Tag Archives: trail run

Post-race Report: Serama Adventure Race 2014

Warning: This is going to be a long read. Expect a relatively detailed report of the event

Muhaizar, fellow Dirigo mate, asked Chooi Fern, Daniel and I if we were interested in taking part in a mix team (1 male, 1 female) adventure race in Malacca. It was the first time I had ever heard of such an event.

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This event includes running AND completing several tasks along the way.

He commented that running alone can be boring and that this was something different to break away from the monotony of running. As Muhaizar explained further, we were intrigued! Although we displayed interest, we were still undecided until 1.5 weeks before race day! There were many things that we had to consider (transport, accommodation etc). Yep, the last minute heroes. HAH!

Logistics were easily sorted. Muhaizar offered his place and said that we need not worry about anything. He handled the registration and collected our race kits. Thankfully, we managed to purchase our bus tickets just 2 days before leaving to Malacca.

Pre-race Day

It is the holiday season and I was still very much in the holiday mood. I didn’t think much about preparing for this race. The whole week was filled with easy runs, some core workouts and swimming sessions coupled with A LOT OF FOOD! I had a lot of late nights too which was why I woke up at noon on Saturday. I had a few hours to pack and get some stuff sorted before leaving to the bus station.

I arrived just 10 minutes before the bus left! PHEW! As you read on, you will notice that we had a lot of “JUST IN TIME” moments. The bus left at 5pm sharp.

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We had a lot of time to kill.

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“Studying” for his exams. HAAAAAAAA!

Without much traffic, the journey took about 2 hours.

Muhaizar picked us up from Sentral Melaka at around 8pm.

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We went for dinner with a few of his friends who were also participating in the race the next day. We were supposed to head to the Serama camp site at 8.45pm for a short race day briefing. Of course, we were fashionably LATE!

The organizer held a separate briefing session specially for us. The race distance was 16 KM with 7 obstacles to complete along the way. It was 95% trail/gravel with 5% of road. After the briefing session, we left for Muhaizar’s crib at 10pm.

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His home was warm and comfy. Chooi Fern and I shared a room with a double bed.

Took a cold shower after a long day of being on the road. We chilled for a bit before finally deciding to sleep at 12.30am.

Race Day

Chooi Fern and I got up pretty early. We set the alarm at 4.55am. The whole house was dark and quiet. The boys were still sleeping soundly.

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Sleepy faces.

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Matching socks! These socks have the right amount of cushion to prevent blistering. I wear them for all my trail runs!

I took a cold shower and changed into my race outfit. I continued to roll around on the bed before finally deciding to get up to have breakfast. I had a slice of chocolate raisin bread, biscuits and a cold drink while reading a comic book. By then, it was already 5.50am and the boys WERE STILL SLEEPING!

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Muhaizar finally got up at around 6am. The race flag off was at 7am and we were a good 15-20 minutes’ drive away from the race venue. He seemed really cool, as though we had loads of time to kill. I thought he was joking when he mentioned (the day before) that we were going to leave his place at 6.30am.

We left at 6.35am (finally!). The rest of us were feeling very nervous that we would miss the flag off! Muhaizar was cutting it so close! We arrived at 6.55am (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Obviously, we missed the final briefing at 6.30am. HAH! As we got down from the car, Muhaizar said that these events wouldn’t usually start on time, sometimes even an hour later. I believed him and slowly strolled to queue for the toilet (which took forever!). While I was still in the toilet, the marshal announced that we were 5 minutes away from the flag off (WHAT?!).

I rushed to the starting line just seconds before the gun went off (“JUST IN TIME” moment). Muhaizar was nowhere in sight! I poked my head into the crowd, trying to locate him. I wasn’t all that concern because I knew that he would be able to catch up with me. As long as I made sure that I started with the pack, we will be fine.

I started off alone and ran ahead. I made my way to third place. Soon after, Muhaizar caught up with me and said that he had gone to the toilet. GASP! We had a pretty good start. About 1KM in, we made our way to second place.

1st Checkpoint

The first task was a modified version of the ring toss game. We had to toss 5 rubber bands into sticks that were placed on a log. We completed this task fairly quick and we were off to the second check point.

2nd Checkpoint

The male had to play some tunes with the bamboos provided while the female had to dance along to it. This task felt as though they had ran out of ideas. Didn’t spend 2 minutes on this and we were off.

