Wednesday, 26 September 2012

LSD-ing DragonBack ; of lonely long streets, cold misty views and dead snakes

It has been some time that I wanted to run along the infamous Dragon Back at Klang but I never had the chance to do so due to it's far away from home, it's tough rolling hills and I've been advised not to do it alone. So I've never really taken any initiate until Alvin Yap organized one LSD just recently at that route. 

At first I was excited cause finally I was able to run that route. But then again I was a little concern due to my lack of training recently. I wasn't sure if I can do this "much" hills. I'm this close of saying "I rather lay on bed on Sunday morning". But alas, I had to beat my sorry ass up cause I'm seriously not at my usual par.

Besides, I could just do an easy run/walk and enjoy the spectacular view of Dragon Back. 

The meet up point at SK Meru 2.
After planning the timing and logistics with Alvin a few days before, I started my journey at about 4.30am and took a slow drive to Klang. The meetup point was at SK Meru 2 at Jalan Paip, Klang. The journey took about an hour or so and I'm so blessed that we have GPS these days cause I'm sure I will be lost like a headless chicken to get there.

The morning was cold as we waited for Alvin and the other runners to arrive. Most of them are the regulars and I got to meet a few new faces (mostly from the Klang running group).

Alvin giving a quick briefing.
As most of the runners arrived, Alvin gave a quick briefing and intro. The Klang runners all seemed pro! I seriously feel like a small peanut.

After the briefing, we started about 6am while the others warmed up and waited for a few late comers.

The first part of the flats before Dragon Back. It's so quiet...
I started off with the first wave, not because I kiasu but because I am doing a slow run that day. At least I won't be so lonely when the other runners overtake me.

The first 2 km is pretty much flat. All we had was street lights guiding us through the long straight road. Some parts were not lit so I had to rely on my bearings a little.  My biggest mistake was not bringing my head light and safety light. I've never thought that it was gonna get this dark! But at least I had Sharon and the others to pace easily this part of the route. The regulars brought their lights; I felt safe a bit.

Alvin our portable water station boy. 
Perhaps the darkness is a blessing in disguise. I tell you why. First of all, you won't be able to see what is ahead of you, so expectations are minimal. After the flats, we were at the head of Dragon Back route and this is the beginning of the first rolling hill. It was dark,  no street lights and you can feel the elevation going up as you run. And then another and another and.... it just keeps going.

1/4 only!
Some parts of the road had street lights but I still can't tell vaguely how steep were the hills. Plus, I'm blind as a bat with no sonar powers. 30 minutes into the run, the sun started to rise and the street lights were off. Slowly I was able to tell how MASSIVE this route is and why is it called Dragon Back.

The whole route is just one straight road of hills and nothing more but more rolling hills! Hence the name Dragon's Back.
Ohhhh...MTB route anyone?
The first part of the route is pretty amazing to me. I thought I would be walking a lot but I ran all the way till the end; exceptional few stops for quick snaps. We passed Bukit Ramlee and it seems to be a MTB Trail for MTB cyclist. Perhaps one day I'll take my bike over here to venture.

The Dragon's Tail. 
As I continued on, some of the faster runners has already turned back and told us that this was the final hill. Yes! I made it half way through and was expecting some beautiful scenery at the U-turn point. NOT!

Pic at U-turn point.
As it turns out, it's just like another normal street with a few signboards. Sigh... so much of "end of rainbow" expectations. But I was still happy that I made it this far but was strangely thirsty. Even my spares were finished.
The saviour! Water when you most needed it!
Poor Alvin scarified his run that morning to meddle the water station. Thanks goodness he was close to the halfway point and started thrusting us with cups of water. Bless his soul. I quickly gobbled down my liquid before facing the next hill.

An incredible sight!
After reaching the top of the hill, I was stunned and amazed at the same time. The sun is bright enough to see the entire route and I cannot believe how many hills we've gone through! Hills after hills after hills. It seemed endless. Quite mind blowing actually.
It seems to never end.
From here onwards, I had to slow down a bit to take in the beautiful views. There were not many cars along the route and we felt like Kings conquering the road. The air was still cooling making the run more enjoyable.

Poor python. Looks like freshly made roadkill. 
Since it was already bright and I could see the road clearly, I got more "views" that I bargained for. The whole road is surprisingly filled with road kills. I've at least came across 4 dead snakes, one monitor lizard, one rat and (the most surprising of all) a dead tortoise. There was a joke on whether I should buy "number" after this encounter. Buy what I wonder; 4-4-4-4?

I've manage to identify 2 snakes, a baby python and a baby cobra. To call it baby is a little understated; judging by it's menacing length. Not long enough but enough to send chills to your spine. Imagine their parents looking close by from the oil palm and rubber estates along the road. Don't expect a warm welcome from them.

Thinking about it, I don't know how I got through the whole thing in the dark and some of the other runners were even barefooted!
More runners; colour coordinated. 
No time to hang around but just to continue with the journey. Along the way back, we saw more and more runners doing their morning run. A few cyclist were spotted as well. Think they are heading to the earlier mentioned Bukit Ramlee.

Looks intimidating but one has to go through it.
The hills got progressively steeper as we head back. Some looked very intimidating from afar but it's pretty okay if we've done Bukit Damansara regularly. Honestly after this ordeal, Bukit Damansara seems easy.

At least I can say I've been to this part of Klang.
After the last hill, we landed ourselves back to the flats. Finally! I think I'm done with hills for the day. I can speed up a little and meet up with the rest of the guys.

Beer at the end. NOT!
Most of the gang were already back making me one of the slow pokes. Well, I did say I ain't gonna push until I fully regain my stamina back. We were all greeted with a nice large cup of 100 Plus at the end and it was heaven! It has never tasted so bloody good. So much so I had 3 cups! Memang tak malu saya.

With the KL gang, Sharon and Soon Chung.
We hung around and talked a bit before heading off. Most are training for the upcoming PBIM where else me and Sharon are training for the upcoming Salomon X-Trail Run. We all had a great time and I will definitely want to come back here again for training.

A group photo before we left.
Dragon Back is a wonderful route for hill training and you won't easily get lost. The only thing is I advise is not to do it alone. Do it with at least a group of friends and have your hydration ready. There are a few small shops along the way if you want to purchase drinks or small bites. Bring a headlight and safety light if you are running before the crack of dawn. This is to alert drivers and to spot any snakes "crossing" the road. You don't want to be snake food!

As for me, besides the training I spotted a nice Nasi Lemak stall I found along the route. Ought to give it a try one day!


  1. Lol... Welcome to my cycling training route! Looks like it's just as much fun for running too! :P

  2. Wowww such a splendid review and good info for what to expect for my coming slay the Dragon back mission this Sunday... Thanx Bro! Super jittery by now... need to do more hill works... =D

    1. Good luck this Sunday at DragonBack and have loads of fun!
      Just remember to pace yourself well at the hills and hydrate yourself properly.
      Bring a headlight and safety light for safety. :)

  3. I live less tha 10km away yet i've never set my foot here. Shame on me!


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