Sunday, 29 December 2013

What is your Stride Signature?

So, what is your stride signature?

We all know what are strides (as in for running) but do you know what is your own personal signature style of running?

Well. As for me, I used to be a underpronator when I started running. But with consistent training and guides, I've been able to improve my running style to a more natural stride and to run more efficiently. And once in a blue moon, I'll actually record myself to see whether I'm improving. When I invested in my Nikon AW100 Tough Camera (which has an amazing slow motion video feature), it has helped me to understand my running style better.

Below is a video taken back in March 2013 and December 2013 (from ACEndurance Training Programme) to analyse my running form. The test is done using my own Brooks Ghost 4 (which is a pair trainers I often trained with). So far so good but I still need to improve on my arm swings and strengthen more core to keep my upper body more stabilized. That is my signature stride.

Everyone's running style is different and the body will find a motion to adapt. Our bones, joints and soft tissue align to work together as one to suit our very own style of running; so to achieve a more comfortable and smooth run. 

So when Brooks unveiled it's new line to us; the new Brooks Transcend, we were pretty excited and impressed with its technology. It's a shoe definitely suited to adapt every runner's own personal signature stride. More to come on this on the next blog post but to wet your appetite, here is a brief teaser video to know what this new shoe is all about.

For more detailed information, do also check out Brooks Malaysia.  

Monday, 23 December 2013

Brooks Transcend unveiling & Blog with Brooks Contest

Well, we finally got our chance to touch and feel the new Brooks Transcend!

After months of teasing us with adverts and news through social media to the viewing of the actual shoe during this year's Putrajaya Night Marathon; the selected few of us got a chance to finally see what is the fuss is all about.

For all Brooks fans and users,the new Brooks Transcend is supposedly a new category in between a support/cushioning shoe. More news about the shoe in later write ups but at the moment we could tell you that it's going to replace the Trance Series in the future.

Bloggers were invited to the event to touch, feel and try the shoes and also announce this year's Blog with Brooks Contest. Similar to the contest last year, bloggers are required to write up about the new Transcend leading to its official launch in Feb 2014.

So far on testing the Transcends on site, the shoes are slightly bigger than the usual Brooks. Comfort wise is pretty good and its definitely plushier than usual.

More about the Transcends in later write ups but what we can divulge now is that this is probably going to be a "Limited Edition" shoe cause there is going to be ONLY 360 pairs of them in Malaysia. Yes, that's right. All sizes , all colours and gender combined. The retail price is RM759 a pair and be launching on February 2014.

Just in time for Valentine's or Ironman perhaps?

For more news and information, do check out Brooks Malaysia for more info.
For more photos from the event do click on to this link.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

MWM 2014 Get Together Session & Running Clinic with Katherine Switzer

The lovely Power Women of MWM.
Mentor Trainers Sweeney Chong, Lini "Iron Mama" Kasim, Sheela, Lorna Wong together with Katherine Switzer and Race Director of MWM, Karen Loh.
Ladies.... it's back!

Yes, Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM) is coming back next year. Locked in your dates for 16th March 2014!

To get things started, MWM will be organizing a series of upcoming running clinics for registered participants. This year's theme is DREAM, BELIEVE, BECOME. A mentoring system and 16 week program is introduced to help the lovely participants be physically and mentally prepared heading towards the event.

Last Sunday, we were invited to it's first running clinic and we weren't disappointed. Me, of course "special guest" lar..... :P

Even Katherine Switzer specially flew in to Malaysia just to meet us again!

For those of you who missed it, here are the recorded highlights and talks given by our lovely ladies on that day.

Race Director of MWM, Karen Loh giving her introductory speech. Goofy, light-hearted and hilarious. Then pops out Katherine, who just ran to the venue cause she got lost earlier. Bless her!

Next up was Katherine Switzer with her inspiring story of the year she ran Boston and what happened on that day lead to many great things for women; not only just in running and sports but also the empowerment and enrichment of life for women in general.

A thank you note to YB Elizabeth Wong and her hilarious yet bold comment to beat KJ in the race if he runs. That's the spirit! Also a thank you note to Avon Malaysia with a note from Elaine Aisyah (Senior Manager Avon) and also to Noorul Ashikin (GM Selangor Tourism).

Last but not least, the mentors are introduced. Namely Sweeney Chong, Lini "Iron Mama" Kasim, Sheela & Lorna Wong. Son't play play. They run faster than I do in a race! I salute them.

After all the talk was done, participants are lead to a warm up by Mentor Lorna and a short 5K run around the park. As for the remaining of us, we stayed around trying to grab as much pictures and advices from other mentors and Katherine.

Warm up session with Mentor Lorna.
Of course, I must have a shot with the legend herself
A group photo with all the ladies. Well, at least the ones who stayed till the end.
Not forgetting the gentlemen too. 
For more photos taken by yours truly, click here.

Registration is still open and for those who signed up for Full Marathon; they will receive a one of a kind Finisher Running Skirt! (Pacers included). Head here for registration and info. 

And now as for me, I'm still hobbling around with an idea of pacing someone. Anyone keen? ;)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Let the music play! Review : JABRA Sports Wireless+

No too long ago, the good people at Jabra Malaysia has asked me to review one of their latest Bluetooth wireless sports earphones. Of course I was excited about it; especially when it came to gadgets. I was loaned one set to be tested and generally I was quite pleased with the results.

This review is going to be general and it  at least covers on general usage like using it during workouts and other normal day usage.

The day when I received the package,I was pretty excited. Basically because I was eager to try it with my new tablet/phone(or what most refer to as a phablet). Yes,the big chunky thing of a phone that some of you are still laughing about. Long story short; had to get this since previous phone decided to take a"swim"during the last Great Eastern Live Great Run.

Let's cut to the chase and see the unboxing.

The Unboxing

The Jabra Sport Wireless+ comes in this lovely hard box; featuring Ironman Champion Craig Alexander. Now if you have Crowie endorsing this product, you know this is some tough, durable device. More on that later on. And no, you won't be like Crowie after wearing this. You still need hard work to train to be a top triathlete. At least it's not Justin (Beaver) endorsing it. That would be a HUGE turn off.


On the side of the box, it quickly states the features of the device (as you can read above) and the it's contents.

Opening the box reveals a message from Crowie himself. Listen to the man. PERFORMANCE.

The moment I read rain, dust, shock protection, performance ; it's sorta like telling me "Andrew, this is SERIOUSLY for you".

Well, I'm very accident prone. I always have a tendency to abuse my electronic devices or even lose it. Getting things wet is another. Recall my wet phone story?

What's Inside?

Inside the box reveals the sexy looking ear piece. Also in it is a 3 month Endomondo Premium access. Not going to elaborate much on this but I personally use Endomondo for tracking my cycling activities and it's wonderful. Endomondo also allows you to connect with the Polar Bluetooth Wearlink to track your heart rate. This exist for the free version and the premium version would have a more elaborated summary including HR Sports Zone.

Included in the box as well are the accessories to compliment the device. A quick start guide book, and armband, Micro USB cable (not pictured) and a set of 7 pieces of ear gels are included. The ear gels (or ear buds) are customizable to fit your ears; there is bound to be one that fits you! This is definitely a plus point as we would want a fit that fits perfectly for us. With that said, the down side is that too. Once you have to many to choose from, you start to contradict.  Nonetheless, I found my perfect fit. I chose the one that directly transfer the sound to the ear canal; similarly like the IRONMAN Yurbuds that I'm using. 

A Closer Look.

The first moment you touch and feel this Jabra unit, you will notice it's durable and robust build. It's certified weather and shock proof by US Military standards. I've abused my unit quite a bit from all the running. Sweat is definitely not an issue and can be just easily wipe clean with a cloth after use. However, do bear in mind that this is NOT waterproof; so please don't go swimming with it. ;)

Don't just take my word for it. Here is a video to get you convinced.

The device uses a ear lock-in system that doesn't fall out. It hugs snugly behind the ear for a comfort yet sturdy fit.

The overall outlook is simple and has quite a minimalist approach. Buttons are easy to access and you don't need to be a genius to operate it. On both sides of the device are the Omni-directional microphone. This is to ensure that it picks up your voice during voice calls and reduces the environmental sound to a minimal. Next to the microphone is the PLAY button that functions as an ON/OFF & Play Button.

On the right ear piece, there are 3 buttons. 2 mainly for volume and the FM  button is to listen to the radio. The Volume buttons speaks for themselves but it also doubles as a track skip on a long press. The FM function is quite a miss. I wasn't able to receive any radio stations even if I tried it at different locations. It's mostly a hit or miss thing as it randomly seeks a radio frequency. The most I got was some station speaking some gibberish I couldn't understand. Alien frequency perhaps?

Above the volume button is a small LED light indicator to indicate charging, battery life and charging.

There are no buttons or functions on the left ear piece.

The next highlight is the connecting cables between the ear pieces. It utilizes a thin nano cable that won't tangle and can be adjusted with a provided adjuster for an optimum fit. Be sure not to tightened it too tight as it will pop open the adjuster.

Charging the device is a breeze! It utilizes a Micro USB port (which is very common in current Android devices). I'm glad that it doesn't use a proprietary charger cause usually those things cause a massive headache when travelling. A Full charge takes approximately 2 hours and it would last up to 4.5 hours of talk time, 4 hours of music and 5 days of standby time. This is pretty much accurate during my usage. I'm able to manage a whole movie that would last at about 3-4 hours which I would say it's fair.

The Wear-ability and Fit. 

Wearing the ear pieces is easy. It's pretty similar to the Sony W-Series Walkman I have been using for years minus the rigid connecting band in between. The fit is pretty much perfect and not too tight into the ear canal. I've let a few of my lady friends try it and the results vary. If you have smaller ears, the grip may not be as optimal but easily solved with a different ear gel or adjusting the cable in between. Be patient as it may take some getting use to at the beginning.

Once the fitting is correctly done, you still should be able to hear the environment around you. This is not a noise cancelling device so you won't find the ear gels too tightly sealed into the ear canal. This is only fair and safe for workout outdoors. You need to be aware of traffic around you as well, right?

Use the adjuster to adjust the tightness behind your ears. This to ensure you have a more optimal fit and it wouldn't wobble around when working out.

Pretty simple, right? :)


Connection to any Bluetooth devices is simple as long the device supports BT3.0 onwards. In my case, I've used my smartphone (BT 3.0) and phablet (BT 4.0). Connection is easily established (a bit more quicker with BT 4.0). In case you are clueless on this, worry not. The device actually has a special lovely lady's VOICE OVER feature that will explain to you each step of the way. This is excellent for those who are lazy to read through the guide book (like me). It will also speak out commands for every button that you've pressed like ON/OFF, Play and etc. This pretty much mimics the pre-Siri Apple days of the Ipod Shuffles; minus of course the horrendous robotic voice.

The REAL Test (How does it REALLY Sound?)

Close, long time friends would know I'm quite a music lover. In my days, I had a fair share of Walkmans, Discmans and MP3 players. One would agree that I had loads of earphones and headphones to compare sound quality with. Although I ain't a professional audiophile but I could still tell what a good sounding earphones are like.

The first try is always dance music with loads of deep bass. Although I'm initially excited of it's advertised "Powerful Bass" feature; sadly I was underwhelmed by it's performance in this department. I wouldn't say it was bad either but the driver could had pushed a bit more rather than sounding a bit flat.

However it worked well with acoustics. Any song played with mid bass like RnB, Jazz, Pop (or music of that sort) fared better. Voices could be heard clearly and has a subtle bass lingering.

Justin Timberlake sounds good and sharp as long as you don't crank the volume to the max. Doing so would distort the sound higher notes and it's seriously bad for the ears.

Watching movies is equally awesome especially it involves a lot of talking. I've watched a few long episodes of IRONMAN TV when I was on my treadmill workout days and voice overs could be heard clearly without sounding too like a "deep voice radio DJ". Thumbs up on this! :)

As for voice calls, it's pretty much do what it says it do. However, periodically it would sometime have some interruption like the recipient not able to hear your voice or disconnecting. Something that could be solved by just reconnecting the Bluetooth device again. Sound clarity is good but could be better.

The Conclusion

The JABRA Sports Wireless+ is definitely something worth thinking about especially for rugged use and sports enthusiast like many of us. Despite it's shortcomings on the bass performance, it's won't deter you from looking away. It makes up in it's finishing, durability and performance. The sound performance is good to keep you motivated in your workouts. Definitely worth the consideration if you are looking for something that gives you more freedom in your workouts.

The JABRA Sports Wireless+ is available at all Authorized Jabra Malaysia Resellers. and retails at RM499.

Note : Jabra Malaysia has loaned this unit to me for a month to review.

Good News Everyone! (2XU Compression Run Malaysia 2013 Participants)

If you had signed up for the upcoming 2XU Compression Run Malaysia 2013, you should had received a special offer from Jabra Malaysia to purchase this lovely babies for a special price of RM350! Follow the instructions on the email and confirmation of transaction shall be sent to you once firmed. Participants with successful paid transactions for item would be able to collect the during the race pack collection. Don't miss it out!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

SCKLM 2013 : Race Report. The Blood, Sweat & Tears Marathon

The Finisher medal for SCKLM 2013
Wow! It has been 2 weeks already. I'm still in the midst of getting out from my 20 day post-marathon blues (in a way) but still manage to throw in a few recover runs along the way. I had my moody days but generally it was all great.

And now the recap.

KL Marathon or Standard Chartered KL Marathon is finally back this year with a (delayed) bang. Since registering early this year, I had a good 6 months to train ahead till June. That was of course the haze took place and the marathon was postponed to end September.
It was like a blessing in disguise as I was still recovering from my viral fever that I contracted 2 weeks before the race. Albeit recovering in time, I still felt quite weak to actually push on and was pretty doubtful of my Sub-5 goal. Nonetheless, I still planned to brave it on and go ahead irregardless.

Then of course the postponement came and I had another good 3 months to train. (Yippie!)
Since then, I had to re-tweaked all my training plans (with the help of ACTraining) and put on a little more effort on my weekend LSDs and weekday short runs. Looking back at all the trainings now, it looked freaking-ishly scary considering I’ve never trained this hard for just one race and my last FM was a good 15 months back.

But with all that said, I did enjoy all the trainings and I’ve discovered many things along this journey.


Fooling around when we checked in.
The eve of race day and as per standard ritual of mine, I’ve checked into BackHome. This time round Kenny, Manson, Julie, Sharon, Cheryl and Chew tagged along. Had a few good hours of sleep (I actually did go into dream state) and was awake by around 2.30am. Sharon was the first one to be up and followed by Julie and me. I quickly did my business, changed and was trying mentally to be prepared. We joked around and I kept reminding myself that I needed to chill instead of being so serious. As we walked towards the race site, we bumped into Shariff (SG Bladerunner), Mohan Marathon & many other Singaporeans along the way. They came in full force! I joked with Mohan that I didn’t want to see him during the race cause I’m very afraid of hearing his whistle. I said the same thing to Kelvin (who is the official 5:30 pacer) earlier a few days about his “loudspeaker / La-Pa” charismatic voice. We shared a few laughs, took a few pictures and head towards the pens.

With GCAM gang and others
With Ironman/Ultra experts Dr.Yap & Yim
I quickly took a few photos with whoever I’m able to meet along the way. I tried to find a quiet corner to get into the “zone” but it was crowded. I started to jog around to get myself warmed up and not soon later the pens were opened....

It just felt warm inside but I wasn’t too bothered. I was already sweating as I made my way closer to the front. Another few quick hellos and photos with whomever I’m bumped into; most recognizably are the GCAM group who were grouped together; ever ready.
The emcees kept everyone in check as they began the countdown. I turned on the GPS on my camera, set my HR monitor on standby and closed my eyes as I hear the countdown.

This is it...

Whatever it is, it’s going to happened.

I quietly said a prayer, heard the gun, opened my eyes and slowly made my way to the start line.

Boom! Off I go! Photo courtesy of SCKLM

The first 2kms I’ve withheld back my pace. Edan advised me a few days ago that the first 2km I should consider it as a “warm up” and let everyone pass me. As strange as it sounds, I’ve never let that happened in my previous races cause I’m too kiasu! Anyhow I did and started to cringe as a few regulars started over taking me.

“Be patient!” I kept reminding myself.

I’ve written a time band on my arms earlier on to keep myself in check. I’ve never done this before and it has sure helped me tremendously on this race. The first 2ks has past and I’ve picked up the pace a little.

5K – a little behind.

10K – gained a minute.

I started smiling as I suddenly found a surge of effortless strength coming through my body. I went a little faster than expected but not too fast that I will burned out later. I didn't want to repeat my Sundown mistake where I crashed too early.

20K – gained 2 minutes.

21K – gained 3 minutes!

