Saturday, August 17, 2013

I survived Viper Challenge 2013

Rain pelted down on us as we jogged the tarmac stretch of the Sepang International Circuit and I don’t mean those sissy drizzles of acid rain. I mean, soaked to our skin rain. To some, the rain was a cause for concern but to my Team Huh?!, we powered on, clinging on to our motivation of finishing this course, rain or shine. On top of that, the downpour chased away the previous evening’s haze (get your shit together, Indonesia, seriously).
Team Huh?!
We were in the first wave and amongst the first participants of Asia’s Biggest Obstacle Event to ever set foot on the specially designed course.

Original Bootcamp teams.
The start line.
Slanted wall challenge.
The Viper Challenge is the first of its kind in Malaysia and unlike Singapore’s Urbanathlon and the upcoming Reebok Challenge in September, it is not a race. It is a 20km obstacle challenge with 20 obstacles to tackle and overcome. Think or Google along the lines of Tough Mudder and you get the idea.

Helping other teams too.
Ice Bar.
And like any inaugural event of this magnitude, there are bound to be problems but the rain wasn’t one of them. Again, at least to me. Although at one point, I was continuously blinking rain water from my eyes because one of my contact lenses had travelled to the back of my eyeball and my vision was a blur. No matter.  I detest running but this challenge was like a huge giant playground where we were just running from jungle gym to jungle gym. At least, that was the way I saw it.

About to take the dive.
We were freezing our arse off after the Ice Challenge.
The Viper Challenge was no walk in the park nor was it like a half marathon in any way. It was designed to test you, mentally and physically and more importantly, your ability to be selfless and considerate of others. Many understood the first part, few remembered the second. I shall not harp on that though.

Tunnel crawl.
My team of seventeen have been training ever since we signed up in February, nearly six months ago with weekly hikes that gradually accumulated into playground and obstacle sessions with other teams. There were members that were like ghosts because we only saw them once or twice before the big day but when push came to shove, they came through for the entire team.
Walk the Plank.

Monkey Bars.
 As a team, we tackled 8-feet walls and slanted walls, uneven rocking and grassy terrain, the blistering sun and humidity, crawled under barbwires and crossed pits of mud, ice and water. We left no man behind and even extended many helping hands along the way because in this event, there was no such thing as me, myself and I or me, myself and my girlfriend only. It was tiring and mentally taxing. But boy, did we enjoy every inch of the course and of course, each other’s company.
Net Climb.

Viper to fuel us. Unsponsored.
As I mentioned, all major events will have their boo-boos and this was no different.
  1. Water stations.  There were numerous issues with the water stations on Day 1, one being that it was from Syabas, there were no cups, no volunteers manning it, too few along the course and no Revive. However, the issue was quickly resolved on Day 2.
  2. Medic Aid. While none of my team suffered an injury (thankfully), I did noticed the isolation of several locations where there were no volunteers and most importantly, no medical aid. Perhaps enlisting the help of hospitals to provide aid would be a suggestion to consider. Given the weather, obstacles and terrain, people are bound to get hurt in their overzealousness. On Day 2, volunteers were given medic numbers to call in case of emergencies. But it would be better if there were a medic station at every obstacle and water stop and also at the finish line just to be safe. 
  3. Registration. There was no clear indication of where to line up or that there were two lines in the first place. It was improved on the second day with clear signs.
  4. Baggage drop. Retrieval of bag is slow. You need to come up with a better system of tagging. But from what I heard, there were no complains on Day 2.

These are meant to be constructive criticism and I sincerely hope that Viper Challenge organisers will improve on this areas. [Updates: Improvements were made on Day 2 on the areas below. Kudos to the organisers for listening and taking prompt action]

A fun slide.

Wall of Tires.

Hay-yall! Geddit? Geddit?
I was impressed though. Not by how well the course was planned. Nor by how the obstacles were challenging and forces to us work together, teammate or not. Or that the spirit from the volunteers and teams were wonderful and infectious. Or that my team was awesome, proving that despite second-guessing our decision six months earlier (hence the team name Huh?! and tagline 'What was I thinking?'), we did the entire challenge in good spirit, team work and with a great sense of humour. 

No, I was impressed that I didn’t lose my contact lenses through all the rain, mud and ice. 

My memorabilia.
UPDATED 19 Aug 2013:

Joining Viper Challenge as a participant is one thing but being a volunteer on its second day is a completely different and BTS experience altogether. I got to see the efforts made overnight to improve the event based on feedbacks and even though there are still unsatisfied comments, it's the effort and improvements that counts. I wish people could appreciate that instead of nitpicking at past mistakes. Sometimes I really hate social media for giving people a voice the ends up resulting in a mob-mentality. Actually, I should say it is the people's fault for abusing social media. 

As it was when tackling the course, teamwork was still a crucial aspect amongst the crew and volunteers. Even though the other volunteers had finished at their stations, they still came and helped out at my station, the water slide challenge under the blistering hot sun when they could be getting their much deserved rest. In fact, several of us obtained our first cuts on the course because of volunteer work but it was all good because it meant that the most of participants were safe. In fact, I am damn proud of my lovely scratches on my arm and leg. 

Impressively none of the participants complained about the long queue for the water slide because I believe they could see how hard we were working to ensure everyone's safety although some injuries could not be helped despite our efforts.
At least, the medical assistance was at hand this time.If any of Day 2 participants are reading this, I humbly thank you for your patience. And if I snapped at you at the top of the slide, it was probably because you were not listening to my instructions and would have endangered yourself and those at the bottom. 

The fire Bomba guys were awesome, keeping everyone cool with their occasional sprays of water. With the several hilarious incidents that took place and the infectious spirits of the participants and helpers, the water slide station was definitely the most epic station to be at. 

And the best part of being a participant AND a volunteer....I could actually tell whiners to suck it up because I finished the course on Day 1, could still led a hand on Day 2 and I am still standing, sunburnt, scratched up, voice-lost and all.

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