About Route 68 Challenge
Route 68 Challenge is an ultra marathon event in Malaysia, near Gombak, Kuala Lumpur. It started in 2015 which has only one category, which was 68KM. At that time I joined as a water station supervisor. And then in 2016 and 2017, I was also a water station crew. After 3 years as a water station crew, in 2018, I decided to join 84KM category. After completed 84KM in 2018, I decided to run 168KM in 2019!
How to run 168KM?
It’s basically running 42KM for 4 times. Below is the list of the cut off time of each 42KM:
- First 42KM – 7 hours
- Second 42KM – 8 hours
- Third 42KM – 7 hours
- Fourth 42KM – 10 hours
To get my body ready for this long distance, long distance training is very important. However, the longest distance I have managed to cover was around 45KM, which I have done in Bukit Kiara Ultra Challenge 2019, which is not enough.
The participants of 168KM are allowed to have one supported vehicle, I get Milo Yap as my support crew because he had completed several ultramarathons before, including 2 times of 200KM (in TITI Ultra). He was also the support crew of Lee Jing, The female champion of 168KM of Route 68 Challenge 2018.
The support crew can have food and drinks in his vehicle. These are the food and drinks that I have prepared to be used during the race:
- Ensure Gold milk
- Chia seed
- Mineral water
- Isotonic drinks
- SaltStick Caps PLUS
- High5 Energy Gel (with caffeine)
- Instant cup noodles
- Red Bull
- Sea salt candy
- Canned Milo
- Milo 3 in 1
Items prepared to put into the vehicle:
- Toilet roll
- Shaker for protein drinks
Items prepared by Milo:
- Chiller box
- Hot water flasks
- Pump pressure water sprayer
Items that I brought and stored in check points:
- Wet tissue
- Power bank
- Foldable cup
- Sun block
- Charging cable for phone and GPS watch
- Spare AAA batteries
- Counter pain cream & spray
Tong Lai and I met up with our support crew Milo and Keith one week before the race, in order to pass them the items so they can directly go to support us.
I didn’t have a proper diet plan, I just tried to skip coffee, tea, spicy food, and alcohol a few days before the race, and eat more carbohydrate and kept myself hydrated.
Drop bag planning
The participants of 168KM and 100KM are allowed to put their items in drop bags, this is the spreadsheet that I used to plan my items to put in drop bags:
The night before race day, I tried to get on bed around 9 pm, however, I just couldn’t sleep well because of pre-race anxiety. Anyway, I still woke up around 2:30 am to get myself prepared: filled up water bladders, double check my items according to the spreadsheet. Then just drove to the venue, met up my running partner Tong Lai.
After some pre-race briefing by race director Jeff Ooi, we started the run on time at 5 am. We started in the dark, the weather was chilling, however, around 9 am, the sun was out, and it’s hot.
We arrived at the first 42KM checkpoint at around 10:11 am, we stayed for around 30 minutes to have some food, refilled our water bladders & bottles, get changed then continue our journey. It was in the afternoon and the weather is extremely hot.
Then, my support crew, Milo has arrived, as well as Tong Lai’s support crew Keith. Their presence had made our journey easier. We got to rest more, sat down, being sprayed with ice cold water, and ate the food we prepared earlier.
At 5:59 pm, we arrived at the starting point again and completed 84KM of the race. Milo had made an instant congee for me, after having that and refilled bladder, we were out again.
Some of you might ask me, is it challenging for mindset, if I am going to do exactly the same route again, which I have done for the past 14 hours?
I had exactly the thought last year when I was running 84KM, so when I was preparing for this race, besides physical training, I also had my mind trained, I kept on telling myself, “THERE ARE NO TWO LOOPS, THERE IS ONLY ONE LOOP”. By leaving the starting point again, I have completed 50% of the journey, there is only 49.99% to complete the race.
After running for a while one the 3rd 42KM, Tong Lai was slowing down due to his legs condition. At the same time, I’ve met a new friend, Hakim, who was joining 168KM for the first time too.
Soon after we passed 94KM water station, it started to rain. It was quite heavy, however, we still kept on moving, because we need to reach the third 42KM before 3 am, which the time available for us to make it is very tight. Even though we were in fatigue, pain, but we still kept on running.
Then I was told by Milo that, Tong Lai has decided to give up, he just went back to the starting point to rest. Hakim and I continued our journey to the 126KM checkpoint. On the way to the 126KM checkpoint, we met 100KM runners and some 168KM runners coming back from the checkpoint and moving to finishing point, it was dark and the light from headlights made us impossible to see the faces of each other.
Finally, at 1:56 am, we arrived at the 126KM checkpoint, completed the third 42KM. There was still one hour before the cut-off time. Met Seven Cheam there, sharing her delicious red bean soup and potato soup with me, appreciate it! After 30 minutes of resting and replenished my stomach, I decided to leave the checkpoint, but Hakim he wanted to rest longer so I left alone.
After running out from the checkpoint, I felt that my left knee was in pain, then I checked my knee and found out my left was swelling, this is the first time in my running history. After 7KM from the check point, I met Milo at the next water station, I showed him my knee, he said it’s normal, especially when running a distance more than the knee can take it. I think this is because I was under-trained. Then he said the swelling will go off, probably one or two weeks after the event, he had this swelling too when he had his first long-distance running.
Since most of the 100KM runners had been passed by, and there were only a few 168KM runners still in the race, on the way back to the finishing line, most of the time I was alone, so I get Milo to stop every 2KM, I felt secure because I know someone was expecting me, instead of me walking or running alone in the dark.
After arriving the Bukit Tinggi water station, which was around 10KM from the previous water station, I requested Milo to wait for me at Genting Sempah water station since it’s only 7KM from the current water station, so Milo could catch some rest. However, due to some stupid mistake of me, Milo had to go back to the previous check point, to get something for me, so he didn’t get to rest. (Apologises Milo 😳)
I arrived at the Genting Sempah checkpoint in the morning around 8 am, It was just around 16.5KM away from the finishing point. Milo bought me a burger from McDonald’s (thank you!)
Then I met my friend, Man Shin, who I met in Penang Ultra back in 2015. We continued the journey together. However, she couldn’t make it because of her knees and legs were in terrible pain. So, Tong Lai and Keith came to pick her back to starting point. Then I continued my journey back to the last 10KM water station, I met Milo there and requested him to wait at the last 5KM. Then he did, he came with Keith (Thank you, Keith!). It was the last support stop of Milo.
At the time my knee was still swelling and getting serious with great pain, but I still tried to run, because when I ran, the pain was actually can be minimized.
Then finally at 11:10 am, I arrived at the finishing point, completed the race with 30 hours 10 minutes. I am happy that I’ve made it, big thanks to Milo, and also thanks to Tong Lai and Keith for waiting for me at the finishing point. Very happy to see other friends there too.
In the end, thanks to the organizers of Route 68 Challenge 2019, MY Ultra Running, thanks to volunteers, crew, and photographers to make this event a success.
You can also view the video of this story below: