KL Standard Chartered Marathon (10K) 2019


The KL Standard Chartered Marathon (10K) this morning served as a kick-off for my base training leading to my key race next March. The HMM 6-week base program demands for 66K weeks and while I was on track for the just concluded Week 1, 3 days manning the Gold Coast Marathon booth at the KLSCM Expo sapped my energies too much to maintain my plan.

I went into W1 of base running much less than I’d like to, due to the hazardous air quality. I’ve no gym membership to move my running indoors. When the toxic smoke from the fires in Indonesia continue to blanket the country, I had no choice but to finally enroll myself into a gym last week. I can imagine the anxiety of those who have registered to race the longer distances – will the race go on? Fortunately, the wind direction changed and the country saw daily rainfall, enough to clear up the air significantly.

I clocked 47:49 last year (then, the race was in April hence I was already in GCM18 training), and with no key races anymore this year, I went into this morning’s race with very modest expectations – a 47-minute finish. The stretched goal was to dip under 45 minutes, but that really was what it was – “stretched”.

I love the KLSCM 10K course. Mostly flat with a climb at the 7K mark. The 2019 course is a carbon copy of the 2018’s so I know what’s in store. The train service nearly derailed my plans for an extensive warm up, stopping at every station when it was only supposed to do so at designated stations. I had hardly broken sweat when it was time to enter the race pen. I reminded myself to avoid repeating the EE Run mistake when I went out too fast. A younger me would’ve tried to hang on to Daniel Tan longer but 49-year old me was much wiser. After 300m or so, I held my comfortable pace while Daniel gradually drew away.

Other than a couple of KMs where I had the company of a young chap in Peg Turbo (he dropped off pace around the 6K mark), I was mostly running alone. But I did find myself passing more runners this year, thanks to a more conservative early pace. I was still weak, endurance wise, heading up Jalan Parlimen though. My choice of the Vaporfly was a good one since my legs felt great throughout. As I entered the finishing chute, Pat Carroll who returned to emcee the event, called out my full name not once but thrice! He must’ve thought I didn’t hear him so I waved my hand in acknowledgment! Thanks, Pat! My watch showed 46:28 for 10.3KM (4:31 pace), which I believe to be my PR and good for 21st position in my veteran category. It’s certainly an encouraging result for sure, something to take forward into my marathon training. It’s always about the big picture. These races merely act as stepping stones and building blocks towards the ultimate goal. Keep building, keep improving and being patient is the game plan for me.

Caught up with the GCM crew, who nailed their PRs on KL’s tough courses as well. These guys are just getting faster and it’s great to have everyone in support and in pursuit personal goals – works wonders for motivation!

Seoul Bros

I’d like to thank the generous contributors to my fund raising for Hospis Malaysia under the Run for a Reason initiative. They provide evidence based, palliative care to patients and families living in the Klang Valley and support the nation through palliative care education, training and advocacy initiatives. The total sum collected pales to the work they do. To learn more and to support these wonderful folks, click on the link above.

My thanks also to the KLSCM organizers for always taking the runners’ needs and welfare into consideration and supporting us bloggers and media reps in your annual biggie and congratulations yet again on a job well executed! KLSCM retains its position as the best large-scale running event in the country.

1st of 2 breakfasts!

To my fellow GCM crew, onwards and upwards!

Standard Chartered KL Marathon (10K)

I ran the SCKLM Half Marathon in 2017 as training for my Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I did just enough, without over-extending myself to finish the back-loaded race, where challenging climbs litter the later stages of the race. This year’s GCM training plan demands discipline not only in sticking to the prescribed training distance but also the paces and on the day of the SCKLM, the plan called for only a 13K. That pretty much determined the distance for my SCKLM participation.

But I procrastinated 15 minutes too long and all the slots were sold out. Such was the popularity of the event. SCKLM is one of the few in-country events where its popularity commensurate with the quality of organization. Fortunately, the organizers continued to have the bloggers in mind, and I managed to secure an entry!

This year’s SCKLM would be its 10th running and the entries were huge – 38,000 across all categories! With the presence of the GCM booth at the race expo, I joined Nick and the teams from TEQ and HTT in providing support over the 3 days. That meant plenty of time-on-feet, on top of Week 6 of marathon training. It was hard but rewarding to be able to help spread the word on GCM. I got off a little early on race eve and got a bit of much needed rest. I had been so busy that I was still deciding on what time I should wake up and get to the train station, but it all got sorted out easily enough.

