Sunday, October 19, 2014

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2014 : Race Report

Two weeks after my Ironman 2014 and with a tight ITB wasn't my idea of a run for this instalment of Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2014, or SCKLM2014 for short. I more or less decided that if I have to walk the whole 42km, I will. 
So I was excited to go collect my race kit from the expo as I know I was the first to register (as I was helping the organiser to test the registration system a day before). I was obviously hoping for A-00001 and for my wife, C-00001. At least will what we local call "Menang Gaya" (Win In Style). 
Imagine my disappointment when I saw what was on my bib. 
Luckily, in the race pack were a set of AA battery from GP. I take that as a consolation as that could be used to power the remote control at home for the TV and DVD for entertainment. 
The REPC this year was done at Underground Carpark at Dataran Merdeka. It was definitely better represented with more stalls selling relevant running items. Brooks were huge this year with sections selling shoes and running gears. Not to forget the folks from Quicksports and Powerbar as well. I was hoping to catch MarathonShop there, but they did not open their store. 
Good stuff still, we the main reason for me opting to collect the race kit was to bump into friends. With that done, we headed home and prepared for the next day race. As I seldom take nutrition for 42km run itself, I decided to arm myself with the very basic. 

The Hammer Bar will be breakfast for me and wifey. Perpetuem Solid will be spare in case we get hungry while waiting. Core fuel will be the Hammer Gel and the "must have" would be the Endurolytes+Anti-Fatigue (2+1 every 10km for this race). I know the organiser will provide banana and gels at KM 30 or so, and that would be insurance if I were to need it. 

Part of race logistic was to decide on what to wear, gear wise. It was an easy decision as I will be decked out in the Team 2ndSkin vaporlite top, with Kraftfit thighs, Skechers GoRunUltra Nite Owl will be the shoe and I have the spanking new Spyder Corsair as sunnies. Tracking will be on my Garmin Fenix while my wife will be using my 910XT. Additional to this would be the Lifeline-ID that to me is important for races like these as it carries all important information, and doubling up to the emergency info behind my bib. 

With LengLui
On top of that, I will carry the reggae whistle given to me by Mohan and will be using the Samsung S5 with Gear Fit as additional tracking and camera.

We slept early that night - by our standard would be 11pm and woke up at 2am that morning to get ready. We were out by 2.30am and reached Dataran Merdeka by 3am. Found ourselves a nice parking and slept in the car for a while until 3.30am before consuming the fuel and pre-race Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue. We then made our way to the starting line and It was already buzzing with activities. I then try to locate the media tent to sign in but security was too tight for me to get past. I guess the security doesn't think I am also a "media owner" (aka this blog lah, sound glam or not?). Else, I would had gotten some freebies, like an umbrella or...uhhmmm...socks? Anyway....

The organiser made a few changes to the setup of the race area compared to last year. The baggage collection was at the underground carpark, which meant if it rain, nothing get wet (the bags) and it also lend a level of security. Nicely done. Then there is the "entry" gantry for runners, so everyone should technically know where to go to start their run. Unlike previous year were people are coming in from all directions.

The biggest change, if of course the running route. A major part of the run will be on two distinct highway in Kuala Lumpur; AKLEH and DUKE. Gone are the traditional run through inner KL like every year. 

10minutes to race start there were warm up session with a few fitness instructors and the crowd starts to get moving a little. There were 5000 plus signed up for the Marathon and the number that morning certainly looked like there are that many people, at least from where I stood. Myself and wifey stayed in the middle of the pack as that would be the best place to be. 

About 3 minutes to race start, the VIPs took stage and were introduced to the professional runners standing at the front. At least they were on time. Negaraku was played but what was dissapointing was that it was not the full song that was played. Maybe someone missed the memo to play it fully. Most of us sang to the National Anthem - it was a good way to warm the body up! Better than stretching!

