Five Tough Races, Five Trail Heroes: An interview with Ruth, Kristian, Gene, Liew Tho and Majo

 In Blog, Event, Interviews

RaceYaya was the Race Timing Solutions for five of the toughest 100k and 100 mile races in Southeast Asia from March-May 2018.

We witnessed victorious finish and and humbling, yet valuably learned defeats, race triumphs and unfortunate mishaps; stories of bravery for simply toeing the starting line and perseverance in fighting the demons the race presents.

Each of these five races presented its own unique challenges; the sheer distance itself can be unfathomable coupled with undulating terrain, extreme and unpredictable weather conditions and various unforeseen scenarios that may shake even the experienced trail runners.  The low finish rate is a testament to how tough it was.  Everyone came prepared, only a few emerged as finishers.

Here is a recap of the race profile and overall race results (Data was obtained from the event website):

  Beach Bunch Trail Challenge Pulag 100 Rinjani 100 Tailwind Penang Eco 100 Hardcore 100
Distance

(Main Event)

100k 112K 100k 100 Mile 100Mile
Elevation Gain 1800m 5,628 9,166m 4030m 11,307m
Finishers/Starters 38/66 76/143 27/135 21/89 91/140
Finish Rate 57% 53% 20% 23% 65%

(Click the event title to view detailed race results.)

A race may be a beast, but just like any race, we have race winners who would finish hours ahead of most finishers.  They are our trail heroes, who shows and inspires us that it can be done.  RaceYaya interviewed some of the top finishers for these five races.

BACKGROUND:

Ruth Kristian Gene Liew Tho Majo
Full time runner

Member, Bandung Explorer multi-sport adventure community in Indonesia

Graduate, Telkom University, major of Industrial Engineering

Banker – 2014 to 2017

Operates a call center in Eastwood, Quezon City, Philippines where he works full time Engineer by profession and has a full time day job in the Philippines. Sport Science Graduate in University of Malaya, My profession is a Teacher and Teaching at Jit Sin High School, Penang, Malaysia.

 

Medical technologist by profession and teaches in an academe in Quezon City, Philippines

 

HOW THEY BECAME TRAIL RUNNERS

Among our five trail heroes, it is only Majo Liao who started with a background in the outdoors.  Gene, Liew Tho and Ruth started as road runners who eventually explored the trails.  Kristian hated running, not until 3 years ago.

Majo is a member of the UST Mountaineering Club in college which opened up a lot of adventures for her from mountain climbing to road running, to adventure racing and eventually trail running.  Her first trail race was in 2011, a relay trail run in Tarak with Team Nomads All-Women Team where they won first place.  Since then, Majo has dominated most of the trail races as the female champion and has paved the way for more woman in the sports.

Gene started with road running in February 2008 at the Pasig Marathon, primarily out of curiousity .  From running short distance on the road, he started joining road ultramarathons from 50 to 100 miler.  His first trail race was TNF 100 in 2009 and 2010.  In 2011, Gene started running from UP Diliman to the trails in Rizal for explorations, quitting road runs for mountain trails.  He made a comeback in racing at the Four Lakes 100 in 2013 and has been one of the leading runners in the Philippine trail scene.

Liew Tho Fatt is an avid marathon runner who eventually got bored.  In search for a longer distance race, he came across TMBT-The Most Beautiul Thing race in Sabah, Malaysia in 2013 .  He has since then joined races in and out of Malaysia.

Ruth started running in July 2015, joining several road marathon races. Seeking for more adventures, he joined the Bandung Explorer which led her feet Bromo Tengger Semeru 70K in November 2015, her first of the many trail races and a prelude to her becoming one of the leading female runners in the Asia Trail Master series.

Kristian used to hate running until his friend signed him up for a 12K Salomon Trail Run in 2015.  This changed his perspective since then, and has turned him into one of the regular fixture in the Philippine trail running scene, a strong one at that.

RUTH THERESIA: ON BEACH BUNCH TRAIL CHALLENGE 2018

GEARS:  Mandatory Gear: Safety vest, Headlamp & spare batteries, Personal food, 1.5lt of water soft flasks, first aid kit, whistle.  Top apparel: Compressport Tank Top Kona Edition, Bottom: Hoka one one trail short, Socks: stance run socks,  Shoes: Hoka One One Speedgoat 2, Sports watch: Suunto Spartan Sport Hr Wrist Baro, Others: Poles, Salomon Running Vest

 

 

 

 

 

I joined BBTC because this race was my first ultra trail victory outside of Indonesia in 2017.  I was the female champion of its inaugural 100k race. I gained the self-confidence to join any races outside Indonesia from BBTC. I joined again this year as Rizan Latiff, the race director, invited me and I want to claim the buckle for finishing under 16 hours.