Along the way, Muhaizar picked up a black belt from the road. He tied it onto the back of his water pouch which carried 2 bottles of electrolyte drink and told me to hold onto the other end of the belt. Holding onto it meant that I couldn’t swing my arms much. He was going really fast and I couldn’t keep up, I had to let go of the belt. I was tired and my legs felt like lead. By then, another group had overtaken us.

3rd Checkpoint

I slowed down to consume my gel. We were in 3rd place when we arrived at the 3rd check point. We were given two raffia strings and we were required to braid it in a certain way. Instructions and a model were given but we didn’t want to waste any time going through them. Muhaizar seemed like he knew what he was doing and I just followed his instructions. We had some trouble with this task and we took quite a while. Chooi Fern and Daniel caught up with us. Crazy fast! They were in the IPT category which flagged off after the Open category.

4 teams went ahead of us when we finally got the green light from the marshal. GAH! Muhaizar said that we could still make our way to top 3.

He left me for a while and told me to run ahead. I ran, without looking back. Soon after, he caught up with me. He had made this rubber band loop big enough to loop around my waist with the other end attached to his water pouch. I thought that it was rope that he had brought along but in actual fact, he made it from scratch! He was so resourceful. It helped quite a bit, especially when it came to going up the hills. I felt a forward thrust. All I had to do was make sure that my legs were still moving. He told me to relax and maintain proper running form.

4th Checkpoint

He was blazing away through the trails. We managed to overtake one or two groups (I cannot recall) before reaching the 4th check point. Here, the male was required to make a catapult for the female to use it to shoot one of the few cans that were hanging on strings. Muhaizar was pretty experienced and he made it with ease. I, on the other hand, took quite a bit of time trying to hit the hanging tin cans with it. WHOOOOPS!

3 teams took off ahead of us before I finally managed to hit one of the cans. As we were about to leave, Chooi Fern and Daniel arrived. They didn’t know what to do but we didn’t have time to stay back to help them. SORRY!

The rest of the tasks were back at the base where the race started. This was our last stretch of running before heading back to base. Muhaizar ran fast and I had to follow closely. Running downhill was a real killer because he was directly in front of me. I couldn’t see what was ahead and where my next step was. If either of us slipped, it would have been an ugly mess.

There were SO many times where I wanted to give up to slow down to a walk. My mind was blank and fuzzy, I was tired, I couldn’t feel my legs, I could barely breath and I was THIS close to puking. If I was running my own race, I wouldn’t have pushed myself THIS hard. Muhaizar kept throwing advice and motivational mantras at me. He told me to keep my mind focused and strong. There was no room for slack.

A few KMs in and we overtook our first target. Soon after, we spotted our next target. Muhaizar further increased his speed and said that we had to overtake them. All I could think of was: OHMYGOODNESSAREYOUKIDDINGME! I was dying, literally.

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Just a few hundred meters away from the base and we made our way back to 2nd place.

5th Checkpoint

There were 2 tasks to be completed simultaneously. I went to do the flying fox while Muhaizar went on to separate 5 different types of beans.

Having experience in climbing and having done the flying fox before, I geared up pretty quickly. The marshal told me to read the safety rules first but I totally ignored him. My brain was still too fuzzy to process anything and I already knew what I had to do.

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After collecting the ribbon for the flying fox task, I went to help Muhaizar.

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We spent close to 10 minutes sorting the beans before moving on to the last two tasks.

6th Checkpoint

We had 2 tasks to complete at this checkpoint.

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It was a mini obstacle course. We had to go over the wall, push down a barrel filled with water, roll it across the field, put it upright, commando crawl under the tape and ring the bell before going through the obstacle course again in the other direction.

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Lastly, we had to pick a tube, get into the water and paddle across the lake.

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We were still in 2nd place when we got into the water. I paddled relatively fast but the other team was even FASTER! Just a few meters before heading back to shore, they overtook us.

We collected our ribbons just seconds apart. The last stretch was about 200 meters of running to the finish line. We were THIS CLOSE to catching up to them. We finished in 3rd place, just seconds (and 5 meters away) from the team ahead of us. They did an AMAZING JOB! Hats off to them!

I couldn’t be happier to finally cross the finish line. I was totally drained of whatever energy I had left.

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Muhaizar and I were chilling at the café when we saw Chooi Fern getting onto the tube. She didn’t know how to get onto one. Instead of lying on her back, she went on her belly. She spent a good few minutes spinning around and not getting anywhere. The worse part was that Daniel was already halfway across the lake! HE DID NOT WAIT FOR HER (HAHA!)!

We ran down to the lake to give her some tips on what to do. After shouting our lungs out, she finally managed to paddle her way across the lake. At the same time, we were scolding Daniel to go back to drag her along (in the end, he did go back for her). We had a REALLY GOOD LAUGH!

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Had a nice icy cold shower before noming on our Subway sandwich that was provided. SO FAMISHED! Every bite was OH-SO-GOOD! Probably the best Subway sandwich ever!

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Team THUNDER TIGER (Muhaizar’s idea)!

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I was shocked to know that Chooi Fern and Daniel (Trade Hunter) came in 6th place (one team was disqualified). Later on, I found out that they had spent close to 20 minutes at the 4th checkpoint! They had a 5-10 min lead all the way to the 4th checkpoint! Gah! Wasted. This goes to show that speed alone wouldn’t guarantee a win. At least they can learn from this experience. Till the next race guys!

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DRENCHED!

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Free flow of food and drinks!

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After the prize giving ceremony, lucky draw and photo-taking session, we left for round 2 of food!

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The ATM (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) gang packed some grub and we headed to the famous coconut shake place!

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COCONUT SHAKE tasted so good, especially after a hard run!

It was 2.45pm and we had to leave to Muhaizar’s place, pack up our stuff and rush to the bus station before 4pm. Another “JUST-IN-TIME” moment when we arrived just 5 minutes before the bus left.

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I want to thank Muhaizar for this really fun experience! He was a really good teammate. Although I was pretty much a total blur case, there were no arguments involved (he was very patient!). He took good care of me throughout the race, making sure I had enough to drink and guiding me along the trails. He pushed me really hard and kept me motivated. If this were a road race, I think I would have hit a PB! Also, he made our stay pleasant and fuss free. Everything was taken cared of. All we had to do was show up and run!

It was a good catch up-run session. We haven’t met since the Standard Chartered KL Marathon!

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Terima Kasih Muhaizar, the ATM gang and the race organizers for this awesome experience! Great fun! We will be back for more!

 

Post-race Report: Putrajaya Relay Trail Run 2014

3rd trail and relay run of the year! I’m on a roll here.

Again, another last minute unplanned race! Chooi Fern and I registered on Tuesday, 4 days before race day. My main concern was that I was supposed to run the Cyberjaya TwinCity half marathon the following day. Yep, another back to back race weekend!

I went on with it anyway because I liked the idea of it being a relay AND a trail run! So exciting!

15191_10152983333686388_4403048239393488019_n 10308268_10152983333546388_7384886034077365667_n The holiday celebrations have begun! I had a party on Friday night and went to bed at about 3am. 10882087_10152983333341388_2649003867160853947_n<310417569_10152983333386388_1808580056646648577_nI couldn’t sleep in on Saturday because I had lunch with the Uni mates to celebrate Janey’s birthday. Haven’t seen them in MONTHS! Good times.1656299_10152983333431388_2970349827039288371_nPre-race meal – Baked eggs!

After lunch, I had to rush home, pack and leave for Putrajaya. I was feeling so sleepy! Daniel and the sister came over to my place and we left from there.

The interesting thing about this race was that the flag off was at 4.30pm. I was worried that it would be TOO HOT to run. And the funny thing was that it was raining as we were on our way to Putrajaya! I couldn’t decide which was worse!

We were there early to collect our race kits. It was raining so heavily that we had to wait in the car for the rain to come to a light drizzle. We thought that the organizers would delay the race but thank God they didn’t.

It started right on time at 4.30pm (It was still drizzling at that time!). The “baton” was in the form of a hair scrunchy. One team of two members would each take turns to run a 6KM trail route. The sister was off on the run along with the other first leg runners. I went to the bathroom twice while waiting for her to return. OH THE NERVES!

When Daniel came back, I knew that the sister wouldn’t be too far off. A few minutes later, the first female runner returned. To my surprise, it was NOT the sister! I was shocked because who else could be faster than her! I kept asking Daniel if he saw her during the run. Did she fall? Was she ok? I was worried because Daniel suffered a pretty bad fall and he was bleeding.

