Right after I landed my left foot on my motherland, Indonesia, I did right away sign myself into this Rinjani100 race. I had meant to hike this mountain since I was in the high school 20 years ago, but I didn’t get a chance.
Rinjani is the second highest volcanic mountain, which is located on the north-east side of Lombok Island, Center of Indonesia. Lombok Island is Bali Island next door, so it is pretty much an equal beauty as Bali, but way less touristy compare to overcrowded tourists in Bali. Rinjani with 3762 meters above sea level is the highest point in Lombok, and it has also a sky lake in between its peaks.
Since I got back to Jakarta, it s really hard to train as hard as I was in NY. On the paper, I should be able to make a good time on this race, but with my condition right now, I would be on surviving mode. Que será, será; whatever will be, will be.
We arrived on Thursday night, the day before the race day. We stayed at the hotel in Sembalun (around 1100 meters asl) , where the 27k and 36k would start. For the 100k, we would start at 11.30 pm from Senaru (around 600 meters asl), along with the 60k peeps too. In the morning we went to the race festival location to check in, submitted my drop bag, picked up our BIB, and completed our gear check. I wished they would be a little bit more thorough with the gear check. Some of them were a little too casual. After we had lunch we went back to our hotel and stole some time for power nap.
Something Wrong in My World Today
I had early dinner before I went back to the race festival to catch a shuttle to Senaru. The drive was pretty far, yet it was hard to steal some extra nap, the drive was hilly on bump roads. At Senaru, since I was in the first bus, we arrived pretty early. Too bad there were not any good place to take a nap, so I grab a chair in one of the building and tried to take a nap. Failed. The guy in front of me were juggling around to pack his running vest, it was interesting scenery. His name was Carles Paz, and I found out he just arrived this noon. After an hour or two, we started to move into the running shoot. I met Andry there, a runner from Jakarta, we had a couple of training run before the race. He was doing the 60K, he did it last year and he came back for more pain.
So the gun was off. I was probably running too fast in the beginning but my goal was to get off from the crowds as much as I could, so I wouldn’t get stuck in the bottleneck, since this race would have a long loooong climb. For a good 30 minutes or more, I ran without my headlamp since it was still bright enough under the street light and moonlight (if there was any), and we were still running on the road for a good half mile probably. The climbs actually were not that bad, we had a bunch of running sections in the middle of steep hike. And like the usual Indonesian mountain, the trail was a sticky dirt and could be slippery, or sometimes it felt like a clay when it’s wet.
Finally I got to the first peak, just found out now as I wrote this, that it was AS 1 Senaru Rim. I didn’t think it was an aid station, but I saw a good amount of people stopping at this peak. I continued to the trail, where it started to descending. The downhill was pretty steep and technical. Jumping rocks, butt slid, and ankle grabber roots were the features in this section. To make it more interesting, a wrong step would send me straight down to the bottom of the mountain. I almost cracked up my head once or twice, when I got caught by a root once and slide down on another root with my shin, first blood drawn. Usually downhill was my forte, but something was off and I couldn’t pick up my speed, slipped and fell too many. I ended up lost my confidence. Maybe my shoes were too slippery, or maybe I was not training enough for technical downhill, or maybe because of lack of night run training, or could be because I didn’t have a bright headlamp, which usually I don’t like bright head-light. I let people passed me. The race was too early to take any chances. I could always pick up the slack when I hit the daylight. Slowly, “painfully” slow, I got to the lake. And off course I fell to the water. From here, I was able to pick up my pace again, I was behind 2 Indonesian guys, not sure who, probably Aris. There was a river crossing, I just jumped into the water, I knew Trail Toes and Swiftwick got me covered. I never got blister from wet feet and also I preferred wet feet over slip and fell into the water, or ended up with twisted ankle. Right after the river, it was a sloppy hike, not too steep that I could do a fast hike. Suddenly, I kept loosing my footing again, my right foot seemed like always twisting inward. I found out my heel out-sole broke out. I was cursing out loud, I couldn’t have this too early, it was only 10k in the race. In front of me was Charles Paz, he looked back and asked if I needed some tape. I said I had one, the duck one. I sat down and pulled out my tape, I also used trail toes tape to double it up. By the time I was finished, I got cold already, probably I wasted like a good 10 minutes. 2 more people passed me. I put my base layer on and continued. Classic me, I took a wrong way and went down on random track. Maybe animal’s track or villagers track for collecting woods. I didn’t realize it until I saw 2 headlamps moving above me. Oh well, I hiked back, a little grumpy but spirit still good. After a mile or two on dirt, I felt really sleepy. I remembered there were 2 guys, a German and an Indonesian name Adam (found it later) passed me when I almost fall asleep on the stairs area. I thought it was kinda stairs, but I could be wrong since I was half sleeping. From here and there it was a blank. Suddenly I got into a big aid station, AS 2 Sembalun Rim.
