Monday, October 09, 2006

The Race On A Battle Field

Now comes the proper write up of my Action Asia Challenge, Kinmen…

“Gun, Tanks and Steel” Michael Madness the organizer of the Action Asia Challenges told us that was what we have signed up for. So team “Tempo Sparks” descend onto Kinmen Island of Taiwan for our second adventure race in 2006. It was 8:30am on 1st Oct, I have been up since 5am to condition myself for the days ahead; we have scouted the first session of the race route as soon as we disembarked the Ferry onto Little Kinmen; and we have forced ourselves all the way up to the starting line ribbon. Gripping the ribbon tightly and breathing in the dense air, every muscle was so prepared. ... his secret weapon, a banana hidden under his forearm gaiter, which has been accidentally squashed anyhow Then out of no where came the Hawaiian beach music played to us by the Kinmen County Government!! Relax, aren't we getting too serious with these races, the Taiwan Action Asia was destined to be a bit of a chill out affairs. Franz the strange South African from team “Ancient Mariner” was revealing to me his secret weapon, a banana hidden under his forearm gaiter, which has been accidentally squashed anyhow (another of his home brew gadget is the duck tape gaiters at his ankles to seal off the mud and sand). A group of Singaporeans behind us were dancing to the tasty music. We know we were up for some sweat may be but lots of laughs.

The fact that we were racing on a former battlefield wasn’t intimidating at all, rather the labyrinth of underground tunnels and waterside caves added lots of fun the thrill to the race. Once the whistle was blown, we ran up to small hilly cliff top and descend onto a pier on the other side, and then we leaped into the air and dropped 7 or 8m to the sea and swam into a military tunnel. Crawling through knee high water in the dark, we hit a steel leader at the end of the cave and found ourselves back to where we started, like in a James Bond movie! Back on our Bond mobil, our bikes, we had to circum-navigate the island. The cycling path was a nice and wide paved road around the island, but we were sandwiched between live mine fields on either side. We were told not to corner in extreme speed, in case we launched ourselves through the bared wire and onto one of the Communist – Nationalist Civil War era explosives.

Next we had to kayak across the strait to Big Kinmen, Michael said it had taken him anytime from 45mins to 2 hours in the last few trial, but with the current working against us, we shoudl expect the upper end. In the end it has taken us 1hr15mins to paddle across but we have overtaken 10 teams, helped one cap-sided team to get back onto their kayak, allowed 3 teams to re-overtake us again and witnessed those pathetic dumpsters that we helped out to go capped sided again.

Running through towns and villages in extreme heat, Andy chose to distract himself by practicing his broken Mandarin on the University Students who volunteered as human road signs. The running was occasionally interrupted by more tunnels, longer swimming, and horizontal abseils across the university, abseiling into more military caves and so forth. At one point we lost the road marks while walking through the bush and were shitting ourselves for stepping on some landmines, we found the way out safely and dashed across a wasted field in the university campus then every officials around shouted on top of their voice, ‘Wrong Way, Get Out.’ I wonder if I was close to losing a limp or two.

We were constantly exchanging our positions with two teams which we decided to call them our arch-rivals. “SART Pinnacle” a Singaporean ladies team who re-overtook us while we were rescuing the capped sided team on the kayak, and “FAH-Q” two massive American body builders whose evil deed being jumping the queue in front of me for the horizontal abseil. We out-swam both teams at one instant and had them hot on our heals, but “SART Pinnacle” finally out-biked us again. one of the G. I. Joes sandwiching between me and Andy at times on the final bike sprint, only to have Andy pushing through his limit to fight him off. When closing in on finishing line, one of the tasks in the shooting range was to throw some heavy steel grenades into the window of a brick house 20-30m away. Embarrassingly we had a dozen throws each, Andy was so dehydrated that his throws was barely hitting the wall and mines were chipping everywhere but the target, then to our despair the G.I. Joes (team FAH-Q) was closing in, they breezed through air rifle part like a piece of cake. Fortunately at this point I pulled off the sweetest throw and hit the goal, save me from watching the bigger G. I. Joe doing a hole in one.

It was a tense finish for us, with one of the G. I. Joes sandwiching between me and Andy at times on the final bike sprint, only to have Andy pushing through his limit to fight him off. Finally we arrived at the Kinmen Liquor Factory for the glory laps of abseil and flying fox finish. Result :31 out of 56 teams, 7hr44mins. We have definitely became more exprienced and more able to enjoy ourselves in these torturing events.


Anonymous said...

Wow what are great story! When are you going to take on the Gobi Match Challenge?

Gabs Lau said...

Thanks man, the Gobi March is next June, though I am only considering right now, so expensive and will take 2 weeks of my holiday, I got something else planned right now.

Anonymous said...

Tempo Sparks rule!!!

Let's get prepared for the December's race!!

Thanks for being my great adventure race partner!


Unknown said...

everytime i read your blog, i feel both excited and sad. excited because one of my pal is doing omething extraordinary. sad because i am not doing any sports any all. i need someone to motivates me again.

Gabs Lau said...

mate, you are climbing again, what motivation do you need. though I think as a pilot, probably a good idea to do some cardio exercise, running or biking etc. helps you to concentrate.