Ultra Running 101 Clinic at Putrajaya

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Many weeks ago, I received an invitation on Facebook for an ultra-running clinic to be held in Putrajaya on July 4, 2015. It was to be organised by Ultra Running Malaysia and Team Pacat. I did not hear about it until receiving the invitation from some invited friends. By nature, the ultra community is small and word of mouth is powerful. Nevertheless, we should think of new comers here first… my two cents here: it is a public event, we should find a better way of sharing it than private invites.

invite

The description was the following:

An initiative brought to you by the organizers behind Putrajaya 100, Penang 100 and Route 68 Challenge. Various topics such as preparation for a race, training tips, race strategy, nutrition and hydration during the race and importance of race gears. Come and join us for this sharing session. Thank you.

It was at night in Putrajaya. Coming all the way from KL, it’s a long way to go attend a talk. Not sure of going or not, I clicked maybe. At least I would have a placeholder for it: these events are rare enough that it should be worth the trip… Coming down to the weeks prior to the event, I had a chat with few friends and many of them would go. So here I am on July 4, driving to Putrajaya for the 10pm event. It was a long day which started at 5:30am to wake up for a 17-18km trail run in FRIM. I was a bit sleepy, so I brought hot green tea with me…

What’s an ultra-running 101 clinic ?

That’s actually a good question ! We are familiar with these running clinic for newbies on shorter distances. Usually the races that are big enough or want to stand out of the crowd, do organise running clinics. They aim to provide a training programme for newbies to bring them to their running objective for that particular race. Standard Chartered is a famous race organising a series of clinic (chargeable) over the 6 months preceding the race. Other do organise running clinics (My Mercy) and also sometimes some sponsored team (I’m thinking here of the 2ndskin team which organise with their sponsors a series of running clinics few times a year). It’s well appreciated by runners and always a success.

So that ultra running clinic 101 should cover the basics for new runners into the ultra world. They would not learn how to run for sure but how to transition from running a Full Marathon to running an ultra. And believe me that requires more than just thinking “It’s only 10km more to finish an ultra”. I’ve made that transition a year ago on Putrajaya P100 and it was a great learning experience… So as an ultra runner, I appreciate that experienced people like the folks organising do take the time to share this with newbies: it makes the access ticket to ultra easier and helps people enjoy their newly found passion and sticking to it.

The event

It was organised at Taman Seri Empangan at Putrajaya. That’s the start point of P100, so it was a known place, with ample parking slots. The place is having a very nice view of Putrajaya towers and either in the morning or in the evening, it’s beautiful. See for yourself:

There was a good crowd,with runners coming from all over Kuala Lumpur & Selangor areas. Team Pacat had invited many new runners who have registered to the new Pink 50 ultra, a ladies only loop based format ultra which will happen on August 1 . Amongst the crowd, a lot of quite experienced ultra runners – and I don’t consider myself as one -, so Jason Tan (2nd speaker) was a bit tense as he was going to talk about the basic equipments one need to have ! Jason is a fellow bare footer 🙂  It was good to see all the people from Team Pacat, friends runners, Marlina with her camera snapping pictures throughout the entire event. Also it was the birthday of Lina, so she was walking around with balloons attached… our own pacer for the sharing session !

The speakers were by order:

  1. Jeff Ooi – race director for Ultra Running Malaysia races (Gunung Nuang Ultra, Back to Endurance, Route 68, …)
  2. Jason Tan – co-race director for Ultra Running Malaysia races
  3. Arman Arshad – race director for Team Pacat races (Putrajaya P100, KOBL, KOKT, KOSL, Watergate 16h, …)
  4. ET Tey – journalist, photographer and ultra-runner – everyone knows Tey !
speakers
Our 4 speakers, from the left: Jeff Ooi, Jason Tan, Arman Arshad, ET Tey

Not to mention something many know already because we see these people regularly, but it’s worth mentioning they are all ultra runners and have quite a few (not to say a lot of !) races under their belt ! The topics shared with us were the following. Each speaker had about 20 minutes then some Q&A:

  1. Introduction to ultra running, its history and the Malaysian scene (Jeff Ooi)
  2. Preparing your first ultra-race, gears one must know about and have (Jason Tan)
  3. Approach to ultra running, prep, do’s and don’ts (Arman Arshad)
  4. Rules, regulations, cheating and safety of runners (ET Tey)

Once we started, we had quite a crowd attending, with more people joining the talk.

crowd2
That’s about half of the people there, another half is on the right side outside of this photo

The topics overall were very interesting. The history of ultra was probably new for many people (“no need to know, just run lah !”) and Jeff gave some context to how recent the ultra boom was in Malaysia. Jason on his side presented us some pieces of equipment one would need for running an ultra (hydration bag, hiking poles, head lamp, …). A very interesting piece was the preparation for an ultra race as every race is different and has its own challenges (heat, rain, elevation, …). He gave some good preparation tips to everyone, which I’m sure will benefit all (and myself for sure !). The materials printed by Jason should be available on the Facebook page of Ultra Running Malaysia.

crowd3
The right side, with many people and some runners just arrived for their 10km training

Arman then presented us the approach to have for running ultra marathons, the differences between fully sustained races and semi sustained races, …and  an introduction to the work Team Pacat is doing to promote ultra racing in Malaysia. We even got a teaser at new races for the end of the year and oh boy, it’s going to be tough ! One interesting fact disclosed  was the amount of volunteers needed for an ultra race: about 1/3 of the number of participants, hence if you have 300 runners, you’ll need about 100 volunteers, that’s quite a number… But it tells you the logistic that needs to be put in place and the overhead associated to any races. But most of all the stressed message was that it’s not about the T-Shirt, the medals or by arrogance that you run ultra races: you run them for a challenge and as such don’t think it’s easy but plan for your training properly. It’s not easy for anyone and you don’t just “get through it” without putting serious efforts.

ET Tey – our favourite photographer 🙂 – came to talk about rules and regulations on races in Malaysia and about cheating. Cheating is not common in ultra races but in other shorter distances races, you see regularly cases. People think of Kenyans folks like in Standard Chartered Marathon last year but not only, it’s prevalent within the local runners too. ET Tey and fellow photographers are helping organisers when requested to provide photos of runners for which there is a complaint. Another point that Tey spoke about was security and in particular BIB exchanges. Runners safety is the most important and having the wrong BIB can make the difference between being alive or dead in case of serious issues…

We concluded the talk with some questions and some snack provided by the organizers. The 10km was flagged for people running in the evening in Putrajaya while many runners stayed longer to catch up with their running friends.

Final thoughts

It was a great evening and a great sharing session worth the drive from KL to Putrajaya !!! I did not regret going there, it was worth every minutes spent driving. Many running friends were there and it was good catching up with everyone. There is busy agenda in the coming August and everyone is preparing for it, training hard, … A great thank to Team Pacat and Ultra Running Malaysia for putting this together, we certainly look forward to the next clinic session !

 

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