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Wan's Column - Of German Visitor and KRI 12.8KM 2008

One night in early November 2008, I was checking my gmail, I got a mail from KC Leong, the webmaster of PACM. KC as he is known, blogs under KC & the Sunshine Runners, sent a message to three of us staying in Subang Jaya, Rustam Affandi, the president of PACM, Jason Thiang, the captain of PACM and me. The forwarded message is a request from a German lady runner who is looking for someone to train with over the next six weeks when she is in Kuala Lumpur. She gave her information; her name is Charlotte, she is 49, runs 3 times a week at a pace of 6min per km and she is training for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (21km). She also indicated that she shall be staying in Subang Jaya.

As I too run about 6min per km and staying in Subang Jaya, I decided to respond to the email and see how I could help. After a few emails, she arrived at Kuala Lumpur on 11 November 2008, I was informed that she stays in PJ Hilton and not Subang Jaya. She asked me for some direction on how to get to Tasik Perdana to join us for the Sunday run. As I do pass by PJ Hilton using the Federal Highway on Sundays, I thought it would be convenient that I give her a ride to Bukit Aman car-park, the base of PACM Sunday long run as it may not be too safe for her to take a taxi at 6am to Bukit Aman carpark.

On 15 November 2008, I called Charlotte at her hotel and gave her clear information to meet me in front of the foyer at 6.10am the next morning. That morning, Clara joined me for the run too as she is preparing for the KRI 12.8km in 3 weeks’ time. Charlotte was punctual and we start talking in the car as we drove towards Bukit Aman car-park. We did the double hill route and after the run, I introduced her to several members of the club. She met amongst others, Rustam, Munning Uncle Hooi, Uncle Tan, Chai, Goh SK, Jenny Lee and Lok.  I invited her to join us for some local breakfast at Jalan Tungshin for some fish noodles. Although she has never been to this part of the world, she adapted well to the local food, after I explained to her the ingredients that went into the meal I recommended her. After the breakfast I dropped her at KLCC as she wish to visit the twin tower. That morning, I thought to myself and felt it is kind of strange that I responded to the email. I doubt I would bother if it is just a German visitor but not a runner? It shows that we respond quite differently but for the simple lingo of runners; I run 6min per km that makes the difference. I made a new friend and she reminds me of the German couple; Peter H. Mueller and Gisela Lammers who spent 4 fabulous years with the club, joining us for most of our activities.

The following Sunday, we did the same and we went for a 13km run, a loop round the lake after the double hill route. In the previous week I have asked Charlotte whether she is keen to run in the KRI 12.8km. She told me she is keen but noted from the website that it is closed. I told her I could call Chong Him Shoong, the president of KRI and I am sure he can let her run. We have committed to the KRI run 3 months ago when the date was first told to me by Chong. Chai Weng Moon, my hotelier running mate during the week days, did the hotel booking while I organized the online booking for Chai, Chua Keng Huat, Clara and I. Kim did not plan to run the event as she is busy with the budget at this time of the year. However, a few weeks later she decided to sign up as she has to travel to Ipoh that weekend to attend a relative’s wedding. It is good to have Kim to go along as she has been relatively inactive in local races. She has to skip the Borneo Marathon due to work.

On 29 November 2008, we started the journey by rounding up everybody, Chua drove to my house, I picked up Charlotte at Subang Parade and Chai from his house in USJ 2. Sook Ying, PACM treasurer has suggested that we drive off together from SS19 Shell Station at about 2pm with Lok Chan Chuen’s family. Our three cars drove off together and we met up again at Simpang Pulai rest area. We met Uncle Hooi Siew Weng’s group there and we took a picture before moving on. 

Meeting Uncle Hooi's group in Simpang Pulai Rest Area

Shortly after the Simpang Pulai toll, we saw a few vehicles by the side with Tony Quek waiting there for the cyclists to check in. Chan Wing Kai, our club’s photographer was there to capture the moment. Sook Ying’s husband, Jason Thiang is one of the 10 cyclists that were cycling up to Ipoh and then take part in the KRI run. I stopped my vehicle for a short while to say hello to the group before driving towards the venue of the run.

