Organised by one of the Thai trail organisers, Teelakow, it was also the organiser who did the trail race in Koh Chang. Signed up for this race because I thought every year, I should do a decent ultra at least, just to keep up. The race was year-end and also been to Pai before, I felt more at ease in the town.
After signing up, I found out that some Singaporeans were going to this race too, so we all signed up separately and went together. Came to realise that most of the folks were doing 100 miles instead of 100K. But glad that one running photographer, Tan Kim Lai was doing the 100 K.
Like PYT, I wanted to take Silk Air to directly go Chiang Mai from Singapore, unfortunately, they don’t operate it now. We had to go by Thai Airways as I also had check-in bags, fortunately, the price was very good but the down is that we need to transfer in Bangkok.
Pai is a very small town, practically reachable to all the restaurants and hotels by foot. The town is peaceful and quite nice for a laid back vacation, it is also a pit stop for travellers going further North. I stayed at the TTK Guest house, it was only 200m away from the race point in the Pai District office.
The race start and race end are all at the Pai district office, there was a small field outside the office building. This is where the organiser set up the tentages for collection of race pack and mandatory items check. I reached Pai a day before my race while the folks doing the 100 miles will start on the night itself. After doing the admin stuff, walked around town, did some shopping as I thought I would not be able to move much after the race. The race briefing started at 4:30pm and after that I hang around the “mini bar” which has loads of refreshments like noddles, snacks and hot drinks ( no alcohol though).
The 100 miles flag off was at 6pm. I stayed on the cheer the running friends, Kim Song, Jeric off. While me and Kim Lai have 8 more hours to our 100Km start time. We also met the Malaysian Ultra Runner group there. Met more familiar faces like Sally whom we did the TMBT together.
This bar is opened for all the participants throughout the event. There are many interesting Issan snacks in Pai and the night walking street is a good place to savour them all.
Dragging myself up at 2:30 am, I did some small last preparations and finally move off to start line to be flagged off at 4am. There were not many 100km participants, I guess most of the folks went for the 100 miles as to speak the truth, it is not that a killer race. The scenery was nice only the weather was cold. Seems like we had a cold year and night can go as low as 8 degrees.
To cut the long story short, total of 12 checkpoints ( CPs) among them one is like a water point in the forest. Covering actually 105Km with elevation of 5500m. This is the longest I had ever done, but judging its less technical terrain and also cut off time of 32 hours makes it more manageable.
The scenery is really nice, and 80% of the trail is mainly on dust trail and road. Which I am really glad as I have been very tired from Chicago Marathon. I also have not been practicing must in the trails. The check points are very well stocked with mostly rose syrup water, tailwind and also water. I hardly drink other things on the trails except water and coffee. But after trying the rose syrup, I am kinda hooked. There were 2 hot food stations which served fried egg with stew and rice. Although they might not be some Michelin star food, cooked by the school and villagers makes the food taste really good.
There were some forest parts which can be quite challenging, and also I experienced 2 river crossings. This time was better as I wore proper socks and did not experience the trench foot. My most memorable CP was Nam Pla Mung school, it was perched on the hill top. While running to it , you can see the beautiful mountain range. This was also the drop bag point where you get the hot food and also you can get a change of clothes. There were many runners sleeping and resting in the classroom of the school. Most of them were the 100miles runners. The weather was also very sunny, so there were many picture moments. It was indeed very panoramic.
As I was moving towards the water point in the forest, I stopped a while because the water point does not seemed to be at the stipulated area. So I waited for the 3 Malaysia pact team doing the 100miles, and as they caught up we realise that the water point has no one manning it. It was simply bottles of water left in the forest for all to take.
We started moving off together the four of us to the second last check point. I got to know that one of them was called Kok Fei. They had joined all the 4 trails organised by Teelakow. We chatted and really it was good to have them in the forest as I was really getting lonely after 22 hours all by myself. They were very chatty too and like to joke. I could see the 3 of them are very experienced runners and one of them was not using a pole at all!
Finishing it off
Finally at the last check point, we sat by the bon fire, I am amazed that they had done already 140 plus km and still able to move fast. Reluctant to leave the check point which also served hot food. We moved off in different directions. I was alone again, this time even more windy and cold as it was near to 4am in the morning. The rest of the 7 km was all roads. As I winded through Pai, I realised that the town has many other unexplored places. The Z monster has got to me this time and I had to fight sleepiness and feeling cold.
Finally at 4:26am the next day, I managed to finish the race and gosh was I tired. However, I was kinda happy that I did it in 24hours plus. Cutting off yet another 3 hours from the PYT race.
Setting back to Chiang Mai the very afternoon. I felt happy and good with the end of this race, managed to come in 7th position. Which I thought I was lucky as not many people joined this category and the power houses all did the 100miles. Now to the most enjoyable part. The rest and relax at the ChiangMai night market.