Monday 21 April 2014

Race Report : King of Bukit Larut 2014 (KOBL)

"The Hills are alive...... with the sound of music....."

Que in Julie Andrews to sing this when you start the race of King of Bukit Larut.
Well, it was more like "The Hills are alive...with the sound of us screaming". 

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the exciting and challenging "King of Bukit Larut 2014" race report. Or affectionately known as KOBL. I like to pronounce it as "Kor-Bleu". Makes it so French sounding with an international flair.

The boutique race is organized by the PACat Adventure Team and attracted more than 200 runners; both locally and internationally. The race is held at Bukit Larut, Taiping; also known by many as Maxwell Hill. The route is pretty straightforward. One road up; same road down. BUT the surprise is the unforgiving steep elevation that would make even the most seasoned runner cry. 

At first I didn't have any intention to join any race in April since I was going to do both my "Grade A" race on both Xterra Malaysia and Sundown Singapore in May. But then I thought perhaps this was a good tapering long run just before Xterra and I could use a bit of "altitude" training along the way. 


Goofing around at REPC
I arrived Taiping late afternoon after being delayed by house chores. The Taiping rain (heavy one too) greeted me with open arms as I made my way to the race pack collection at the foothills of Bukit Larut. Arman was making sure all the things were in order; seeing him running around in the rain. Suzie, Marlina and Zaini were helping out with the race pack distribution. There was a skeleton crew working around but efficiently enough to get by. 

Semua muka lapar!
Hung around for awhile before heading back to meet Man and Lina for early dinner. We soon head out to the famous Taiping Bomba Yong Tau Foo as per suggested by Razman. It was exellent! Mind you, I didn't even know this place existed. Called Marlina and Zaini as well since they were staying close by. 

We then head back to our hotel at Villa Sentosa (I call it paradise!) for an early rest. Soon our running buddy, Hui and his colleague joined us for the night after driving down from Penang. 


Photo courtesy of Vivien Tay
All of us woke up very early as we wanted to be at the race site around 6am. The scene was not as happening as in many major races but was uniquely intimate as we met regular and new friends before race started. We all started our warm up with our mouths! Talk about regulating our oxygen intake. Time flies as we were having fun and soon we had a quick race briefing at 7:15am. We even had to sing our national anthem before we started the race which I thought was a nice touch. 

View of waterstation 1 & 6
The race started at 7:30am sharp as promised. My strategy was simple. Power walk up (maybe throw in a few runs at lower elevations) and run all the way down non-stop. I came fully prepared; perhaps way over. Some asked why I was geared as if I was heading for an Ultra. I came fully loaded with my Nathan Vaporcloud Hydration bag, filled up the 2L water bladder, filled up snacks and gels AND unnecessarily added on my new pairs of Black Diamond Distance FL Z-Poles, an all-weather jacket and extra food. Actually I was also testing/simulating out the weight in preparation for TMBT as well. One thing for sure, I was VERY happy that I had my trekking poles with me when scaling Maxwell.

The "dashyat" altitude of Bukit Larut. 
Suzie at Waterstation 3&4
An early group of runners sped off quite early. I stayed on with my race strategy and soon enough I pretty much caught up with most of them later. The Power Walk strategy worked well as I concentrated on my breathing. My HR was regulating between Zone 3 & 4; which was great given at such conditions. Upon reaching at U-turn point, it took a good 01:51 to do so.  The elevation tracked at this point was 1,078.9m above sea level. 

Alas, almost to the top.
At this point, I quickly packed both my poles into my hydration bag, took the check point ribbon and sped downhill. 

The U-turn point. A moment of happiness for many.

Kena tangkap gambar by Azmi when zooming down the hill. 
Running downhill was a breeze but did it cautiously as the road was very slippery. This is where my trail running techniques came into play as I had to zig zag uncoming runners and maneuver around sharp corners. It was exhilarating! I only stopped briefly at the last water station just to pour water over my head (engine sudah panas) and continued to speed down all the way to the finishing line. It took exactly 62 minutes to come all the way down. One of runners whom I met at much later after the race said he tried catching me but apparently he said I looked like I've just turned on my "turbo boost" and left him in the dust! Goodness, was I that fast? Paiseh, paiseh....

Arman (Sweeper) spotted at Marker 13. He is going to kick butt on anyone he manages to overtake.
As we crossed the finishing line, we were given a goodie bag with a finisher medal. But the big kick is the Nasi Lemak and the famous Ansari Cendol! That was a huge reward that is worth having after such a race. Needless to say, I was satisfied and happy.

The finishing shot zooming down the finishing line.
Photo courtesy of Mohd Azfar.
All in all, it was an excellent boutique race. Albeit a small crowd, it was good enough to make it special and memorable for everyone. Great race and hope to see an even better one next year!

All hail to Kings (and Queens) of Bukit Larut!

PS: No one insaf, right?

Jolly gembira. Made me break into a dance. Cha Cham borrrr....!
Photo courtesy of Mohd Azfar.
- Excellent organization and made it very memorable for everyone. Well done!
- An excellent event for those who hasn't had much experience conquering hills. A good intro of what Skyrunning is all about.
- Sufficient water stations and placed at crucial, strategic spots. 
- Nice event T-shirt (though this was a last minute bonus to runners) and finisher medal.
The KOBL finisher medal.
- Road markers marked well (though would had preferred larger and visible)
- An excellent team of friendly volunteers that never fails to put a smile on our face. Especially we look like we are about to pengsan climbing that hill.
- Arman as sweeper. Who else to motivate and smack you in the butt if you are slow. ;)
- Glorious Taiping food at the finishing. Ansari Cendol, Nasi Lemak, Fruits, water & 100 Plus. Loads and loads of it.

- Really takde. But really there is one, perhaps in the future could actually do the entire route all the way to the actual peak (additional 6km from U-turn point).
- Someone mentioned Nasi Vanggey at the finishing. I think perhaps a little OTT but why not! ;)

My personal set of photos taken can be viewed at this link

Yes, Viking agrees!
Photo courtesy of Mohd. Azfar.


  1. Thanks for the review bro...

  2. Hi, how did u use the trekking clips of nathan vaporcloud ? I need advice on this as i have a black diamond z-pole too, and no idea how to use with this hydration pack.

    1. Hi Max. Basically what I did was only fold the pole one time instead of twice. Meaning the pole will jut out from the bag. There are 2 securing pole hooks on the side of the bag which I would lock the pole in. The handles are hidden inside the bag. This method is great but only if you are not carrying food or other stuff in the bag compartment.


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