After attempting to complete the Canadian Death Race for 2 years and still failed, I believed I have found the right formula to succeed for the 2012 race. Here are my 5 rules to the road of success. Read them and take notes where you find them applicable, i.e. you have to tweak it to suit your CDR adventure. I couldn't be held accountable if you DNFed... :p And remember, they are in no order of importance! (And don't take it too seriously either!)
Rule #1 - The Importance of a Support Crew
If you are a soloist and back-of-the-pack runner like me, i.e. a marathon PR of 4:33 within the last 2 years, ran on a super flat and cool weather condition (aka around 2° Celsius or 35.6° Fahrenheit), then it is absolutely vital to have a support crew to help you out at the end of every Leg. Why leh? So that you only need to bring along essential items that you require for each leg. And nothing else. I.e. This means that you need not lug along items that you absolutely do not require during that particular leg. E.g. trekking poles, headlamps, extra batteries, extra food, etc. It means that you would be running with a lighter load, which should translate to faster running - hopefully. Your support crew could also help prepare what you need to eat and hydrate.
Rule #2 - Work our Your Time Strategy
You know the official cut-off time. But if you stick to the official cut-off time, I'm afraid to tell you that you'll never make it beyond Leg 3. Why is this so? Because the cut-off time for Leg 2 is at 6pm and for leg 3 is at 7pm. Unless you are Ryan Hall, who is the first American to run under 60 minutes in the half marathon, you have absolutely NO CHANCE to make it beyond Leg 3, no chance at all - sorry to be so honest and direct. (Well, even Ryan Hall will have great difficulty since his effort was on road and this is the CDR!) So what is the strategy? For me, its to examine the last 5 successful finishers of the 2010 race and work out my timings. The average of the timings for the 5 Legs were: 2:00, 5:30, 3:30, 8:30; 4:20 for a total of 23:50. Based on my standard, I planned for 2:15, 6:00, 2:45, 8:30, 4:15 for a total of 23:45 with 15mins spare. I did 2:21, 5:30, 3:00, 9:04 for the 4 Legs this year. Will probably need further fine-tune for next year's CDR.
Rule #3 - Train, Train and Train
You have to train, train, and train. And if you train properly, then you would have no excuse for not finishing the CDR, unless it is due to bad weather (either too hot or too cold) or injury sustained during the race itself. And especially also if you have mountains to train at your own backyard. Unlike Singapore, which is super flat with a highest "mountain" at 545 ft high, there is no reason for not going out to your nearest hill or mountain to train for the uphill and downhill. Absolutely no reason at all. And if you are so unfortunate like me, well, you still have the treadmill to use. Just remember to slowly crank up the gradient of your treadmill to at least 12% grade over the weeks/months - that was the recommended gradient when training for the Pikes Peak Marathon, which rises from 7,000 ft to 14,000 ft over 13.3 miles of ascent. And if you can't run at 12% grade like me, just walk at that gradient at the fastest speed that you could sustain. For at least 1 hour per session, per week. Otherwise, you could also climb stairs. Just look for 10-storey high buildings (which are plenty in Singapore) and do sets of climbs.
Rule #4 - Envisage What Else You Need To Do
Envisage, envisage, envisage. When I was told that this year's CDR would be muddy, I asked a friend if I should skip round the water obstacle or to run through it. The advise given to me was to skip round it whenever possible, cos you never know how deep the mud puddle or water obstacle would be. Jose was very very right in this aspect. In Leg 1, a relay runner apparently sprained his ankle while running through the mud (which didn't look that bad at all), while in Leg 2, I saw 2 runners digging deep with both their hands as one of them had lost one side of his shoes. I also envisaged that for Leg 2, knowing that going downhill was my weakness, I decided beforehand that I would slide down whenever possible. This was exactly what I did after I finished the loop round Mt Flood. I believe my decisiveness helped me shaved an incredible 31mins! Also, decide what you wanna eat at the end of each Leg and have your crew prepare for it.
Rule #5 - Have Fun While Training Hard!
Well, train seriously but have fun at the same time. Have sufficient rest and recovery session in between your hard training. You certainly would want to get to the start of CDR feeling refreshed. And if you can't get to CDR feeling refreshed, i.e. 100%, then you are quite doomed. Very doomed indeed! :p The CDR requires one to be at the start, feeling strong and raring to go. Mentally and physically. Even if you stand at the start feeling 100%, there's always a chance that something might happen in an ultra race of such distance (more so for CDR due to the extreme terrain). So prepared well and rest well.
And there you have it! The secret that I shared above, shall be the route my success at next year's CDR! Hopefully. Remember to use the info at your own risk and see you Death Racers @ next year's CDR!!! :)