I survived the Maze Challenge Asia 2014

I had so much fun at the Maze Challenge Asia 2014 held at Sepang end of last month. The event was held for two days (29th and 30th November 2014) and a participant may choose one (half an hour) slot on either dates. My spouse and I registered for the 4:30 pm slot on the first day of the challenge (29th November) but bad thunderstorm struck right before we were scheduled to run. Due to safety reason, our slot was postponed to the next day… but we were supposed to fly back to Miri the next day! What to do? None of us has control over the weather.

On the first day of the challenge (29th November 2014, Saturday): Even though our slot was scheduled at 4:30pm, we came in the late morning to hang around, familiarizing ourselves with the event venue and also to watch other participants from afar. Weather was fine in the beginning. My heart sank when it started to drizzle.

We watched from afar

We observed the event from afar

We watched other runners from afar

We watched other runners from afar

So, that's the second obstacle ...

So, that’s the second obstacle …

Watching the climbers... I was never good in climbing

Watching the climbers… I was never good in climbing

Inside the car, I changed my clothing and pinned the tags to our official maze tee shirts.

The tag and front of the official tee shirt

The tag and front view of the official tee shirt

,,, and the back view

… and the back view. I was contemplating on whether to pin the tag in front or back of the T shirt … In the end, I just pinned it to the front, though I prefer it on my back

The back of my tag

The back of my tag

We weren’t that familiar with Sepang area, so we headed to KLIA2 for lunch because we didn’t want to be late for our 4:30pm slot (mak oi mahal nye parking fee & food … biasa-lah airport).

I had diarrhea the day before (perhaps I sampled too much good food in KL) so I tak berani singgah just anywhere & try macam-macam makanan. I was still feeling a little weak even though I already took Oral Rehydration Salts and Dhamotil. What a bad timing to have diarrhea on such occasion!

Mana tau, our slot kena postponed pulak due to bad weather! Akai indai! The next day we terpaksa kembali lagi. We flew all the way there to join in the fun; selagi tak dapat complete challenge itu, selagi itu kami rasa tak puas. Kami fikir, tiada makna-nya jika kami menerima pingat tanpa menempuhi cabaran itu.

We were so eager to complete the challenge. Can you imagine our disappointment when our slot had to be postponed? Of course it wasn't anyone's fault. That's why we must always be ready to face anything.

We were so eager to complete the challenge. Can you imagine our disappointment when our slot had to be postponed? Of course it wasn’t anyone’s fault. That’s why we must always be ready to face anything.

The dark clouds that gathered on Sepang sky matched the gloomy expression on my face. I was so ready and excited to begin the challenge but we saw lightnings flashed more frequently around 4pm. They seemed to get nearer and I was frightened. Thunder clapped loudly and it began to rain; no ordinary rain – it rained cats and dogs! Everyone including the maze masters were huddled inside the shelter.

Lightnings… loud thunder… I covered my ears and eyes. My hubby was sitting closely behind, comforting me. When I opened my eyes, I saw a young man opposite me – he was sitting on the ground with a bunch of friends – I understood the words that he mouthed: “It’s ok, it’s alright.” He waved his hands as if to reassure me and the crowd that nothing will hurt us. I smiled.

There was a group of 4 pretty girls sitting near me who occupied themselves by taking selfies, group / we-fie, etc and checking their social media accounts. I was disappointed because I could not capture any pictures. I left my phone inside the car earlier on, thinking we were about to face the maze challenge. The heavy downpour eliminated our chances to retrieve our devices from the car. I guess it’s better that way. During thunderstorms, isn’t it wise not to hold any electronic devices?

Suddenly, electricity went off inside the shelter and some people cheered. It wasn’t dark because it’s still not late evening yet. Water began to seep in from all directions, forcing all of us to gather more closely to the middle of the shelter. Just how big was the shelter? I’m estimating 50 Ford Rangers can be parked under its roof. I could be wrong of course. Most of us sat ourselves comfortably on the dry ground. I didn’t see anyone attempting to get into their cars as the rain was too heavy. Our vehicle was parked several meters away. After awhile, electricity came back and the lights inside the shelter illuminated us. Some of the booths were already closing though. Everyone was stuck inside the tent until about 6 pm, when the sky decided it had cried enough. I, on the other hand, wanted to cry because I couldn’t be a maze runner that day.

