This was the premier marathon event in Kuala Lumpur. The must-join event for all serious and enthusiastic runners in this area.
Last year, the event had gone through a number of challenges, including a couple of changes of dates, culminating in the cancellation of the event due to the severe haze situation. Even the problems didn’t stop there; after the cancellation, there was a huge number of irate runners who tried to cash in the insurance that every runner was forced to buy, where a RM100 payout was offered in the event of a cancellation. Little did runners know that only the first 5000 signups were entitled. Read my writeup last year!
In spite of all that happened though, the reputation of SCKLM was not marred. After all, they cannot be held responsible for the actions of the weather or their vendors.
So this year, when the registration was opened, the spots were very quickly filled up once again.
To make up for last year’s cancelled event, the organisers offered a 20% discount to the participants who had registered last year. And to overcome the problem of slow servers (as was experienced last year when there was a flood of visitors to the website when runners tried to register the moment the registration was open), they decided to tier the registration. Registration was first opened to participants who signed up for the Full Marathon last year; one week later to those who signed up for the Half Marathon; and thereafter to the 10km and the 3km fun run; and then to everyone else who did not register last year. There were no overworked servers, and everyone still managed to sign up for a spot without any hassle. And participants were not required to sign up for the same category; they can sign up for any other category. It was just that they had to wait their turn based on what they had signed up for last year. For example, a runner who had signed up for a Half Marathon last year can sign up for a Full Marathon this year; and likewise.
They brought the SCKLM forward this year to August in a bid to avoid the haze, which was here from August to October – and already that was because in 2012, SCKLM was postponed from April to October to avoid the haze.
7 AUGUST 2016 COMETH
After signing up, as the day approached, I found out that SCKLM fell on the same weekend as a full day event I was involved in! In theory I could join both as they were on different days, but it also meant that it would be a very tiring weekend as the event would be in Ipoh, and then I had to drive 2 hours back to KL to join the flag-off at 5:30am.
I was hoping that I could leave the event earlier, but there were some delays on my part that caused me to start my journey home later than expected. By the time I reached home, it was 12:10am. And I had to leave my home at 3:30am as I was planning to catch the Light Rail Transit train with some of my running friends at 4am. The LRT was operating from 2-6am for free for participants of the SCKLM, so that we didn’t have to drive to the venue – parking would be a problem considering there were thousands of participants!
When I woke up at 3am, I was questioning my sanity. I had just had a tiring drive back (there were a couple of traffic jams on the highway due to road accidents), and I still had not recovered from my week-long flu, and I only had 2 hours of sleep. Was I sure I wanted to go for the half-marathon?? 21km was no small feat. But as I stared at the running bib which my lovely friend Angie helped collect on my behalf, I felt that not running would put her efforts to waste.
Okay, so it was only a running bib. I could make it up to her later for her efforts.
Did I really want to go through the 21km run? With my condition, I was not sure that I would be able to make it to the finish line. Was it worth the hassle to make my way there, try to start the run, and risk having a DNF (did not finish)? If I DNFed, I know I would just cry.
Go back to bed, and go to sleep, I told myself. You should sleep in, and get a break from the long day you had on Saturday, and try to recover from the flu which you are still suffering from.
I was saying this to myself while I was making myself a simple breakfast and getting dressed for the half-marathon (I had laid out my running clothes, and running items like the bib and pouch before I went to bed).
By 4am, I was at the Kelana Jaya station platform waiting for my two friends, the superhot Lara and Zaz, and we boarded the train at 4:20am.
The train was packed to the brim, full of runners who wanted to avoid the hassle of looking for parking near Dataran Merdeka.
I didn’t know that the LRT was already operating all the way to Putra Heights – it has been really long since I last took the train – so I was surprised to find that the train was already full of runners. I had assumed that Kelana Jaya was still the last stop on the line. But there was still space for us, and runners had no problems making way for other runners.
It was about 4:45am when we reached Masjid Jamek, and we quickly made our way to Dataran Merdeka to the flag-off point which was a 5-minute walk away.
We met up with my friend, Andrew with whom I joined the Viper Challenge and Mad Warrior Sprint (blog posts coming up – I promise!). He was supposed to come with his wife Julie, but she had to pull out because of her unexpected pregnancy.
We had selected the longest finish time, so we were in the last starting pen; that put us towards the back of the entire crowd participating in the half-marathon.
And at 5am… we were flagged off!
TOO TIRED TO RUN
I tried to start running, but I couldn’t keep the pace. I managed to jog consistently for only… 2km! Then I was forced to slow down to a walk. So, taking into account my flu, my exhaustion from the busy day I had the day before, and lack of sleep (only 2 hours!), I decided not to attempt my sub-3, and just focus on finishing the run.
I began to “power walk”… well, to be honest, I don’t know how to do an actual power walk. I just started keeping to a fast walking pace. I used a little trick to keep myself going: try not to let other people who were also walking overtake me. Of course, it didn’t work all the time, as there were some really fast walkers. But it was a tactic that kept me at a faster pace than my usual.
Occasionally I would attempt to run again, but I would have to walk again. I ended up walking two-thirds of the entire distance.
Throughout the run, I was berating myself for signing up for the half-marathon. Too ambitious as usual, I scolded myself. Knowing what a packed weekend this would be, why didn’t I just sign up for the 10km?
But I answered my own question as I reached the finish line. I was so happy when I saw the “500m more” arch! But to be honest, it felt like the longest 500m ever!
I crossed the line at 3h08m… which surprised myself. I had expected to finish at my worst ever half-marathon time. Instead, I had managed to keep my usual HM pace!
Not my best, but I’m still pleasantly surprised that I could even maintain my usual pace.
As for the run itself, it was quite well-organised. There were plenty of water, and isotonic drinks were provided at every other water station. There were also plenty of signage. The only thing they did not have enough of was bananas – at the 14th km, just when I was approaching the banana station, the volunteers cheerfully called out, “Dah habis! Pisang dah habis!” (“Finished! We are out of bananas!”) Needless to say, like all the other runners around me, I was quite annoyed. It was frustrating especially when we saw runners in front of us holding bananas, and we had just missed out. And we weren’t even the last – there were still plenty of other runners behind us. In fact, I only saw one banana station, but there were supposedly two – meaning that they had run out of bananas for the later runners. One of my friends who had completed the run faster than I did told me that she had even taken two bananas – and she said that the volunteers said that she could! If they didn’t have enough bananas for all the runners, then why allow the faster runners take as many as they like? The slower runners needed energy to finish the run too! I was really hungry by the time I completed the run.
Well… in spite of that, everything else went fairly well. Thanks Standard Chartered and Dirigo Events for a splendid run event!