From the breath-taking hilltop view of Mt. Rinjani in Indonesia we are taking you back to our home ground. Through trail running we explored Malaysia’s veritable caving hotspot that’s located at the heart of Merapoh. Together with Paun Cher Chin–our avid hiker-trail runner friend–we will let you take a glimpse of nature’s beauty that is yet to unfold. Like how the forest we entered was lush green and primitive. The ground we stepped on was rocky beneath our feet. Run with us as we unleash what’s really inside this hidden paradise!
INTO THE RUN
A 3-hour and 30-minute drive from KL to Merapoh—a small town situated in the Lipis District of Pahang, Malaysia, next to the Pahang-Kelantan border. Since the The Magnificent Merapoh Trail Run (TMMT) 2016 was held on the Saturday morning, we headed to Merapoh on Friday to explore the town before the main event. We spent the rest of the evening at a homestay. The 100K category runners already kicked in their run since their cut off time would be within 20 hours.
The air was delicate and cool and it kissed our skin with moisture. The surrounding was still pitch-black as the sun hadn’t risen up yet. It was exactly 5 in the morning as we gathered outside SMK Merapoh. We saw from everyone’s faces that they were all excited with this trail running event–the magnificent view that we’re about to witness, the thrill of discovery and the excitement of the great unknown were among the things we looked out for. However, before we could have our trail run and exploration, the organizer needed to check first if we brought all the mandatory gears for this event such as headlamp, hydration bag, energy gels, blinkers, mobile phone, medical kit, personal cup and whistle. This was part of the trail running procedure for us to prepare these materials beforehand; otherwise we could not have our running bib and couldn’t proceed with the run. The organizer only required at least 1.5 liters of fluid but we brought 2.5 liters, 1 liter extra just to be sure. Better safe than sorry, right?
The thrill of discovery and the excitement of the great unknown were among the things we looked out for
INTO THE WOODS
We started running at around 5:30 am. There were approximately 200 participants for the 60K category. The trail was alright, the surface was a bit rock-strewn but there were not much elevation within the area so even if we ran uphill it wasn’t that steep at all. It was smooth. We ran through the palm oil plantation to reach our first checkpoint—every 10k of the trail run had a checkpoint–at the small community to drink water or for a short break and the organizer also served durian.
After our first 10k trail run stop, we continued running until we reached the mountain, it was a small uphill trek. The sun was still hiding behind the mountains so by the time we reached the peak of it, at around 6:30am the sky was a combination of purple and grey colorway. However, we could see from above the breath-taking 360 degree picturesque view. Some took “selfies” with the view behind regardless of the dim lighting. For us, we did not want to use our camera to capture this moment. We wanted to witness its beauty, not through our camera lenses, but through our own eyes. Truly, it was a sight to behold.