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Wan's Column - Bidor Half Marathon 2008

Early this month, I received an email from Leng, the president of Bidor Runners Sports & Recreation Club, informing that the Bidor Half Marathon will be held on 26 April 2009. I was pleasantly surprised given the poor economic conditions. I immediately forwarded the email to those who went with me for the 2008 trip. I also realized that I have an unfinished article that I was writing in May 2008 about the Bidor Half Marathon 2008 and somehow I was distracted and did not complete it……… hell of a distraction that was! I think I owe it to my friend, Leng that the article is completed and upload to the RunnersMalaysia website. A month after the event, Leng also send me a few CDs with many pictures taken on the event. I need to do justice to his team’s effort by completing this article.

On 26 April 2008, we went over to Bidor to take part in the Bidor Half Marathon, 7 of us in 2 vehicles (Chai Weng Moon, Kim, Clara, Chine, Ivy Chan, Joyce Ong & I). It is an eating trip as much as a running trip; that is what I promised Kim who is now highly selective of the races she runs in. She did not run KLIM 2008 as she does not like the route. I assure her that despite being a country route, there are no mosquitoes faster than her. If she does get bitten, it is because she is smart, scientists concluded that mosquitoes like to bit intelligent people. I seldom get bitten by mosquitoes….and that explains it.

We left USJ Subang Jaya at 2.20pm, got out of the Slim River exit to get to our resort, the Trolak Country Resort to pick up our keys. This place has been upgraded since I stayed there in 2001 when I took part in the Slim River Country Run. It is owned by the Felda Plantation Group, the same owner as the Tekam Plantation in Pahang that the PACM visited in 2005. We decided to stay in Trolak to cut the traveling distance as the official hotel is in Kampar which is further north of Bidor, our destination. We drove one vehicle, my NAZA Ria, a seven seater to Bidor to collect our bibs and also to have dinner. We pick up our bibs from the secretariat, the New Mexico Tailor, a friendly bunch of locals who treated us with some herbal tea eggs.

The finish gate done by the club members

We then stop by at Pun Chun Chicken Bisquit & Restaurant (40, Main Road, Bidor. Tel – 05-4341554) for a drink and some snacks. Bidor is a small town, famous for its chicken bisquit and prior to opening of the North South Highway in the eighties, it was a compulsory stop for north bound traffic. Most travelers have their meals at Pun Chun, famous for their duck soup noodles. I am less impressed by their duck soup noodles as I have tasted better ones in Subang Jaya but like their Woo Kok (yam based dimsum) and Loh Por bisquit (almond flavoured bisquit). It is a good place to buy some local snacks. We met PACM’s former president, Munning Jamaludin, Tammy Lim, Teresa Goh and a few others there having their meals. We next went to take a drive on a portion of the route, towards the waterfall area. I last ran this route back in 2005 when it was a 14km event. In 2006, it was lengthened to a 21km event with a 10km option, I missed that run as my god-daughter got married that weekend. In 2007, the Bidor Group was unable to hold it as the previous sponsor ING did not wish to continue. I have been catching up with Leng whenever we meet at local races and have been urging him to continue the event. Last year, the Bidor Kaki Runners legally formed their club, the Bidor Runners Sports & Recreation Club.  I have also been advising them how they should source smaller sponsors from their local business community, instead of depending on a single title sponsor. It works out and the event is on. We went to the start line and spoke to some of their volunteers, busy putting up the start/finish gate. They got slightly above 1,000 registrations, one third each for the 21km, 10km and 3km categories. It is considered a very good response as we have 2 events in Klang Valley that Sunday, the Power 10km and the New Balance Klang Pacers Half Marathon in Klang.      

After driving through the route, it is time for part of our program, the dinner at My Friend Restaurant ( F-29, Taman Chit Loong, 35500 Bidor, Perak. Tel: 05-4348241). We were recommended this place by Lawrence Lee, a PACM member and we have been dropping by for meals occasionally when we come home from Ipoh. We had ikan haruan in two style, soup and fried with ginger / spring onion, steam frogs, soy sauce chicken, braised yam with pork and fried belachan baku vegetables. It was yummy and we were well fed, considering it was an early dinner. As I did not have a good night sleep on Friday, I suggested we retire early on Saturday night as we need to leave the resort which is about 30km from Bidor at 6.00am on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, everyone was punctual and we left the resort at 6.02am driving towards Bidor. We met a number of familiar faces, among which were Lee Cheng Chuan, Stanley Ho, Stanley’s brother, Lee Yee Sum, Raja Sofia, Jaffar, Uncle Hooi, Francis Cheng, John Tan, Wai Mun, Jessica and Gary Goh. My contribution to the organizers was giving the encouragement and some common sense advice. They are unable to get a title sponsor after ING stopped supporting the event. I told Ling that realistically it would be difficult for a large corporate to justify supporting an event in a small town like Bidor where the business potential is limited. However, if the town and community really wanted an annual event of their own, they could seek support of the local business communities in the form of smaller donations. I think for a local business to donate RM100 to RM500 each is not a problem, it would mean reaching out to more sponsors with lots of legwork. It should be an event that Bidor residents are proud of, organized, participated and funded by Bidor residents. The 100 to 200 outstation runners like us are tourist runners looking for variety and an excuse for get out of Kuala Lumpur.  

Chine on his way back after 21KM

Joyce Ong after her fun run

Kim was placed 6th in her category

John Tan got a 4th placing in his category

Wai Mun placed 3rd in her category

Clara after her 10KM run

Mr. A Sivanesen presenting momento to Wan.

Clara, Wan, Leng with Perak State Exco member Mr. A. Sivanesen

We were happy with the event, a nice scenic route, a great change from the city roads we have been running in Klang Valley. The one improvement I requested of Ling is that we should start the event half an hour earlier for the 21km, at 6.30am instead of 7.00am. I was told that the decision to start at 7.00am is due to inadequate street lights at the starting point. Well! We could always compromise next year and start at 6.45am.

The PACM group won a number of top spots, John Tan, Wai Mun, Jessica and even Clara (see pixs above). Now this is the part I think Leng has paid great attention to details in relationship building. They have made some nice souvenir from the finisher medals for each of the groups that came up to Bidor to support the event as well as the sponsors. It includes PACM KL, PACM Sabak Bernam, Ipoh Road Runners and Runners Malaysia. Perak State Exco, Mr. A. Sivanesen and representatives from the sponsors gave away the prizes.

The souvenir given to RunnersMalaysia from Bidor Runners Sports & Recreation Club

Our return trip is supposed to take us to another famous restaurant at Sungkai Restaurant Choy Kee, well known for their pork trotters. However, we were very unlucky as the restaurant was closed for renovation. Well! We will be back next year for the pork trotters, I am sure it would have grown larger and more tasty………We drove back to Bidor and have another meal at My Friend Restaurant and no regrets. We also took the opportunity to buy some local tit bits before driving home.

Wan Yew Leong
21 November 2008 


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