“Later is never too late”
Note to self… don’t wait for 2 months to write the report… I did not manage to find the time to write my race report for Putrajaya 100 Miles. In truth I should have… I guess I decided to prioritize other things I had to do, maybe trying to delay the soul searching to be done after my first DNF ?
P100 was my first ultra marathon last year in which I did reasonably well on the 52km. This year after increasing the distances I ran regularely, I had decided it would be my first 100km race. I had gone a long way from my first 52km and since then I had ran Gunung Nuang Ultra (50km – hike shall we say), Route 68 Challenge (70km), Back 2 Endurance (65km if I recall correctly), King of Sungai Lembing (50km). I had findings and issues in all these races but I worked on them and fixed them. The biggest ones were hydration and nutrition in KOSL where I was nearly dehydrated at some point. P100 would be challenging with the heat but I knew it and was prepared. There was a certain level of uncertainty with the footwear I would be using (I’ll get back to that) but I’ll be honest here: I was sure of finishing 100km, it could be with a great time or at worst with a crappy time (ie more than 20 hours). The P100 cutoff time is extremely generous and you can basically finish it by walking fast (say 4 km/h for 30 hours = 120km, talking into account slower section and rest, it’s doable walking).
P100 is known for 2 things: the heat and the long stretches of highway. The heat is a given for Putrajaya but people don’t realize how log the highway stretches can be until they experience them. Also there is the preconception that Putrajaya is mostly flat… There are parks that are not flat ! There is one park that is very hilly where CP4 is located. There is another one that is crossed by the 100 miles folks (Taman Hijau Saujana) where the Pink 50 ultra is organised.
As a result my cheat sheet was totally wrong from KM 25 onward…
There were few LSD sessions organised by Team Pacat. Unfortunately I could not attend any of them due to my intensive travel schedule to Australia. Also the haze was pretty bad in september/october hence they had to cancel some one LSD session. With these conditions many races were cancelled and most had to cancel their LSD or heat training. On that front, I was “lucky” enough to be in Australia for a while and able to do my long runs whenever I was spending a week end there. However, my usual training was disturbed during the week and I was not able to get a decent training as per when I was in KL with the Puma Night Running Club on wednesdays. And as it was still spring there, forget the heat training in Sydney !
Because of my travelling schedule I also missed the LSD from Team Pacat, which means I did not know what to expect after CP3 ! First time there during the race ! The first LSD was from CP3 onward allowing runners to discover the long ugly stretch of highway and the climb to Taman Rimba Alam. Another one was allowing runners to discover Taman Wetlands area and a part of the 160 Miles sections.
Before the race
I had planned to be in KL for a week before the race to be well prepared and re-acclimated. Unfortunately a last minute business trip to Australia made me arrive back home only 12 hours before the race. That last evening was quite busy as I had to get my gears ready (bag, drop bag, supplies, …). That’s too rush. I even had to drive to Putrajaya, collect my BIB and race pack just one hour before the race start. I had one bag at the start of the race and one bag to be dropped at CP5 (half-point). In that bag I had a new set of clothes and socks mainly. During the week, I had put the GPX of each sections (CPn to CPn+1) into the the Fenix and had prepared my pace plan. We’ll talk about it later !
I was going to run with my xero sandals (Amuri), Merrell Road Glove 2 shoes. In what order, I didnt really know until the start of the race. I knew I would struggle with the sandals for the entire race, I would not be able to run barefoot for the whole race especially at night and after 11am. I had the compression pant (2XU) I usually wear during other long races in the bag and decided to run with the 2XU compression short (MCS). However I also brought the calf compression to wear later in the race (both to protect from the sun and to keep the calves tight enough). I decided to start the race wearing the Merrell in order to go faster than barefoot or with the sandals.
There I met many familiar faces. Couple of photos, short talk by Arman the Race Director. Then the race started. First with the 160km runners, then the 100km runners. The other shorter races were scheduled to start in the evening, so that the cutoff time of each category would be the same. That was a big difference from last year.
I started running with a small group of runners then ended up fairly quickly running in a short group with SiawHua. We ran together until CP3. Until CP2 I ran with the Merrell then removed then at CP2 to go to CP3.I had ran with the shoes at 6:15-6:30/mn instead of the slower pace I had planned.I reached CP3 and was OK, it was starting to be hot.
The next section was tougher mentally because of the highway sections. I started it barefoot then moved to wear the sandals after few kilometers (in the middle of the chinese cemetery) and later on I decided to wear the shoes back in the middle of the highway stretch to CP4. That highway was dreadfull: in the hot sun, going up, … That’s the time I started walking. I finally reach the end of it, only to get into a residential area for few kilometers.
And then oh surprise, a massive climb up into the hill nearby… to get to CP4. Quick check there and no blister, everything OK. I started to feel a little pain in my left shin but nothing to worry at this point. At CP4 I rested a bit per my plan, then I left to go to CP5 (Taman wetlands). It started with another long hike in the hill going up and down, then I got onto a residential area and a road. Here I had another stretch of road before reaching the highway.
