Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mountain areas near Jakarta offer trail runners some beautiful views. Best trails often feature something exceptional such as unique landscape (e.g. rice terraces, tea plantations), unique forest (e.g. pine tree forests of Gunung Pancar), waterfalls, beautiful rivers and alike. However, what makes some of my favorite trails interesting are not the views, but the fascinating and unique fauna found in Indonesia. Biodiversity of Java can be fascinating, especially to foreigners from none-tropical countries. Throughout my Java trail running adventures, one trail stands out thanks to these creatures:

I have never seen so many scorpions on a trail run, so obviously I’ve named it "The Scorpion Trail" [the photos above are from this trail]. It was also pretty interesting how I’ve discovered it. First, as usually I’ve used Google Earth to find another remote location outside Jakarta good for a 7km trail run. The selected location featured some roads through mountain, which I mapped and transferred to my GPS.

It was already 4:30pm when we arrived at the location, so already bit too late for a 7km mountain run. Problems started when I realized, that trail showed on Google Earth does not exist and my GPS also showed another virtual road. It is quite common and it simply means another no-trail trail run. Like it wasn’t enough, 5 minutes into run and it started to rain like hell. Few minutes later I ran into spider web (I believe all trail runners hate this) which felt more like a strong thread rather than a spider web. Strong spider web usually means large spider, so I looked on my shirt and shorts … no spider. Then I look behind me and 15 cm from my arm I saw the biggest freaking spider I have ever seen. It was huge! Just after the run I checked on Google and found what it was. What I saw was Giant Wood Spider (Nephila pilipes or Nephila maculata) also called Banana Spider:

Luckily it wasn’t sitting on my arm as this spider is venomous. Its venom is potent but fortunately not lethal to humans. It has a neurotoxic effect similar to that of the black widow spider, but not nearly as powerful. Oh, and the thing about the strong web I felt? Well, web of this spiders can apparently be so strong that it could even catch a bird!

Japanese consider spiders to be lucky if seen during the daytime, so how seeing a freaking huge spider helped? Maybe this works only for Japanese, as 5 minutes later I saw a giant scorpion and then another one, and another one. For the next 1 km it was like scorpions everywhere. Just later I found out that scorpions are usually more active when it rains, so probably so many of them crawled out because of the heavy rain.

Despite all the attractions at the beginning of the run, I managed to get to my planned destination. It was on the way back, when I realized that scorpions are nocturnal and come out at night [late evening shots I took at the trail]:

I won’t mention the location as I don't want to see scorpion hunters all over the place. However, if you're crazy enough to want to join one of similar trail runs, drop me an e-mail.


Anonymous said...

How big are these scorpions? Do they leap out and bite you on the leg?

I hate them. The formic acid stench makes me puke.

Nice post.

might join you one day when I get a pair of shoes


Marek Bialoglowy said...

Formic acid? I don't remember any stench. These scorpions were pretty big 10cm+, but they don't bite.

Anonymous said...

It might also because the rain had forced them to come out of their burrows. So, therefore, there are more scorpions than what you might expected.

Happy running!


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