I was definitely getting high at this point. A quick Hi to Jotphal as he was waiting for his turn for the Ekiden race. Bumped into Don (from our ACTraing group who was volenteering) and a quick wave.

I was feeling great but kept reminding myself that I still need to be conservative on my pace. At some points of the route I try to gain some speed coming down some elevation. So far so good.


“Brace yourself, Andrew”. I kept muttering to myself after passing KL Tower.

“Don’t let it happen.”

For the past 2 SCKLM, I started to feel some cramps at this point.

“Just don’t think about it. Just smile and be cheerful. Say hi to the volunteers. Say Hi to strangers”.

Of course I did get a few calls from a few leftover party goers passing by Beach Club. I just reply with a few hoots of “Woots!”. The runner next to me thought I’m insane as he stared at me like a lunatic. I smiled back and overtook him. I was already too in the zone to be bothered.

I kept saying Hi to everyone I met; whether I knew them or not. But I guess in the running world, everyone is your friend or family. We pushed each other on.

Before I knew it, I was already back at Jalan Tun Razak, passing Instana Budaya.

No cramps yet.

Bloody Fantastic!


I did tell Jolene before that this was the part I felt down the most; especially all the honking from Bulatan Pahang, all way to 35K mark of Bulatan Jalan Duta. Her advise was that I don’t even think about it and never ever set whatever point that you might think you will “crumble”. Just look forward and run. Just enjoy the experience.


Music went dead. Oh no!

No more uplifting music to keep me company and the uncle in the taxi kept honking beside me. I looked at him, smiled and gave him thumbs up. I didn’t know why I did that. It just came out naturally. Awkwardly enough, he stopped. Either he thinks I’m crazy or maybe reverse psychology does work.

I kept humming songs in my head. At times, I prayed. I kept repeating Phil 3:14 from time to time. And suddenly everything just went ................. quiet.

Surprisingly there was a calm still along Jalan Ipoh after Sentul. It was just peaceful.
Amazed as I continued on. I still felt good as another few regulars (namely kahwai, Ashe and Alvin) overtooked me and encouraged me to push on. I just feel so encouraged as they pushed me on. Ashe paced with me for a little just after Taman Rainbow.


30K – no buffer time. On the dot.

Every seasoned marathon runner will tell you the real race starts from this point onwards. It’s going to be a mental challenge from here on.

Honestly, I still felt good. I kept myself hydrated and kept my body cool by pouring water on myself at every water station available. (Thanks to all the volunteers. You guys were tremendous!)

I realised that my pace started to slow down and picked it up wherever possible. Mentally I felt good and felt very positive.

I still smiled whenever possible.


35K – Dammit. Stupid cramps!

I started to feel some tingling at 34K but I ignored it and tried to think of some happy thoughts. But then it happened as the elevation towards Bulatan Jalan Duta proved to be too much.

From afar I already saw the Rasid (the Golden Boy) already walking and holding on to his legs. Then my cramp happened. WITHOUT ANY WARNING.

I just stopped for the first time in the race and looked down at my legs. There was a pull on the back of my left thigh and the front of my right quads. I thought to myself that I have to convince myself to not let it cramp any further to a much bigger, painful cramp. I scuttle along as Frank tap me on my back and told me to move on.

There was a TPRC van nearby and I was hoping for some muscle spray. I shouted from afar asking for help and the lady apologetically looked at me and told me that she didn’t have spray. I thanked her and moved on. The cramp is lingering around but I was prepared to fight it back. I wasn’t going to let it win. NOT this round.


36K corner – Salvation.

Salvation at 36! Photo courtesy of Kelvin.
As I turned into Jalan Bukit Tunku, a couple was cheering me on. The lady made a remark on my bright coloured outfit.

“Outstanding colour! Good job!”

I said thanks and a thumbs up.

And a water station with spray!

I quickly scuttled to the station and the back of my right arm started to cramp as well.

“C’mon!” I shouted. “You gotta be kidding me”. My arm was about to seize.

The kind volunteer started to spray me and I grabbed another one (I don’t even remember from where. Did I snatch it from someone?) to spray on my shoulders. As if a miracle had happened, the cooling effect started to take effect and the cramps slowly subsided. I managed into slow run and started to smile uncontrollably! I even let out a few chuckles along the way.

