Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2013

Up until a week before the SCKLM, I wasn’t even sure what the start time for the marathon was. That laid back was I toward the outing. I’ve been regarding the events I’ve signed up leading to the December adventure as training runs. I need mileage as much as an overworked cubicle resident needs a holiday. You tend to get creative in those situations, so I cooked up a plan to do extra distance before the 4:30am start of the marathon. Next, I cast the plan out to a handful of crazy fellas, just so that I’ll have company on the 3am runabout. KL streets are unpredictable on early weekend mornings and it’s always safer in groups. Unfortunately none of the crazies bit the bait and I ended up having to modify my run route. In hindsight that turned out to be a better option.

I reckoned that the key in completing the morning’s double run was in the fueling strategy. To that effect, I loaded my UD vest with all the fueling I’d need – 2 mini cereal bars, 3 gels, 2 bananas and a bottle of Coke. You really can’t survive insane hours without caffeine and sugar! I knew that there would be gel and banana stations along the marathon route, so I’d have a couple of chances to replenish my fuel.

The route of choice would be the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to the Pertama/MARA building and head back towards Dataran via Jalan Raja Laut, in effect the reverse of the finishing stretch of the marathon. Each loop of around 2K gave me control over my plan – I could head to the marathon start should I run out of time. This looping strategy got me over 9K before I jogged to meet the GC folks for the marathon start. But not before finding a sliver of time to jettison some solid waste at the porta potties. An overly eager girl yanked open my stall but thankfully I wasn’t exposed. She was probably more embarrassed that I was!

Along with many other familiar faces, I was positioned somewhere in the middle of the 2nd half of the marathon crowd. Just where I wanted to be since I planned to be taking the morning casually. Run relaxed and take some photos, that was the plan. I was chatting throughout the course and stopping whenever a photo op presented itself. Way too fun and before I knew it, I’d hit Cheras and then Bukit Bintang.

I’ve been fueling well at the hour and walked through all but the first aid station and things progressed rather well right up to Jalan Tun Razak. By that time the sun had started to warm things up quickly and traffic was choc-a-bloc. The right adductors acted up a little but I kept going, reminded myself that Tun Razak wasn’t the stretch of road I’d want to start walking and so I started to dig in, focusing almost meditatively on the words “Pain” and “Smooth”. Amazingly I held a steady pace the entire stretch and the pain went away. Jalan Ipoh was mostly OK as well and I bumped into Pui San, Vivienne and an ex-colleague volunteering at the aid station. The endless Jalan Kuching saw me took 2 walk breaks to stretch out the lower back. The adductors held up good and I knew I had the marathon in the bag. At that point I realized that if I kept this momentum up, I could even dip under 5 hours. Technically at that point, there were still 7K to go but I fooled my brain into thinking that the last 2K were negligible due to the thick crowd support and thus I had only 5K left to contend with. The mental games I played with myself. Admittedly, that line of thought picked me up almost immediately and Bukit Tunku was cleared in a relatively painless manner. Instead of running up the Tijani climb, I power-hiked with Jolene (maiden marathon). We even managed to pass a few runners struggling up.

Hot! Photo credit: Kelvin Tan

The last 3K were easy and probably my quickest, except that I didn’t like the congestion presented by casual run-walkers who had no idea of race etiquette. It wasn’t easy weaving in and out of these folks and I was very wary of pulling a muscle in the process. The congestion at the junction before the finish chute was no better. Hopefully the organizers will improve these 2 areas, in an otherwise well put together event, in the coming years. Crossed the line in 4:56 which I considered to be a bonus for a productive morning.

Just after the congestion point near the finish. Photo credit: Deo
Didn’t realize Goh (in yellow) was just beside me as we headed to the finish line. Photo credit: Ming

The GC gang hung out for a while spotting and cheering friends coming in. The vets secured nice PRs while the newbies did very well in finishing and I’m already looking forward to future races with them. Some could possibly be disappointed with their performance but it’s important that we keep our passion in perspective and this quote encapsulates this philosophy well.

“We may train or peak for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport.”
-Alberto Salazar

As for the event, here are some of the thoughts:

The Good

  • More than adequate aid station amenities.
  • Nice set of volunteers. Most were engaged in their assigned functions or cheering the runners.
  • The cops managed the traffic pretty well except for the perpetually chaotic Pekeliling roundabout.
  • Segregation of fun walkers/runners from the marathoners just after Bukit Tunku BUT…(see Needs Improvement below).
  • Slightly better attitude (there were still irate motorists to be sure) observed of motorists caught in the jam and road closures.

Needs Improvement

  • Some aid stations seemed to struggle in coping with the number of runners.
  • The segregation of the fun walkers/runners from the marathoners ended right at the BNM junction. The convergence after that point caused plenty of havoc.
  • Approach to the finishing stretch needs to be better controlled using barricades and placement of marshals and authorities. Too much encroachment impeding returning runners where Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman meets Dataran Merdeka.
  • Finisher tee quality is a little dodgy. I donated mine to a municipal worker.

With that, I say bring on the next event and the one after that!

My photos can be viewed on my gallery here.