Because it was just a 10K, I needn’t fret about what to eat or what to wear. In fact, adopting a “training run” mindset meant a simple singlet, shorts and the versatile Elite 9 (in case I decided to kick things up a little), grabbing a chilled bottle of water sans breakfast (nope, not even an energy bar) and driving to the IOI LRT station. I didn’t have to wait long for the complimentary ride and 20 minutes later, I was at Dataran Merdeka witnessing the continuous stream of Half Marathoners heading off. Promptly got down to my 3K warm up and headed into the starting pen and secured a spot 10 feet from the start gantry. Admittedly, I had my doubts about executing a sprint start, as all 10Ks demand, but decided to keep my spot. I’d decided to keep an honest effort in honour of the Dignity for Children Foundation for which I raised funds for. The plan was to run a faster 2nd half with pace ranging between 4:35 to 5:00. That was to give myself a wider window to operate.

Sharp 6:45am and the gun sounded. The course hooked an immediate right to Jalan Dang Wangi and immediately opened up, so the log-jam which I anticipated didn’t happen. Runners had ample road to run. It was years since I ran a 10K race, so I had no expectations and while I had some pace parameters, I ran according to feel. From Dang Wangi, it was a sharp left into Jalan Ampang before a right to

Jalan Sultan Ismail. By the time I got to the MAS Building, the top 3 race leaders were already on the other side. It would be suicidal to pick up the pace any further for me and I was actually enjoying the pace so much it felt rather effortless. The crew, traffic marshals and police were doing a great job and we had the roads pretty much to ourselves. I made sure I clapped back and thanked the crew whenever I could. Once I cleared Jalan P Ramlee and turned back into Jalan Ampang, I was already running alone. The pack of 4 in front was still about 150m in front of me so I bid my time.

Crossing the wide Renaissance Hotel junction, I reeled in 3 and when I got to the Quill Mall, which was the 5K mark, I was in a loose group of 4. This would be the posse which I was glad to be drafting off. I was enjoying myself so much that not once did I peeked at the watch. Then it had to happen – the laces on my right shoe became undone along Jalan Kuching, not far from the Jalan Parlimen roundabout. That brought about some curses and I made sure I triple-knotted the laces before chasing down the pack that had drew away and had built a 100m lead on me. As we all know too well, the climb up Jalan Parlimen can be tough and my stride length and pace dropped a little. Luckily my cadence was still high and with a quick water grab, I overtook 1 tall Caucasian. Just needed to hold on to another K before a long downhill before the final approach to the finish. The Caucasian caught up and passed me but with downhill being my strength, I drew alongside and we ran together down to the National Mosque. I told him to kick for the finish and he asked me to follow. I replied that being on marathon training mode, I was as chuffed with the fact that I was running this pace for this long and urged him to go ahead.

Unwatermarked photos courtesy of Tey😁

I couldn’t catch the other 3 runners ahead but no one passed me either when I crossed the finish line. And forgot to stop the watch until 5 minutes later! Satisfied would be an understatement. While I was 6 weeks into marathon training, all but 2 workouts had been easy running. The 2 faster workouts were speed intervals (12x400m, 400 recovery, 2K warm up and 2K cool down) and a 10K tempo (at goal marathon pace, 2K warm up and 2K cool down). Back at the recovery area, I caught up with the other guys from our GCM training group who also ran some impressive timings. Then it was a quick departure back for home where family duties await.

photo courtesy Calvin

It would not be proper to not thank the generous contributors to my fund raising for Dignity for Children Foundation under the Run for a Reason initiative. The total sum collected may not be much, but it was a recognition of the Foundation’s efforts in providing hope to the underprivileged kids among many projects they undertake. To learn more and to support these wonderful folks, click on the link above.

My thanks also to the SCKLM organizers for remembering us bloggers and media reps in your annual biggie and congratulations on a job well executed! The 10th was the best yet!

To my fellow GCM training group folks, let’s keep this momentum up all the way to July 1st!

CXP Run 2015

Small neighborhood runs are interesting. The distance is usually short, minimal frills and very nonchalant about proceedings. Always refreshing to include these into the training regime, more so if it’s not far from home.

The CXP Run put together by the Taylor’s College in SS15 was one such event. Nick had alerted me on this and with a RM35 entry fee, it was a go for me since it nicely replaces the usual track work. By 6am we were already warming up around SS15. The start venue was quiet as if nothing was going on on a lazy Sunday morning. Only when we were back to the campus at 6:30am did I see people slowly ambling in. It was clear then that the race won’t start on time. These college kids really need some discipline in keeping to the clock!

It was about then when I noticed that my pinned race bib had disintegrated at the corners. The material used wasn’t water-resistant and as a living person, I do sweat. The paper had simply melted away and I thought I’d better inform the folks at the Secretariat. The conversation went something like this:

JP: Ummm… I’d just like to point out to you that your paper bib melts. Just so that you’re aware if runners come back without them.
Girl-Student (whom I later found out was the Race Director): Oh! Do you want a new one?
JP: But that’s not the point, the new one’s gonna end up the same way. It melted just with me doing my warm-up. (At that point I also realized that there are no names tagged to the bib numbers, so winners can basically be anyone).Lady bystander: But, you’re an elite. We, the slower ones, won’t sweat as much. (Misguided and unsolicited statement at every level).
JP: Right. I just want you to know. (Before walking off, sweating even more profusely).