3 Steps Up 1 Step Down
At this aid station, I went straight to the volunteers, asking if they had remedy for my shoes. They ended up taped up my shoes with medical tapes. I wasted about 10 minutes or so but it was necessary. Meanwhile, I did a list of what do I needed to the next section, engine checked and made a mental notes. After the shoe was fixed, like a brand new ones, almost, I went up straight to the food station. I put some snacks and biscuits into my zip bag stash, drink a coke, and filled up my bottle with coke. I was so sleepy, so I needed the caffeine. On the way up, I ended up met Carles Paz again, and we decided to hit the peak together. I told him that, we would be there like an hour, since it was seemed so close. He said nope, I said 1.5 hours, he said nope. Humm, it was only 2 or 3 miles probably, why would take forever. I guessed I would better off just shut up, suck it up and dance. I saw the 37k front-runners was running the downhill hard. We continued with our hike in a good pace, passing some 37k peeps, while chatted and shared stories. The course became like a dried lava path with about waist up to a body height drop, or tall if we were in the bottom.
After we got out that rock and sand maze, the trail became more sandy. The view was amazing, as the Sun started to show up, I could see the Segara Anak Lake, where I fell last night. Carles and I took a picture there. This section was a bit exposed and the sand was a bit deeper. I think I passed my friend Enzy over here before I saw a friend of mine Jojo, was sitting behind a boulder, hiding from the wind. Yeah the wind was a bit chill, I didn’t remember when, but I just realized that I wore my Gore-Tex already. I told Jojo to keep moving and joined me, but he was still busy with organizing his stuffs that all were on the ground. I looked at the peak, I guessed Carles was right, it was still the same distance as I remembered from the aid station. We started to ascent a steeper and deeper sandy path, as the same time both of my out-sole halfway came out. Interesting. I tried my best to keep my feet flat so I wouldn’t make the out-sole tore off even further. Carles asked me to switch to take the wind at the front, since I had been covering myself behind him. Half way of the climb, I saw Bernard was coming down and told me I wasn’t that far. I don’t think I was tired at that time, it was just a struggling to climb up with a pair of broken shoes. I couldn’t get a traction and I felt like I was always slipping on every step. Plus the deep sandy terrain didn’t make it easier. I asked the guy behind me Adam to pass me. I was a bit struggling to get traction the further I hiked. Either the ascent was getting steeper or my shoes were getting worse. Oh well, I put aside my whimppy ass thought and enjoy the view. There there, I tapped my own shoulder, I was near at the peak. When I arrived at the peak, I asked the volunteer (they were awesome, stay up there the whole time for us, it must had been cold for them), if they had anything to wrap my shoes, but unfortunately they did not have any. I tried my best to re-arrange the right shoes’ wrap, just to make it worked till I got down to the AS2. And I also used my last Trail Toes tape on my left shoes. I met my other friend Billy at the top. After a few pictures with Billy, Carles and Mahdi, I immediately went down, I had lost too much time from these bloody hell shoes.
I ran down as fast as I could, in hope that I would make it to the aid station before my wheels came off, both. The downhill on these sands was way more fun and easier than the hike, but I had to be careful not to crash to anyone and send them to the bottom of Mount Rinjani’s crater, or sent myself to the same destination. I became way to overheat, so I stopped at the boulder, where I saw Jojo earlier this morning, to put down all my layers. A runner whom I just passed earlier saw my shoes situation and gave me his velcro, he was my savior. I continued my decent as fast as I could. A little slipped and slid on the rock maze, since I became more aggressive passing people, or jumped over people sometime. I might had been rude, but first I already lost too much time, second I was afraid my shoes would totally break apart in any minute. And I still had like 25k more to go to my drop bag.
When I got into the aid station I grabbed a little food and straight to the medic, if they could fix my shoes. They wrapped my shoes while I ate and refilled my tailwind . After a moment, it seemed my shoes were ready. I grabbed more food to go, and continued my journey. After a few hundreds meters, on the little hike all the wraps fell apart. Effed me, so I went back to the aid station to get them all wrapped up like a mummy. Oh boy I really spent too much time in this aid station. Probably I lost about 30 minutes in total. The good part was, I wasn’t tired at all. So from here to the next part, I went out like there was a bear chasing me. The downhill was pretty steep and technical, they called it “the remorse hill” (translated), probably for the people who hikes up. Well I met people hiked up, I think most of them were 27k runners who started late in the morning. They were not happy.
In some part the trail, a bit like a tiny boulders that I could jump around here and there, and my mummies shoes’ traction sucked. I slipped so many times. One time, it was so bad that I flipped up and smacked down like The Undertaker did a body-slam. My left side was pretty hurt, I might had bruised my left ribs over a rock or something. I stopped for a seconds, well maybe 60, to shake it off and started to run again when the pain was bearable.
I got to the aid station mid way down the mountain. It has a nice “pendopo” kind of building, and I saw one of my friend Harry who suffered from AMS, thanks God he acknowledged the issue and went down immediately. The medic told me about my bleeding legs and others, but I told them I needed to tend my shoes’ wounds, and I could live with my battle wounds. I did not want to lose more times than I had too, I was still trying to make up my time, though I lost another 5-10 minutes here. I refilled my tailwind and coke to my front bottles and I still had about a half litter water on my bladder. I ate some food before I continued my run.