After some contemplation, we made the decision to extend our stay in KL. Of course our original AA tickets back to Miri were forfeited and we had to do new bookings. If we decided to go ahead with the challenge, we could choose any slot we wanted. We opted for the 8:30AM slot on the second day (30th November). Early, huh? We worry it might rain again in the evening, so we decided to choose the morning slot. They predicted weather will be fine in the morning. Cool.

Few months back, I have set my mind in joining the challenge, even if none of my friends are keen. The hubby happened to be off from his work end of November, so he accompanied me for the challenge. If he happens to be working overseas, I would probably skip the event as I hate to make him worry about me being alone at the challenge. Luckily he was around; I wouldn’t want to miss this event.

On the second day (30th November 2014, Sunday): So, we returned to Sepang again, this time hoping all would go well. We woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel / apartment. I was very careful not to eat anything that might worsen my diarrhea. The hubby drove to Sepang (guided by GPS); our ride was borrowed from a friend of my brother-in-law. We reached our destination at 8:15am, that’s 15 minutes before we were scheduled to run into the maze. I still had time to use the portable toilet. My hubby wrapped the car key with a small plastic bag before putting it inside a tiny pouch which he strapped to his chest instead of letting it hang at the waist line. We assumed water inside the pool would not get as high as his chest. I left all my electronic devices inside the car and went for the challenge without carrying anything. I had a big smile on my face. The day was beautiful; there were moderate concentration of clouds on the sky above us.

I told the hubby not to worry about me and just forge ahead with the race. He insisted he would stay close to me and watch my back. Besides, he pointed out that we were there to have fun and gain experience, not racing for the main prize. With my declining stamina, there’s no way I could conquer all the obstacles quickly. I already knew there would be two wall obstacles and I’m terrified of heights … but I’m a little crazy, so I insisted in doing it anyway. I whispered to my phobia: “You may kiss my fat bass!

I didn’t mind the iced water, muddy grounds, etc… My only regret was that I did not manage to capture those precious moments with any of my devices. As I understood from the rules, recording devices were not allowed inside the maze. In the beginning I thought it was due to copyright issues or something else (to prevent cheating, etc), then I heard it’s because all of us have to wade through pools of water and that would destroyed most unprotected electronic items. I had forgotten about the importance of bringing water-proof casings along for such event. Oh well.

Allow me to recall what we went through …

Once the gate was opened, we rushed to a space where we had to crawl on a slippery white ground and there was a water sprinkler that sprayed water at us while we crawled through the first obstacle.

The second obstacle was a wall which we had to climb with ropes. Some sections have ladders. We queued up for this. I got very nervous around high walls.

After the wall, there were the pools of water (inside large blue containers).

If I remember correctly, the first pool was a normal one – with just water in it. I’m short so when I delved into the container, half of my body (waist down) was immediately immersed. Wet, wet, wet!

The second pool was lined with tires on the bottom. We had to wade carefully without stumbling or tripping.

The third pool required us to crouch down while we went through it; there were strings above the pool. Crouch too low and your face will kiss the water.

The fourth (last) pool contained iced water. Brrrrrrrrr. Cold! Almost like the ice bucket challenge.

After that we charged forward and came face to face with the maze. White panels greeted our eyes, the beautiful Sunday morning rays reflected on their surfaces. We had to choose one of the four entrances / openings to the maze. I told the hubby that I wanted to try the third opening. Earlier on I suggested to him that maybe we could split / choose different entrances; in case I failed he could still have a chance in finishing the challenge quicker than I am. However, he insisted that he would stay close to me to make sure I’m alright. That’s my man.

Inside the maze, we saw plenty of wet footsteps. “Follow those trail,” the hubby said out loud.

“Don’t trust the person in front of you, they’re not necessarily on the correct path,” advised one of the friendly maze masters. I laughed nervously. That was my first time running inside a maze, I was very excited.

Somewhere at the heart of the maze, there was a mini drink counter where maze masters gave away free drinks (mineral water and Revive isotonic drinks). What a refreshing sight for the thirsty maze runners! The hubby drank a cup but I skipped (because I was wondering where to find toilet later? I didn’t know how long I was going to be stuck in the maze. Plus, my diarrhea wasn’t fully healed and I worried about myriad of things like an old, fussy aunty). I lightly slapped myself.