Before the start and bib-meltdown already in progress. Photo credit: Mrs Captain.

6:45am and there were still no indications of the race starting. We hung around the gates trying to predict which one will be the designated start when the Race Director and her crew turned up. Things got quite funny when she climbed on top of a stool and proclaimed that “she was quite unstable”. Quite concerned, I asked if she meant mentally or physically being in a precarious position. Next, she asked us to stay behind the line. All of us runners looked quizzically at one another wondering, “Which line?” because there was none. There was no banner nor any arch put up, so we, like what Barney the Purple Dinosaur always said, “used our imagination”. She must have realized that we should be starting from the main road and thus we were ushered to the new spot right beside Asia Cafe. The stress must’ve got to her because she started answering her phone calls while still holding on to the hailer. She was such a hoot and you’ve got to credit her for doing this on top of her coursework. Setting up an event isn’t easy on any account. Once again, we toed the imaginary line before we were let off. There were no age categories and runners were simply grouped into the 10 or 5K distances.

3 young ones immediately broke into a full on sprint which shocked the lead cyclist who started pedaling like crazy to stay in front. Fortunately for the cyclist, one of the younglings fizzled out at the end of the road but 3 other took his pace in the lead. I broke free of the masses before even before McD’s but Nick was already ahead. Subang is full of long and short inclines and racing here as never been easy. I saw that I was in the 7th position with the leading guy about 300 meters ahead. One vet was in pursuit alongside his younger friend. Nick was making good progress and basically everyone held on to the same position most of the way. If you’re familiar with Subang, the roads around the township see heavy traffic nearly every day of the week. There were no road closures, not even a lane. We were therefore running in our own little imaginary (again, thanks Barney!) paths, trying to keep safe and literally survive the race.

The damn stomach issues cropped up again – it’s definitely a pace thing, now that I’ve observed it – and first it knocked the wind off me and later dropped me like a sad story 3 times. Any intentions of catching up with the 2 runners ahead fizzled. This was turning into a fight of not dropping anymore position rather than timing (which was already a goner in my case). Like a case of separated twins, Nick was also off-pace from his ITB issues. My bib had already come off the pins and I was left clutching at it like a baton for much of the way. I was passed by another and with 1K to go, Nick caught me and we finished together in 50 minutes and change – reckon we were in 8th and 9th, judging from the race progress.

Other than some vouchers and a yogurt bar, there was nothing else in the finish pack, so we left for a light breakfast around the corner. I’m glad there’s no more 10K races leading up to GCAM and can move on to longer distances done at a more race specific pace. Thanks to Nick for ferrying me to and from the race site.

Larian Hijau SJ 10K 2014

A 10K with “neighborhood” vibes, RM35 entry fee, short drive from home, new route away from the same-old same-old, what’s not to like? There was a little apprehension about the climbs though as I remembered Putra Heights are littered with ups and downs. A few days before the race, a certain someone who, at the point of writing this report is happily Skyrunning in the Highlands, confidently told me that the route is flat and the podium is a possibility. Because he’s driven it before. Right. Luckily I had the foresight to check the route out by plotting it in MapMyRun. Let’s just say that it’s NOT flat!

The new flat.

Anyways, this being a “cheap” run with like I said, “neighborhood” vibes, the plan was to run it as a tempo workout. Watch the pace and keep an eye on the climbs. The pre-race briefing was akin to an ultra race briefing. The race director stood atop a platform and basically gave a verbal run-down of the entire route (there were several distances) and at one point I’d expected someone to fish out and started marking their map from a ziploc bag!

I was a few feet from the gantry which was constructed wrongly because the Start and Finish were facing the wrong directions. That contributed to some confusion as well. Anyways, I broke free after the first bend coming out of the One City Mall compound. The roads were wide enough that I could run without being obstructed. Not even a K into the race, we had to start huffing up. Right then until the finish I was mentally grumbling at that certain someone happily enjoying his scones and tea LOL!

If I was trying to enjoy the run, another chap from the same category whom I’d passed at the early stage of the race started pushing his pace and caught up with me. That would be fine as it’ll keep the pace interesting which is what racing is all about. But he started getting too close as if he wanted to snuggle up. Even when the road is so bloody wide. My left elbow kept brushing into him and I’m not one to have a wild arm swing. A few minutes later I couldn’t take it anymore and said to him if I happened to elbow him, that would be unintentional. He sheepishly replied, “Oh that’s OK”. I was working the hills too hard to have realized that he just gave me permission to elbow him! No chance to test the theory out as he immediately dropped pace.

