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Hash Challenge Jungle Marathon Race Report
by Denis Oakley in

This was a lot of run. And a lot of fun. There is a post race report as well for various consequences of the run :)

Up at 0430 for a bowl of my home made organic oat and fruit cereal and a big cup off tea and then off to the Hotel de Palma for the coach to the race start. The drive there was awesom. Loud music - Windows open - traffic free. I was feeling very emotional and buoyed by the race - and I realised that I absolutely adore racing. 'Realised' that I had a good chance of being the first European in the Everest Marathon (probably not actually but that's a good feeling to have :) )

Met the team at the hotel and piled into the bus. That was the last point that I knew where I was for the rest of the day. The bus dropped us off somewhere near Gombak on a piece of road and we did the last pre race checks. Shoes, vaseline, insect repellent.

This race was from the start a training race. A good performance here would mean that I was set up well for the Everest Marathon 4 weeks later. So evaluate my fitness - get lots of rough terrain experience and try out a variety of new techniques.

We were also running as a team, AJ, Azmar and Julie and had agreed that we would run as a team and enjoy the race together. Julie had a weak knee and I was a lot fitter than everyone else so one of the big worries the others had was me holding back and not being too competitive.

The first part of the race was 16km through the jungle to the first water stop. This was relatively fast at first as we were on trails. Slowly slowly we left these behind as the race course took us through bamboo groves, up hills, along rivers - basically anything that the organisers thought would make us curse. Pace was good and we were averaging about 6 km/h for most of the first section. Then there was a long river section and we probably crossed the river 10 - 15 times. I ran to give a good shot for a photographer and ended up going under the water spectaculary as the bottom dropped away. Thank God the iPhone was in a plastic bag.

The trail was marked with little pieces of paper with numbers on - actually they were the date - but after a whil they took on a more LOST like significance. Stranger. There were also lots of orange tags marking the route and we were constantly having to look out for these to see where the route went. Hard concentration for the person at the front. We swapped point every 20 minutes. I found that one of the hardest stretches as whilst I loved it I did start pulling away from the group and kept having to slow or stop. Sweeper was a much more comfortable position.

The first 16km was knocked off in about 3 1/2 hours. Felt fresh and good and the team were all performing well. I'd finished 2 litres of go juice by this point and did a complete refill at the water stop; ate loads of water melon and a few bananas. The off again onto the proper course. Off trail - up muddy slimy slopes where we were constantly grabbing trees to try and make some headway. After a bit I started to get a bit concerned about AJ who's co-ordination was weakening. 15 minutes later he said he was bonking as his stomach had shut down.

We took it slow and forced a few rest stops on AJ - so that he could recover and get his stomach settling (and emptying). This stage was very hard for him and I had loads of respect for the patient way he kept pushing forward. Hurting but with a smile. It took us 3 1/4 hours to reach the next checkpoint. That was hard for AJ. I was still feeling fresh comfortable and strong. I'd felt frustrated by the slow pace for a while - but Inshallah - that is the way that the world works and you race together orn die along (sorry another Lost reference).

AJ started picking up as we left WS2 and the route to WS3 was nice as after we'd done a few big climbs we were running onn the level for 5 - 6km. Not easy running mind you - stopping regularly to climb over branches and work through difficult bits. But it was flat. Then there was the realisation that we were very close to the cut off time for WS3. By my calculation we had about 10 minutes to cover about 3 kilometres - at current pace we'd taker 45 minutes to do it. As I was strong; and the team was now solid I decided to run ahead to try and keep us in the race. We had a cuttoff issue because of AJ's bonk - not because of our basic speed. He was good. So it would have been disappointing to have DNF'd at this point. I wasn't much of a team player at this point - too important to me - and so I head off. Fast.

With something like 30km under the belt already I started running at about 10k/m pace rather than the 4km/h pace we'd been doing. It was superb - gliding along the trails I felt really good and confident. Loved it. Then there was a nice trail downhill to the check point and I eased off a bit to keep my HR under control.

Stopping hurt and I realised that I was over heating and needed to do something about it. Headed to the St Johns Ambulance for ice and was directed to a cooler. I grabbed handfuls and started scrubbing my body with it. Poured water over my head. Juice, water melon and porridge weren't attractive. It took a really long time for my heart rate to come down and even then it only stabilised at 117. Not good considering my moving HR had been about 120 - 125 for the race up to this point.

To soon we had to move on or be DNF'd so I stuffed my camel back with ICE to try and reduce my core temperature. Running round the lake I realised that I was fucked. Too hot - but I thought that with a fast 2 1/2 k run I'd depeleted my glycogen stores and was bonking. So lots of energy drink - refuel - and keep going. You feel shit in every race - this was my down point. I'd come through it in about an hour. Up to that point it would be a miserable life.

The hills weren't the steepest or hardest of the race. They were the slowest. "You Can" "I Can" "I will" Move" "Keep moving" "I love Shen" "Love" were all great motivational thoughts going up. The biggest was just a determination to keep moving. Get through this bonk and it would all be ok.

The team started splitting at this point as AJ was failing as well - hammered I think by losing nutrition for 90 minutes and Julie's knee was making downhill slow going. We worked as 2 pairs much of the time. I kept going and Azmar would lead, then fall back to check on Julie and AJ. Then it would be me and AJ struggling along in mutual pain. I remember that we had one miserable hill where we talked about how we met our wives and how we fell in love. I can't remember the details but it helped us through another hill.

We knew now that we we're going to get past the next checkpoint - I did'nt want to. I'd done what I'd come to do - and pushing myself would serve no purpose. I was hear to check my fitness for Everest not to blow my chances for a good race. I had to get to the checkpoint - because whilst there would be sweepers - sitting or lying in the jungle with all the ants and insects for hours would be worse - and even then I'd have to walk out - too difficult for a stretcher. Shit happens. Keep going.

Down hills were now sit and slide or hold to a vine or fall forward and brace against a tree. Upshills were just slow and painful. I was abolsuyely loving it and had this stupid big grin across my soul and heart - if not my face.

We came to the river an the end. Glad I was there and I'd stopped. Scores on the doors.

40km in 10:56. 4500 calories consumed. 1500m of vertical ascent (5000 feet)

Stupe also did a write up of the race here - a great picture of me chillin post race.


Stupe said...

Good report man. I take you are recovered. :)

Denis Oakley said...

Not allowed to train till Wednesday - but I did find that I was running about a bit without intending to today. FElt good - no stiffness. :)

Shen's told me to sign her up for the KC so that she can keep an eye on me :)

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