Chuan Heng & Jackson ran extra in Chiang Mai Race – 20 Dec 2015

Chiang Mai 21km race – done and dusted. Never thought it would be ended Chuan Heng & Jackson (C & J) with an unexpected twist of events.  IMG_0303

Chiang Mai, their 1st race in this region. Conditions were mixed – ideal temperatures in the low 16s(C) but dry air & windy. Soon after the start C & J settled in behind the group of International Elites. After entering into the highway the 1st group elites stepped up & 2nd group comprising C & J drifted off the back. Jackson was hang on behind Chuan Heng. They stayed that way until reaching 17km – 18km where the street lights were dim & no signage to indicate runners to turn left that led runners dashed to the wrong direction fortunately someone alarmed & official vehicle came along gestured them to make u-turn. Delightfully they were able to maintain the target pace, sufficient to meet their target finish time of sub-1:30

Chuang Heng : 1:29:30

Jackson : 1:29.26

Chuan Heng & Jackson missed the top 5 placing on podium nevertheless  we applauded for their performances given the longer distance they covered. Great event & atmosphere.

It was their first visit & first event in Chiang Mai & they agreed to share some of the perceptive on their running experiences.

When did you start running seriously?

Jackson : Since October 2013 after joining the Gombak group I started training significantly.

Chuan Heng:  3 years ago after bumping into Kek HL I’m pretty much on track.

How about sharing your running plan ?

Jackson: I, self-coach for 6 days per week. Largely doing tempo run & interval & long run.

Chuan Heng: weekdays doing interval/tempo at Bt Gombak Stadium with regular training buddies like Jackson & MI etc & Sunday, long run.

How did you prepare for Chiang Mai 21km?

Jackson: Consistent is KEY in spite of the haze PSI undesired level & rain I keep up my training schedules. Taking part 2XU 21km Race & Sundown Marathon as my preparation for the Chiang Mai Race.

Chuan Heng: Plan the training program according to target race. Be mindful of over-doing.

What’s lesson you have learned from Chiang Mai Race?

Jackson: Be focused & be able to push pace to salvage the lost distance & not losing your cool.

Chuan Heng: Be confident & sustain your perseverance until done.

 

Dubai Marathon 2016 by Michael Craig

12552895_10204750430954865_5141622364563212753_nIt’s now week 3 of my fiftieth year and next up on my activity list was another event that was planned a while back – The Dubai Marathon.

This was to be my fourth Dubai Marathon and for the second year in a row my brother Gerry kindly agreed to give this a go with me. Catching up with family and getting a race done in a great location is always worthwhile.Plus it gives Gerry a break from the grim Glasgow January weather and a dose of my cheery company.

I set off Wednesday lunchtime from Singapore arriving in Dubai early evening to a glorious sunset that I captured from my window as we came into land. If you look carefully you can see Burj Khalifa poking into the sky in the distance.

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Gerry had left a cold and miserable Glasgow at lunchtime but by the time he got to the hotel at around 2am locally all we could do was a five minute chat before I crashed out.

Next morning it was an early rise and a short trot in the morning sun to loosen the legs and catch up some more before heading off to collect race numbers. Dubai number pick-up unlike most major marathons is very low key so we were in and out in 10 minutes. Still in this day and age surely it’s time we either downloaded numbers or they simply got delivered. These pre-race expos are a massive ballache.

Then it was the obligatory pre-race haircut to get organised.This proved a bigger challenge than we expected as we decided to go to Dubai Mall in search of a barber. This place is man hell. It’s enormous, badly signposted, heaving full and has literally thousands of designer shops.I know folks who would love this but neither of us do. I mean Gerry’s idea of shopping is once a year at George for Asda to pick up three pairs of jeans and a tee-shirt.

Mind you we finally found a Filipino barber and credit where it’s due he did a grand job with a No.2 razor. The general rule is that the barber stops once he’s removed the grey. Cutting out Gerry’s grey hair is now an impossible task though so it might be No.1 next time.

image-12-225x300[1]Post haircuts we simply decided that the rest of the day would be spent poolside sending annoying photos via Facebook to Craig Reid back in Glasgow before having an early dinner and an even earlier night. Dedication? No jet-lag.

Race morning we had to set our alarms for 3.55am to get some breakfast into our systems in advance of the 6.30am start. Both of us were still a bit sick with my lung infection still lingering. I was also carrying a head cold with Gerry having a chest infection too.In all honesty I was a bit worried about how things would go for me. I had real visions of a total collapse and getting carted off to hospital.

Pre-start insecurities were not helped much by having no end of issues getting a taxi to the start line on account of the road outside our hotel being closed for the race. We got there in time but it was a close thing and my anxiety levels were well up. Might have to rethink the hotel next year. However we got there with about 25 minutes to spare. This barely left any time to pee behind a bush! Better out than in.

Everyone funnelled into the start area calmly lining up in what I’d describe as a fairly low key manner.Again London could learn a bit about this approach rather than hyping everyone up. On the button at 6.30am we headed off after the official starter horn which was from my big pal Lord Coe. I never saw him to pass on my congratulations on his recent elevation to the Presidency of the IAAF.Shame that.

It was still dark and fairly cool (14C) with little or no wind as we got going. Technically perfect marathon conditions. The course had been reversed from last year and the 10k race start put back to 9.30am to cut numbers at the start area all in an effort to improve logistics and also see if the elite runners could break the world record.

As usual the first kilometer was a bit frantic but we are old hands and can usually figure out the wannabes (anyone racing in the yellow event T shirt in the front pack is a certain crash and burn) and predictably through the first 3k we were passing folks who were either blowing out their arses, sweating buckets or in some cases walking already. It’s a long day out if you are trashed by 3k.

From the start point we had a dog leg of 6k out and 6k back before we passed by the start/finish area and then the hard work truly begins. Basically the Dubai Marathon is a straight out and back course along a pancake flat coast road. This is ideal for steady paced running.

I have to be totally clear here that I never look at my watch when racing. I simply run as I feel “listening” to my body (it seems to fart a lot). My instincts told me that although we were running steadily and fairly fast that I was fine and apart from the odd cough caused by the dry air pretty much within my limits.

At about 15k we passed the final surviving optimist in a yellow race tee (Gerry and myself had predicted that he’d falter at 12-15k after he hammered past us at 6k). Then we started picking off elite runners. Woo hoo.

Some were pacers who would only have ran certain distances on instruction but a good few were genuine contenders who had simply blown apart. Sadly at 20k we passed a poor Ethiopian lady who was squealing in agony being helped by medics. It looked like she had seriously damaged her knee and her distress was quite upsetting to see. I hope it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.

Running together though we simply pushed on with my GPS bleeping off each kilometer and Gerry’s doing the same as we covered old money miles. At 26.5k we turned for home and on my part at least I felt fine with no issues.Onwards we ran together picking off runners until about 37k where Gerry either sped up slightly or I slowed.I’m not sure which but a small gap opened. I went to close it but got a twinge in my calf as a pre-cursor to cramp so backed off slightly. The gap increased a bit but after maybe 20 seconds my warning twinge passed and I had my rhythm so the gap stayed constant at around 100 metres.

As we got to 40k the Burj Khalifa was in plain sight and we reeled in more elites although I couldn’t close the gap with Gerry for fear of cramp kicking in.Into the long home straight we went with Gerry glancing back and indicating for me to “pull my finger out”.I simply gestured, in a f-off way, that I had to hold my pace and he pushed on. At about 200 metres out I could see the clock on the finish line at 2.54 which was rather pleasing and Gerry passed over shortly after with myself not far behind.1935578_10204754739382573_1265058538991224742_n

