ATM: Where do you do cycling training?
As a triathlete, cycling represents at least 55% of my training volume; I used to be do all of it outdoors (the “old school” way), at crazy hours as early as 4am to avoid Jakarta’s epic traffic and reduce my exposure to pollution. I now do around half of it indoors on my Kickr smart trainer that adjusts resistance according to the specific wattage I want to achieve in my effort and recovery intervals; I even embraced a virtual reality technology recently called Zwift that allows cyclists to ride together on virtual islands with climbs and descents and even races. I do most my outdoor cycling with my KGB (Kelapa Gading Bikers) friends, on the hazy roads and flyovers of Jakarta city center on weekdays and in Sentul hills on weekends.
ATM: Do you pay attention to your food before a race? Are there any special products you take in preparation for your race?
I take nutrition pretty seriously, we call it Triathlon's 4th discipline; when one sets off on an endurance event that lasts the entire morning (or the entire day), our food intake before and during the event has direct impact on our performance. I never skip my race morning breakfast, I usually have it early (2h before the start), and keep it simple, high carb, low-fat, low-fiber.
No pre-race special products really, but my usual race morning breakfast is: a banana (or couple of dates), milk (chocolate or plain), toast with honey, black coffee. I’d have lost some fluids by the time I finish my warm-up and line up at the start-line, so I either down a gel with some water or sip from a small bottle of electrolytes drink while waiting for the gun to go off.
ATM: What is your best time on the road marathon?
With my focus on multi-sport events, it's been over 2 years since I last ran a stand-alone road marathon: Jakarta Marathon 2014 is the last one I ran and remains my PB in 3h06, way off my Sub-3 target! My "lame excuse” is that I raced Ironman Malaysia 4 weeks before the marathon and hadn't recovered from it, but I want to have a crack at the 26.2 either late 2017 or early 2018. As a Jakartan runner, one of my targets is to run Sub-3 Jakarta and Bali Marathons; heat and humidity are always going to be hindering factors in our tropical climate, but we just have to deal with it.
ATM: Do you often take part in trail races, or was Tahura Trail 2016 rather an exceptional event for you?
I race trail whenever I can fit the event into my training and racing calendar. I must admit things used to be more spontaneous and much simpler when running was my only discipline, but the questions I now have to answer before putting any stand-alone race on my calendar (not only running but also cycling races) are: Does the date fit in my blocks? How far is it from my “A race”? Does its distance fit into the program? Will I be able to do a long ride and swim the day before/after? ...etc. But with the right planning, I could fit around 8 running races a year, probably half of which are Trail.
ATM: What do you like about Tahura Trail?
Tahura is a Classic event in the Indonesian Trail Running calendar. It’s a race I never missed since its first edition in 2013, here is why:
It's only 2-3h drive from Jakarta.
It’s a full-fleshed Trail Race that features breathtaking 45% climbs, mud, rocks, water crossings, bushy single tracks, treacherous descents, slippery cobble-stone, alleys through kampungs, cabbage and eggplant farms, and an epic elevation gain; a real all-terrain trail.
It grew to become one of the best and most popular trail events in Indonesia, thanks to its organizers commitment to improve it every year: smooth registration, a punctual start, a very well-marked trail, sufficient water stations and marshals on course, accurate timing system, quick results. I've seen all these aspects improve year after year.
I usually meet my big trail running family in this event (even many triathlete friends), and catch up with them in a pleasant festive ambience.
The last reason is not objective and rather bias: I stood on Tahura's podium a couple of times but it took me 4 attempts, 4 years in a row to finally win it; it's my story of stubbornness.
ATM: What is your favourite type of trail race?
Long course, diverse terrain and hilly profile.
ATM: What is your dream as a trail runner?
Reading the ultra-trail literature out there played a big role in getting me into running, so it’s always been a dream to run an iconic race from that literature like Western States 100 one day.
In Indonesia, Mount Rinjani Ultra (MRU) in the beautiful island of Lombok is a trail race I’ve always wanted to do, but could never make it as it usually conflicts with a key triathlon race in Bintan island I always commit to; I hope I can run it one day and have a go at breaking its course record.
ATM: Running, and trail running, has seen a boom in popularity also in Indonesia recently. How did you experience this?
I’ve seen it grow exponentially: Back in 2012, runners down the street used to be a rare sight, running events could be counted on fingers and I used to see much more bikers than joggers on Jakarta’s weekly Car Free Day (CFD). Runners grew in numbers in the past 4 years; there are running events almost every weekend now (sometimes more than 2 on the same day), some of which draw thousands of participants, most running events are Road, but increasingly Trail too; many Jakartan cyclists avoid Car Free Day on Sunday, “It’s been taken over by runners” they mutter.