When it got to 7K, it was clear that the distance would be longer than 10K. I’d worked myself up the Category C (Junior Veteran) pack and picked the fellow Cs one by one. By now there were more runners along the roads, including the always inspirational ones on wheelchairs (not those racing 3-wheelers, mind you). Huge props to them for socking it back to whatever challenges they face. I then refocused to tracking a fellow C who had traded leads with me. Wanted to make sure that the next time I passed him it was for good. With 1K to go, I slowly drew nearer and nearer and saw that he wasn’t speeding up. 700m to go, I drew alongside and I held on by his side just to feel if he would respond. None. So I pulled away and finished some distance ahead of him. Distance was 11.69K and my timing was a very average 57:21 (4:54 pace).

I was handed a #9 card which meant I’d secured the Top 20 medal. There were some initial confusion whether there were special prizes or a spot on the podium for Top 10s but there was none. Regardless, I was quite pleased with the pace and effort. It wasn’t a podium ending but I thought some of the short racing nous are beginning to return.

I was a little peeved that the organizers could’ve extended the distance a bit more to a 12K instead of 10. That way, I’d also record a better timing than my disastrous outing at BHP. Even funnier was when a battle-hardened racer like Vincent said that I must’ve improved due to all the speedwork I’ve put in. After several attempts of denying that I’d done nothing of that sort, and him not believing anything I said, I was chuckling so hard inside. Then another seasoned vet asked my age and gave me a several thumbs up and said that I looked like an ostrich (yes, he used the comparison!) – good form and all! If I’d been anything they’d said, my pace would’ve been around 4:30 and I’d be on that podium!

Hard earned. Only 20 on offer.

After the race, I hung around for a bit distributing flyers for January’s MPIB Run (If you’ve not done so, please sign up soon!). Bumped into many familiar faces including Zijil and Meng Yong. Also spotted many others who live around the Subang and Puchong townships. The run is dedicated to a friend facing a far different battle. I’m sure he knows now that the team is with him all the way.

Like an ostrich!

Oh yes, I was still laughing at those comments as I drove away from One City!

Southern Cross University 10K 2015

It’s another year and I found myself back on the Gold Coast. This time with many more mates from the training group along for the running festival that we’ve come to love.

Since a run was planned on the eve of the marathon, a few of us thought might as well run the official 10K as the shakeout – getting more bang for the buck out of the trip. The plan was to take it really leisurely with plenty of photo ops along the way.

The weather on Saturday was mild, just fine for a short run but it started off with some drama. Due to an incident, the northbound tram line was closed, forcing runners to mass along the Gold Coast Highway for the bus shuttle services. After several packed buses passed without so much as reducing the size of the queue, I scrambled to cab-pool with another group of runners (Hi, Todd!) and was able to make it to Southport in time. Nevertheless, the organizers wisely delayed the start a little to accommodate the late arrivals. As I was hurrying towards the agreed meeting point by the big LCD screen, I bumped into Ryan Hall just off the main road. With no one mobbing him, I did the sanest thing a gawking runner would do.

Soon enough with everyone in our group accounted for, we (Foo, Leong, CY, Nick, Man Hon, and I) proceeded to the rear of the thousands of participants. I’d shed my layers even before I entered the corral, so mild was the temperature that morning. The mood was fun and there was absolutely no pressure where we stood.

Personal engagements with the event organizers meant I’ve to proceed at a quicker pace than the gang so that I’ve enough time to freshen up at the hotel, chow down some breakfast before meeting the inbound travel group from Malaysia. As a result I was promptly separated from Nick and the gang just after the start with me running some ways with Man Hon.

Don’t be fooled by the guys. They were just getting started. They were nuts that morning!

Soon enough I was alone passing more along the way, snapping photos as I went along. One of the GCAM Ambassadors, Benita Willis, was herself providing support to the back of the packers. Great to see the greats giving back to the runners.

The 10K route is also run on a racetrack pattern. Runners cross the Southport Bridge at the start heading southwards before u-turning on the other side, making their way northwards towards Runaway Bay before doubling back to the finish at the race precinct.

This stretch is one of the most beautiful along the route.
Northern section U-turn. It’s apparent that the day would be hot.

There were plenty of supporters along the way and there was never a dull stretch which was devoid of cheers. After covering the early Ks between 6:26 to 5:22, I picked up the pace the last 4K (5:15, 5:13, 5:07 and 5:01) just to get the legs working a bit before crossing the line in 55:57.

The run-in through the finishing chute was a teaser for what’s to come the next day. The crowd was really thick and enthusiastic and those in the stands screamed even louder as I waved at them! With the finisher tee and medal collected , I hurried back to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the day – the route tour and Garmin Legends Lunch beckoned.

The other guys? I believe “fun” would be an understatement in describing their experience! With the 10K in the bag, my GCAM medal collection is now complete! If you’re planning to run GCAM16, be sure to include the Southern Cross University 10K or the Suncorp Bank 5.7K Challenge into the itinerary as part of the marathon eve shakeout run!

