Saturday, April 30, 2011

Climbathon at Mount Santubong-Damai Beach resort

Last night, we were all excited to see the showers outside, because it could have allowed us a later wake-up. Today, we begrudgingly woke up at 5:30am in order to make it in time for the Climbathon at Mount Santubong/Damai Resort. This event was organized by DBKU, which is the Commission of The City of Kuching North, and was intended for civil servants, as I understood it.  Those who place 1-9 get some sort of prize, which I was not shooting for, considering the condition some of these people are in. So we figured that everyone would be on 'Malaysian Time' and that the event would not actually start till about 7am, rather than the 6am start we were told to be punctual for. We took our time, eating some Kolo Mee and sipping on some Kopi, and ended up showing up around 6:45. The climbathon had apparently started already and the last group of latecomers were just starting to run. I jumped out of the car and joined the group, and caught up to the SBC crew. For some reason I was especially energized this morning. The first part of the race was along a flat road, with short slopes. Once I got to the base of the actual mountain, I was handed a red bull, since a red bull truck was giving out red bulls to all participants. This made me chuckle for a good 10 seconds, until that and the run made me short of breath. Most of the runners ended up just drinking the red bull throughout the whole race.  How good of an idea is it to drink a caffeinated, strongly dehydrating drink, whilst exercising in the sweltering heat of the jungle? It's not good AT ALL. Luckily no one passed out, though I noticed a number of people got particularly dizzy and stop for a while (unclear whether this was the physical exertion or the dehydration). I guess Red Bull was probably happy to promote their drink in this way, as these trucks seem to do this kind of thing all over. Well of course no one forced us to take the red bull, and it rather powered me up (also made me felt like I was going to faint on a number of occasions), but I did because I was in too much of hurry to bring my mineral water. Not sure why exactly it bothered me so much, it just seemed silly and borderline dangerous.

 The climb up wasn't so bad. I did slow down considerably and my pace was more between speed walking and jogging. Like a quarter of the way up, I started to notice individual people stopped at the side of the trail, playing with their phones (I think I noticed a facebook logo) or chatting on their mobile phones. Another chuckle on my part, since I never saw some of those people make it up to the checkpoint up top. Moreover, further up, the speedy participants began their sprint down the mountain. So the worry now became "how do I avoid getting clipped by these guys?," since they were not planning to stop for anything. In some spots, things would get particularly tricky when the facebook updaters took up valuable "dodge the sprinter" space. Eventually reached the 800m altitude mark, at which point I got a coupon proving I made it, and also was photographed (for what bordered on an uncomfortably long time, which might signify it was a video recording) holding and drinking my red bull.

   Then I sprinted down, which was as much a surprise to me as to other people who've seen me trek along any kind of downward slope. The wetness of the ground made this especially precarious, and yet I felt something new this time- confidence. It's like Gilbert told me last time we climbed Santubong, that you have to "know" and "be confident" that you're next step will be the right one. I didn't get this at the time, but today it kind of clicked. I wasn't as scared with each step, and just kind of saw ahead several steps. Maybe because at this point I've fallen enough so as to not be afraid of it anymore. Or just more experience. Either way, it was such a thrill, and made me realize just how much I enjoyed this whole trekking thing, and how happy I was that we actually made it for this Climbathon. Of course I wasn't within a shouting distance of the guys who placed 1-9, as they were all incredibly fit people previously involved in iron man and mountain biking competitions, while I'm nowhere near their level of fitness/athleticism. But at least I finally saw an obvious manifestation of my improved trekking skills, probably a combined work of the high altitude trekking in Bhutan and plenty of jungle trekking. Also, I decided that this little workout would begin my training in order to ready myself for Mount Kinabalu sometime in June. It's something I don't feel I absolutely must do, but why not? It's in Sabah, which I've wanted to visit anyway (I'll explain why later on), and is another challenge to improve my trekking. Also I hear the sunrise is a sight for sore eyes, and that's what everyone committing to this climb does it for.
Either way, despite the mostly funny little hiccups, I had an awesome time and was thankful that last night's showers didn't stop this from taking place.

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