Thai athlete Jay ‘Jantaraboon’ Kiangchaipaiphana took first place at the 100km CM6 in Chiang Mai this weekend, despite still suffering the side effects after being struck by a falling tree two weeks ago.
“It fell on my head. I was unconscious for a couple of minutes. I woke up, I felt dizzy,” said Kiangchaipaiphana, a member of The North Face Adventure Team and one of Thailand’s top outdoor sports athletes. “A couple of weeks later, my right side of my body was still very tight as it hit me on my shoulder, too. But I did a lot of things like needles to help. I worried a little bit before the race as my body and my hips were tight.
“I was with my friends when it fell. One of my friends thought I had died. I was laying down and they were shouting ‘Jay! Jay!’. I eventually woke up and I was dizzy, I could not see.”
The 100km CM6 course had 6,100m of accumulative elevation. Kiangchaipaiphana finished in 13 hours and 42 minutes. New social distancing rules meant he was running mainly against himself.
The runners were divided into three groups and called to the start area separately. Lining up in rows of four, they were called forward to scan their chips and start the race. The winner was determined on chip time, rather than who finished first.
“It is good to have social distancing,” Kiangchaipaiphana said. “The atmosphere was totally different. I think it was good. Despite coronavirus, it was still exciting. You had to race on your time, not against anyone. You are racing with yourself, not your competitor.”
Kiangchaipaiphana soon raced into a 30-minute lead, but he was struggling.
“I wasn't training as much because of the coronavirus. Also, the race was not confirmed until last week. They mentioned maybe, or maybe not, so it was hard to train,” he said.
“The second problem was the weather. It was very hot and I was sweating a lot. You can drink and eat, but it drains the body.”
Kiangchaipaiphana was cramping, so he slowed down, confident in the lead he had established. He took on food and began to recover. After 50km, he felt fine again and pushed on for victory.