Tag Archives: adventure race

Inov-8 Race Ultra 270

Edited by Wilson Low

One of the racing tips I always come across said that we should avoid shoesusing new kit during a race. I threw this rule out of my closet a long time ago. My belief was that long as I understood the product and what my body can adapt to, it will be just fine – and it has worked for me all these years. I was introduced to Inov-8 about 3 years ago. The first pair I owned was a Roclite 268. The shoes fit me perfectly – wrapping the top of my feet, leaving a roomy toe box! it was much lower in profile to other shoes, and I was hooked to the liberating feeling while running. Friends around me started educating me on shoe construction and especially the Inov-8 concept. It further boosted my confidence that it would be alright to use new kit during a race just because I know what my feet love! The moment I put on the latest 2015 model Race Ultra 270, I knew this pair would have many races ahead with me.

Between the Roclite 268 and Race Ultra 270, I’ve owned and tried the Terroc 308, Roclite 315 and Trailroc 248. I love them all, but each have their pros and cons. The Roclite 268 fit is very snug – the shoes fly with you as you run. The downside was that the sole runs towards the softer end of things: you can feel every single rock (and sand grain) under your feet – it could be tiring to do long distance events in them. The Terroc 308 on the other hand is much stiffer and offers better protection which, i used for some 24hr races. However, the sole is less grippy and versatile as compared to the Roclite series. The Trailroc solves both these problems from the Roclite and Terroc. I was extremely pleased with Inov8 for addressing the real issues runners faced. However, the Trailroc fit posed a problem to me – it is of a straighter cut, which I assumed might lead to Asians’ wider feet feeling funny inside the shoes. Therefore, the idea of the Race Ultra totally blew me away as it offers the ultimate combo of protection, grip and fit .

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My first run with the Race Ultra was in town in rainy weather. I am not going to hide the fact that the soles slip on those wet, smooth tiles. Honestly, I haven’t owned a pair of trail shoes that do not slip on wet, smooth surfaces – so that didn’t concern me much. Despite using much concentration to prevent skidding, i noticed how comfortably they ran under my feet. i would be doing a 97 km-long non-navigational adventure race in Rembau the week I received the shoes. I decided on the new Race Ultra 270 for the race, and due to some hiccup on my cycling shoes, I ended up using them for the long cycling segments as well. The race began with a short and fast road ride before we climbed vertically up a ‘gunung’ which was rocky and technical. The shoes held on to the rock surfaces really well and never once did I slip. The grip on my platform pedals were amazing too. I was pretty worried about being on platform after such a long hiatus, but the shoes definitely helped a great deal. The shoes did its magic again at an off-road duathlon a week later at Muar.

me in inov-8

Race Ultra 270 finished 2014 Muar Strongman Challenge 14th Overall and 1st Female. Photo Credit – Run & Explore

The Race Ultra 270s boast a 4mm drop (forefoot of 10mm and heel of 14mm). i understand most people are still using shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop. I started with 8mm drop and decreased them slowly and it does require a lot of short road runs to become accustomed. The benefit is definitely knowing that I am protecting my knees with better running form and also utilizing my calf muscles better. I use a 0mm drop for road shoes and really love how my feet are working to run and not relying on the shoes to support any poor running form. I was once informed by a physio that the lower the drop the less we promote bad running habits that can lead to injury. I suggest working on the root cause when experiencing discomfort in running instead of relying on equipment to alleviate the pain. For those already used to a low drop: they should love the Race Ultras even more.

The shoe has an improved third-generation version of the ‘Meta Shank’ creates a propelling effect for mid- to fore-foot running form. It uses Tri-c compound (the same on the Trailroc series) that offers good protection and durability. It also comes with attachment points for a clip-on gaiter, thus avoiding the fuss of bulky and loose traditional gaiters. Okay, so locally we do not usually require gaiters, but we have seen increasing numbers of runners going overseas for their runs and we know how nasty some plants are. A pair of gaiters will prevent unwanted stuff inside the shoes, especially on a long run. The gaiters made by Inov-8 are reputed to offer sufficient protection and are extremely lightweight. I have yet to try a pair, but am hoping that I can soon for my next overseas trail run.

