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Wan's Column - ING-Kelab RoadRunners Ipoh 12km Cross-Country Road Race 19th Nov 2006

After missing the Bidor Half marathon on 5th November 2006 due to the marriage of my god-daughter, I was determined not to miss out this interesting event. I always have a soft spot for events in Perak as the driving distance is near and I love the food in Perak. The Kelab RoadRunners Ipoh (KRI) has been doing their annual 10km for many years, much earlier than the Pacesetters Athletic Club, Malaysia. In short they have a longer history and better wealth of experience in certain ways. Mr. Chong Him Shim, the long serving president is always very humble and claims that he is learning from PACM and others. This year KRI took on another responsibility when they managed the UTAR Charity Run in June 2006 (see earlier article). After having done a 10km Ipoh City Run in June 2006, it was felt that their annual run should take a different concept, in the form of a longer distance event and hence this 12km Cross Country event. For runners who have visited KRI’s website, www.ipohroadrunners.org, they would have a glimpse of the challenge they would be facing with several pictures of the off road 6km stretch.

We (my wife Clara, running buddy Chua Keng Huat and I) took an easy drive from Subang Jaya at 2.00pm towards Ipoh on 18th November 2006. We took a drink stop at Tapah Rest Area, probably the best rest area along the North South Highway. The new rest room was well designed and blends well with the tropical environment, very airy, unlike some of the stuffy, smelly toilets we get in other parts of the country. We called President Chong for some direction to get to Alado Chery Car Show Room, the collection centre. We were advised to get off the highway via the Simpang Pulai Interchange and use the Gopeng Road towards Ipoh, with the huge peanut sign board as the landmark. It was easy to locate and we met Ronnie See and gang there collecting their stuff. After a quick hello to the organizer and Brooks’ representative Mr. Loh, we drove to the starting point to check out the place.

Sunway City is a housing project developed by the Sunway Group from the Klang Valley. In the vicinity are Giant Hypermarket and the Lost World of Tambun, a theme park. At the starting point, we see a number of KRI volunteers busy putting up the banners and tents, the same type of volunteerism I can see in PACM. I could not meet President Chong as he has taken some PACM members (Sonny Ng’s group) to check out the route. Now that I knew where to start and park, we proceed to check-in into our hotel, the Casuarina Park Royal. I always have this habit of checking out the venue before the run so that I know exactly how much time I need to drive from the hotel and most importantly, where to park. I notice many runners don’t bother to do this and try to find the place in the morning of the event. They may lose their way, come in late and get all stressed out before the start of the event. For me, I am always very relax and would arrive about half hour before the start, do a bit of socializing and visit the toilet before checking in. I suppose this is just habitual as I always look forward to enjoying the event.

The run start at 7.30am sharp, and we race off round the residential area of Sunway City, inspecting the beautiful Semi-D Garden Villa Homes, the Alpine Village Apartments and the Lakeside Villa Bungalows with the limestone hills as backdrop. Ipoh is at times referred to as Little Guilin as the limestone hills resemble the famous Guilin City of China. Looking at the beautiful properties, I actually was thinking about getting a retirement home there to stay! After about 2km on the tarmac road, the big uphill challenge came and some runners not used to the almost 40 degrees accent up almost 1.5km stretch. It was almost impossible to run up this gradient and the middle pack just keep walking up, bending our body forward to lower the center of gravity to conserve energy. I was told later by my wife who was sort of the sweeper at the back that some runners actually vomitted. She felt dizzy and Chua told me that he stopped twice, sitting down catching his breath. I did not have trouble getting to the top as it was walking pace.

I was more worried coming down from the top as I was not equipped with trail shoes, my trusty one year old New Balance 1221 that I planned to write off did not have the grip for the soft terrain.


Wan climbing up the 1.5km trail, shortly after the start. Very few runners could run up the steep slope

The heavy rain the evening before made the trail extra slippery. I will have to invest in a pair of trail shoes next year for this event. I ran downhill slowly, worried that I would slipped or someone pushing me from behind. It was a good view coming down from the top of the hill and I took my time to savor the scenery. When we reached the foothill, the welcoming drinks stop was there for us to quench our thirst. We turn into the main road for a short distance and then into the Kampung roads and got back into the main road before the Ipoh Public Driving Range. Traffic cones were adequately placed along the main road with KRI officers directing the traffic alongside with the traffic police. Another km and we were at the home stretch to finish with the DJs welcoming the runners in English and Cantonese. I recorded an unofficial time of 1hour 18 mins 38 secs that I am happy with considering that I did not push for speed due to the slippery terrains. Chua came in at about 1 hr 30 mins and Clara came in 2 mins before 2 hours.


Chua Keng Huat, Wan and Clara after the tough run.

Overall, the event was well-organized and I hope we could come back to this same place for this run next year. The total number of categories of 14, 8 men and 6 women categories would probably make this event the widest categories for a single distance event. Judging from the number of entries in each category, KRI has done adequate homework from its past statistics in arriving at the decision. According to the participants’ list released in their web, the total number of entries was 1,018, the highest ever recorded by the club. I recall about 800 plus entries in the 2005 event.