Noticing the unofficial (yet the most happening) water stations of the LYNN Runners and June Malik’s FMV; I was so delighted that I took out my camera and started to snap pictures. Did I mention that I’ve not taken a single shot since the race started.

I saw a few regulars at LYNN as they cheered me on. I was so happy that I’ve forgotten my pain.

I saw June from afar and thanked her and her team for being there for us. She drove all the way from Johor! I quickly downed a cup of Coke (Oh...Coke never tasted so good) and went on my way.


6KM to go on “training route”.

I do not know how many times me and the regulars have been training on Jalan Bukit Tunku. So much so that we know every nooks and corners of the entire stretch. The cramps hit again; albeit now as bad as before but it was good enough to slow me down. A quick glance at my pace and I knew I was going to over shoot my target time and I wasn’t sure how much I’m gonna over shoot. At this point of time I just told myself that I would just need to finish the race; even if I had to crawl on my hands and knees. Bumped in to Nick several times, as we kept pushing each other till 40K mark and he decided to push on.


The finishing.

I dunno why I suddenly broke into this pose.
Photo courtesy of

2KM more to go.

I was shouting out ramblings randomly. It was just to push myself through (at the same time to scare away “walkers”). The road isn’t as crowded yet and I kept my manoeuvring to a minimal. I kept my eyes open for my ACTraining gang with the orange balloons just before the finishing. With 200M to go, I saw them. I gave them a nod of acknowledgement, shouted a few “Woots” and dashed to the finishing. I didn’t even bother to look at the time until I saw the big giant timer as I crossed the finishing.

The only selfie I have of myself just after crossing the finishing line.

I smiled and told myself “Well done”.


The “Smack in your face” feeling.

"The crying game". 
I was still pretty jovial when I went to collect my goodie bag, medal and finisher-T. I met a few of the guys and chatted for a while. I met Cheryl along the way and I told her “9 minutes over. Sigh....” But she still congratulated me as we walked towards where the ACTraining Group were.
Then it suddenly dawn at me. Right smack into my face was the reality of what had just happened.

All this while, I’ve always aimed for a 4:30 FM; but in actual fact that was just a guide for me. What I really wanted was really a Sub-5.

“Oh Shoot..... I just did a Sub-5........ Oh dear Lord, I just did a Sub-5”. The thought just kept repeating in my head. And I started counting and tabulating the mathematics as I walked.
“ 21 , 22, 25, 26, 27, 28....Hmmm.... 28 minutes........” I stopped momentarily and started thinking really hard. It came to me that I find it hard to absorb this feeling. 28 minutes was what I slashed from my last FM timing. That is HUGE!

Before I knew it, a few of the ACTraining kakis came running towards me and started congratulating me. Then out of no where I said, “I think I’m going to cry now.....” and I just covered my face; sobbing.

I couldn’t remember who was there around me but judging from the photos, I think Colin was there to hug me and Ashe, Lynn, Omar, Edan and several others was cheering on. And I heard alot of cameras clicking!

Oh lovely. It’s quite rarely I get this emotional but I guess it’s finally good to let it all out. Indeed all the hard trainings had paid off.

Alas I told the guys that this isn’t over yet. I need to shave the 9 minutes!

With my awesome ACTraining gang.

In a nutshell (about SCKLM)

1. Excellent organization, everything was so well thought out. Thumbs up again to Dirigo and all the parties involved.
2. Ample water stations. Seriously a lot. Loving it.
3. Complimentary gels were well prepared and ever ready standby before we reached.
4. All the volunteers were excellent (extending out to the arm forces as well). I really wanted to shake every one of your hands that day if I could. Besides being physically there so early in the morning (and so many hours); it was your unspoken heartfelt hardwork that was really beyond words. If you think we runners are the "stars of the show"; we really don't deserve it. You guys were the "LIFE SOURCE" of this whole experience.

Cons :
Seriously none lar. I got nothing bad to say but if I need to pin point, it's the last 2K of walkers we have to manevour around every year. But by far this year, it's really well managed.

The conclusion (or the beginning...?)

Now that SCKLM is over, it has indeed paved many new challenges for me in the future. Many races are coming up but I need to be selective in what I do next. Many encouraged that I should take up Ultra Marathons instead! I laughed and replied "In the pipeline". It took me almost 3 years to convince myself to do my first "Fool-marathon"; imagine how long it's gonna for me to be mentally prepared for Ultra.