Key Power International is the official Inov-8 distributor in Singapore. I believe the stocks will be in the shop soon – so do check them out for another great year on the trails!

I never stop racing but I raced like shit, really.

a career change with in-camp training has kept me away from the AR team for too long! the in-camp training has taken a toll in my ‘out-camp’ training. i came to the conclusion that i cant excel in both. what i’m used to is long cardio endurance stuff and in-camp training was none of that. my heat tolerance is at its highest level i can ever imagine and i believe i do move faster in short intervals now. good thing is i never lose any cycling power but i lose the capability to cycle for long – i no longer can go on at the intensity i’m used to for even an hour. well i did not specifically timed myself but the physical exertion i feel is really different from the past.

i nv stop racing but i raced like shit, really.

the first race i did was a team enduro at Singapore MTB Carnival 2013 held in Asrama. it was one month into the in-camp training and i was still feeling alright just lacking the time to train for it. thankfully, BK and i got a sponsor from Sports+Travel Magazine to participate in this race. we came in behind Ken and Laura team who are like the MTB guru around in Singapore. we were minutes away from each other, but given their age (=/) they deserve the win in every way.

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the following month, i did Ace Adventure Challenge with Ting and Kee Leng. we did came in with good results but its been a long while since i have to be dragged by teammates, and never once were females. i was completely smashed on the bike and Ting had to take my hydration pack. in-camp training has started its effect on me!

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and then its Safra Avventura in Jan 2014 which Luke and Kee Leng came in ahead of Chris and I! i must admit i did feel like a stronger runner given the few killer trainings with Chris plus that i’m wearing boots everyday but doesnt mean we were fast. but this new strongness did make me really happy because i believe i can handle those climbs in AR better than last year.

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and i bumped around with a few jamboress here and there whenever possible. i can’t go overseas and the only plan for 2014 is not doing any of the local AR due to work schedule and also that school races are not exactly in line with my objective in AR – will be cool to see young people to go for it and getting those awesome prizes they always have!

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Sports+Travel Magazine has been really kind and will be sponsoring Wilson to Nepal for a staged MTB race with only 30 participants, how fortunate!! and because of that i will be taking over Wilson’s xterra putrajaya slot and I HAVE TO START SWIMMING SERIOUSLY. the last time i did that was in primary school whn i religiously went for swim class every weekend! its really the kind of race i do not enjoy – short+fast+individual=painful! it will be my first triathlon and also an off-road one, guess thats the main draw for me!

still contemplating about a possible 24hr-48hr AR this year, or maybe a rogaine if it has to be. otherwise i might have to try the asean mtb cup (xc) which are held at really awesome locations but i really dread training for such high intensity stuff. my holiday at nz is the way i like to train instead – a mountain marathon with epic mtb stages day aft day! will be finalizing the nz video by next week, and hopefully a AR i can confirm and be racing soon!

Controversial Win

*Above are solely my opinion, has no input from either my team or WanGoDo Edge. In fact certain members have different views on my entry.

race poster

My team returned from the 24hr ironbound challenge in Langkawi last weekend with a first mixed team and third overall title, with much controversies though. To be honest, I didn’t have the victory feeling but doesn’t imply that my team is not strong or that it was not a win. You have to go through my experience in this race to understand why I still think my team deserve the title. However, it also goes to say that other teams have their stories to justify why we did not earn it. I rest my case on what is right because there is none, the organizers just have to do it better the next time.

The pre-race preparation was a nightmare. The race was to flag off on Friday 3pm with a briefing at 10am that morning. However, we have to do our gear checks the night before and was told that we have to deposit the bike on the same night! This messed up our logistics because we have yet to know the race course but we have to deposit our bikes! It left us all puzzled how much stuff to put on our bikes and whether we have a transition box before the bike leg. Furthermore, we were told that we need support crews to transport our transition boxes (organizers posted on the blog that there is no support crew needed for the race!!!). I am not that kind of racer who appreciate such screw up information/mis-information the night before my race. After much rahhh rahh, we received different set of instructions that we will deposit a bag as ‘transition box’ and organizer will transfer for us. Not too sure what happened but the deposited bikes were never transferred to anywhere even till race starts the next day.

I can’t remember all the rules said to us at the briefing but 4 people staying together did stand out. I am very used to this rule since Singapore races always have a maximum 100m apart rule and also that it was common to use sportsident or similar products for teams to stay together in international races. briefing
Second, the organizer said clearly that we can use whichever route to get to CP or VP, it was then we made the decision to go via road (if we can find one) after VP2. It didn’t came as unfair to me because the organizer said the highlighted routes are recommended routes and it is common that racers picked their route choice in international races.

langkawi course
Race Course – 40+km Kayak, 20+km Orienteering, 80+km Biking, 20km Trekking, 18km Skating/5+km Trekking & Abseiling

Well, the briefing took too long and I can’t wait for the race to start. We did a short sprint to the kayak launching point once we were flagged off. The waves were massive and I did hinder Wilson a little while punging out since it was my first time doing so! It was fun but not so fun when you see racers capsized and washed all around getting hit by either boats or paddles. To know that our friend, Kai got sandwiched by two boats on the head upset me. Thanked goodness he has his helmet on which has a massive crack after this incident. I am pissed with the organizers’ decision to make such a course without analyzing the racers’ profiles. Most are beginners who will put experienced kayakers in danger with such launch off and vice versa. Definitely something we have to learn and all do better. That aside, the kayak leg was beautiful. The sun sets and we started paddling under the full moon. It was amazing when the water lighted up with the micro organisms inside – definitely make the 40+km kayak more bearable. We did not spot any safety boats around which I do hope they are at least with the mid-pack, this is just basic safety.

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Most racers lacked the skills which caused a chaotic start is a big compromise to safety

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Beginner racers have to push the boat through the waves

Before the last 5-6km kayak stretch back to the first transition, there was a 20km orienteering. It infuriates me when I see the top mixed team (Salomon Sunnto team) and a couple men’s teams splitting up. Our team was determined to stay together since it was said that all four members have to be together at all time! The marshalls at the previous checkpoints were pretty strict about that as well. The last 7-8km I suffered the same gastro problem as ATC and I couldn’t run much – it slowed us down a whole lot. After a slow finish for the orienteering, we made a cheerful entry back to the water and paddle towards the transition.

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We ran the orienteering course together

I have always been fast at transition and restock quickly so to get a lil nap. I tried to speak to the organizer and only the event director, Sham was around. We told him about team splitting up and he said ‘its okay, its COMMON SENSE to do so’. I was boiling mad inside but went ahead to get some rest since the race is going to be so screwed.

I can’t remember much up gunung raya as I was really sleepy and started talking non stop to keep myself awake. According to Wilson, we were slow. We must have lost much time which we offset by sprinting down those 3000 over steps. I thought I was fast till I lost the Chris and Wilson, but my heartrate was definitely the highest at this section of the race.

Day breaks as we got back onto the bike towards VP2. Wilson made some navigation error simply because the map was not a map. It costs us some time and with some villagers help then we found VP2. After checking in, we turned back hoping to join a road towards the next transition to split up for abseil/skate. Wilson and I were to skate and it was the only time in my life I thought I was going to die. We were to skate on some gentle slopes but the speed you can pick on going down the slope is massive. The road was narrow and rough, with cars from opposite and behind – some not so considerate either (can’t blame them since it doesn’t make sense that people are blading on the road and blocking their right of way). I was near to tears which I did after a fall. I asked the marshalls and organizers (including the race director) repeatedly whether I can take off my skates but all denied me the rights. They rolled their eyes at me and said that the first team can do it so why can’t I. I seriously think they are reckless to put my life in such danger. I was scared shit to take off the skates fearing I will DQ my team. I was thinking that its common to push your bike if you are unable to go up or down confidently so why can’t I remove my skates for the same reason! Worse, I saw the Salomon team later, walking on the road holding the blades. I respect their decision to do that for their dear lives but am damn pissed w the organizers for having double standards.