The running boom in the country is in my opinion only the tip of the iceberg, research studies show obesity has been rising rapidly in Indonesia and is becoming a major threat to public health; While urgent policy work is required to address the problem, I think we runners should play a leading role and be part of the solution: Raising health-consciousness, advocating running-friendly cities, demanding a minimum of green space “square meters per capita” in urban areas, sidewalks, trails …etc.
ATM: How do you see the future development of trail running?
I believe trail running will continue to grow in popularity in the region and the world, not only because health awareness and runners’ numbers will continue to increase, but also because more road runners continue to look for less urban and more beautiful sceneries, cleaner air quality, and just runs that are more pleasant and more fun; all that can generally be found when we return to nature and run trail; with this comes a responsibility to protect environment, keep our trails clean and keep them green, “Leave nothing but footprints”.
ATM: Many athletics federations in Asia do not recognise trail running as a genuine discipline. Is this holding the sport back?
Definitely, would any cycling federation stop recognizing MTB as a cycling discipline?! It’s unthinkable; MTB is a well-established and fully recognized part of cycling.
The same terrain differentiation applies to Trail running; I really hope its growing popularity will convince Athletics Federations in the region to regard it more progressively, recognize it, support it and nurture its young talent; Trail is not Track, nor Road, not even Cross-country, but it’s still Running.
ATM: Should trail running become recognised as an olympic sport?
Yes; Going back to Road vs Off-road cycling comparison, Mountain Biking (MTB) was born in the 70’s, then became an Olympic discipline in 1996; BMX followed and made its Olympic debut in 2008.
When it comes to Trail Running, even though the sport is relatively new, the activity itself is not only older than its track and road siblings, but as ancient as humans themselves!
I think IAAF recognition of Trail Running as an official running discipline in 2015 is a step in the right direction and would eventually lead to the sport becoming Olympic.
ATM: How is triathlon organised in Indonesia? Are there many events?
Triathlon is a relatively new sport in Indonesia, but one of the fastest growing; many pure runners and pure cyclists like to go outside their “comfort sport” and take up a multi-sport challenge that adds 2 more disciplines to what they are familiar with; they represent the bulk of people taking up triathlon. Finishing a triathlon is also becoming the next box to tick after a runner finishes a full marathon, or a cyclist completes her first running race, and as fun and addictive as it is, many stick around and sign up for the next (generally longer) triathlon event. I find this quite inspiring! It reminds me how I started and why I love Triathlon at the first place. Which brings us to triathlon events, Top 5 yearly events:
- Sungailiat Triathlon (Bangka) [Distances: Sprint, Olympic, Long course]: born as a Duathlon in 2012, it never stopped improving, adding new distances and drawing more participants each year.
- Triathlon Buddies Mini-Tri (Jakarta) [Distances: Novice, Kids]: is my community’s anniversary, it strives to introduce Triathlon to newbies (I was one of those newbies when I joined it 4 years ago).
- Ironman 70.3 Bintan [Distance: 70.3, Iron-kids]: The first Ironman race in Indonesia in 2015, it’s making endurance Triathlon more popular.
- Bali Triathlon [Distances: Sprint, Olympic]
- Bintan Triathlon [Distances: Sprint, Olympic, Kids, Youth]
ATM: What do you think about the Asia Trail Master series? Could you see yourself tring to win the ATM championship one year?
I think it’s a brilliant idea to bring the Asian Trail Running scene together and connect quality races in different Asian countries into one series system that rewards runners of all capabilities, it certainly adds to the sense of achievement we get from practicing the sport we love; which makes me think: there should be something similar in triathlon on national or regional level!
I love endurance sport and intend to do it as long as my heart beats and legs move; so I do have in mind, at some point, to dedicate a season or 2 to single-sport events; winning ATM championship would be an exciting goal to aim for in the running year(s)!
ATM: Will you compete again in Tahura Trail next week?
Of course! Not only to try to defend my title, but to stay true to my tradition since Tahura’s first edition 4 years ago.
ATM: Finally, what is your favourite piece of running music?
I’m not a big fan of headphones while running, and find the sound of my breath and footsteps to be very musical, but I do find inspiration in some songs lyrics, like Mano Chao’s: “Il faut courir tous les jours, il faut courir. Il faut gagner tous les jours, il faut gagner. Il faut subir tous les jours, il faut subir”. It translates to: “One has to run every day, one has to run. One has to wineveryday, one has to win. One has to endure everyday, one has to endure”