Sharp at 4:30am, with the Clock Tower chiming, the marathoner started their run! My mission was to keep moving. I am hoping the ITB will hold up and not cause more problem than it did during Ironman Malaysia. The run started and we headed towards Jalan Raja Laut before turning off towards Jalan Sultan Ismail and turning at Renaissance Hotel along Jalan Ampang. 
There were a few bands that were playing along this stretch of road up till KLCC. 

The funny thing during the run was that we passed a few nightspots and the people partying (still) at 5am were in amusement that there are more than just them not sleeping yet. Some of these people looked dodgy and a few looked wasted, so it is not worth the risk taking their photos as we ran past. 
After that, it was silence as we headed towards Wisma Cosway/Genting and towards Jalan Tun Razak, passing by Tabung Haji and Ampang Park. In fact, it started to become a bit too quiet and a tad boring as we entered AKLEH. It was so boring that I yawned so many times and looked at the road buffer as if they are bed! I told my wife a few times that I was sleepy.  
Sort of confirmed my thoughts that all phone cameras won't perform in low light moving condition
The organiser setup a tent for the Muslim runners to perform subuh prayer. Many runners stopped and performed the obligation. It was a nice touch compared to years before where many Muslim friends prayer by the road side. Good job organiser. We U-turned at the end of AKLEH near Jalan Sultan Ismail (KLCC entrance) and ran back up towards Ulu Kelang. We passed two LRT stations Damai and Dato' Keramat; and that was the highlight of the run on AKLEH, as there were human presences other than just us runners. Of course the KL Skyline were there for photo opp, A few were seen slowing down for a selfie or two with KLCC at the background. Not many, but some did. From AKLEH, we exit at Ulu Kelang and ran along Jalan Ulu Kelang for a bit (aka MRR2) passing by Kampung Kuala Ampang and heading to DUKE Highway. By then, it was brightly lit already.

Took over from Mohan. Blew the whistle a lil, but no one seems to follow...
Usually every year we will have a photo outside of Pavilion but there were no shopping complexes along this route. But there are always Traffic Police on duty which wifey will stop to take a photo with. This year, this Abang Polis became our poster boy.
We headed up towards DUKE and It was about KM 20 by then. About half way through and from the map, I know there is a good 10km to run on DUKE. For many that do not know, DUKE actually runs through many major part of KL. The Ulu Kelang, Keramat, Wangsa Maju, MINDEF, Gombak, Setapak, Sentul, Segambut, Jalan Ipoh and finally towards the PJ side. 
The organiser's idea could had been good because they wanted the runner to "run through" these area. Unless you are from this area, there is absolutely no indication what and where you just passed. I know these area well because I grew up around here. 
Ribena Factory below

Running past the MINDEF housing clusters
 Near Setiawangsa interchange, I saw from far a familiar face, it was Kam. You see, Kam was supposed to run both the PNM the night before and then the SCKLM. But a day before the race, while crossing a road after Friday prayer, he was clipped by a motorbike and ended up in the A&E with bleeding to the head and a bruised left calf.
Left calf obviously bigger 
 We stopped for some photos and part way. 
Wefie on DUKE
The water stations were set up really well this time around. Water at every stops and Isotonic every alternate. Medical help were present with sponging stations as well. Many bins were placed for runners to dispose the paper cup and all. But mentality of runners are still not matured enough to understand that the bins are for them to dispose their rubbish. I saw two runners carrying their own cups, and myself and wifey ran with our own bottles where we refill when we can at these stations. 
What were missing were a food buffet
About KM28, i bumped into Azrul, fellow RMC boy. He is nursing a torn ACL but still strong enough to run. He went on to finish the race ahead of me despite the injury, which is a testament on how strong his mental capacity is. 
Hello Azrul!
Hello Amar!
The low-cost housing near Sentul