I was walking with Ashek (captain !). We had a good chat walking together but we missed a marker at one intersection then ent right instead of straight. After few hundreds meters, I realized we were wrong then went back (thanks Fenix !). We signalled other runners ahead who also made a wrong turn. At that time I saw stalls with bananas and told myself that on the way back it would be great to buy bananas !!! Back on the road, arriving on the highway it became another long stretch of highway on the bike lane, toward Taman wetlands. It was so hot. I was walking mostly.
Once I reached Taman wetlands, there was a long part walking on a road made of rocks. It was actually pretty uncomfortable. That’s the time I met the first runners in the 160km who were going to CP6. After the rocky sections it was back again on road to reach the entrance of the park. The markers were not 100% clear and I saw people going straight as opposed to taking a left turn. Then the road up to CP5.
I stopped at CP5, tired by the heat but overall ok. I was feeling a bit more pain on the shin but that was ok.I rested there for an hour. I had lunch with the rice then hiccup ! I also changed clothes, wore the 2XU pant and had a shower. I didn’t plan for for shower and I had no towel no soap ! Anyway I felt better.
It was still very hot and I walked back. I tried to run a little bit on the highway stretch. Then I missed the bananas, got into the park. It was actually very long to get to CP4… There I stopped. I had to put some gel on the shin because it was painful. When I left, it was starting to be darker but not dark already. One guy told me that it was not good to be there at night ! Funny. I got onto the highway stretch walking slower and slower. I had to stop from time to time because of the pain.
I arrived at the end of the highway stretch and a lot was going in my mind… do I quit ? do I go back to CP3 ? What do I do there ? Can I then do the last 25k from CP3 to start ? I stopped on the side of the road and sat for 10-15mn resting and thinking about what would be next. My advice… in doubt don’t stop, keep walking. Stopping brings the worst in you when it comes to make a decision. On that spot, I decided I would go back. I had a left turn to CP3 and a right turn to the start. The pain would only get worse with time and I prefered not to injure myself. I can finish this race later on. I have time to get this done. It’s better to get it done well that poorly and injured. Time to call it a day as I didnt want to make it worse…
I walked back to the start. At that time there were all the 52km and 78km runners getting ready for starting. I got in the resting area. There were medical students who massaged my leg. I saw the start of the 52/78 km races. I shamefully hide in my corner, after DNF I didnt want to see anyone, and not ny of my friends ! Then tireness caught up with me. I slept for one hour. Once I woke up, I said thanks to everyone then drove back home.
I took rest for 2 weeks. The first 3 days I could still feel some pain, decreasing over time. It helped to have some salompas on the shin and compress it. 2 weeks later I ran shortly at the MWM running clinic and it was fine. I was still feeling a little bit when trying to run faster. The week everything was ok even running fast and barefoot.
The race was much better organized than the year before. Put it this way, Team Pacat is genuine at improving what they do. Last year was good already but this year got better. The marking was good, it can still be improved. The volunteers can also be improved I thought: being injured the only ones who came to propose to help were at the start and CP1/2. In other places, they were just serving food and drinks. That’s good but not enough I think. If you have your support crew following you at each CP, it does not matter too much but as a single runner with no support crew, you’re on your own. So a little help more than just food and water goes a long way.
I don’t really know what caused the pain in my left shin. I assume that it was caused by the long walks and the lack of mileage running with these shoes for months. That was a mistake I think. I thought about maybe a wrong movement on the left side but I couldn’t trace anything like that. . I will have to experiment and try to fix this. I have already fast tracked my running and mileage with sandals. However I still don’t get well with the sandals with the rubber in between the big toe and the other toes. So now i’m using the Xero sandals Amuri Z-Trek (looking more like casual sandals but for hiking/running, very thin and totally zero drop).
A big thank you to the MURA crew for their encouragement at CP4 and CP5. Also a big big thank you to Renee’s crew (uncle Foo, Hong Lan, …) for the photos, support and water spray 🙂 You guys were awesome ! You’re spoiling the market for support crews 😀
My Garmin stats
I had decided not to wear the Runscribe for this run (not enough time to prepare, too many things to think of). My heart rate monitor died after 8-9 hours. I did not get to recharge well at CP5 and did not want to try to recharge on the go… anyway walking I don’t need the HR measures ! As you can see, it was a hot day 🙂
My evaluation of the race
No fancy spreadsheet table this time, I just filled the MURA survey like everyone else. I think the race is getting better. The RDs are my friends so I might be biased here but overall it’s improving. P100 is a real good platform for people to “reach the distance”. It’s actually the leitmotiv of Team Pacat to make more people trying and accessing ultra distances. They provide here a 30hours cutoff time which makes the race very doable. But they don’t do the work for you, you have to run an ultra, which is not a 10km or half marathon with a water station and tons of food every 3-5km.
Though I can see some improvements on the markers (minor improvements), a better crewing at water/aid station particularly for medical stuff. With regards to the markers, I now have done the full half route of the 100km, so it’s quite familiar… I expect next year to be easier for me (yes I will finish this !). The markers are critical for the night run, particularly for the 52 and 78km which are the routes for newbies.