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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Journey to Mt Kinabalu

The plan to scale Mt Kinabalu was hatched when I failed to complete the gruelling TMBT last year. If I cannot conquer the grand old dame through a trail race, I know I have to do it another way and so begins the journey to scale the mountain. I was fortunate that in January this year, a mutual friend introduce a group of us to this super friendly nice guy who has conquered Mt Kinabalu many times and he was kind enough to offer to bring us up. And so the journey begins.

The initial plan was to gather about 20 like minded person to go during the June school holidays. But upon the advice of our Malaysian friend, Tony we moved the date to the last week of June to coincide with the end of the school holidays and the start of Ramadan. This was so that it will not be so crowded up in the mountain. And when we finally reached the mountain, I could see the wisdom of that advice.

So we gathered a group of running friends. But because of the new dates, many people who had previously indicated interest would not make it as it clash with month year closing, school re-opening' and of course the fasting month. I had to scamper to get enough numbers to justify Tony's time. Eventually we managed to get a total of 13 person. Among us were ultra-marathoner, ironman finisher, average runners and young adults barely out of their teens and finally people with totally no experience in trekking, hiking or running. What a motley crew indeed! With such a mix, having a proper cohesive training program was going to be super difficult.

We started the first session with just 4 of us going for a 6 hours hike in the Central Catchment area. Subsequent training were held mainly at the Bukit Timah Hill doing climbs up and down the stairs and weekly evening run at Mount Faber. But due to everybody busy schedule, getting everybody to turn up for training was difficult and I was worried especially for the newbies and the non runners - how they were going to cope.
Hiking in the Central Catchment Area
As it was, I realised that what to us was strenuous climbs up and down the Jungle Fall path at Bukit Timah were really insufficient to prepare us for Mt Kinabalu. Maybe if we climb up and down Jungle Fall Path 100 times each session - that would be enough but of course we didn't have the luxury of time. 
Stairs training at Bukit Timah Hill
And so it was with a slight worry when we finally flew to Kota Kinabalu to begin our assault on the mountain.
Photo credit Sarah
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