Official result was 2.54.44 for Gerry and 2.54.59 for me. We were both very happy with this given our pre-race infections, jet lag and other exertions.When we actually analysed our results we saw that our 5k splits were consistent and Gerry even ran a slight negative split (I was about 1 second slower on 2nd half). You can do your own critical analysis by following this link.

https://www.strava.com/activities/475625194

A few interesting points that were worth noting. Gerry for his part had only three small drinks of water throughout. I had nothing. No water or gels at all. Simply didn’t think I needed anything and by the time I thought of something (at 36k) it seemed like a futile exercise as I’d be finished before it kicked in. Neither of us had cramp although I had twinges from about 35k onwards. Our feeling is that ultra runs are allowing us to push out the boundaries a bit before we run out of steam. I wonder how fast we could go with some EPO?

In time honoured fashion we headed back the hotel where Gerry finally got to rehydrate with pints of Perroni for breakfast.image-14[1] And lunch too. He even got free ones as they failed to replenish his glass on demand. That boy is truly blessed.

By the afternoon we were totally knackered but after a power snooze decided to go into Dubai Old Town at Deira and have a walk to stretch the legs off and fend off the fake watch salesmen. We rounded off the day with a cracking Arabic dinner watching the sun set over Dubai Creek which some think looks like Govan from the Partick side.

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So there you go thats another of my planned activities done and as soon as I get back to Singapore I’ll try and get organised for the next one.

 

 

 

Narrabeen Ultra – by Michael Craig

image-9[1]image-5[1]You will have noticed that on my list there is the challenge of running 100k in one go and by good fortune(??) I had last November entered the Narrabeen Ultra which is a 12 hour overnight race from 2nd to 3rd January not far from our home in Mona Vale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

I knew that the trail at Narrabeen Lagoon was flat and wide and felt that this was too good an opportunity to miss to try and tick off one of the boxes.

In the week or so before the race I felt that I was in good shape physically and mentally and as the guys who run ultras know as much has to do with how you’re head is feeling as well as your legs.A few times I’ve gone into ultras not feeling right or hoping it’ll be fine on the day and it hasn’t gone well.

In the last month or so training was fine and I was mentally in the right frame of mind to race.However race day itself presented a bit of an issue in that I had developed a seriously dodgy stomach. I,at least in hope, put this down to pre-race anxiety and just hoped it would pass.

Janet and Holly agreed to come to the race with me and support me for a while so we headed over just after 7pm and got our spot set up. There was a cracking atmosphere with support crews and familes setting up tents and gazebos and a full on disco repertoire being belted out from the PA system. Again those familiar with ultras will be familiar with the party atmosphere that develops particularly with support crews having a good old time.

 

There were to be three races on the go simultaneously. The trail race through a flat 5k forest route out and back, a road race which had a 1k loop (no thanks) and from midnight a trail marathon using a combination of road a trail. So at 8.30pm the trail and road participants toed the line and with a short countdown and blast of a horn set off on our merry way.

My strategy was simple – to run 100k so based on a 6min per k average and with food stops I thought I could achieve my goal with a bit of spare time capacity for any unexpected problems. I also knew that in previous races I had gone out to fast but with a training pace of below 5 mins per k and a marathon race pace of just around 4 mins per k it is very tricky to slow down. Also I had a clear intent of never sitting down as I again knew from experience that this is usually fatal. Once you sit down you rarely get back up again.

For the first 6 laps Janet and Holly were there for me but eventually they headed home for bed and promised to come back around 6am to support me through the final few hours. At this point my pace was a bit fast at just over 5 mins per k but my stomach was giving me serious issues. Twice I had to make emergency toilet stops when I had developed a dose of the runs. Onwards I pushed hoping it would clear but by 65k (13 laps) it was chronic and I felt awful. I had to sit down and try and eat but simply couldn’t. I sent Janet a wattsapp message and she responded saying I was in second place (there was live tracking) and that she couldn’t sleep anyway. On FB I saw that my brother Gerry and some ultra running pals from the UK were following me so and already giving me a hard time at the prospect of stopping😀

Janet then sent me a note saying herself and Holly would get up at 4am and come support me by 5am and to try and keep going. Surely I asked myself I could push on and at some point it would get better? Plus I felt a bid bad letting them both down after all the sleep they had been giving up to support my nutty quest.

Up I got and walked a bit and to get the legs going started running again but within about 100 metres was ready to be sick. James Stewart as I recalled had a similar issue at The Glenmore 24 race but once he was sick felt fine and went on to win setting a course record. In the distant past during the Copenhagen Marathon in 1999 I did the same and went on to a marathon PB. I therefore just let it happen and let things take their course and about 20 seconds later out it all came! I threw my guts up three or four times but once that was all over and done I felt like a brand new man.It was literally a miracle cure.

Immediately running again and felt the best I had all day I began to settle back into my race. The old legs were feeling Ok and my stomach finally wasn’t grumbling or making me queasy either. Result.However there was now the one major concern on my mind of having nothing in my system to get me through the next 5 hours or so. That’s a long time with no calories coming in and plenty being used up.

When I got to the turn point at 2.5k a short while later one of the support marshalls (Milov) who had been encouraging me asked where I’d been on the last lap and I told him what had gone wrong. He explained he was a seasoned ultra runner and that if I just took it easy for a hour, dropped my heart rate, drank some liquids and let my stomach recover I’d be fine. He clearly knew his stuff and talked sense so as I came through every turn point I’d grab some coke and a cup of water,walk a bit and drink each slowly then head off.

This actually worked fine and by the time I got to 80k I was in reasonable shape and Janet and Holly were back which was a welcome sight. Every 5k Janet would walk a few 100m with me and I’d drink some coke and water while chatting to her before starting to run again. By this time it was daylight and it was such a relief to get the headtorch off as it was really getting to me. I had however enjoyed running in the dark as you get in your own zone and can’t see beyond your torchlight.

Wildlife wise I was a bit concerned beforehand as this trail is known for pythons but all I got to see were two possums, a baby snake (but jet black so best avoided) and some wild turkeys.

Runners by now were mainly shuffling along, dropping out or resting from time to time so it was difficult to figure how everyone was doing but Janet checked the live feed at the start point and confirmed that I was in second place overall but with the guy in 3rd very close. To be honest at this point I just wanted my 100k so that was my focus. As I approached this Holly agreed to run a lap with me to “celebrate” my 100k which was really nice.

 

I still though had time left and felt not too bad so thought I’d try and hit 110k if Janet fancied one 5k walking lap. So at 105k we walked together but by 108k I felt totally fine and ready to run so with Janet’s permission headed off again.image-6[1]

Due to race rules only half or full laps counted so when I hit 110k with 53 minutes left I knew 120 was out, 115 was easy and 117.5 was although reasonable not in my mind worth the effort as I’d have a long miserable walk back to the finish line so I set my target and 115k and off I went. My race finished with that total of 115k at 11 hours and 33 minutes on the clock and I felt very very pleased. The guy who was just behind me elected to go for the half lap and I knew he would do it but was cool with that. I had exceeded my own goals and wasn’t there to try and podium (although I was happy to do so).

Once the final hooter went the results were all cross checked and I was confirmed as 3rd overall although there was a bit of confusion were a guy with 110k was put in first place but he generously pointed out they had made an error. Seems there had been a bit of timing mat issues but honesty prevailed.

So I had a great result. Broke my target, came third overall and by 3rd January had ticked off one of the biggest challenges of my 50th year. I managed roughly half the race on cola and had great support throughout. I am so glad I kept going and that is another bit of ultra running experience to draw on. If all is looking bleak throw up and keep going👍

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Yuta Suda – Going from 2015 to2016

Yuta Suda the podium winner of Mizuno MR25 Ultra Marathon 2015

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Stepping into 2016 Yuta Suda won the Champion for Mileage New Year Run 2016

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And the MR25 Progressive Run (10k), the 1st runner crossed the line

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