Date: 24 June 2012
Venue: Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Distance: 3km (Garmin: 3.64km; started and stopped the Garmin late due to undue STRESS)
Timing: 17:19 (Garmin)
Pace: 4:45 min/km (Garmin)
Result: 3rd (Team) (unofficial results here) (top results here) [may update this link when the official results are posted on the website]
I’m writing this from the perspective of the Ekiden Team Relay (Ekiden Run) so a lot of the ups and downs may not necessarily apply to the rest of the categories – which I gathered was more positive. Guess you should know by know where this post is leading.
Malaysia’s largest, biggest running event which started and finished at the historic Dataran Merdeka. The event featured the 42km, 21km, 10km, Ekiden and Kids Dash. The Ekiden Run was a 21km relay with distances of 5, 3, 3, 5 and 5km and saw the participation of slightly over a 100 teams. Second year running and I thought they would have ironed out most of the glitches (didn’t run this last year but am guessing as with any inaugural events, there would be some?). I thought wrong.
Ronnie had put up a team for the category but Michelle was nursing a metatarsal injury and hence I ran in her place. Jothpal kicked things off at 5:45 am with Bee Hoon and I doing the shorter legs with Ronnie and Raymond completing the rest. The distances for each leg were off by the stated since they needed to have/find bus stops or wider emergency lanes on the side of the road for the handover. Of course you probably won’t know this until you’re actually running your leg.
There was keen competition among the top 2 teams – both very strong teams with extremely fast runners like Arul Thevar and his brothers, Sheela, Sangeetha, Amelia etc. In fact, Amelia’s team came in first on leg 3 but was overtaken in the last 2 legs (sorry, not sure which one!). My leg was from the school at Jalan Loke Yew to the KL Badminton Stadium.
Km0-200m (when I actually remembered to start the Garmin!)
I had literally less than 5-10 minutes to warm up after the bus drop before the first of the runners came. So almost zero warm up before putting myself in the handover zone. Saw Bee Hoon coming in (we had neon yellow adiNation vests courtesy of Adidas Malaysia). Whew! Handover was smooth and I double looped the sash (I’m small and SW had warned me that they saw a few sashes dropping off during last year’s event. I had been stressing about this for the past couple of days. Yeah, run event stress…not work or money or family! Next stress…maintaining the 3rd placing…so much so that I forgot to start the Garmin until about 200m+++ later.
The entire run is a bit of a blur because all my energy, concentration etc went into running and keeping the placing! Relatively flat section and I didn’t bother too much with telling myself to hang back in case I blew up later. I guess it was “let it hurt, let it hurt”.
Some road elevations peppered into the section and passed the 5:30 pacers and had Kelvin and KK cheering for me. It felt so so so good, not that I could utter anything coherent and was delirious, stressed, <insert similar adjectives> at this point. I gave them a wave as I went up the slope. Sorry guys! It was also here that I got a bit worried that I may have missed a turn because by my estimate that we were about 2.5km in and since I started the Garmin late, the handover zone should be coming up. Nothing was in sight. Shouted to 2 volunteers – at the roundabout and at the left turn after that but they waved me on.
Crap! The leg was long and I was hoping it was not 5km (the initial legs were 5, 3, 5, 3, 5). Please don’t let it be 5km or let me blow up.
Whew! Saw a group and it looked like it’s the handover zone. Unlooped the first loop of sash and kept it on until the “zone” before passing it to Ronnie. Remember that stress about sash dropping? I positively heard something drop and shouted “the tag dropped, the tag” like a mad woman. Even Michelle (our own cyclist support crew – many thanks babe for being out there!) was worried but when I saw that the tag was still attached, pushed Ronnie out.
