Thursday, April 04, 2013

Sabah Adventure Challenge 2013 Race Report

This post was initially completed. It was scheduled for posting. I then read it one last time and and decided to edit some parts. Thinking it was those word processing software, i pressed Ctrl+Z and everything went missing. The Blogger autosave it immediately and I ended up with nothing.

And now, i am starting from scratch, again. Luckily I have elephant memories (as they say, Scorpio seldom forget ;-)) and this post is written  and finished a couple of hours before it will be published. Enjoy.

Introduction to Sabah Adventure Challenge

My first foray into Sabah Adventure Challenge (SAC) was back in 2007 period where a bunch of my friends flew all the way from KL to KK to "race a well known adventure race". Back then I could not afford to do that due to budget and time reasons. I finally got to do it in 2011 with Azly (Bandit) as a team. We finished the course but were unranked and thus, considered as a non-finisher. Yes, it was that tough to be known as a Finisher in this race. They really make you work for it.

SAC 2013 marks the 14th year the race was held. Usually over the Easter weekend so that the race organisers and participants do not need to take excessive leave to get over to Sabah to race. You see, SAC was started by three friends that wanted to know who will be the best when it comes to navigating and adventure in Interior Sabah. No prize money and only bragging rights for the rest of the year until the next race.

The race has evolved over the years. What started off as a 4person team race has evolved to become a team of 3person and as recent as four years ago, a 2person team. In 2011, SAC introduced Ultra Run category as the sports has gained a big following. Later, SAC introduced The Most Beautiful Thing (TMBT) where the event are catered only for Ultra Run. This TMBT is on my bucket list.

Justifiable Race Fees

SAC race fee is not cheap. It has progressively became more expensive over the years. But that is totally understandable as the race progressed from roughing out in tents to being put in decent accommodations with creature comfort. If you ask me 8 years ago, I would not have the spare cash to do this. But the leap in 2011 in the Adventure Race category pretty much made me realised why me and Bandit paid close to RM1.2K for the race. Again, this time around in 2013, me and wifey paid RM600 each(as Malaysian) and has no regret. For the amount we paid, the whole "package" includes:

  • Race fees to race proper;
  • Full boarding at Mesilau Nature Resort - a 4star resort, for 4days-3nights with food and drinks all taken cared off;
  • Full boarding at Megah D'Aru Hotel Kota Kinabalu - a hotel used by SAC for years as official hotel, for 1 night with breakfast included. This is post-race hotel;
  • Event T-shirt made by 2ndSkin;
  • Finisher Polo-T (also by 2ndSkin) and Finisher Medal, if you finish the race;
  • Transportation from Megah D'Aru to Race Site (Mesilau);
  • and back to Megah D'Aru;
  • Race transfer for all days at Mesilau;
  • Complimentary airport transfer on last day from Megah D'Aru;
  • Event support such as medical, photography, water stations; and
  • loads of smile from the volunteers and race organisers

The above item are surely worth more that just RM600 (for Malaysian) or RM900 (for non-Malaysian). Don't forget the intangible comfort of having the race Marshall zooming up and down the race trail as much as they can to ensure safety.

More to that, over the years, the race organisers has roll over any profit from the year before to be used and invested in important equipments such as spinal board, defib (AED) and small portable oxygen tank. Other race organiser "loan" these equipments from other, but SAC has them.

In short, all you need to do is get yourself to Kota Kinabalu, stay on your own for the night/s to T-2 day (aka 2 days before the race start) and make sure you got a return ticket back home. You literally don't even need to load your bag onto the transporter at race hotel!

So, if you ask me, this money is possibly the cheapest holiday I ever paid for - no way it will buy the experience and memories I will have for this race with this money!

T-2 To Race Day

The decision to join the race happened almost 8 months back. It was either SAC 2013 or TMBT 2013. Since it will be wifey's first "Ultra", we decided to see if breaking the race down to a few days would be more manageable. From my limited experience, splitting the 75km over multi-day races are tougher on the emotion and mental well-being, apart from having to bear physical pain day after day compared to needing to complete a "75km distance one shot", is technically tougher. We can agree or disagree on this - for me, I would take a straight on full distance in a continuous manner, then once done, go back and sleep. :)

With that in mind, I've been preparing wifey for what may come. With her almost at full recovery from the accident in October, my greatest fear is her back giving up. It was a gamble for her and us - for I do not want to do the race without her.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics and Vids) at: Sabah Adventure Challenge 2013 Race Report