About 3 minutes later, the sister appeared! PHEW! Huge sigh of relief! I was glad that she was ok. She called out to me and handed the pink scunchy over. She yelled for me to chase the other girl who was well ahead of me. The only thing that flashed in my mind was that the sister was crazy!

The roads were slippery and I had to be extra careful with my footing. When I hit the trails, I didn’t care where my next step was or whether or not there was a huge puddle. I jumped right it. Some of the major turns were not clearly marked and it was easy to lose your way. Thankfully I didn’t because I didn’t have time for that. My main focus was to chase the other girl. I ran hard, splashing into the mud and blazing through the bushes.

About 3KMs in, I spotted her. Target locked! I did not hesitate to overtake her. The pressure was on because I was feeling pretty breathless. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the sister. I didn’t want to let her down. Managed to pull the gap even further as I went along. Phew!

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We emerged overall Champions in the Women’s Open category with a total time of 1:03:54. We both clocked in about 31 minutes respectively. So happy to see the sister jumping up and down like a cray woman at the finish line.

10414883_10152983333291388_7122431156664443479_nThe Puma gang!10613096_10152983333086388_8826837740063516677_n 10422933_10152983333046388_702528871957472712_nApparently, the first female runner to return took a shortcut/ran the wrong way and her team got disqualified. Well, I guess it was still worth the chase! What a stressful run!10882190_10152983333166388_482152915622432830_nDaniel’s team came in 3rd! 10857922_10152983332896388_3662386820614781740_nPost-race selfie. The sister is a fast learner. 😉1527066_10152983341956388_6307194122544522082_n10882326_10152983332986388_5404876185742090594_nPost-race meal – Homemade Assam Laksa! Another party!


535951_10152983342031388_2744017531712751013_nDNS the Cyberjaya TwinCity Half Marathon the next day. I only manage 3 hours of sleep and was feeling very tired. I went to support the other runners! It was fun standing on the other side of the finish line.

And of course, the sister managed another Champion title for the 12KM run!10371996_10152983342051388_4695589448280494311_n 10881730_10152983341991388_8391064050103574223_nThis is what a Champion sandwich would look like.

Michelle was the Champ for the FULL MARATHON! CRAZY WOMAN with an amazing finishing time! Congrats girl!10882145_10152983336451388_2313808842992138411_nStrength in numbers. Stronger together!

How was your weekend?

Happy Holidays and uh,

Keep Running!

 

My Personal Take on Trail Running

Here’s a break down of my personal thoughts after my first ‘official’ trail run on the 1st day of the year.

BEACH TRAIL

Physically:

Trail running can be quite heavy on the calve muscles due to a lot of uphills and uneven paths. Your glutes will feel the burn too after a day or two. My toes were slightly sore from hopping around the rocks that laid the trail.

Trail running itself can be pretty challenging, carrying extra weight on me – my backpack – didn’t do me any good. I wasn’t used to having something bulky and heavy on my back (my bad for over-packing). It literally felt like I was carrying the weight of the world.

I had a lot of loose items in my bag which kept bouncing up and down whenever I ran. It was pretty annoying. On top of that, I decided to carry my non-padded strap backpack which kept brushing against my shoulders. Not very comfortable to begin with. Another poor judgement call on my part. Other than that, it was all FUN!

Mentally:

Slightly more mentally challenging than running around your neighborhood or on the track. When you’re running on familiar grounds, you can zone out and just let your legs do the running. You don’t have to think about stuff like: “hmmm…where’s my next step?”, “PUDDLE!”, “HOLE!”, “Can I land safely on that?”, “Am I going to slip?” or worst, “LEECH!”. The last one is for me.

When you’re out there in the jungle, it is a totally different story. The thing is, you have to concentrate and pay 100% to your running and surroundings. It was actually pretty exhausting and not very smooth at the start. But I can assure you that once you get the gist of it, it’ll be a breeze.

Some tips and lessons that I learned:

-Carry a padded strap backpack.

-If your backpack is half empty, stuff some towels in to fill it up. You wouldn’t want your things to be sloshing around as you run. A big no no.

-Opt to wear clothes with more covering. Long sleeve or long pants. I sustained a few cuts and bruises from brushing against branches and twigs along the path.

-Invest in a good pair of trail running shoes. Your feet will thank you for them.

-Pay attention when you run. When I say attention, I mean your FULL attention. This should be applied to your normal running too. (Opppppssss!)

Any thoughts? Do share!