Done. Done. Done. Stress, blood pressure and cardiac moment(s) IMMEDIATELY plummet!
a) Overall, the event was well organized and received the thumbs up from most runners; unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Ekiden.
b) Great volunteers on the bus return journey – he was very friendly and handed out water and 100Plus to us. Unfortunately (for me only!), the bus couldn’t get moving until all the teams had completed leg 3 (I had the “romantic” notion of doing the last wave of the 10km (8 am) but no go, as we left around 7:40 am, more than an hour since I finished).
c) Plenty of hydration stations both at the start/finish and along the route. On my short leg, there was 2; all stocked with water and 100Plus.
d) Distance markers at every km although they were off for the Ekiden Run.
e) Post-run carnival. Lots of booths and they even had a wide area in front of the booths with fans so runners could actually hang out there or designate it as a meet-up point.
f) “Live” tracking of runners and immediate unofficial results (not for Ekiden Run. Remember, the tags/sashes were only distributed on the morning of the event?)
g) Option of having the race pack couriered to you.
a) The Ekiden Run needs a
fair bit lot of improvements.
• The mass crowding at the pre-run registration on race day; there was no organized way of handing out the team sash with the tag and it didn’t even appeared that the tags were pre-identified to the teams. Nonetheless to say, no proper queuing and this was not process flow was not included in the Runners’ Guide. Chaotic to sum it up.
• The handing out of the sash began at 5am and guess what time is the first flag off or the number of teams in the event. 5:45 and 102 teams. And the runners cannot board the bus to their respective zones until all the sashes were distributed. Couldn’t the tags which were attached to the sashes be distributed during the race pack collection??? If there was a need to ensure that the teams and their team members showed up, fine…have a pre-run registration with several rows marked out with team numbers e.g. (teams 1-20, 21- 40 etc).
• I finally boarded my bus at 5:25 a.m. and at 6 a.m, was still sitting in the bus…more than 30 minutes for a 8km journey? No, not due to the road closures since the chartered bus is part of the official set up. The bus driver got lost. FML! Can you imagine my stress levels??? Then it was a mad dash from the opposite of the road (pedestrian bridge with all the steps!) to the handover zone, warm up with a few steps before the officials start hollering that the first runners are coming through.
b) Partial road closures on my leg – I’m not a fan of anything other than a full and guess what I had to contend with? Nope, not zipping vehicles (this is a perennial and a given) but an ambulance occupying the lane for the runners! For most of km2 and 3. I understand the need to have enroute medical support but couldn’t the St John’s or Global Doctors or whichever organization be briefed on this? The one-lane path is already narrow and having to dodge or share it with a vehicle was a nightmare! Should I squeeze on the left (if there was space…since there are runners) or should I kill myself and run on the right. You tell me.
c) Perhaps include a note to say that the distances for each leg was a +/- ***km section if the distances between the handover zones cannot be measured exactly. I’m not asking for an exact measurement but when it’s off the mark by nearly a km…runners may start to wonder if they had taken the correct turning.
d) They could have included a bottle of water in the post-run bag (only a medal, a can of 100Plus and a banana was included).
e) LRT services should commence earlier; there was no arrangement for this this year – I thought it was great that they were following Hong Kong and Singapore’s footsteps when they introduced it last year. Alas, no such hope this year. Look, it’s the largest event (running or otherwise) and we didn’t put out early train services? And with road closures, the city was more or less in a gridlock and runners were supposed to rely on shuttle buses (from train stations) or have family/friends drop them (not even close to the start point). Masjid Jamek station is just 200 meters away. Oh come on, have it as an option. Not too sure if the decision was halted by the organizers (probably not) or RapidKL.
The organizer and the FTAAA have their work cut out for them if they’re serious about this event.
Photo credits to Jason Loh, Michelle Looi, Cassy Lim, Moey
Ekiden Finisher’s Medal and Team Glass Plaque/Medal
At the start
Prize presentation and each of the lady runners in the holding area for winners received a rose from the winner of the 42km...except moi...who got the remnants. LOL!
p/s: sorry about this dissertation of a post; not sure how I even managed that out of a 4km event!