Click on the photo below to launch the photo slideshow.
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Shape Night Run 2015

“Call up all our friends, go hard this weekend.
For no damn reason, I don’t think we’ll ever change.
Meet you at the spot, half past ten o’clock.
We don’t ever stop, and we’re never gonna change.”
Here’s To Never Growing Up, Avril Lavigne

It’s 4 months into the year yet last night’s Shape Night Run was just my first race of 2015. Much of the running I’ve put in thus far have been geared towards running well in the Gold Coast and to lay a foundation towards an ambitious 2-year goal so last night’s 11.2K was pretty much a penned-in speed work.

The week had been nasty as far as stress was concerned. There was little running and when I managed to lace up, it was more an up-tempo workout than anything to do with mileage. Therefore Saturday morning’s short jaunt around the neighborhood was a much needed time-out. I was also testing out a new gear which I’ll be writing more about in the coming days.

The day had been a scorcher as with all others recently and I made sure I drank consistently throughout the morning and afternoon. As agreed, I met CY for a light and early dinner and arrived without any drama to Precinct 3. There were already a number of early birds at the booths. First thing to do was to catch up with the friendly Skechers Malaysia folks at their booth. Skechers was, once again, a main sponsor for the event – one of the best organized in KL. At 6:45pm, it was time for a bit of warm up jog. The skies had progressively turned darker by the minute and even before we got back to our cars, it had started drizzling. The lightning show was also turning quite spectacular. In the distant, PICC was already obscured by the heavy rain.

With CY, Nick and 2 unsuspecting mannequins.

With rain already a foregone conclusion, I headed back to the car for my cap. Weather conditions would deteriorate so much that delay was inevitable. All the warm up came to nothing and the next hour was spent chatting with friends. The announcements over the PA weren’t heard where we were seated so when we saw people walking to the starting pen, we followed suit. The organizers had made the “go” decision when the weather showed signs of improvements. Streaks of lightning still flashed across the skies but it was getting better. Most runners were just anxious to get it started. Personally I felt it would’ve been a waste of the cool conditions if the race was called off.

At 8:45pm, the race was finally underway. No starter’s gun or horn to mark the start. The first couple of Ks were light and easy and Nick blazed ahead and remained about 30 meters ahead of me. The quicker pace meant there was room to run without having to weave around others. The Seri Gemilang Bridge was cleared in due course but Nick pulled up just after that. I continued at the same pace and the evening was just too nice and cooling, negating the need to grab a cup at the first drink station. I only took note of the watch on and off but largely ran by feel.

The pace took a hit when a side stitch struck. It’s been a nuisance of late especially when negotiating faster paces and it’s an issue I must remedy ASAP. I tried regulating my breathing with the cadence and it helped a little, enough to ensure that my pace didn’t slip further. The first challenge was pushing up the ramp along Lebuh Wadi before heading back to the finish. The final climb towards Precinct 3 was even tougher but by then it was too close to the finish to slack off.

With 500 meters to go, I dropped 2 more runners and tried to chase down an F1 girl in the final straight. She must’ve sensed it and promptly found another gear and scooted off like there was a Prada sale. I crossed the line tired but not spent. A 53:26 for the 11.2K course was a good outing for me, more so a 47:46 PR for the 10K. Nick and CY also scored their PRs, which meant the GCAM15 teamsters had a great night out. The 4:46 average pace was what I reckoned was possible with the greater focus on the strength this time around. With the crucial period of marathon training approaching, the key would be to develop the endurance part.

Happy with the outing. Photo courtesy of Michele Tan who got on the podium with another great performance.

I’d like to thank the Skechers Malaysia team for inviting me to this happening race. The hardworking team along with the enthusiastic crew at all the support areas and water stations were excellent and I’m sure every runner felt special out there last night.


Desa Park City Run 2011

You know they’re excited when they wake up at the first calling. Both of their bib were already pasted on their singlets the night before, shorts laid out as well. No dilly-dallying over their milk and we were out 5 minutes head of scheduled for the long drive to Desa Park City. It would be a very long wait for the Carbokids’ turn, what with the 9:40am start. Race Director, Peter Lautredoux wanted a safe run for the kids hence the late start. There were 2 categories for the kids – Under 9 and Over 9, covering a 600m dash and 2.2K respectively.

My pre-race food was some pre-soaked chia and some leftover soft drink. Nothing bad happened to the gut, thankfully. We got to the spanking new International School @ Park City early. There were still parking spots in front of the school. Julie was already at work greeting the runners, young and old, to the event. Everyone was chilling out waiting for the 7am start for the 5K Fun Run and the 7:10am start for the 10K. With 25 minutes to go, I got ready for my warm up with some striders. Also warming up were Daniel, Ronnie, YS Lee, Jason Loh. Even though the familiar speedsters in the form of triathletes were there, the event has a decidedly family atmosphere, unlike the youthful allure of the Nike “We Run KL” 10K happening in downtown KL. Suited me just fine.

Once the 5K runners were let off, it was time for us to get into position. There wasn’t any race plan other than just run a sustained effort, hang on as much as possible going up the 600m hill (we had been warned in the runners’ notes) and put in a strong finish. There were obviously many who were queued up in the wrong position (non-readers of the Race Etiquette obviously) but within the first 200m, I was cleared to run at my own pace without the weaving in and out. The rolling route was nice to run, sustain the uphills and free up the legs as I rolled down. That was until the promised 600m climb where I was really tempted to walk. But there was no one walking as far as my eyes could see, so I shuffled up the tougher-than-Ammah Hill-hill. Reached the top with my tongue hanging out, stepped on the mat (timing was done by ChampionChip), allowed a brief peep at the panoramic view of Desa Park City and ran down as fast as I could, hoping to make up the lost time.

Storming downhill before the final uphill sprint. Managed to overtake 2 runners around the turn. Photo courtesy of Tey ET.
Storming downhill before the final uphill sprint. Managed to overtake 2 runners around the turn. Photo courtesy of Tey ET.

I’d given up running with Tay Poh Chye, an absolutely wrong person to pace with (but a nice guy all the same) whom I saw up ahead. I drew up to Boston-bound Khoo Yit Kiat, who was taking this run as the start to his marathon training. Note that he was jogging, while I was already near maxed out. A loop around the commercial center and we were back to the finishing area of the International School. A short downhill followed by an uphill sprint for a finish time of 49:48 (averaging 4:55 pace, clearly slowed down in the treacherous hill section). I was happy nevertheless as I don’t think I’ve hit a sub-50 timing this year, so few short races had I run in 2011. But I’d really love to have a 4:45 average.

Hydrating before their start.
Hydrating before their start.
Rookie met the Legend.
Rookie met the Legend. Legend told the rookie to run his legs off.

Plenty of waiting around for the kids to start their run and we checked out the school. An obviously upmarket establishment, the classrooms were Mac equipped. When the Over 9 kids were called to the starting line, everyone was gathered by the starting area, eager to catch the action. Definitely fun to watch the kids run and Raymond The Tomatoman, who was the marshal on the bike, remarked at how fast the kids were.

Fast and Furious start for the Over 9s. The girl in white and grey (center right) was the eventual winner.
Fast and Furious start for the Over 9s. The girl in white and grey, a triathlete, (center right) was the eventual winner.

Then it was the Carbokids’ turn. I walked them to the starting area and reminded them not to go out too fast, and if tired to just walk. Prior to that, I’d ensured that they laces were already double-knotted 🙂 . I positioned myself on the opposite side of the road while my wife and Mom at the Start/Finish. You can see from the photo and videos below, how cute they were. It was only 600m but to many of them it was already akin to a 5K!

C2 showed good form and steady pace towards the finish. He didnt stop to walk on this uphill section!
C2 showed good form and steady pace towards the finish. He didn’t stop to walk on this uphill section!

Threes a company.
Three’s a company.

Both completed but did walk on a few occasions, which was just fine. The thing was they finished and it was an eye opening experience for them. Now if only there are more kids’ outings! Peter and his team did a great job with the event and hopefully we’ll see it returning next year.

Nike Human Race 2008

Race Report

Go global
Nike Sales Malaysia’s invitation to participate in the Singapore leg of the Human Race was too good to turn down especially when the city state was the only South East Asia venue to host this global event. Trust it to the sports marketing giant to put on a superb show, uniting 25 cities, celebrity runners and iconic athletes, and not to forget one million runners together for the benefit of 3 charitable organizations (20% of the registration fees go to the runner’s charity of choice). For this to work, Nike latched on to the power of the Internet, weaving the event promotion, registration, and training into their Nike+ portal. This allows participants to set up virtual challenges and log their training. Those who couldn’t make it to the appointed venues could also run the race virtually. The choice of date was significant since it’s to take place on Malaysia’s Independence Day – 31.8.2008. Each registrant has their own selection of beneficiary for personal reasons and believing that children are indeed our future, my choice was ninemillion.org.

About the charities

The ninemillion.org campaign was created in 2006 by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in partnership with Nike and Microsoft. The goal of the campaign is to give more than nine million children better access to education, sport and technology by 2010. The ninemillion.org website exists to raise funds, but also to give voice to those who often go unheard, allowing visitors to see pictures of the camps where children pass much of their lives, read refugee children’s stories and understand what refugee children’s lives are like.

Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Lance Armstrong Foundation – LAF – was founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong. The LAF is a nonprofit organization located in Austin, Texas focusing on providing practical information and tools people with cancer need to live life on their own terms. LAF’s agenda include Prevention, Access to screening and care, Improvement of the quality of life for cancer survivors and Investment in research.

World Wildlife Fund
WWF was born into this world in 1961. Since those early days WWF has grown up to be one of the largest environmental organizations in the world. Currently there are more than 1300 WWF conservation projects underway around the world. Almost all WWF’s work involves partnerships with local non-profit agencies and other global NGOs.

A scare
My participation, however, was nearly derailed by the muscle strain I picked up just 3 days before race day. Luckily I recovered enough to make the trip down, even though I was a little stoned by the muscle relaxants! Everything had been arranged by Nike from our flight and hotel stay to race pack collection, and thanks to Frank who helped pick up the flight tickets, all I needed to do was to be at the KLIA on Saturday morning. I was the first to arrive and soon enough I was joined by Frank and Pueh Tian. We killed time at McDonald’s while waiting for the boarding time. Only at the waiting lounge did we linked up with Niki Cheong from The Star and Richard Augustin from the TimeOut KL magazine.

Our ride in the tiny 737 was pretty bumpy and there were so much thick clouds that I knew it would be a wet weekend. We cleared customs very quickly and before long reached the Gallery Hotel soon enough. There were many banners promoting Sunday’s race from the ECP stretch all the way into the CBD area and the results show – due to the level of awareness generated, Singapore was the first country to fill up and close the registration process. I’d say it’s a result of good marketing, a large population of fitness enthusiasts and a credit to the Singapore government’s health and fitness programs.

The race pack

We were met by Alison Lee, Nike Malaysia’s Marketing Communications Manager, at the hotel with our race packs. In each pack was a red Sphere Dry tee with a unique race number, a large Nike polycarbonate water bottle, championchip, wrist bands to denote starting category and access to the Nike Partner’s tent, race guide, and various vouchers. We took a bit longer to locate our room numbers as they were painted (quite small in fact, which led me to think it was done intentionally) on the floor instead of the door. Well, such is the case of a boutique hotel! Then it was a short walk to Robinson Quay for a late but very nice lunch at a Belgian restaurant. We headed separate ways after lunch with Frank, PT and I opting to hit Orchard Road for some shopping.

The Gallery Hotel

After a fantastic lunch at a Belgian restaurant. Note Tintin’s gang painted on the wall

Shopping is also a workout
1 heavy downpour, 4 shopping malls and 6 DVDs from HMV later, my legs were starting to feel the effects. Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped to admire the lantern floats moored along the Singapore River in front of the CentrePoint mall. Much as I’d liked to spend the night chilling out at the numerous waterholes there was racing to be done the next day and I’d yet to sort out my race kit, which I did while channel surfing between the EPL game and HBO. It was lights out by midnight.

Race Day
I didn’t hear my watch alarm ring but by 7:15am I was down at the coffee house for breakfast. The plan called for an excursion to the Raffles City area. This time we opted to walk there, instead of riding the MRT. Weather was superb for walking with a steady breeze and plenty of cloud cover. At the end of the 2KM walk, we had quite a few silly photo opportunities. You can check that out in the photo album. The skies looked threatening though and I bet at least 11,000 other people were praying that it wouldn’t pour. That’s the number of runners who will be hitting the race at 4:15pm. Well, 11,000 and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers, performers (did I mention that there would be performances en route as well as after the race?), and hardworking crew. Lunch was at Funan’s Pastamania.

Shoe of choice for the race. An arty farty shot to match the boutique hotel

The Alkaff Bridge, part of the race route, in the background.

Familiar faces
We were early to the Padang and we observed that it wasn’t as soggy as we thought it would be. It seemed that everyone was concerned about the state of cleanliness of their Lunar Trainers! It was nice to catch up with Siva who was on stage duty and later Wong whom we met at the Nike Booth. After all the wacky photo shoots (again!), and a chitchat with an American who desperately wanted to run but couldn’t register on time, we proceeded to deposit our baggage. Thus far, everything was efficiently organized. Stickers were provided to ensure that we don’t forget which baggage counter we left our belongings.

2 of the ridiculous shots we took. We had too much time!

Finally we made our way to the Esplanade where the staging area would be. The crowd had been steadily building up and the sea of red was swelling. I didn’t opt for a warm up, a requisite before a 10K, since I didn’t want to risk my quads. Instead I rested at the steps inside the Esplanade and enjoyed the aircond. While my legs felt OK in my walkabouts, I wasn’t quite sure how it would react when the pounding started, hence my decision to play safe. With 30 minutes to go, the 3 of us headed down to the starting pens. We were assigned the 1st pen which actually was for the elites and faster runners. Of course I felt out of place even if the rulebook mentioned that those aiming for sub-50 were to be allocated the first start. I guess I felt that way because there were many obviously faster runners who were assigned to the “slower” 2nd pen. Among whom were BoSe and David Ong. It was almost coincidental that we could hook up despite the huge crowd. A handful of runners were in Lunars. It was getting packed in the holding area and I wished we could just start. The skies were holding even if there was a very light drizzle.