TRAINING FOR THE RACE: BBTC is really different than my usual training place. Brunei is very hot and humid. Meanwhile, Bandung is a highland which has cold weather and windy.  To prepare for it, I trained at hot places. I went to Sentul (nearby Jakarta City) which has similar conditions with Brunei. I trained there and prepared my hydration during my training session. Specific trainings are long run, interval training, and strength training.

RACE (NUTRITION) STRATEGY:  I didn’t have any specific nutrition strategy for this race. But daily, I am a vegetarian. Based on my experience last year, I was swollen because of the heat. So I was concerned with my hydration and my pace. I brought 1.5 liters of water (3 bottle of soft flasks) during the race and more electrolyte tablets. I didn’t push my pace from the start. I just ate fruits, energy gel and carbs from the aid stations during the race.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS: Highpoints:  It is a well-managed race, good aid stations, clear marking, the looping sections train us mentally.  Low points:  It is hot and humid and the beach section is full of trashes.  (One of the advocacy supported by BBTC is beach cleanup)

RACE (FUEL) MOTIVATION:  I pushed and I’m thankful for those who believe me so far and motivate me in up and down conditions.

RACE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: I’d like to say thanks to God for His grace. Thanks to my full support system, my family. Thanks to all sponsors: Conpressport ID, Hoka One One, Suunto Indonesia, Harian Kompas news paper, Telkom Infra, Gulf Sportwear, Sukasambilan. Thanks to all my dear friends in Bandung Explorer and all support from others friends.

ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE RACE:  My advice for someone who interested in racing this race is prepare your hydration so well (not only for racing but your daily hydration also). Know the weather condition and the terrain. This race is 70% runnable, hot, and humid. Do heat training as my suggestion, so that you can prepare your hydration for this race.  This race is really good to train our mental game because of the crazy loops. So, don’t be afraid of it! LOL!

Know more about BEACH BUNCH TRAIL CHALLENGE at  https://www.thebeachbunch.com/

KRISTIAN JORGENSEN ON PULAG 100

 

GEARS:  Salomon pack, Vasque shoes, Black Diamond poles, Petzl headlamp

 

 

 

 

 

I joined Pulag 100 because I wanted to get over my DNF in HK4TUC and I wanted to try the new route.  My favorite part of the course is the climb to Mount Pulag.

RACE TRAINING:  I just go and run in the trails on weekend and do some stairs on weekdays.

RACING (NUTRITION) STRATEGY: I have no specific strategy, it’s just the same as training:  Tailwind, Snickers and any food that is offered at the aid stations.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS:  High points:  It is always at around the finishline, hahaha. Low points:  All the mossy forest sections

ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE RACE:  Just train good, and believe in your self!

Know more about Pulag 100 at http://kotmtrailrun.com/!

 

GENE OLVIS ON RINJANI 100

GEARS:  RACE VEST:  Instinct Eklipse, POLES: Mountain King poles, HEADLAMP: Led Lenser, SHOES: New Balance Hierro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been racing a lot in the Philippines already; Indonesia has a different mountain terrain and very attractive volcanoes.  The gravel from the peak of Mount Rinjani to the Aid Station on Sembalun rim and the section from Simnalun Bumbung to Pusok km 60 to 73 are my favorite part of the course.

TRAINING FOR THE RACE:  Rinjani has more open terrain, high elevation gain and almost has no switch back; it’s always straight up or down. I train the same as I did when I’m preparing for 100 mile races: peaking at 150km with + 6k gain with weeks mostly at 100k + between 4k to 5k gain in the last 6 weeks or so.

RACING (NUTRITION) STRATEGY: I have fig bars and snickers and ate fruits in the aid stations.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS:  High point: From the peak of Rinjani to 36k, especially the part where I ran downhill on gravel; it’s very loose and you have to use sticks to balance. It’s my first time to experience that type of surface. Low point:  Running at night at some very technical terrain when I am tired and there’s no view to compensate; it’s a bit tough. But I learned that if you turn your head torch off you will see good views with the silhouette of surroundings, so it’s still cool.

RACE (FUEL) MOTIVATION:  Time wise, I don’t think it’s impressive it’s a slow race for me but I am happy with my approach. I have been anxious, with very high respect to Mount Rinjani and that influenced how I packed my vest and ran the race especially during start.  The organization of the race with its entire volunteer is such an inspiration. It’s a sleepy town with really good people and mountains. You will be inspired to complete the journey with those reasons.

RACE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:  I would like to thank Raceyaya for helping me participate in this race.  And the beautiful people in the trails in Rizal where I train, I always feel more inspired seeing them appreciating our sports helping me (us) in their small ways. Likewise, to the organizers and volunteers of Rinjani100, they have done an excellent job with the race.

ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE RACE: Train in the heat (during day) as we don’t have elevation comparable in trails near Manila. It’s tougher to train with sun up so it can make you tougher compared to when starting very early in the morning to avoid heat.

Know more about Rinjani 100 at www.rinjani100.com !

LIEW THO FATT on ECO 100

GEARS: I just take the mandatory gears along. I didn’t use pole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined the Tailwind Penang Eco because it is held at my home town, I feel that I need to support this event.  The last 60K, the technical trail is my favorite part of the course.

TRAINING FOR THE RACE:  My program is simple, in one week my mileage must be 80-100km. The training consists of trail, hill run, road run, and weigh training.

RACING (NUTRITION) STRATEGY:  During the race, I will take Tailwind. At every water station, I will make sure I take a slice of bread with a cup of cola and an egg, if available.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS:  At the first 60 km, I am quite consistent but from 60-100 km I can’t maintain my pace due to the heat, just imagine running under the scorching heat of the sun with long hours, it is really taxing. At the last 65 km, I felt much better because it slowly turns to night and this session are mostly trail and I love it. Actually at night, the vision is limited, I can’t go very fast, I just do consistent pace and think just run, have fun, enjoy the run and scenery.

RACE MOTIVATION:  Inspirational song, I like this song, the title of the song is Stand up. Self-talk is important, when you’re mentally down, keep on talking to yourself with a positive words that you like the most. Everyone needs to find out a mantra or words that suit you and can motivate you.

RACE ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I would like to say thank you to the organizers which provided such a challenging route, sufficient water, sport drink, food and your hospitality. Excellent helper, treat me very good in very water station and fantastic supporters. All of you are awesome.

ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE RACE: You have to decide which distance you want to participate. After decided you must have program and train hard. Get information about the race, for instant the profile of the race and weather. If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it. Perhaps find a friends which have the same interest train together because peer support is key to motivating each other.

Know more about Tailwind Penang Eco 100 at http://endurancenature.com.my/ !

MAJO LIAO ON HARDCORE 100

Headlamp: Led Lenser H2r2  with extra batteries, Hydration Vest:  Salomon Advanced 12 set with improvised provision for quiver (thanks to Jael!), OUTFIT: Salomon hat,  the usual set of clothes that I wear in H1 (3/4 pants to avoid limatiks, technical sando/shirt), Ahon gaiters, Ahon socks – prototype (wait for this to be released! Tested and proven J), SHOES:  Slab Sense Ultra – actually this was the first time I didn’t change shoes for 100mile. I didn’t have any problems. Perfect combo with my Ahon socks, POLES: BD Carbon Z poles

 

 

 

 

I joined the first edition (2013) out of curiousity on Hardcore 100. I was still a newbie back then. I already joined few ultramarathon but mostly on the road. H1 during that time still lacks full info about the race. There is no avaialable elevation profile (well noon naman di pa rin ako marunong umintindi nito. Hehe), distance was not accurate and we don’t know what to expect. We were like guinea pigs then. Young, wild and free since I was then 23 years old. The younger you are, you are more fearless, I was ready for anything. Hehe It was stormy and was chilling, I DNFed in  Banao. Since then, I made sure that I will prepare for this race. Maybe this became a part of me growing up as a person and as a runner that’s why I always join. Every year is a different story. This is also a qualifying race for UTMB, WS and HR. H1 is one of the accessible HR qualifying races for us. Pangarap din kasi yun, dream races for me. My favorite part of the course is still the Old Spanish Trail going to Mt. Ugo. Though this year we passed by here during the night time, we still had the chance to see the beautiful sunrise in Mt. Ugo. Sa dami ng sunrise na nakita ko, one of the best parin ang Mt. Ugo sunrise.  Ugo is still the best sunrise I have witnessed.

TRAINING FOR THE RACE:  First is the weather. I live in the city and the weather is so hot compared to the mountains. Another one is the elevation. We are still fortunate that we have mountains in Rizal where we can get quality training, but of course it is still different in the Cordillera. In terms of terrain, it’s almost the same since in Rizal, we also have single tracks and fire roads.   For this race, I can say I felt fresher because I have less races than before. After UTMB, I went off season for couple of months to help reset my mind and body. I decided that I will not join a lot of races on Q1 and Q2 of 2018 and so I chose my races carefully leading to H1. Typical training load with long and short runs plus body conditioning workouts with combination of yoga in between.