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The map for the whole race, the middle MTB section was given another close-up map with just some dotted lines and landmarks, no other junctions indicated.

After a hell lot of struggle back to the transition to meet Chris and Sam, they weren’t there. When they did run back down from the abseil, they looked tired. Apparently the marshall has given incorrect direction and they were made to do more trek than they were supposed to. Again with the pathetic map, we made our way to the last CP and VP before heading back to the finishing line. It was a slow ride since Chris and Sam have gone down the drain after the additional trek and finishing all the food. Nevertheless we made it back to the finishing line and became the supposedly first mixed team.

The controversy comes because many thought we didn’t do the hardest part of the race – the offroad mountain bike track after VP2. However, if you look at my team’s approach to the race, we played by the rules obediently. We stay together for the orienteering while the 3 members from the Salomon team took a break from a 20km run. We were told that we can take whichever routes we want and as a team we decide that taking the road is the wiser choice. I hang on dearly to the skates despite knowing I might injured myself, yet I saw other teams not doing so. Sam and Chris were given incorrect direction causing them to trek more than other teams, eventually unable to push for the last biking stretch. We earned the win for this race somehow, its common sense.

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Finish

Adventure racing is not straightforward and not the fittest win all the time. I have many podiums this year but may or may not be so next year. It all depends on the format of races and whether it works for me at the point of time. I enjoy my adventure racing lifestyle and put in much time in this – so don’t deny my win or look down on us just because you think you are or can be faster than us.

Finally, I would really appreciate if the organizers can evaluate the race differently. The race can be fun if safety aspects are communicated and covered. Perhaps they did but I did not see or was advised so. I would also like to reiterate that rules and regulations have to be consistent. Water points are very important during a race – no races should provide only 500ml per racer at the TA in a humid country. In my opinion, the race is not tough (maybe because I didn’t attempt the mountain bike section after VP2). It has been misunderstood as tough because of the long distances we have to cover in 23hr. However, the whole race lacked the technical aspects to be defined as tough race. We did not have proper navigation – checkpoints has not been accurate on the map which itself is too vague (not asking for a topo map but definitely rooms for improvement). The biking was all on road or some unrideable terrain (according to other teams who continue after VP2). We are running mostly on tarmac roads. A tough adventure race, in my opinion, will be testing my physical and mental endurance in the midst of my skills handling in each disciplines – mountain biking, traill running/trekking, kayaking, navigation, sleep depreviation.

I am indeed frustrated with the organizers but also appreciate their efforts to put together the race for us in such beautiful country.

Well…more works to be done, both organizers and myself as a racer.

Never do back to back Races

Weekend was epic.

On Saturday evening my Adventure Trail Challenge (ATC) partner, Chris was sharing how eager he is to race and smash the many teams out there. Simple it sounds but it left me waking up at 2am in the morning and not being able to fall back to sleep again! I thought this only happens the day before an excursion in primary school days – apparently not. I ended up preparing my stuff with eyes half closed and starting the race with blood shot eyes.

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Was quite happy we were flagged off with one of the Redsxtreme teams which gets me to push a little harder since I am an average runner, wouldn’t be possible without Chris super-power tow on me though! The puzzle checkpoints are there but are kept to its simplest form, minimizing the possible time being wasted. I am very impressed with the organizers’ efforts to cut new routes through the bush for us! And all the signages through the bush are loads of hard works from the organizers! Distances for other disciplines still has room for improvements but I think the ATC team made an awesome progress for the future of local races!