The Wave 1 start. Can you spot me? Hint: Look to the right, and squint.

A DJ and 2 MCs were hamming up the crowd but I thought that having the teen who is a cancer survivor on stage was a nice touch. He and his family would be flagging us off. There was also the WWF panda mascot. It certainly allowed the runners to relate to the charities they contributed to. A couple of short interviews later, it was time for action.

The air horns sounded and everyone burst out of the pens running like being chased by bulls in Pamplona.

The first K was a ridiculously fast 4:50. The second K was even faster at 4:37. I was monitoring my quads for any sign of discomfort but they seemed to be holding up. Given the narrow start, there were plenty of jostling as the back runners tried to get in front. I’d lost contact with Frank and had Pueh Tian for company for a full 4 seconds. The pace continued for the next couple of Ks and I thought that I might not be able to sustain it for the whole distance. By the 3rd K, the crowd around me became sparser. At least within the 3 feet around me. That allowed me to make clean and fast grabs at the water stations. I couldn’t sustain the sub 5 pace after the 3rd K and my splits hover between 5:00 to 5:10. I didn’t find the narrow riverine paths a problem. As I passed the packed pubs along the waterfront, I jestfully shouted “beer, beer!”. It was unusual then to experience some hot spots on both soles. The sun peeked out from the clouds and it suddenly turned warmer. A combination of tiredness and slippery surface slowed me down further in the final 2K but I hung on for a 51:06 finish. The distance was quite accurate at 10.09K. A check later at the Nikeplus website showed that I placed 33,343 globally.

I wasn’t too happy with my timing as it was nearly 3 minutes slower than my best but considering the circumstances and conditions, I wasn’t too beat up either. Most importantly, finishing the race meant that I could partake in the festivities that laid ahead. There weren’t much of a crowd after the finish line, so I quickly de-chipped and collected my finisher’s baton containing the exclusive bracelet. The volunteers did a great job in clearing the queue for water and refreshments and I was able to collect my baggage very quickly (unlike the chaos of the Singapore Marathon). The young volunteers at baggage check even complimented my finishing time, which was a nice gesture.

The finisher’s bracelet

Part of being an invited guest meant that I could gain admission to the Nike Partners’ Lounge where plenty of food and drinks awaited. You could also guzzle as much Heineken as you wanted if beer was your preferred post-race carbs. I ate lightly and finished a can while camera girls snapped polaroids of guests. The concert on the stage were shown live on my dream TV – 42″ Panasonic plasmas, lined up at various spots in the lounge. I pulled Shaharudin, who finished 5th, for a group photo and also saw Jeanette Wang, Singapore’s top triathlete and winner of this year’s Sundown Marathon. I observed that she was very disciplined in her warm down. I thought she spent at least 15 minutes on her cooldown routine.

The Malaysian contingent including Shaharudin (2nd left)

The post-race spread waiting for us at the Partners’ Lounge

Niki, Richard and Pueh Tian joined us not long after and once everyone had eaten and drank, we walked over to the Media Centre located in the Singapore Recreation Club to collect our press kits. Niki had to submit his report back to The Star and we had an opportunity to browse the press photos trying to find our faces.

The concert in full swing

Since the trio wanted to hang out at the post-race concert, which featured top Singapore rap and hip-hop artistes and an upcoming band from the US, Boys Like Girls, Frank decided to join me over at Robinsons as I wanted to pick up some toys for the kids back home. I settled for a Ben 10 bag for Carbokid1 and a Thomas The Train carriage for Carbokid2. On our 2K walk back to the hotel we picked up a kebab each at the Shiraz stall along Quay. The Singaporeans were so efficient that even before the concert was over, the council workers were already dismantling and removing the street boardings, barricades and buntings.

Packing was a little difficult early next morning due to the generosity of Nike and my shopping. Some violent shoving and teeth gnashing later, I managed to put away all the stuff. The ride to the airport in the pre-booked Merc Vito was smooth with no traffic jams. To kill some time, I took the virtual SLK on several spins on the X-Box console at Changi and there was no changing the fact that I still sucked at Need For Speed. The 10am (75% empty) Airbus flight home was way more comfortable that the rocky ride in the Boeing.

In closing this account, I’d like to record my heartfelt thanks to the generous people of Nike Sales Malaysia namely Alison Lee, Siva Shanker and Wong Li-Zren for inviting us to the party. They not only showered the Malaysian contingent with great hospitality and made us felt at home, but worked unbelievably hard to put up a smashing event for the 11,000 of us runners.

Read more accounts here: Niki | Frank | Pueh Tian