Slum in Kuala Lumpur. Yeap. What you do not see doesn't meant it did not exist.
Food at KM29, before exiting DUKE towards Jalan Ipoh
Yeap! Good service!
We headed towards Jalan Kuching near Jinjang soon after and back to "familiar" route of SCKLM. This was at approximately KM32 where the Gaited Community (GC) set up their station to feed runners. Thank you. Sorry I did not manage a pic with you all. 
Andrew walloping the Ice lemon Tea by GC. Pic from Ejah Shah
We ran along Jalan Kuching and exited at the Segambut roundabout. For many of us familiar with all the previous year's route, it marks the last "7km" to finish, but not this year. With the route change, we have a good 10 km to cover from there onwards. 
Exiting Jalan Kuching and into Jalan Segambut/Duta
The organiser setup a shower station in front fo the National Tennis centre at Bukit Tunku. Wifey made the compulsory dip.
The first person to greet me and wifey as we went into Jalan Bukit Tunku were fellow Ironman Nik (Fahusnaza). He was there to capture photos of us at KM33-35. Then the 5:30 pacer lead by Kelvin "Cheerful" Ng caught up with me and wifey and the Malaysia Top Female Ironman Lini "Pretty" Kazim were there to take photos of all of us. 
Thanks Lini!
 For as long as I ran my 42km, there wasn't any "wall". I believe that was because I've taken every 42km run at leisure pace and never had the chance to see the wall. The ITB was behaving well that while there were tugging feeling and the occasional sharp pain n the upper knee (left side, upper), all were good and it did not bother until then.
With Izwah
Wifey still strong
Right after the downhill portion towards Sasana Kijang, past the Arab school, the ITB started to act up and that was when I asked wifey to go ahead and run without me. That was the last I saw her ;-).
And off she went...
The run then brought us past Dataran Merdeka towards Padang Merbuk. Up onto Mahameru Highway and turning left to head towards KL Sentral. 
Bumping into your cousin doing 21km
We ran past Muzium Negara and then past Majestic Hotel past KTM. THen taking a 3-o clock and run up past Dayabumi.
Almost there!
The final 500m were filled with friends cheering. It was festive and I managed to take pics of a few I know.
Half of Kam ;-)
Mun Seng
Deo, friend and Ameeyn
Mohan (and yes, wifey completed the run already)
All the above were taken within the last 200m of the run before I ran to the finish. Wifey met me at the finish and it was definitely one I gotten "chicked" again. I crossed the line recording a 5:34:57 on my Garmin Fenix (which has the strap snapped about 500m to finish, hence I hold it in my hand)

Race Tracking Via Garmin 910XT and Fenix

Some funny things happened. My Fenix did not register the run for a good 3 hours or until I was at DUKE. The total distance, however, were accurate. Just that the GPS tracking were not shown. It seems (consistently) a few of us using Fenix has irregularity that morning. It could be the signal locked were lost or missing a few satellites in the sky. The above tracking were from my 910XT used by my wife. Below is my Fenix tracking. See the differences?

Also, the mapping were consistent with the Samsung S5 i was using together with the Gear Fit. Never mind that the accuracy of the device combo were way off (recorded a full 10km more), the mapping were consistently missing per Fenix. I will write a short review of the S5 and Gear Fit separately. By the way, all the photos above were taken with the S5.

Race Pros
- Best organisation so far under the same race team. Everything was almost perfect from race kit collection, to race venue setup, race start, finish and medal/finisher collection. 
- Support station that has it all. Ice were available at some stations but most did not have. Not an issue anyway, it wasn't hot on race day
- better traffic control with two highway closed. Minimal impact on traffic on race day
- More than one (actually two) food stations. Gel and banana given out twice. The banana was actually ripe and yummeh!
- Mobile toilets at every support stations, superb
- Free LRT to race venue in the morning. 

Race Cons
- The route was boring. Lack of band or supporters' support. Felt "quiet" when compared to years before. For a race in KL, more so a premier race, a scenic route passing by major attraction in town would be superb. Imagine a race that run through Petaling Street or the now turned into tourist Palace ;-). Running on highway was pretty...dry.
- The finishing area were too busy with too many people crossing. 

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