Anyways, there is no rush. Cause I know no matter what; you guys will always be there to welcome me on the road. :)

Last but not least, I will like to thank to Coach Edan and Jolene for guiding me throughout this journey. Not forgetting to all me pals at ACTraining and the companionship during our long (often odd hours) morning/night runs. I'm sure there are many more to come! 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Salomon S-Lab Kuala Selangor Jamboree Trail Run 2013 : Race Report

Salomon S-Lab Kuala Selangor Trail Run 2013 Finisher medal.
I was in the zone. I was on a constant pace throughout the first 5km. We’ve already hit at least some of the roads and now we are pounding the trails at Taman Rimba Kuala Selangor.

All the penned up energy not used from last week’s SCKLM was seemingly put into here.

Despite nursing a 2nd bout of flu attacks, sore throat and a sprained ankle; I pushed on and didn’t break my stride. I was determined to finish strong on this one.

Khay Ann passed me almost about the 5km point. A quick hi and he sped off. I didn’t see many Men Veteran passed me; so I had a gut feeling he is going to be at least the Top 10.

I tried to keep at his pace for a while and sped up.

I glanced at my watch; almost 30 minutes. I sneakingly smiled. I used to reserve such speeds for speed 5k on roads but never on trails. I thought maybe it was because of the flat terrains of the trails. I kept cool and tried not to speed too much as I need the energy to conquer the 2nd part of the route; which is to scale up Bukit Melawati.

Then all my plans went out through the window...

The point Khay Ann turned back and and told me to gostan.
A few of the lead runners were turning back at some point. Not suspecting anything at first but I don’t recall a sharp U-turn at any part of the route. Then a few minutes later, Khay Ann emerged and he quickly directed me to turn back.

“U-Turn back!”. He hollered.

“Wrong Route!”

The gut wrenching feeling of uneasiness sunk in. I wasn’t sure of what to do.

I turned back and saw Yvonne trailing behind me. I wasn’t surprised since Yvonne is a fast female runner and usually gets at least Top 20.

We both looked at each other looking confused.

“What the heck just happened?” We both asked each other.

We started to turn back to run but we knew we lost our momentum. The runners behind us got the news and started to turn back. It created a clog and soon I was on that dreadful “run-walk” thing which I hated.


So that is the story of the now infamous “wrong route” incident among the hundreds of runners who was accidently lead into.


I know there are many who are unsatisfied with the organization of the event and the shortcomings of the organzisers. I was too. But that being said, I had to keep my composure and treat this like any of my weekend runs in the end. I like to run; like many others and seeing my friends running with me is always my greatest joy and pleasure. We all made an effort to get to the start point early in the morning, go through that bloody run and finish the race. In the end, it’s the spirit of sportsmanship that counts.

I’ve arrive at Kuala Selangor the day before with a few of my running buddies. We treated this as our weekend running break. Besides, we wanted to savour the culinary delights of the local cuisines. This was supposed to be my tapering run after SCKLM but since it was postponed; this was going to be my speed trail.

However when I surveyed about the event, I realised a few things. Firstly, this Salomon event has no relations to the yearly Salomon X-Trail organized by Pacesetters Malaysia. Secondly; new organizers. I was mentally preparing myself if there were any shortcomings. I brought my hydration belt just in case there weren’t enough water at the waterstations.

We surveyed the route the night before (minus Taman Rimba) and found out that it was a pretty straight forward route. The challenge was the stairs leading up to Bukit Melawati. I know it’s going to be a challenge and I’ve made a plan to utilize the trail path on the side of the stairs to skip the crowd.

We went back to our hotel after our dinner and survey so that we could charge up for the next morning.

The GCAM Group. Despite not being at GC on the day itself. :P
We were early. Race site is filling up with runners bit by bit. Met up with so many running buddies from many running groups. Finally the GCAM group arrived. We were all excited as we trained at the FRIM trails the week before. I wished I had trained more trails with them earlier on. I seriously miss all the grittiness and the savage beauty of Mother Nature.

The start point.

Julie, our emcee of the day soon called out to all the runners to be at the start line. We were supposed to be gunned off at 7.15am but was delayed by 5 minutes. The Men started first, followed by Women and finally Veterans; every 5 minutes intervals.

I paced slowly the first 500m but steadily increased my pace as I went on. I was on fire!