MEN  WOMEN

Cat

No

%

Cat

No

%

A–U/19

65

8%

L-U/19

29

14.4%

C-20/29

92

11.3%

P-20/29

21

10.4%

D-30/39

165

20.2%

R-30/39

51

25.2%

E-40/44

116

14.2%

S-40/44

38

18.8%

F-45/49

135

15.5%

T-45/49

36

17.8%

H-50/54

106

13%

U-O/50

27

13.4%

J-55/59

68

8.4%

     

K-O/60

69

8.5%

     

816

100%

202

100%

As within my expectation, 60% of the runners were veterans. Events organized by road runners clubs like KRI or PACM have a very strong following among the local veteran runners.

We have many road races and this is one of the few cross-country runs. A couple of minor improvements I would write to the organizer; to have km markers throughout and medical personnel in the trail portion to give the runners some assurance. I guess the medical teams find it too challenging to get onto the trail and decided to station themselves along the tarmac road. We could also do with some portable toilets to supplement the toilets at the Lost World entrance. While I am not one of those who care very much for the goodies bags, I found two quality items in it; the very nice Brooks Event T-shirt and a complimentary KRI Runners’ Calendar. The runners’ calendar is a very thoughtful gesture of KRI and it contains 12 pages of motivational pictures of runners. I am in particularly pleased when I saw RunnersMalaysia website listed as one of the useful links in the calendar. I think I buy some extra copies as gifts for my running friends. After a refreshing shower, we explored Ipoh town for some good hawkers’ fare, bought some tit-bits before hitting the NS Highway for home. A good 24 hours trip, a great feelings towards running and fellowship.

Pacesetters 30km Practice Run – 12th November 2006
While this is not a race, it is worth mentioning as it has very strong human elements with the effort put in by the club and the 20 odd volunteers who came in as early as 5.00am to serve the runners. I recall starting this initiative back in January 2003 when we were preparing for the KLIM 2003. An assisted 30km run was a service introduced as part of the KLIM Peer Support Program to help runners complete their 30km practice run, 3 weeks before the KLIM before tapering off. Later, we have been organizing 30km Practice Runs before the Penang International Bridge Run, Ipoh International Run and the Singapore Marathon. It was through these 30km Practices Runs that inspired the start of the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30km in January 2006. Other than the KLIM, the Singapore Marathon is the next best participated marathon among PACM members, hence the need for this practice run. Therefore, it is great that despite their busy schedule the current Exco of PACM has decided to bring back the 30km Practice Run. I did not pass up this opportunity to participate, even though I am not training for the full marathon. Two weekends of haze, one week at the Chinwoo Biathlon and one week of wedding celebrations has taken the toll from my long run schedules, my longest run in the last five weeks was 7km.

I decided on the 20km option to avoid over-straining, pre-agreeing with Chai Weng Moon and Peter Lim that we do the first 15km and then stop at the 15km drink stop for a rest before trotting back to Bukit Aman. When you have a plan to run less, it is always easier to achieve. I ran about 18km, walked the last 2km and felt good about it after a long absence from the Sunday runs. This practice run gave me a whole new free feeling as I do not have to do anything but to run. I saw several familiar faces who sacrifice their Sunday run to be on duty, President Munning, Francis Toh, SH Tan, Jagathasan, Sonny Ng, Tan Peck Moi, Rustam, Mrs Kelvin Ng and her 3 kids, Lee Won Kow, Jenny Lim and their two children, Lynn Toh, Uncle Tan, Chan Wing Kai, Teresa Goh, Richard Tan, KK Oon, Goh See Kwong, Tsu King Poo and a few others. The volunteerism in PACM is very much alive and I tried to say thank you to these volunteers at each service point.

As always, Powerbar sponsored the bars and energy drinks for the runners. Nike thrown in the light breakfast, supporting the club for the first time since their departure after the Nike Pacesetters 15km 2004. As a member, I hope this tradition of having a 30km practice run could carry on 3 weeks before each major marathon like the KLIM, Putra Jaya Marathon, Penang International Bridge Run and the Singapore Marathon. This practice run also throws out the marked increase in traffic volume at the Jalan Duta Inter-change that would need greater safety measure at the Great Eastern Pacesetters 30km 2007. Something that PACM Exco is mulling over.

2007 Running Calendar
While the first edition of the running calendar has not been issued by FTAAA yet, there is already a change to the KLIM 2007 date, it has been rescheduled to 18th March 2007, instead of 4th March 2007 to avoid clashing with the all powerful Standard Chartered Hongkong Marathon. Well! RunnersMalaysia will share with all runners the 2007 calendar once we got hold of it. In the meantime, I am looking forward to my last event of the year, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on 3rd December 2006. To all the doting parents, happy holidays and happy running with your kids.

Wan Yew Leong
20 November 2006
wanyewleong@gmail.com

 
 

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