As we continued to find our way out of the maze, we met other runners who looked as clueless as we were, also as eager as we were to find the exit. Perhaps I should rely on my instincts, zigzagging around and followed my heart. At one point I lost sight of my hubby as he explored other paths in search of clues. I heard him asked a female participant: “You just came from that direction? Is that a dead end?” I peered around the corner and saw the girl nodded. Okay, I tried to remember all those paths that led to dead ends so we could avoid stepping into them again.

All around us were white walls, I could hear voices of other runners nearby. The white panels almost look alike and it got a little confusing. The wet footsteps on the ground didn’t help much as some of them led to dead ends. I finally came across my hubby at one of the intersections and we were quickly joined by several other runners from the same slot. I guess we had explored most of the paths inside. I had a strange feeling that we were close to the exit, we looked at one another silently then suddenly, we started running together. True enough, just a few turns away was an exit! Oh what a relief to see an open space. I shrieked with delight, “Over here!” and the other runners who heard me followed and ran out of the exit together with us. We were so happy and relieved.

It’s not over yet, however.

There were huddles ahead; we had to jump over some (orange and white) heavy plastic traffic barriers which were half as tall as I am! Of course tall individuals can jump easily over those, lucky them. There were about 4 of those traffic barriers that we had to jump over before the next obstacle which was to run over some muddy ground. That’s definitely not the time to sayang sayang our Salomon shoes. I worried more about tripping than dirtying the shoes; if I fall on my face, my make-up and hairdo will be ruined. *lol*

After the muddy patch, came the last wall obstacle. Oh no! I hate climbing and this time there was no rope in sight. There were two walls lined with artificial grass, on them were strategically placed wooden handles. I walked over to the wall on the left side, while my hubby tackled the wall to the right side. “How do I climb this thing?” Silly, blurry me thinking out loud. Duh. ‘Hoist yourself up lah, one foot at a time’, I answered my silly self. A kind, elderly Sikh gentleman who was walking around observing the maze runners gave me a step-by-step guidance vocally. There was a maze master perched on top of the wall and he gently assured me that I would not fall (as long as I do not let go of my hand).

Once I reached the top of the wall, I tried hard not to panic as I looked down. The kind maze guardian suggested for me to sit on top of the wall and then just let my feet and body dropped to the platform beneath me. I was scared that my momentum will make me topple over and fall to my death so I refused to do what he suggested. You know, I ever had nightmares in which I saw myself in my previous lifetimes falling from various tall places (including a coconut tree) and died! I know it sounds silly.

That was quite dramatic huh? Of course it’s not that bad (a fearful mind will imagine all worst case scenarios even if they don’t make any sense) but I have a phobia of heights and when I started to panic, my body will become frozen. I perched on the top of the wall for a moment. I wanted to kick myself, the wall isn’t that high anyway. If others can get through it effortlessly, why can’t I? I was determined to conquer that obstacle. The hubby was already on the other side – safe and sound, waiting for me with a concerned look. The skillful maze master quickly suggested another technique – to lay my stomach on top of the wall and then let my body became horizontal and parallel to the top. He held my back steadily as I rolled (my frontal body against the wall) and then slide vertically down the wall. Phew. From there, it was easy. I took a tiny plunge to the ground and made it safely through the last obstacle. What a relief. Yay!

Reminder to self: I should undergo some serious training on wall and climbing obstacles.

I’m very grateful to all the maze masters who were so cool, encouraging and patient. You guys were simply amazing. I salute you all!

No more obstacle in sight but I was struck with butt cramp – on one side of my butt. Can you imagine my face when I experienced that, at the same time I was looking at the large banner bearing the FINISH sign on it? I cringed, I smiled and then I laughed. The hubby was laughing at me while I dragged myself senget-senget to the finishing line, macam ketam. I guess I didn’t have proper warm-ups before the run, plus my stamina was pretty lousy.

I did a little dance (baby Groot dance) despite the butt cramp. We let out a big sigh of happiness as we walked leisurely to the finishing line; I could hear the ‘teet’ sound as I crossed it.

