What usually takes most people months to plan and train for a triathlon, Annemieke Oomen did on a whim when she was travelling in Asia for seven months.
Annemieke has always been active in sports, indulging in tennis and running as hobbies. It was inevitable that her seven month vacation included some sporting events, and it all fell into place.
Annemieke Oomen in her forties from the Netherlands, took a break from her vocation as a pyschotherapist and was travelling in Asia for seven months. A friend had recommended that she looked up the Xterra off-road triathlon and she happened to be near the Xterra Albay when she had arrived in Philippines.
On a whim, Annemieke decided to rent a mountain bike to try it out, and there she was, accidentally a triathlete overnight taking part in the international triathlon race encompassing swimming 1.5km in the open sea, mountain biking 40km through jungle trails and running 10km on off-road terrain.
Initially, she had set her heart on doing the Sprint event, but got sucked into the enthusiasm of the triathletes and decided to go for the full distance instead. So the tagline holds true, “It’s always more fun in the Philippines”.
The hottest race weekend at Xterra Malaysia
Incidentally, some triathletes she met in Philippines invited her to Malaysia to also take part in the Xterra Malaysia in Langkawi island of Kedah, where we met her. A kind-hearted triathlete loaned a mountain bike and she enjoyed participating in the hottest race but never in her mind, did she think about giving up.
In Xterra Malaysia, Annemieke trudged through the steep and rough terrains of Mat Chinchang hill after a warm swim in the sea, ending with an off-road run through steep unending terrain in high temperatures. All in a day’s work, and some call this ‘fun’.
High altitude Everest marathon
From the tropical heat, Annemieke was planning a trip to the frigid temperatures at the Everest Base Camp in Nepal when she stumbled upon the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon in May.
“Well, I already wanted to go to Everest Base Camp and I saw on the website that the marathon would be held in May so I decided to time my visit there to coincide with it,” said Annemieke.
She spent two weeks to acclimatise and during the two weeks, she hiked to the Everest Base Camp and chose to camp in tents along the way instead of staying in lodges.
“We didn’t take any showers in that duration and toilets were a hole dug in the ground, and a tent over it,” explained Annemieke.
“Initially, I had decided to compete in the 21km event but got caught up in the excitement at base camp and converted to the 42km marathon just before the race,” said an enthusiastic Annemieke.
Only clad in tights and a jacket, she was glad the temperatures were warm that day and weather was good, so they didn’t require thicker clothing. The terrain was slippery with ice at certain parts, but Annemieke was wearing her usual running shoes, as there would be parts too steep to run, and she also needed the grip to climb and descend.
“I was also worried that my injured achilles would bother me again, but it was good and didn’t slow me down.”
For nutrition, she stopped for some hot soup, that someone had prepared along the race route, while relying on energy bars and her hydration pack the rest of the way.
“I finished the 42km in over 9 hours at Namche Bazaar and this was my first marathon ever,” said Annemieke.
The scenery was postcard-perfect at every turn, the majestic mountains reminds you how wonderful Mother Nature is, while the snow-capped mountains literally takes your breath away.
“To make the distance less daunting, I focused on nearby checkpoints or destinations to break it up into smaller pieces. And I also paced myself, walking on the steep sections to conserve energy for the whole race.”
A total of 160 runners took part, including 30 local Nepali runners joining the rest from around the world including the UK, US, China and Australia.
The annual run marks the anniversary of the first summit of the peak by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953. The race was won by a Nepali in just over fours hours, understandably as they are already acclimatised and used to the extreme elevation.
After the Everest Marathon, her husband joined her on her travels and they ventured to the remote areas of Mongolia. Anniemeke is a vegetarian who is also passionate about animals, so she decided to volunteer at an Orang Utan sanctuary in Kalimantan, Indonesia to experience the vast offerings and different ways of life in Asia.
Having competed in two off-road triathlons and ran in the Everest Marathon, Annemieke returns home feeling amazed with her accomplishments and never imagined she would have ever thought about doing all these around the world.
Photos taken by ToughAsia using the Casio Exilim FR100 for the wide-angle wefie experience. #wefieiscasio #CasioExilimFR100
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Jyn Yeow loves exploring new ways to gain the adrenaline rush, covering places and meeting new people. #adrenalinejunkie Follow Jyn on Facebook or blog.