RACING (NUTRITION) STRATEGY: I used Tailwind during the race and few solids in between. Training without eating or eating less during training really helped para di ako makaramdam masyado ng gutom. Maybe my body is already adapted to this condition. I ate more solids in AS.  Studying the map and location of AS was also crucial because this will assure that you will have enough nutrition between AS. This is one the difficulties of the race, the AS are far from each other so this means you have to carry everything in between.  I also took some ginger candies when I already felt nauseous going up Mt. Ugo.   Revvies also helped to kept me awake.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS:  I think there was really no high point during the race, but I felt really good from start to Dayap. Though may mga tulala moments din ako after Salingsingan and Mt. Pack kasi nashock ako ng slight dun. Hehe  Low point: Going up Amelong :abeng. I was so sleepy na that time but when I was trying to sleep, I just really can’t. This made me so slow when I was walking/hiking up. Even going OST, same scenario. But the only difference was that I didn’t experience zombie mode unlike the other years. I was sleepy but I can still walk straight. Hehe

RACE (FUEL) MOTIVATION:  I think one of the great contributions to my performance last H1 was the fewer races before the race and familiarization to the course (except for the Talmoy, Mt. Salingsingan and Mt. Pack). Since I had few races prior, my training peaked at the right time with fresh legs (body) and mind.   There are no secrets, train well, prepare your heart, body and mind and just do your best on race day – Best effort kumbaga. Wala naman talagang perfect race, if you prepared well and you accept fully na mahihirapan/masasaktan ka then eventually you will enjoy the journey. If you enjoy what you’re doing, di sya magiging burden. Mahirap magtiis ng sobrang habang oras if you don’t love what you’re doing.

RACE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: It may look like an individual sport, but there are a lot of people behind this success. 1) To Sir Jonel and KOTM family, thank you for putting up this challenge. 2) To the locals, marshalls, volunteers and RaceYaya – thank you for the untiring support you have shown us. 3) To the best support crew/pacer – Eric, Carla, Ronald and Dio. Kahit ilang ulit ko man sabihin, maraming maraming salamat talaga. Carla and Arlene, from Chamonix to Kayapa, the best talaga kayo! 4) To my family, friends and co workers –  thank you so much for all the understanding you’ve given during my trainings and races. 5) To my training buddies –  Baboy Ramo Gang and Company, special mention to Jael, Aldean, Kesh and Ronald – thank you for our Wednesday sessions. Sobrang laking tulong nito overall. 6) To Aldean, for the all out support from the start, thank you so much. Salamat kasi naniniwala ka parin kahit na minsan hindi na ko naniniwala sa sarili ko. 7) To Salomon, Sunnto, Ahon and Tailwind –  throughout the years, ups and downs, thank you so much for all the support.  And to the Gods, thank you for the gift of life and gift of running.

ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED TO JOIN THE RACE: 

Prepare well – All the information needed is readily available, we just have to do our part. Better if you can do recon at some parts. J Train smart and always remember that rest is also part of training. Choose your races wisely leading to race day. Plan and prepare your things (gears) ahead of time. This will avoid added stress on your part. Get good sleep and eat well a week before the race.  During race day, pace yourself well and don’t burn early in the first part of the race. Old Spanish Trail and Mt.Ugo are both hard to climb on heavy legs. Don’t be afraid to be alone esp. inside the mossy forest (Mt. Pack). Stay in focus J  If possible, give at least 2-3hours buffer from the cutoff time.  Don’t stay too long sa AS. Tempting sya lalo na after Babadak AS kasi pagod ka na nito, but as much as possible just get food and keep on moving lalo na if you are still well. This will save a lot of time na pwede ipunin para mas makarest ng medyo mahaba sa Dayap.   ALWAYS ENJOY AND GIVE YOUR BEST. Do what you love and everything else will follow.

Know more about Hardcore 100 at http://kotmtrailrun.com/!

IS THERE A FINISH LINE FOR OUR FIVE TRAIL HEROES?

We asked them what’s next and here’s where you can expect them for the rest of 2018 and beyond:

Ruth:  2018:  Asia Trail Master career, next journey I want to run in UTMB, WSER, Hardrock 100 miles, TDG. Next year, I plan to join Grand Slam ID races. Goals outside of trail racing are getting married and get another job. Hopefully 🙂

Kristian: Lavaredo 120km this June

Gene: No race in line yet for me so more of running around trails in Rizal in coming months. I am looking forward to the monsoon season.

Liew Tho: I will be joining UTMB this year.

Majo:  Off season for trail running and focus more in mountain biking and swimming and other cross training activities :p  No definite plan for next season trail racing but I’m hoping to do Vietnam Mountain Marathon or Annapurna 100 for the Q3 and Q4.

 

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Arief Wizmoyono at BTS Ultra 2017, photo by Asia Trail Master