2-3 September 2023, Instinct – TMBT Ultra-trail Marathon 2023 – Sabah, Malayisa. This year I returned to take on the 109km category. The race started from Lingkubang and finished at Kundasang, making you climb a total elevation of 5,700m. The TMBT acronym stands for ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’ referring to the majestic Mont Kinabalu. The race course is set over forest ridges, river valleys and village trails around the base of Mont Kinabalu.
Not feeling too well in the morning, I started the 6:00am race slow to allow my body adjust to the demands ahead. My stomach had ‘wind’ and I was feeling weak at the core. I was trouble shooting along the way, trying to find back my stride. Perhaps my body was still tired from PenangEco 105km two weeks ago. My toe blisters have not even fully recovered yet.
The first half of the course was tough. The climbs were demanding and the sun was scorching. The heat gets into you. My legs felt weak and I was fumbling on the trails. It took forever to progress from one check point to another.
Honestly I wanted to give up and stop the suffering. But since I was in Sabah and my flight is not until Monday, I figured I might as well complete the race to experience it. I had nowhere to be other than that course somewhere in the middle of Sabah. So I soldiered on.
At the halfway checkpoint KM60, I changed into new top, socks and shoes. I had some solid food and drank two cups of Sabah Tenom coffee. I asked the marshal my position coming in and took a mental note of the number as I headed back into the trails at 9:15pm.
As the temperature cooled at night, I started to feel better. I picked up pace in the remainder 50km and would have learned later that I overtook 23 runners in the second half of the course. It was such a contrast, from almost throwing in the towel to actually finishing strong.
I completed the race in about 28 hours, right about the time the prize giving ceremony took place. I managed to have a photo taken with Daved Simpat, an elite Sabahan trail runner who has just won this year’s TMBT 109km.
Daved did very well in this race, tearing the course apart in half the time I needed to complete it. We have not heard him racing for awhile so I asked him about his rejuvenated comeback. He told me humbly that he had focused on training hard the last 3 months to prepare for this race.
So there you have it, right from the elite. There is no secret sauce. There are no shortcuts. If you sign up for the 109km but you don’t train, it will end up to be ‘The Most Brutal Thing’ for you instead.
Statistics for TMBT 109km:
172 completed within COT of 33hrs (67%)
Bib V158 Race Result: