I got to run in the Standard Chartered KL Marathon!
The highly coveted Standard Chartered KL Marathon, which is unofficially the Malaysian marathon event of the year, is one that most local runners want to participate in. I wanted to participate too; but I only started taking part in runs in August, which was way after the deadline for the registration. The SCKLM is only in October, but the registration fills up to its quota months in advance!
My friend Audrey, who had seen my numerous photo uploads on Facebook, buzzed me to ask if I was interested to run in the SCKLM. Her friend Tanya who had signed up for the SCKLM had to pull out for personal reasons. If I was interested, her registration could be transferred over to me. I was going to say yes, until I found out that Tanya had signed up for the 10km speed…
The Standard Chartered KL Marathon had several distance categories, including full marathon (42km), half marathon (21km), 10km and 5km for the adults. The 10km adult category was further broken down into three categories: 10km Speed (75 minutes), 10km Cruise (90 minutes) and 10km Leisure (120 minutes). I think that this was done for easier crowd control, as each category was to be flagged off at different times, with the Speed going first.
So when I found out that I was to run in the 10km Speed, I hesitated. 75 minutes?! So far my time has been about 84 minutes (10.5km at the 2XU Compression Run). While I did want to participate, I was also kiasu enough to want a medal. After all that effort of running, who wouldn’t want a finisher medal?!
But then fortunately my friend Ika (who was also joining the SCKLM) told me that a few people had asked the same question as I did, and no matter what time we finished, we would get the medal. It made sense, since medals would also be awarded to runners in the same distance category with longer finish times. The only difference is that only the runners in the 10km Speed category would qualify for the top 10 prizes (which I obviously would NOT be qualifying for!).
So, I said yes, I would take over Tanya’s bib!
RUN DAY 12 OCTOBER 2014
Some people might think I was crazy to take part in two runs on the same weekend… I had just finished running the 5km Cancer Awareness Fun Run at HUKM on Saturday, 11 October. And I wasn’t even feeling that well as I had an energy crash at least twice during the week preceding this weekend. But I didn’t want to pass up the chance to run. In fact, the only reason I signed up for the Cancer Awareness Fun Run was because I didn’t get to register for the SCKLM.
But at least the Cancer Awareness Fun Run was on Saturday morning. Many had signed up for the BSN Putrajaya Night Run which was on the Saturday night before the SCKLM – including Audrey! Audrey had just run 5km in the night run, and was going to run 10km in this SCKLM. Still, there were others who were doing combinations of 21km and 10km in these two back-to-back events. All I can say about these people is… RESPECT!!! I don’t think I could ever do that!
So anyway poor Audrey who had reached home really late the night before after the night run had to wake up earlier than she needed to, as she was accompanying me to the starting point for the early flag-off time. The 10km Speed was flagging off at 6.45am, while her category of 10km Cruise was only flagging off at 7.15am.
We had initially planned to drive to the train station to take the complimentary train service which ran from 3 to 6am, just for the participants of the event. Many roads had already been closed starting from the night before, in preparation for the marathon. Some roads would still be open, but we didn’t know which. We really lucked out though; we wanted to try our luck by driving to a train station that was as close as possible to the starting point to reduce the traveling time on the train, but when we reached the Jalan Kuching roundabout, we found it was already closed. However the traffic police, upon seeing that we were taking part in the run, allowed us entry to a specific road, and we were able to find a parking spot that was a mere 10 minutes walk from the starting point!
Thank goodness Audrey was with me. Audrey works in the area, and knew her way quite well around the pedestrian paths. If I was on my own, I would have ended walking in circles again, just like I did at the 2XU Compression Run.
Because we got a good parking spot, we arrived much earlier than expected. So we took a slow walk to the venue, visited the Port-A-Pottys, and then hung around until we said a brief goodbye as it was approaching time for the 10km Speed flag-off.
I had initially planned to hang around at the back, because I expected to be one of the slowest runners in this category. I didn’t want to be holding up traffic or blocking other people while I trudged slowly along. But as people started snaking their way to squeeze themselves to the front of the crowd, I eventually found myself to be in the middle of the first half of the crowd near the starting line.
The emcee did a good job of keeping the crowd pumped, by trying to get us to do the Mexican wave (which was an epic fail. Some people didn’t understand what she wanted us to do. Many of the people in the crowd raised their hands and screamed when they saw the people in the front line start with the wave. It took several tries before we finally got a wave, albeit a rather sad-looking one), and by keeping an eye on the clock (“5 more minutes, guys!”). She also informed us that there were 5000 people in every 10km category – that’s a total of 15000, just for the 10km distance runners!
At 6:45am sharp, the 10km Speed runners were flagged off.
The good thing about being in this category, besides the early flag-off time, is that everyone moves fast. I started with a slow jog, but I was no means the slowest. However there were plenty of others who moved very quickly, which meant that there was very few people holding up traffic. There was a lot of space to move and to overtake, simply because this category had so many fast runners that they were at the front of the crowd.
However, what I did notice was that I appeared to be the only one who overaccessorised. I had brought both my water bottles in my matching pouch (so matching that it looked like it came with the race pack!), and it seemed as if I was the only one who did. Everyone else I saw either had NO bottles or at most, ONE bottle on their respective pouches. I was the only fool who filled up both bottles (one with water, the other with 100 Plus).
The 10km route was a pretty good route. It had its own challenges, but it was not overly tough. Err, at least I think so. Because I don’t really remember much of the route. Not being familiar with KL roads, I can’t describe the route to you. In fact I don’t even remember much of the uphill/downhill parts, which my friends said existed. I think that I didn’t remember those because I didn’t feel it too challenging and was able to move without much strain.
There were ample water stations provided, and I didn’t even need to stop at all of them. They even provided one sponging station for the 10km-ers, although admittedly I didn’t really know how to use the wet sponge. Well, first time for everything!
The only thing they DIDN’T provide was the cooling station… which was only for the full and half-marathoners. Jealous!
I did manage to take some selfies with my new sports cam. They turned out surprisingly well, considering that I was taking shots in the dark, so to speak – there was no screen for me to preview my shots.
RUN TO THE END
Somewhere along the last kilometre, I saw a few people holding up signs of encouragement – things like “KEEP GOING RANDOM STRANGER!” They must have been taking a break when I saw them though, because they were just standing there quietly chatting among themselves. It was only when I ran past them with arms in air screaming, “Woohooo!!!” that they responded in kind.
I don’t know where I got the energy from. But somehow, when I saw the Finish line, I started running the last few hundred metres, overtaking everyone else who was using their last bit of energy to get to the end. I was probably one of those people that even I would hate, like “OMG where does she @#$%ing get the energy from?!” I even managed to scream enthusiastically as I waved at the cameras.
Well… that was my only saving grace, because I did NOT finish in 75 minutes. I finished in 85 minutes. I still managed to collect the finisher medal though!
And it was NOT 10km. According to the pedometer app in my iPhone which is GPS-based, the distance we ran was 10.8km. Hmph! But then, I’d rather run a longer distance than a shorter one.
After stuffing myself with the complimentary bananas and 100 Plus, I waited for Audrey, and then we headed out for a yummy nasi lemak breakfast before going home.
All in all it was an excellent experience. In spite of its sheer volume of participants, the crowd control was excellent. The event was very organised and everything was done in an orderly fashion. Kudos to Standard Chartered and its organising partners! I will definitely (and hopefully will be able to) sign up for the run next year!
Thank you to Audrey and Tanya for giving me the opportunity to participate this year!