Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The North Face 100 Thailand 2014 - My Maiden 50KM Trail Run, Part I

Hello there folks! How are you today? I would to share my 1st part of my journey to Thailand for my debut TNF 100 Thailand. Being a novice in Ultra Trail race, Ray urged me to sign up for 100Km duo category. Dr. Razinah would my teammate for this race, and we only had the opportunity to train together once, at MARDI Trail. We really hope we could finish this race together under the cutoff time of 18 hours.

My Dynamic 100km Duo Team Genocide... 
My journey to Thailand began on the Thursday, 6 February when I took a flight to Bangkok at 1.55 pm . At first I thought that this would be my 2nd solo trip to Bangkok. Later on I found out that I wasn't alone. Met Mr Nik Nasrullah at the LCCT and he told me about his last year's TNF Thai experience.  He told me to expect a cold trail run like in Genting or Cameron Highlands. Wow... That would be a very good experience.

My 280 Baht Train Ticket for Second Class 
Bangkok felt like my 3rd home after Jakarta because I've just went there December last year for my Ayutthaya Marathon. Once I reached the arrival terminal, I went straight away to Dong Mueang Railway Station to book a ticket. Unfortunately there was no ticket available for 4.20 pm Left without any option, I had to take the 7.29 pm train to Pak Chong. There goes my chances to reach there early and soak in its atmosphere.

In the meantime, I just walked around the Don Mueang International Airport looking for something halal and yummy to eat. I had a microwaved rice soup with chunks of salmon for my late lunch. Not bad at all... ;) *Still hungry though but that would do for the time being.

Anyhow this was my 1st time travelling on a train in Thailand. The 2nd class coach was comfy, clean and it was fully air conditioned too.  They provided us with a blanket for our freezing cold 2-3 hours journey. At first, I couldn't afford to doze away due to the rockiness of the train hahaa...  Started to feel slightly dizzy due to rocky motion.. But somehow I fell asleep along the journey... Went a bit panicky when it was already past 3 hours and Pakchong Station was not in sight yet... Looks like I missed the station and the trainmaster officer stopped at the next station for me to hop in the incoming train... He was very friendly and helpful. Finally managed to reach Pakchong around 12 am and went straight away to the Pakchong Hotel to call it a day. The motor taxi ride costed me 50 Baht only... =D

The not so cozy second class coach... So freaking freezing though...
Finally, Pakcong Aku Datang!
Woke up the next morning and we had our breakfast at the cafe in front of the hotel. Since halal food was scarce at the cafe, Ray, Khairi and I requested for some toast with strawberry jam and our coffee. I had a nice strong mocha for breakfast. After that, it's time for us to scout around the small town of Pakchong. We walked around the local market and decided to buy some stocks for our TNF Thai race. Ray and Khairi bought some Coke, Gatorade, instant food and planned their drop bags at each CP. 
Enjoying our breakfast on the 1st morning in Pakchong... =D
Love my Mochalicious and toasts... 
My heavier breakfast meal - spicy chicken with sticky black rice and  seaweed chicken roll... Yummeh!
After we've checked out, we went to the nearest mosque, Nadun Firadoush Mosque looking for some decent halal food for lunch. Although we had some problems in communications with the local Muslim auntie, we had our plain rice with chicken cooked with Thai basils and bullseye egg. It tasted like heaven! Thanks to the kind Pakistani guy who helped us with the menu. We even decided to order 3 more for the takeaway since it will be very hard to find halal food around the resort. 

We took the open air taxi jeep to Khao Yai National Park and it costed us 150 Baht each. We had to take another jeep transfer (170 Baht) to Bonanza Resort Khao Yai for the racekit collection and the compulsory race briefing by the Race Director. 

Singgah2 di muka pintu saja sebagai transit ke Bonanza Resort Khao Yai... 
As we reached the venue, many runners from all over the world were seen to be there already for the racekit collection and drop bags arrangement. There was a mini expo from the sponsors and co-sponsors such as PETZL, Tiger Balm, Garmin and The North Face. It was havoc. We joined the other runners for our Malaysian contingent for a group photo before the briefing. Everybody seemed to be smiling happily not knowing the storm was coming on the very next day since it was a windy cooling afternoon that day. I was on the other hand, still feeling nervous for my maiden 50KM Ultra Trail Run, especially during the briefing.... I just could not look at the elevation map.. It's really mental challenging I must say hehee... Rather go with the flow and mustered every strength I had on the race day... hewhewhew...

Malaysian Contingent with Rayzeef as our Chef de Mission... =D

After the race briefing, we checked in at Belmont Village Resort. I shared my room with Kam Kasturie, Khairi Muin and Azim Ashaary. It was a huge room, suitable for honeymooner with a elongated bathroom + walking wardrobe. We had a simple hearty Brahim's dinner, omelette and vegie soup together... Before I hit the sack, I ensured everything is in order, the timing chip on my shoe, bib number pinned to my running 2ndskinasia tee, filled hydration bladder and mandatory items such as headlamp, whistle and medical kit were in the bag. I decided to bring along 5 energy gels for this race. One for every 8-9KM. That should be suffice to sustain my energy level throughout the run. 
Kam, Azim, Khairi Muin and Yours Truly - Roomies for 2 nights... =D

Simple but filling dinner before the race day.... 
More on the race event in my Part II... Stay tuned fellas as the best has yet to come.... =D

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