In order to officially qualify to race in the Spartan Race Ultra World Championships I was required to complete a Spartan Ultra in under 10 hours. After winning the Spartan Trifecta World Championships I had a few options.
USA and Australia 3 weeks before Iceland
Mexico 2 weeks before Iceland
Malaysia 1 week before Iceland
The USA one would have been easiest, but I was speaking at the Kendal mountain festival that weekend. Mexico would have been smart as I would have had an extra week to recover before Iceland, but it was also a longer travel than Malaysia. Time slipped by and before I knew it, I only had one chance left, Malaysia.
The plan would be to fly to Singapore on the Thursday, landing on the Friday morning I would drive over the border into Malaysia, sleep and wake up the next day to do the 50km race. On finishing I would then make way directly over the border and fly home the same evening, landing back in Bergen in time for Sunday brunch.
The best made plans can always fall apart and this one didn’t get off to a good start. My first flight was cancelled resulting in a diversion via Stockholm and Bangkok before landing in Singapore on the Friday afternoon.
The first thing that hit me was the heat and humidity…maybe this was going to be tougher than I thought. From -5 to 30 degrees I was definitely not acclimated but was happy in the knowledge I didn’t have to win, I just had to complete.
So, waking up early on the Saturday I donned my race gear and headed into the steam room to run around for 6 hours.
My goals were to run at Iceland race pace, not eat any dodgy food or drink any dodgy water and not get injured. Anything above this I would class as a bonus.
I started easy and was back in 30th or something. A spear throw within the first 3km shook things up a bit and hitting mine allowed me to jump up into the top 5 immediately. From here I ran with a variety of people chatting away and trying to relax, everyone I met was really nice and it was fun to immerse myself in a totally new continent but have something in common with everyone.
The first lap was 21km with an 8km section bolted on. Coming into the changeover area I was surprised to be in second. I hadn’t planned to be but found myself in contention to win. This didn’t change how I continued the race and I went on to complete the second lap in much the same fashion as the first. The main difference was that I was more tired and was fighting to get by thousands of other competitors on narrow, muddy, jungle trails. Being worried about sunburn I slathered myself in mud and proceeded as an incognito jungle warrior.
Washing the mud off on the last swim and crossing the line in just over 6 hours I hadn’t gone too slow, too fast, got sick or too tired, but I had ripped a hole in my pinky finger on the rig. This seemed like a small price to pay after 50km with lots of obstacles and carries but was still relatively annoying.
Without much time to spare I had a shower, ate some food, did the prize ceremony and headed home. It was a shame not to hang out for longer as I really enjoyed being down there and meeting everyone. I don’t want people to feel like I was only there to qualify, but that was the reality…I will have to head back to spend some more time and do it properly in the future.
Landing back in Bergen I had a really nice Sunday with my wife which was worth the quick turnaround. With only one race left this year I look forward to spending much more time together, as we should.