Entering the trails of Taman Alam Kuala Selangor. 
The trails were pretty flat but a good challenge for those new to trail running.
First CP. Already messy as everything wasn't ready.
The "human traffic" after we U-Turned.
 Momentum broke. Hangus! I was silently cursing.

I was hollering at runners to make way as I ran pass through them. Yvonne was following closely behind me. We still couldn’t believe that we were sent to the wrong route.

Did we miss the signage? Was there a marshal?

Our pace got even slower as the clog up got heavier; but not until it was a standstill.

We reached the point where we were supposed to turn right instead of left.

The "mistake point". Where the heck are the markers and marshals?
 We guessed correctly. No signage and not even a sight of a marshal giving directions.

Now all we see are the slower runners right in front of us. I feel so geram!

Yvonne, Foo and myself. Not giving up, we went on.
Me and Yvonne concluded that this is not going to be speed run anymore but we did console ourselves to carry on and treat this like any of our weekend free runs. A few quick pictures with Foo whom we bumped along the way and I sped off.


The stairs heading towards Bukit Melawati
Here I am at the stairs climbing up Bukit Melawati. As expected; the clog up. I overheard a few of the runners contemplating to skip the Bukit Melawati part and just go back to the start point. That means bypassing the marshal and skip at least 2-3km. Less than a few seconds later, a huge group of them were gone. I rolled my eyes and carried on without giving a 2nd look. I loathe the idea of “short cuts” and cheating. I carried on by climbing on the trail path alongside the stairs where majority of the runners avoided. It was tough but at least it put a little sense of “trail” into it.

Since time wasn't the issue now; camwhoring and enjoying the view at the top of Bukit Melwati.
The elevation up the hill was pretty gradual and easy. Not long after, I reached the top to a beautiful scenic view of Kuala Selangor. There I met the BWC group; Gabriel, Adrian and Sean. A few camwhoring shots and I sped down the hill and straight to the finishing line.

Not of course without a few monkey shots of the “residents of Bukit Melawati”.


Congratulating Khay Ann.

Emcee of the day, the ever lovely Julie Wong.
Who will win? Finally it was Wai Yee who won "Best Dressed".
Khay Ann receiving his prize.
4th position of Men's Veteran Category.
The finishing line is near! I could feel it.

The bomba team was spraying water at us. It was a welcoming sight and it was cooling to a hot, humid day.

Closing to the finishing arch, I was met with a short queue; no longer than 30m.

WTH..... can’t I just past that finishing line? I made a mental estimation that I crossed the line and stopped my watch. I slowly trailed the queue to get my goodie bag. From a far, I saw some volunteers only started to pack the goodie bags. I could only watch in disbelief.

I kept quiet, took my medal, bag, food and walked on to meet up the GCAM gang at the sidelines. We were bitching about the race but still kept light-hearted about it. We took the extra kms as bonus training. Khay Ann who has returned earlier has secured the Men Veteran 4th position! Adding to the fact that he went through the wrong route too. Amazing!


The conclusion:

There are really loads I wanna say but I would love to keep to the positive notes.  Yes, the organizers had their shortcomings and many have shared their displeasure all over Facebook. So let’s keep this constructive and hopefully that many will be able to squeeze some joy out of this disorganized event.

1.       Yes, most of us did the wrong route but that actually did measure up to about 11-15km depending where the runners did the U-turn. So it means the original route was under distanced; which was about 8.9-9km (for those using GPS).

The route that I took. 
2.       A real good route of a mix of trail and road (including the wrong path). Flat terrains and a good throw in of Bukit Melawati. If done properly, it would have been a fantastic running route. Not forgetting the great scenery too!
3.       Way too many loop holes & shortcuts. But this is due volunteers and manpower shortage. But a true real runner would know better than to “cheat” and take short cuts.
4.       Water station was pretty alright but very close to being a mishap if some of the runners didn’t step in and help out.
5.       The whole event would have been a great success if done properly. Having both Salomon Trail series (S-Lab and X-Trail) events is a great addition to the running events in Malaysia. Unfortunately it wasn’t so. IF ever this event were to be done again next year, it has to come back with a HUGE bang and gain the trust of runners again.

Anyways, I still had a great time despite all the fiasco. We all live to fight another day.

So chill my friends. Let’s just all emphasise of what’s to come next time round. :)
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