I think the course was still going down, where I passed some junctions before we crossed a long flat grassy fields. Oh one of the junctions had tons of monkeys, I actually walked there, just to make sure that they would think that chasing me would be a good game. On the flat grassy field, the trail was pretty narrow which only allowed one single file. So, every time I crossed-path with porters, I had to stop. It was kinda sucky, but I did not want to make their life became harder. Everyone was very kind to us, they always cheered us. Local people, foreign tourist, even the porter that struggled carrying tons of supply for the tourist up in the mountain. In one of the junction, a group of young men asked me to take a break, but I told them that I had flight to catch. So long story short, my flight was changed into a noon flight the next day, with that said, I had to finish in the early morning. Back to that group of young men, they ended up cheered me with “Indonesia, Indonesia”. I know I was far behind from the front guys, but that almost made me burst in tears.
At one of the downhill, there was a junction where the 37k and 27k runners would turn right to go back to the finish line, damn lucky souls. And for us the 60K and 100K got to make left for another mountain to climb, and more. When I got out from the forest, I made a left turn on the road before I arrived at the next aid station. It seemed like a local store or “warung” parking lot that was used as an aid station. I met Mahdi a guy who I met at the peak of Rinjani this morning, we chat while the medic tended my shoes again. He continued his journey while the medic still worked on my other shoes, and I said best luck to him. 10 minutes later my shoes were ready, then I refilled my front bottles, and ate more solid food. I was in it not only for foot race but also for food race. Before I left the aid station, the crew took a picture with me since they never seen a runner with a pair of mummy shoes, oh I wished I could find the picture.
Foot For Another Day
I continued my pursuit of happiness, if I finished and could catch my flight. The trial was headed from across the field, went towards the padi field. When I ran across the padi field, a group of female farmers, they yelled at me and told me that I went into the wrong direction. God bless them, I might get lost so bad if I continued into that direction. I say thank you and found where I missed the right turn. I followed the track circling the padi field area, crossing a bamboo bridge over crystal clear river, to enter the trail up to the hill. I think I had to jump a fence to access the trail. In my memory from the elevation chart, I thought the mountain was all the way up and straight down to the aid station. So I spent my energy for the fast hike, I needed to go to the next aid station for a new pair of kicks. Unfortunately, there were 3 mountains or hills. The hills were pretty expose with a high grass on each side. Some of them was a big step, not rocky big boulder kind of wall, they were just a waist or chest step of clayish dirt. And every downhill, I thought it was going all the way down to the aid station, but I was wrong. Oh there were also a few climb over a fence on the flat in between the hills. For a few times I doubted myself, I was afraid that I missed a turn again.
I was doing okay on those long first 2 hills, but on the last hills I started to feel pain on my ankle and foot, the same spot from Grindstone, I think. I also got bit grumpy, I stopped to grabbed some food from my rear pouch. Even though I lost a few minutes, but I felt much better after I ate. The last down hill was started with a single trail switchback, I could ignore the discomfort on my left foot and pushed it hard for a mile or two. After that, the trail became more technical and steeper. There were a lot of day hikers that hike up on the same route. The trail was pretty narrow and steep, so ethically I had to be mindful and not put anyone in dangerous situation. To be honest it was tiring to stop in every steps, and half way down, it agitated my ankle and foot. And the next section where it was more run-able, I had to jog a few times to release the pain. Humm this was not a good sign.
After I got out of the woods, I made turn left down the hill on the dirt road for another mile before make a left turn again on the unpaved road. The aid station was on the road side, just in front of the junction where the 100K made a left turn and the 60K were going straight to bring it home. This was the half way aid station for us the 100K runners, I had my drop bag there. I made a list in my mind, first I needed to change my shoes while I put more calories, I went through a dark time before I got to the aid station, second I needed to charge my watch and prep up my music to brought back my mood. And the last one I had to change my clothes, I stunk like a skunk. There I met some runners who passed me the night before and on the hike, Aris, a German guy (I think), Adam, and Mahdi the 60K guy. I thought it was not so bad for me, I made up a little time. They was about to leave, so I wished them well and hopefully could catch up with them. After I changed my shoes, ate my potatoes and noodle soup, I did my engine check. My body was ok, I felt better, but my left food was not feeling better. I thought after changed the shoes and bring my sense back, the foot would be better, but it was not. I stayed for another 15 minutes or more contemplating my options. I ended up with a decision to drop. It was kinda upset me since I knew I still had some fuel in me to finish the race, but I was worried about my ankle and foot’s palm of getting worse or made a “permanent” damage. Also, even if I pushed it forward, I knew after a couple of downhill I would lose my foot and ended up very slow hike up and down, and that would put me in a risk to miss my flight. With a heavy heart, I made my mind to submit my bib and tap the ground. I’d just have to come back and have another dance with Rinjani.