 

Trail Running to welcome 2014!

Happy New Year! 2013 came, left its mark and left. Time to welcome 2014 with open arms!

How did ya’ll spend your New Years Eve?

It was a little different for me this year. I mean last year. I was partying with my family and brothers and sisters in Christ. My church decided to bring back the “watch-night” service tradition and this year it was held in MCKL.

We had a lovely Northern Indian meal before the service. It was so good. Naan bread and CURRY. Not too shabby for my last meal of the year.

The service was a good time of sharing, singing and a gentle reminder to always be grateful and thankful to God for his providence. After the final countdown and some fireworks, we headed home. The night ended with cake, junk food, chocolates and movies.

Somewhere in between cake and movies, I decided that I wanted to kick-start the new year with some sort of adventure. Kevin suggested trail running. He was partially joking but I was dead serious. I packed and went to bed.

5 hours later, we found ourselves heading towards Perting Valley, located somewhere off Bukit Tinggi Kampung. Kevin had been there several times so we had no trouble in finding the place.

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When we arrived, we parked our car at a designated parking spot which was by a river. We could have opted to drive further in before the real trekking trail began but we decided that we would run in instead (partly for the exercise, and partly because the condition of the “road” would’ve wreaked havoc on the car’s undercarriage). We slipped on our Vibrams and off we went.

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Before the ‘real’ trekking trail.

We started at half past 12. By then the sun was already shining, blazing in its full glory. Thankfully, we didn’t feel the heat. The thick forest canopy and river kept the air crisp and relatively cool.  When we finally hit the trail, we took it slow. The beginning of the trail was rocky and then muddy followed by a mixture of both. We stopped along the way to fiddle with the camera and to take a few photos.

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Paracord bracelet-CHECKED!

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And the trail running begins!

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Weird creature alert!

According to Kevin, the trail had been transformed by nature’s worst enemy, humans. The lush, thick ferns that lined part of the trail were no longer there. Everything had been flattened or chopped away. Once a single track barely wide enough in places for a single man to pass through, the trail was now wide enough for a truck to navigate. It was sad that I didn’t get a chance to run this trail before somebody decided to widen it for vehicles. Nonetheless, it was fun. Hopping and skipping around to avoid sinking into the mushy mud.

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Muddy Mud Mud.

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50 minutes later, we hit the turn-off point to Lata Hammer (Hammer Falls). It was a steep hike-climb down to our final destination – the waterfall. We had to cross the river to get to the sandy flat area where people could set up tents or picnic mats. It was pretty crowded – I guess it was because today was a public holiday.

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Jungle Selfie!

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Hmmmm!

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Weird creature on the rocks.

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We found an empty spot and laid our mat. We quickly settled in and started digging into the snacks that we had brought along. We also started a fire on a home-made stove to boil some water.

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GRUB!

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Boiling water with self-built stove.

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Just chillin’.

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Milo + Nescafe = Neslo!

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Bubblin’!

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Feet up!

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Some of the things that you might need for a hike/climb/picnic or just junk you’d like to carry along. I’ll call them “The Essentials”.

So here’s a list:

-Backpacks (hopefully they’re waterproof!). If not, you could always get what’s next on the list…

– Dry packs
– Flash lights
– Knives, parangs, penknives, pocketknives, Swiss Army knives
– Rope, paracord bracelet (never know when you need some ROPE!)
– Food (bring food that is easy to carry and prepare ie: canned tuna, bread, sneakers, trail mix)
– Mini stove (Kevin made his own), SPORK (as the name suggest, its a spoon AND a fork)
– Fuel to start a fire, lighter
– A good pair of shoes (would be best if it’s waterproof)
– First Aid Kit
– A whistle (just in case you get lost)
– Camera
– WATER!

I guess that’s the end of the list! Hoohaa!

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We chilled and relaxed for a good 2 hours. The sky was still bright and clear but we wanted to get an early start back. We packed up and hiked-ran back out to our car.

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Crossing the bridge back to reality.

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FUN TIMES!

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WHOAAAA!

We took about 40 minutes with a few stops to take photos and to attend to the wound I sustained when I brushed my arm against some dangling branches.

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On the way home, we bought some durians for the family.

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Trail running, hiking, picnic, waterfall, spending time with Kevin, nature, peace and quiet, a time for reflection……

It was indeed the best way to kick-start the new year! Doing what we love to do.

Hello 2014!