28th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon 2014 – Adventure Race Report

I did it again. This is my second climbathon that I joined. I joined last year’s edition of climbathon, in which I did in 6 hours 26 minutes. Not even within the cut off time. My time was even worse this time. I did in 6 hours 46 minutes. 20 minutes over my last year’s timing. The Summit Trail and The Mesilau Trail experience was exactly the same as last year.

Kiram's Village
Early morning at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, Kiram’s Village, Mesilou, Kundasang. We slept in the white cabin just behind us, the night before.

The number of runner this year was the highest, as it was rumored that this climbathon edition will be the last. There will be no more climbathon next year. Almost 800 participant from all over the world came to torture themselves. However, a day before the event, the organizer made a press statement saying that the climbathon event this year will be the last one that is organized by Sabah Tourism Board. From next year onward, there will be a new organizer for this international event.

Climbathon 2014 morning
At the parking lot, just in front of Kinabalu Park HQ, Kundasang. The guy with the green shirt is a friend of mine. He finished 10th in his category.

Maybe Sabah Tourim Board (a government body) might not have enough financial support and had difficulties to find sponsors for this event. I personally thinks that when International Skyrunning Federation dropped climbathon from their circuit, the event was not that appealing anymore for international skyrunners to come here.

Kinabalu Park HQ entrance
At the entrance of Kinabalu Park HQ.

However, this year’s edition of climbathon was slightly different in terms of the environment and the camaraderie. I will not share with you the flow of the event, as you can read it from my previous year report here. I will share with you the things that I missed when I did my maiden climbathon last year.

Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu, early morning, just before the start.

I finished this year’s climbathon WITHOUT any injury

This is the most important difference that I have to highlight, as compared to last year’s edition. I injured my left knee while reaching Layang-Layang and have to scramble down Mesilau Trail and end up walking very slowly to the finish line. I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome –  a common injury for runners –  in which I had to rest for almost 3 months after last year’s event!

New friends
Met some new friends while running.

This time however, I did not have any injury, only ‘normal’ thigh cramps on the way down Mesilau Trail and managed to still run to the finish line. What I did differently was only by close monitoring my heart rate below 160 bpm. Last year, I didn’t know how to use my heart rate monitor properly. So what I did was only run with all my heart out and most of the time, it reaches more than 90% of my maximum heart rate. This time around, I maintained my heart rate below 90% and with that approach, the result showed. I still have cramps of my both thigh, but the intensity and frequency was way less than last year.

Happy faces!
Few seconds before the race begins.

And the bad time. I have to admit that I didn’t train much as compared to last year. The last run that I did before this climbathon was only 10km Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, just a week earlier. I only did “mental training”. Haha. The result showed that I need more training, especially hill training for this kind of event.

Kinabalu at the background
Mount Kinabalu at the background.

I ran this climbathon with my cousin and a lot of just found friends

Last year when I did my climbathon, I was alone, in the sense of relationship with other runners. Maybe because I was just started running that time, and my circle of running friends was quite small then. As time goes by, I got to know a lot of them in the running community here in Sabah from the Facebook. It seems now that whenever I run, I surely will bump with them, and that makes the event more fun. It’s really fun to run with some of the friends that you know from the Facebook in which you never met with them personally before. We will usually give encouragement with each other, as not all of us are as fit as others.

Finishing line
Yes! I did it again!

I also ran with my cousin from Kuala Lumpur this time. He is the one who ran with a GoPro stick and camera, and happily shooting all the way through the event as he ran. We had a good time together, staying overnight at Kiram’s Village, meeting our new friends from all over the nation and shopping some local delicacies in Kundasang. It makes the climbathon more eventful.

At the medical tent
At the medical tent. Nursing my both thighs with ice. It was burning!

I ran this climbathon fully prepared with hydration pack and electrolytes 

Last year I was really not prepared for my hydration and electrolytes. I underestimated the event, bringing no hydration pack and rely on the event organizer’s water station. I did not bring any PowerGel or even electrolytes. That move had caused my muscle to cramps all the way from Layang-Layang to Kundasang – almost 15km of pure agony. In addition with the cramps, I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome. That really slowed down my pace.

Medical tent, Kundasang
Met some more new friends!!!

This time around, I brought along my AK race vest by Ultimate Direction. I have used the gear during my Hasuu Tasuu Trail Run (23km) last August and it performs really well. 2 bottles of 500ml, a lot of electrolytes powder, PowerGel, some chocolate and peanuts. It really makes a difference in the “quality” of the race as compared to last year. I don’t rely too much on the water station, and this time around, I intentionally missed the illegal water station, in which they served cakes! With my hydration that was monitored closely, my mind can focus on the target of improving my last year’s timing.

Climbathon background
Are you tough enough? YES!

I ran this climbathon with my Suunto Ambit2 R watch

As compared to last year’s event in which I used Garmin Forerunner 210, the GPS tracking for both watches was excellent. No mobile phone apps can match their capabilities of tracking your run deep inside the jungle canopy of Kinabalu Park. With the watch, I knew I did really good last year from Kinabalu Park to Layang-Layang (1 hour 15 minutes) but really bad this year (2 hours and 30 minutes). Because of the injury last year, my second part was worst than this year. So, actually I DID better this year in terms of overall stats, but because I did not have enough training, I failed to improve my time this year.

Crossing the finish line
It was a relief when I crossed the red line!

Anyway, the pain was better than last year’s edition, and I have to admit that I am addicted to this kind of event. I will surely signed up for next year’s event –  if they continue to have it. I have actually signed up for next year’s TMBT 50km Ultra Trail Run.

I just conquered my own self
Me and my cousin, Azril. He did a better time at 5:25.

See you next year.

I am on Strava!

Leave a Reply