And this is what our certificate of participation looks like ...

And this is what our certificate of participation looks like …

As soon as we completed the challenge, we went to check our scores on the time board. Then we went to the car to retrieve our mobile devices. Finally, I could capture pictures and videos again! Here’s a video I captured right before another batch of maze runners began the race. I apologize for the poor quality. In this video, our host tirelessly explained to the participants the rules of the race. Every half an hour, one batch of participants will be released into the maze, therefore our very patient host had to repeat the rules to new batch of runners every half an hour throughout the two-day challenge.

I got my medal already but still wanna keh poh hanging out at the starting point. I didn’t get the chance to capture any picture or video before the start of my race. So, after I retrieved my phone, I began clicking away like mad … baru puas hati!

“I would surely wither and die without my camera!”

I memang sempat posing with the wonderful host / emcee of Maze Challenge Asia 2014

I memang sempat posing with the wonderful host / emcee for Maze Challenge Asia 2014

Hanging out at the starting point

Hanging out at the starting point

I was so happy

I was so happy after the race, even though I didn’t win anything

Some participants getting ready for the race

Some participants getting ready for the race

With one of the awesome Maze Masters

With one of the awesome Maze Masters

Our scores were shown earlier but we didn't manage to capture it on camera because our devices were still inside the car

Our scores were shown earlier on the screen but we didn’t manage to capture it on camera because our devices were still inside the car. Those scores on the board belonged to other participants

The time scores were published and put up on a notice board

The time scores were published and put up on a notice board

Waiting to check our scores

Waiting to check our scores

A participant posing with his score

A participant posing with his score

Under the shelter

Under the shelter

Yay, we did it!

Yay, we did it!

the hubs helped to take pictures for other participants, they also did the same favor for us

the hubs helped to take pictures for other participants, they also did the same favor for us

He was analyzing his medal intently, lol

He was intently analyzing his medal

Yay, I completed the challenge (without breaking any nail!)

Yay, I completed the challenge without breaking a single nail!

A lot of people (including myself) take selfies with the medal, but here I'll only show you the medals' images. My selfie with the medal is for my self viewing pleasure only (syok sendiri)

A lot of people (including myself) take selfies with the medal, but here I’ll only show you the medals. My selfie with the medal is strictly for my self viewing pleasure only (syok sendiri, hehe…)

We were leaving the maze event, then I spotted something interesting ...

We were leaving the maze event and headed to the parking lot, I spotted something interesting …

I didn't think they come for the maze event, something must be going on at the pit lane next door ...

I didn’t think those two come for the maze event (even though that’s the space where most maze runners parked their cars)… Something must be going on at the pit lane next door … Since we were there, might as well go and check it out –

There was some sort of a private race going on, mostly continental cars... but I don't think it's appropriate for me to share the rest of the pictures due to privacy concerns

There was some sort of a private race going on, mostly continental cars… but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to share the rest of the pictures due to privacy concerns. We weren’t suppose to be there anyway

Another picture of the medals. This one was taken inside Capri by Fraser

Another picture of the medals. This one was taken inside Capri by Fraser. I was doing some packing – yes, the medals flew to Miri with us!

We stayed at Capri by Fraser for three nights

We ended up staying at Capri by Fraser for three nights instead of two nights. Our stay was extended because our maze run slot had to be postponed

We did not bring any sporting equipments when we traveled to KL that day, so we went shopping for some items at Urban Adventure. Someone recommended it's a good place to shop

We traveled light and did not bring any sporty gears when we flew to KL for the maze challenge, so we went shopping for some items at Urban Adventure. Someone recommended it’s a good place to shop for stuff that we need for the run

I like some of their stuff

I like some of their stuff

What we need ...

What we need …

Apa-apa pun, I enjoyed myself very much while I was there, despite some minor setbacks (diarrhea, bad weather, …)

A big thank you to the all the wonderful people involved in the Maze Challenge Asia 2014. 

Someone confided to me that next year’s maze challenge might be held at night (hint: Halloween theme). Omg! I’m already excited for it. Please make it a reality. If I’m not fit to run, then I might want to volunteer as a monster – lurking inside the maze :D

Do join us next time ya.

Here are two videos from the awesome One FM and Fly FM team:

Till next time, cheers!

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