KRI has been experimenting with their venue, originally at the Polo Ground. Two years ago they did a run at Tambun with the Suncity’s Lost World of Tambun as the venue. This year they move south to a new housing estate, Taman Botani, a project by Taiko Plantation. The venue is very suitable with the new housing estate, almost traffic free, a man-made park in the middle and the Main Range as the backdrop with a few limestone hills thrown in. We met Chong at the venue and thank him for making an effort to allow Charlotte to run. The response to the run has been consistent over the years; just below 1,000 entries.

Chong Him Shoong, president of KRI with our group at the collection centre.

That evening we met up with Dr Tan of Sahara Desert run fame, Jenny Lee, Lee and Ngae KH at the hotel, the Impiana Casuarina. Ngae our ironman was one of the 10 cyclists that cycled up to Ipoh for the run. The hotel bell boys were pretty impressed when he told them he is 55 years old. We decided on our dinner venue, we would go to Unique Seafood at the Lost World of Tambun for dinner at about 8.30pm. My wife Clara needs to attend the local Catholic Church service at 7.00pm. While waiting for her, Chai, Chua, Charlotte and I went for a cup of coffee at Parkson Complex, opposite the church. While we are reasonably familiar with Ipoh by now, my newly acquired GPS came in handy. It gives confidence to a driver who is not familiar with the town as the direction is clear and displays a view of the roads we are on while driving.

We got to Unique Seafood at 8.45pm. It is located within the Lost World of Tambun, a project of Suncity. The address is No 5, Persiaran Lagoon Sunway 1, 31150 Ipoh, Tel 05-548 6010. They are part of the chain and have a similar restaurant in PJ Section 14 and another restaurant by the name Pantai Seafood at Kg Sg Kayu Ara. This chain of seafood restaurant is modeled from the Hongkong seafood restaurants where you can chose your live seafood from the tank. Charlotte was so impressed with the system and took several pictures of the seafood displayed in the tanks. We selected steam Garoupa Harimau, Ikan Haruan 2 style, steam flower crabs, fried Kailan, black pepper venison and homemade taufoo as our dinner, not too meaty or heavy such that we would run well the next day.

Steam flower crabs from Unique Seafood.

For the record, I never do carbo-loading for my races as I do not race beyond 21km. However, I am diligent enough not to overeat (except in Sabah for the Borneo Marathon) and would have a large bowl of rice as part of the dinner. My outstation runs are my holiday runs and I do want to eat decently in the midst of good company. I guess this is my philosophy about life, I am not a strict athlete and run to enjoy life. As such you do not find me writing about the run in details, unlike other runners / bloggers. My focus is about good company and good food. My only ritual before the run is eating 2 bananas in the morning, one hour before the run. You need not follow this, just do what you are comfortable with, provided it works for you. That night, our dinner conversation centered around the match between Dr. Tan, Jenny Lee and Lee (a former triathlete) with Ngae as the judge. Their race have been planned and talked about for a couple of months. The stake is a good meal and I suggested a roast goose as part of the menu.

After the dinner at about 10pm, I have two more planned activity, to pick up Kim from the restaurant she is having the wedding party and to meet with Edward Wong, my neighbor and fellow PACM member to pass him his bibs. The GPS is really wonderful and I got to Jalan Kampar without trouble by just following the direction. We got back to the hotel with Edward waiting at the foyer. I made a quick announcement that we meet at 6.15am next morning to get to the venue. Charlotte has to exchange her bib as she was issued the wrong bib, Chong made the discovery early and SMS me about the mistake while we were having dinner.

Charlotte, Kim, Clara, Wan, Chai and Chua - before the race

Chine, Ivy, Clara, Wan, Lynn Toh and Jenny Lee before the race. Photo courtesy of Chan Wing Kai

