Amidst all the postponed and cancelled runs in the past 2-3 months (including Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Mizuno Wave Run, HRDF Half Marathon, among others), we were finally happy when there was a run that actually proceeded in spite of the haze.
The Dr Ko Healthy Walk and Run was initially slotted in on 30 August, with two categories offered: 7km walk, and 10km run. I had signed up for the 10km run, and was planning to use this run as part of my training towards my first marathon at the SCKLM. However, because of the planned peaceful protests of Bersih that was scheduled for the whole weekend of Merdeka, the organisers wisely decided to postpone the event to a later date.
The postponement was announced via Myraceonline.com which was the website that handled the online registrations, merely quoting “unforeseen circumstances”. To be fair, they could not make any announcements regarding this political protest.
It was fortunate for me that I had not made any plans for the new date, so I was still able to make it. The only problem was that it was the day after my return from Singapore (from my annual Halloween Horror Nights visit), and I foresaw that it was not going to be one of my better runs.
Andrew who had told me about this event had signed up for the 7km walk, because initially he had signed up for several back-to-back runs in that August weekend. He regretted signing up for the walk though, because although he signed up for runs every weekend, many of the runs he had signed up for ended up being cancelled or postponed. This was the first event he had in many weeks that proceeded in spite of the haze, but he was in the walk category, not the run category.
The 7km walk participants were given two bibs each (no timing chips), and they were to wear one in front and one at the back. This was because marshalls were stationed along the route to ensure that walk participants did not run, and having bibs on both sides made it easier for them to identify any disobeying participant. The 10km run participants were given one bib which came with a timing chip.
RUN DAY 18 OCTOBER 2015
I arrived before 7am at Padang Merbok on Sunday morning to take my bib from Andrew who had helped me collect it. It was a small event, so the participation numbers were quite small.
There was a large permanent structure which housed the washrooms that charged 20 sen per entry. I had walked over to use the washroom, but I didn’t bring any money, so I had to line up in front of the portable toilets (free) which were placed right outside the paid washrooms – and ironically, the line for the free toilets were much shorter than the line for the paid toilets!
The organisers tried to get the crowd to take part in the warm-up session, but only about half of the participants joined in. Here’s a hint, guys: if you want the crowd to take part, try not to be so antagonistic? I heard someone shouting over the mic, “You all come and join the run, you should be more supporting [sic]!” And also if you plan to use the stage to lead the warm-ups, then don’t put chairs in front of the stage.
Most seasoned runners and walkers usually don’t join a led warm-up session because they have their own methods and rituals. I saw many runners and many walkers doing their own thing around the compound; some solo, some in groups.
Flag-off for the 10km runners was at 7:30am, and I made my way to the holding pen when instructed at 7:15am.
The route for the 10km was quite challenging. The roads around Padang Merbok were usually quite hilly; in this case, the organisers seem to have chosen a lot of hills on purpose!
I was already suffering from travel fatigue (I only went to Singapore for one night, so that meant I had travelled on both Friday and Saturday), plus the constant haze in the past few weeks had already weakened my immune system. So I decided I was going to take it slow this morning and just try to complete the run; I was not going to try to improve my personal best. So the hills made it worse for me!
Because I jogged along slowly, I was somewhere at the back of the entire group. Along the way, a veteran runner (Sidek) talked to me and motivated me to keep going. A former top runner himself, Sidek told me that he was here just to complete the race and was running to keep challenging himself.
I hadn’t brought any water with me and only had one small bottle of Red Bull with me… so I was seriously feeling dehydrated as the kilometres rolled by. Red Bull is a sweet energy drink that is meant to pump you up with immediate energy, and is certainly not a thirst-quencher. I finally saw the first water station at the 4.5km mark. Feeling rather cross, as I took a cup of water, I asked if this was the only water station in the route.
No. There were two more after this.
I don’t know who thinks it is a brilliant idea to put THREE water stations in the last 5km of a 10km run. Perhaps seasoned and very fit runners can run a whole 10km without replenishing their liquids, but leisure runners and unfit runners like myself would appreciate a water station every 3km. This was just as bad as Possible Run (same organisers, FTKLAA) and Merdeka Fun Run (which was probably worse, since MFR only provided ONE water station for 10km).
To add salt to the wound, as I crossed the Finish line and made my way over to the tent where they were handing out the goodie bags, I found that there was no distinction between the 7km walk and 10km participants. Everyone was handed the same goodie bag, with the medal inside.
Everyone received the exact same medal! There was no difference between 7km and 10km! It was quite annoying actually – it made me feel as if there was no point to my running the additional 3km because the medal certainly didn’t reflect that extra effort! At least the Merdeka Fun Run, in spite of all its hang-ups, had distinguishing distances on their medals. I wouldn’t even have minded if they had just slapped on a sticker (a proper one, not some hand-written one) which stated the distance. After all, if you look closely, this medal is basically a sticker stuck on a bit of plastic.
In the few events (RHB Half Marathon, MK Land Colourful Fun Run, and Larian Bandar Oren) I had run that gave identical medals to all participants, each time I had run the longer distance. Could you blame me for being annoyed?
The goodie bag was filled with vouchers, including vouchers for treatments at Dr Ko’s clinic. The vouchers had expired, but I think that was because they were planned for the initial August date. September was still a little too soon though. Anyway I am sure that the vouchers can still be used if we quoted the event, because they should know that the event was held in October. Needless to say I wouldn’t be trying, because I am not looking for cosmetic surgery.
Would I join this event again? Most probably not, because I have felt extremely let down by the small things that have happened in this run – the ridiculous placement of water stations, and the cheap identical finisher medal. I know that running a small event required some proper budgeting, and I am not asking for platinum medals; but since you already have the number of sign-ups for the 7km and 10km participants, surely you can just get the correct number of stickers printed to be placed on the same medals?