Was suffering a little of stitch towards end of the race (which I don’t remember happening to me), am guessing I didn’t manage my intake of isotonic properly – the weather was so hot that I gobble down the H2O whenever I see them. Worse, we have to squeeze in a sprint finish because the second team was keeping a 50-100m distances away from us for the last few kilometers. Glad that the super power tow works, and we came in a few seconds ahead but after incorporating the checkpoints waiting time (not too sure how this works), we are still 2 seconds away from them! Nevertheless, good efforts from both teams!

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Sometimes I think it was probably my age that I do really stupid things – went to sign up for the 3hr solo Chase The Sun (CTS) which happens right after ATC. I managed to finish ATC in time and got to reach Tampines Bike Park to hang around. Didn’t know that an hour sitting down to rest can be so painful – was trying so hard to feel calm but I guess I was too overwhelmed from ATC that I feel restless and fatigue at the same time.

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so my pain didn’t end at the finish of ATC. It was probably 5 min into CTS and I was sure 1 lap is all I can manage. As I overcome more and more of the obstacles I am extremely satisfied with my skills improvement (must be MTBskills effects) from the last race at Tampines Bike Park – this gauge of my skills under fatigue condition was really good practice for AR. I didn’t feel like I can do much better had I been fresh but at least I wasn’t falling all over! I am also not too sure how fast I could go had I been fresh but deep down, I think not much? I never been good at going fast since I was a kid.

The funny thing is I went for the second lap because I kind of forgot that I can stop after the first one. And when you realized you are at the start of a new lap, you could only carry on and finish it. it somehow happens for the third lap too! this weekend is an awesome experience in understanding my body– not to over exert it, but somehow I really enjoyed the way I plan my day.

Hard to end this post without bragging about the champion boyfriend. I was being the usual hard-to-impress me and goes ‘haha I saw you cramp and you haven’t seen me so yet!’, which left him with a grumpy loser kid face. But I know that is the case because he has this mental and physical ability to push himself to his limits, everytime without fail. I don’t understand how he can always idolize me when he is so much more awesome himself.

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Tsalina and Ting’s trio team smashing the 3hr female solo and 6hr open trio respectively all add up to the good results of my AR team, WanGoDo Edge. Thank you all for racing and my family’s support this weekend, it just motivates me more!

Now back to rest and recovery mood, really have to get this flu behind me else it will affect more trainings and races this month.

2013

Decided to keep the old blog as it has been interesting to read the younger me blabbering about injustice in a slight immature manner. I hope I can keep talking about these issues for a better world, and as much as you can think this will not help but so long as it makes me feel better – this is what we are all guilty of.

Moving on, I think it will be great to share about my current life here now. yes, adventure racing. It has been a big part in my polytechnic life and now it is even bigger after understanding how advancing into (expedition) adventure racing is so much more than any local races I have done.

To be honest, I have no idea whether I would be doing any expedition races yet. That’s me, I hardly have long term objectives in my life, just love bumming around aimlessly. And lucky for me, I met awesome people that keep pushing me to my limits. So the latest news is that I won a 24hr adventure race in Australia and yes I’m that only Asian team that came in first in mixed category. This don’t come by without efforts and more importantly the awesome bunch of friends who are so much more experienced and humbly guiding me. It drives me to do better – to keep up the results in 24hr format races, to attempt longer races like 36hr or 48hr and to excel in staged races too.

This adventure racing thing is taking up plenty of my time, it is a big sacrifice and people has to understand there is no reason why I am not doing this. Friends and families have to understand how much I enjoy being out there, a little selfish but really I need my life to be the way I want it to be. There are painful times but not always, so stop thinking I am suffering every day, but sometimes it is made worse when people questioned why I am doing this. On the other hand, I am very guilty that I am letting the part to ‘right the injustice’ go for adventure racing. Both are very important to me and I am struggling to cope. All I can say is I will do my best. Will update more on my training/racing life soon =)

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