Running 444 km in 98 hours: My C2C Ultra Running experience

A week ago, I won first overall on the Coast to Coast 444 km across Malaysia. I am still searching for the right words to describe the event. It will take me weeks to really digest what I have gone through during the race. So far, I can confidently tell you that I am not the same now then the Vero at the starting line.

I pushed through the event to a point I thought was impossible beforehand. I discovered a part of me I didn’t know nor believed existed before. This event gave me the chance to bring out the best version of myself, a priceless opportunity to say the least!
Here is part one of my Blog series describing my experience through these 98 hours.

Why would anyone do anything like this– Anyone with common sense.

I first heard of the C2C race last year after the Titi Ultra 250km. At first, it was not even an option, my first reaction was: “Hell no“. Little did I know, a month later, Seow Kong (one of the two organizers) sent me a message asking me if I want to join the C2C 2019 edition AND that the race would help me for my spartathlon training (if anyone mentions Spartathlon to me, they are bound to have my money)! He described the race as a journey, “a short running- adventure”. Seo did not only sell me his race’s benefits, he told me about his experience running it himself! The organisators did not walked the talk, they ran it! The more he described the race, the more I knew that I wanted do it myself.

A little after, I was already messaging to my husband about the 444 km race…Of course, he thought that I was crazy…With good reasons!

But my decision had been made. I was registered!

At first, I was really worried for my training. Seow told me that no one can be “trained” or “ready” for C2C. Instead, he told me to carry on with my normal training and that I will be fine. I listened to his advice and carried on with my training routine. The distance is too long to stress. My moto was as usual: Just do it, one kms at a time until the finish line. Let’s see what happens! 😊

One of my best running decisions I’ve ever made. In fact, I think every runners should experience a running journey like the one I’ve undergone with C2C.

This Malaysian race as a huge potential in the ultra-running scene. I can only wish for it to grow to attract more runners from all around the world. It has some of the most scenic landscapes i’ve seen, although i must admit that I was particularly lucky to pass through the best part of the race during the day. I really got the “crème de la crème”.

The organisers are professionals, passionate ultra runners, they truly want only the best for the runners. Their passion and hard work for their events is contagious. As runners we could only give the best we could after receiving all their positive energy. The ‘You can do it’ mindset was always present, which is one of the reasons why I was always looking forward to the aid stations during the race. I knew that the team was there smiling, cheering me up, joking around, no matter if you were fast or slow. The attention was shared between all runner. It was THE big reward after a day of suffering!
Every members of the team was unique and I will cherish so many good memories with every one of them. All the food (soup, Ice cream, Durian, mash potato, brownies, nescafe, etc) which always arrived at the most perfect timing, the friendliness of the medic team, the ice showers, the incomparable patience of my massage therapist, etc. I could go on forever, so many special memories.

This is by far one of the best running event I’ve ever been a part of. The friendliness, professionalism and humanity has no comparison.

I sincerely think that ENDURANCE NATURE are the best!

Day 1 (0-150 km)

Before the big start, I managed to have 5h-6h of sleep, which is really rare in my case. This amount of sleep gave me a huge advantage. In the morning, I tried to eat a ‘champion’s breakfast’, but my nerves wouldn’t allow me to. I was too stressed.

Before the start, I had the time to chat with the others runners and exchanged encouraging words as we all felt this same ‘ What have i signed up for’ feeling.
We started with the full moon watching over us.

Day 1 was horrible…Honestly, everything felt bad for me. The hectic Malaysian traffic was getting to my head and my legs didn’t answer the signals my brain was sending them. I felt sluggish all day long. However, the first day was crucial, I had to reach the cut off as soon as possible to then go on towards the mountains ( which came at around 90-95 km).

I pushed all way through.
Surprisingly, I was the first runner to get to CP1. I knew that I had to ‘complete’ this day as soon as possible. Even though I found day 1 horrible, I was satisfied with my progress.
I made the decision ( which was really encouraged by the organization as well) to carry on running until a 150km where there was a really nice place to sleep waiting for us: a bed and breakfast in the middle of the mountains. Luxury! We cooked, took a shower and a slept for a few hours in a real bed, it was so great!
Before reaching the glorious 150km checkpoint however, it was hell on heart. The night had already fallen in the mountains, I wanted to sleep so badly! The hills were so steep and never seemed to end! They were brutal, i even started doubting how long I would have to run through them. “Why am I doing this to myself?” was playing in my head on repeat like a bad Katy Perry record.

My body didn’t want to collaborate either. I had to stop a few times in the car, if it was not for my husband who kept pushing me to carry on, I think I would’ve stayed sleeping in the car.
I really forced myself to keep the right mindset. Which says a lot when it’s coming from a MIND COACH! 😂
The arrival to the 150km check point is still, until now, an indescribable feeling of joy.

Day 2 (150-200 km)

My strategy between the 150-200 km was to get them over with as soon as possible to sleep when the night would fall. It may seem logic for some of you, but I always had the choice between sleeping and to keep going at all time during the 444 kms, different runners have different strategies.

However, I realized that running at night was not for me. I can’t push myself as far as I am used to at night compared to the day time, my body is used to slowing down and relaxing during the night.

Trying to push myself through the night was though for my body and mind. I obviously felt sleepy., ‘down and negative’ and it was easy for me to loose focus.

I had the impression that the 200km’s CP would never arrive… We were running in the mountains, again! Running in the mountain at night adds an extra layer of difficulty because it is hard to tell whether you are going downhill or uphill since you have very little visual queues. Of course, for the cherry on top, my calves were starting to tighten up, I started to feel every rock under my feet, “MAKE IT STOP”/”MY DEAR CP, WHERE ARE YOU!?”/”I SWEAR IF THERE IS ONE MORE HILL…” were the anthems for the night.

My watch kept telling me that the CP was near (less than 5 km) despite the fact that I would only see DARK and EMPTINESS.

There was nothing in front of me.
Earlier in the evening, I saw Seow (the organizer), he cheered me up and reassured me that I could keep going on the next checkpoint.

That little action gave me a big boost.

My tiredness kept coming back in waves, I was so tired again and again and again through the night. At this point, even the ground seemed like a good place to sleep on. I somehow managed to push through and carried on running.

The CP was nowhere to be seen, I started worrying that I was lost. My husband went ahead a couple of times to see where the CP was located, just to be sure that we were not lost. After what seemed like forever, we finally arrived at 3am, really really really tired but also a bit angry.

Angry, because it was simply too though…
As soon as I saw the organizers and the medic team, their sunshines of ‘positive energy ‘ made me forget all my angry ways! It was impossible to stay in a bad mood near them.

These guys gave the best of themselves for the entire duration the event for us, I really felt like ‘home’ every time I saw their familiar faces. They always knew what to say to say to bring my spirit up.
They were simply unique, without them I could’ve never have made it.

Part II next week!

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