were climbing over the side fence and poor Kelvin was shouting and trying to get everyone to go under. Now as many know Kelvin is infamous for his loud voice but poor fellow seems to be struggling after shouting for so long. Thanks for all the great work Kelvin but I think next time you need a bigger backup.

Surprisingly I manage to crawl through very easily. Was in and out in a jiffy. We had to pass through this twice along the route and by the 2nd time I was back, the whole gate was dismantled! I was later told by Kelvin that the moment I left this part, 5 minutes later the whole barrier was just completely removed by the participants.  He just got too overwhelmed.

Hi Moo-Moo. Cows everywhere!

The 7km point.

The ever ready Khoo stationed at 7km point.
 From this point onwards, it was just pretty straight forward. Met several friends along the way with a quick Hi. The view was amazing but I didn't want to stop and take a picture. So I had to run and shoot at the same time. Point to note self, next time get a camera with better low light capture and Hi-speed. Most of my shots were pretty shaky even with the IS on. 

Khoo was stationed at 7km mark. Joker had a fun time pranking anyone who asked him the distance left. His usual reply is "10km to go!". Brilliant answer! :D

Below is a video that Khoo recorded during the race from his mark.

View from the banks.
Last sunrise view before heading out of this area.
I tried to maintain a reasonable speed and made sure I was not speeding too fast. My heart rate was already shooting up like crazy. I always have to keep reminding myself that I'm not running on tarmac.

As we slowly made our way out of the "muddy area" we still had to cross the mud pond one more last time. By now, there wasn't much runners around so I had the benefit to splash a little bit more than usual. The experience is very uplifting as I enthusiastically blast through like a HOOLIGAN.

First was parting on Rea Sea, then it was walking on water shot.
Photo courtesy of Rozmi of The Marathon World Photography.

And to finish off as I got through the finishing line, I unconsciously did "that" dance move. It would be the last time and retiring it. Khoo must be cringing by now. 

That horsey dance move at the finishing. Unconsciously did it.
Photo courtesy of World of Sports Malaysia. 
At the finishing line, we were given our finisher medal, cert and an awesome looking Salomon Trail cap. Such a beauty but I was kinda hoping they give the one with the hoodie like the one I was wearing. Finished at a decent time of 1:08. Kinda slow by my standards but I thought it's a well effort. Nowadays I just prefer to enjoy the race rather than chase for time.

We were slowly ushered to the wash area to do a quick clean up for our shoes. There were a few outdoor water taps strategically placed right after the finishing line and the line was building up. Quickly made my way through and had to wait for bout 10 minutes for my turn. 

Doesn't really look dirty at this angle but reality I'm drencehed. 
Signage very well placed. 
A quick change later, it was time to be rewarded with Nasi Lemak, Watermelon and Tau Hueh (Tau Foo Fa). It was indeed a great reward. I take pride in simple pleasures like these.

With Manson. Brooks Sunway Pyramid. 

With Max Lim, Celebrity Blogger/ Photographer and Runner. 

Andy and Geoff back from their run. Andy showing sour face looking at his new Nikes. 

All the winners group photo.
With Uncle Oliver. 
Back from marshalling, Tristupe. Alongside with Esfah and Cheryl.
With my highschool classmate, Eng Soon.
And in all it was a great race and one that I had the most laughs about. I didn't want to sound mean but I dished out quite a lot about how people reacted throughout the whole race; about being afraid of dirty water, mud and maneuvering around dry grass just to avoid getting wet. I was just having a conversation with Yvonne about how nowadays our generation is like the "Strawberry Generation". Go look for the meaning at Wiki.

Excuse my saying but sometimes in life, we have to crawl through shit to achieve our goals. Even a beautiful flower is grown and nourished from a dirty old cow dung.

So do I wanna get down and dirty again next year?


The awesome finisher medal. Well technically it was 11km. 

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