It was a beautiful morning with gentle breeze as we arrived at the venue. We met many PACM members at the venue and Chan Wing Kai was there offering his photographic services. (some of the pixs in this article were taken by Chan) We all got behind the arch and took off at 7.00am and the over enthusiastic runners made the first blunder, some of them took an early U-turn in less than 100m from the start. I am rather disappointed that runners should take such a minor short cut, considering that there is no prize money and we have finisher medals for all. I can hear Sonny Ng shouting at the runners taking short cut “Shame on you!” This is about the only visible flaw in the event. After that, everything was smooth as the remaining U-turns were well respected by the runners. The route took us to the partially developed properties, almost completely free of traffic. At a distance we have the Main Range as the backdrop. After about 6km and a water station, the route took us to a well maintained man made park before we head back to the start area for another U-turn. After one km into the start I was pacing Charlotte at 5min 40s pace but after about 6km, Charlotte fell back at her pace. I went on consistently and feeling good with no lamb shank in my stomach to bother me. We had the perfect diet for the run, so I thought. When I got to the last U-turn, with less than 1.5km from the finish, I saw Kim looking rather sluggish. I thought she was slower than I expected, usually she would be about 1km ahead of me in a 10 to 12km race. I think I am consistent and she is the slower runner that morning, probably the heavy wedding dinner! I finished in an official time of 1hr 10m 32s, placed 32nd in the 50 to 55 category. I am pleased with the pace and felt that I ran a well judged race. Kim came in at 1hr 10m 5s placed 11th and Charlotte came in shortly after me at 1hr 13m 31s and got a third placing in her 45 to 49 category. Clara came in 10 placing in her category at 1hr 21m 15s. Chai Weng Moon came in 1hr 32m 10s at 75th and Chua Keng Huat came in 1hr 29m 34s at 81st in his 45 to 49 category.

Wan pacing Charlotte for the first 6km

Wan ran a well judged race after a great dinner the previous night at Unique Seafood.

Kim making a determined effort despite the lack of competition in the run up.

Dr Tan running next to Clara was serious in not losing his race.

Clara enroute to her finish

And after the race with the well-deserved medals

Jason Thiang and Tan Wah Sing among the winners in the 50-55 category.

Chong Him Shoong and his tireless committee that make the event happen for the last 20 years.

As Charlotte needs to pick up her prize and Kim needs to meet up her parents at the hotel, we drove back to the hotel, have our shower and checked out. We went back to the venue and well in time for the prize giving for Charlotte’s category. We stayed for the last of the lucky draw but no luck, congratulated president Chong and his team for a good job done. We met up with Ngae, Dr. Tan, Jenny Lee and Lee back in Ipoh town for brunch at a local coffee shop by the name of Thean Chun Coffee Shop (The Hall of Mirrors, 73, Jln Pasar Old Town). We had a good meal of steam chicken with taugeh, poppiah, chee cheong fun and chicken horfun for brunch. We packed 7 salt-baked chicken from Ang Kheng Lim, 24, Jln Theatre to take back for dinner. During lunch we were told of how Dr. Tan narrowly lost to Jenny Lee and Lee in the last 1.5km after the last U-turn. Anyway, whatever ever the reason or however close was the race, we are going to have roast goose for lunch soon; Dr. Tan clocked 1hr 40m 1s, Jenny Lee, 1hr 38m and Lee 1hr 38m 17s. We got back to Subang Jaya by 2.30pm and send Charlotte back to PJ Hilton. She shall be running the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon next Sunday.

Great hawker stalls in and outside Thean Chun coffee shop

Chee Cheong Fun stall

Chicken horfun stall.

That night, as I sank into my Lazyboy that night after dinner, I tried to catch the movie Hairspray with my daughters, a cheesy movie by John Travolta as a mother. I was too tired and could not complete the movie. I thought through the KRI Run and what I have done for the last 2 weeks. I think I, along with my little group have help to generate our local economy in some ways with our trip to Ipoh. Having Charlotte with us is an experience and allowed for some cross cultural exchanges with the conclusion that families are the same, whether in Berlin or Kuala Lumpur. Charlotte has 3 daughters and I have four, all about the same age. Bringing up the kids is an important part of our objectives. I think I have played my role as the goodwill ambassador for the club as well as for the country. The end result I hope is that she will have a good opinion of our club and our country. She may come back with her family to visit Malaysia as tourists and along the way tell more Germans about our club and country…………..   

That night, while reading the Dec 2008 issue of the Runnersworld, I noted this quotable quote - “I don’t know if running adds years to your life, but it definitely adds life to your years” – Jim Fixx, author of “The Complete Book of Running”

How true! ….run on and enjoy life my friends…………

Wan Yew Leong
2 December 2008  


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