The trials and tribulations have finally arrived in the form of one of the biggest running events in Malaysia, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, and all runners in the running community from all over the country want a piece of the action!
So, it would be impolite of me not to join them!
The Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2019 (SCKLM2019) was the 11th edition of SCKLM and the largest edition yet with over 40,000 participants converging on Dataran Merdeka over the 28-29 September weekend. For the first time, the 5km category was held the day before together with the Friendship Run, which meant to be a warm-up run for the Full Marathon, thus created an opportunity and platform for runners from around the world to network and forge friendships.
There were 1,900 running tourists participated in the race this year, representing 49 countries from all over the world. There were also 10,020 Malaysians who came from outside of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. In light of this, the Kuala Lumpur Mayor has proposed that the name of the event be altered to give the city more prominence in order to encourage more running tourists and their entourages to the city. Henceforth, this premier distance running event will be called the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) to highlights its tourism potential.
KLSCM is sanctioned and supported by the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF), Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Athletic Federation (FTKLAA), International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Association of International Marathons, Distance Races (AIMS).
The Haze situation
Days and weeks into the biggest and boldest KL Marathon, our country was hit with the haze crisis. Runners were uncertain if the race was on or cancelled. As a result, most runners, including myself did not have enough training (longer distance in outdoor) thus motivation level was not at our very best!
Over the past 2 weeks prior to the final week, there have been many discussions and worry about the haze situation and the possibility of cancellation. Finally, the organiser of KLSCM released an announcement that a decision would be made on 27 Sep 2019 7:30 pm, less than 2 days before the big day.
However, the haze situation has improved on Tuesday 24 Sep 2019 with rain over Klang Valley in the evening. Wednesday and Thursday were rainy and windy. API reading dropped to less than 100. API reading rose a little on Friday but overall was below 100. It looked as though the event might be going ahead and everyone was on their edge waiting for the official announcement which finally came.
Get ready, gun time (or is it honky time) and let the journey begin
The clock started ticking towards the 3:45 am mark… almost there 3:40, 3:42…and suddenly there were 3 to 4 confetti canons released at different parts of the starting line and created a very exhilarating atmosphere. Drones flown by and the MC was shouting at the top of her lung for all the runner to waive at it. And then the countdown started…. Calm down, calm down, control the nerve, slow down your heart rate, breathe in deeply….phew. And the horn was released. The horn signalled the start of the race and the march went on.
As Stephen Covey said ‘to begin with the end in mind, but it doesn’t mean for you to end without starting’. With this in mind, I was ready. My plan was to break the whole course into blocks – my initial playbook was a block of 14km i.e. 14km – 8mins pace, 14km – 7:40mins pace, 14km – 7mins pace. I crossed the starting line whilst switching the GPS on my watch and ran pass a blare of music, confetti and cheering which slowly turned into the steady rhythm of footfalls and breathing.
These 2 years starting somehow lack the impact I remember from when I first joined this prestigious event; it was my first half marathon in 2016. I could still remember clearly the lines of drums, drumming as we marched towards the starting line. The beat of the drums amplified my heartbeat and it was so loud that it was impossible to hear anything else or the person next to you trying to talk to you. It was like marching to a battlefield. But that was 3 years ago. Now the economy is soft, the budget cut was everywhere I guess.
The difference between the gun-time and nett time is surprisingly short, less than 2 minutes. I’d tried to run as per my plan, 7:30-7:40 pace for the first km. But alas, things were not as planned again this year. I did not follow my own plan and my blocks turned into 10km – 6min, 10k – 8 mins. I did not need the genius to tell me why I ran out-breath and hit whatever walls I could hit in the form of the water stations. It was hard to measure my effort when I was in full swing. The lap reading in the first km was ridiculously at 6:35min. I was trying to slow down, but I was affected by the sea of runners surrounding me who were running at the same or even faster pace. The sound of thousands of footsteps kept drumming and I kept urging for my nerve to be calmed and steady. I was doomed when the next 5km was at an average pace of 6:30min. I was desperately looking around for some familiar faces who I knew were slower who could be my pacemaker. But those familiar faces were also at a faster pace…oh man. I had no choice but to march on. The feeling of greed crept in as I thought I would save more time at the later stage of the race. Imagine 1min saving for every km. I know, I know, this is wrong thinking but I was desperate, remember?
Seeing my friends just sped off passing me from left and right I was starting to think I was running to slow…or am I?
We then had a further drizzle of rain which was good. I was trying to cut into the inner lane of every curve of the road and found some water puddle in some corners. Trying to stop and ran around the puddles to avoid wet feet consumed more energy. There was one particularly big puddle that I thought I would sink if I stepped into it. So I pulled an emergency stop and felt a few runners crashed into my back and with a few grunts before they ran around me. Don’t blame me! Blame the rain!
For further reading, please refer to the full review at this blog.