Monday, July 8, 2013

Salomon S-Lab Kuala Selangor Jamboree Trail Run 2013 - Race Report

Almost 6KM into the race...
The runners ahead of me stopped abruptly, puzzled. Some turned around and headed towards my direction. I heard mutterings of, "U-turn, turn back! Wrong way!" amidst the confusion.

Was it a joke, I wondered.

I soon spotted the lead veteran men coming back and KA waving to us to turn around and head back. It then dawned to me that it was NOT, no, not a joke.


The top female runners were turning back as well and so was the entire herd of runners ahead of me. Shoved around, I had to snap out of my reverie and forced myself to turn back.

But it was too late.

I had already lost the momentum.

What a mouthful!

The route
The route was generally a flat one. It was tarmac for the first 1.2KM as we ran through a housing area before we hit a dirt road wide enough to fit the length of a 2-tonne lorry. (Waitaminute, how long is a 2-tonne lorry???) At KM3.2 we arrived at the entrance to the Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Thereafter, we moved on to a dirt and gravel path just wide enough for a car to drive through. At KM4, we hit a T-intersection where everyone turned left, which apparently was the wrong route. So with the wrong route taken, it was an additional 3.7KM.

Turning back and hitting the T-intersection, we headed on straight where we should have turned right instead. Passed by a soon-drying up swamp/marsh land/dunno. We came out at the park entrance and on tarmac, we headed straight towards a flight of stairs leading to the lighthouse and that was approximately KM9.4 at this juncture.

It was a crawl going up the stairs and as I was with Foo, we chatted amicably. Some runners chose to climb up the slope instead of taking the stairs.

At the top, we ran on the road circling the lighthouse. The view from the top was not too bad and there were plenty of black macaques (not sure of their species). Everyone was doing the touristy thing of taking photos of their surroundings. Foo offered to snap my pic with the lighthouse but I refused!

Upon completing the loop, it was back at the junction (facing the stairs) and retracing our steps to the start/finish line.

With about 500m to the finish line, there were 2 Bomba (Fire Brigade) personnel holding up the hose, providing a shower for the runners to run through.

Out of the 12.5KM captured on my Garmin, it was only 5.5KM on trail. The rest was on tarmac.

I estimated it to be 30-70 or 40-60 of trail-road, so I'm not that far off.
Cut off the wrong route and you may see the 30-70 ratio.

You didn't read the above paragraphs, did you? :D

My strategy for the race
I had not much of a strategy as I didn't really study the route. I signed up for the event as soon as the announcement that SCKLM was postponed was made. I was surprised when I could still sign up for it, as I thought registration would still be closed.

Instead of taking the hydration bag, I opted for 2 handheld soft flasks in each hand, and a waist pouch. My shoe choice was either my old pair of New Balance All Terrain 625 or my Salomon XT Wings 3. Fearing that my NB would not provide enough traction, I stuck with the Salomon.

Having 2 handheld flasks in my hands proved to be annoying. It was easier to run with just 1 in either hand. I felt conscious of the flasks in my hands as I swung my arms.

I had planned on running a 5:25 - 5:30 pace for the roads and probably a 6:00 pace for the trails. But somehow I found myself running at a sub-5:00 pace during the first 2KM (which worried me) and without the top girls within my sight!

The trail was flat and unadventurous, nothing technical.

I remember overtaking a few girls. I caught up with Foo and then CY, and then Andrew.

I remember struggling removing my power gel from my pouch and noticing the runners turning back. 

As the top girls ran past me, I didn't know whether to follow or not. I felt it was unfair to make up for lost ground by tailing them right after, yet I felt a bit silly if I had ran all the way to the dead end and u-turned back.

I decided to finished up my gel instead and ran alongside Andrew and Foo. I wanted to walk most of the time, but geez, a slow jog was so much faster than walking!

I didn't like the stairs. 
It was crowded and the railing was unstable, rickety.

I didn't like the tarmac all the way back because my shoes deserved better love on the trails.

Potential Top 10
I was within the top 10 lead women at the start of the run as I slowly ran ahead. I was huffing and puffing like crazy and to be honest, was getting quite bored of the flat trail.

The wrong route and the need to u-turn was a dilemma for me. Did I want to keep the chase and attempt to remain in the top 10, and whether it would be worth all the effort?

If I were in the top 10 lead, can you imagine how many women were right behind me? How many people would I have had to shove out of the way and keep the top girls within my sight all the way to the finish line? But if the lead veteran men had already ran past them and given the rest of the girls ample notice to turn back, wouldn't some other girls be in the lead already?

If I had conjured Scott Jurek's thoughts at that moment, I suppose I would have given a chase. But I revisited my objective of joining the race instead and that forced made my decision easier to cope with. It wasn't anger or annoyance that coursed through my veins, but sheer disappointment with the organiser that they could mislead us the wrong way. As we headed towards the correct route, I looked out for a sign at the T-intersection which indicated a right turn instead of the left, but found none.

I was hoping that Nick or CY would have waited for us to reach them so we could just run back together but nooooooo. Apparently, they took the chance to quickly get the run over and done with! Hah!

Running with Foo proved to be a challenge, not because he is dull company (he is NEVER dull!), but I had trouble fighting with the demons in me. They wanted to my legs to move faster and pick up the pace (they were not in the mood for a leisure run) and I had to fight tooth and nail to hold them back and consider the ultimate objective of my participation in this event, which was to take it slow for my upcoming 50KM.


With Zane and FooFRIM. Gan is in glasses, in the queue.
Photo courtesy of Jeanie.

What made it ridiculously annoying was that at the end of the race, we had to queue up for a few minutes before we reached the finish line. They were giving out medals then and there. A quick look around thereafter proved futile as breakfast and goodie bags had already ran out.

What the heck!

Many congratulations to KA for retaining his 4th spot in the Men's Veteran category
regardless of the extra distance! He's not Fast Legs for nothing!! :)

That made the decision to leave the event earlier an easy one. It wasn't worth staying back for the prize giving ceremony as most of us were hungry already. We returned to our parked cars and headed for the nearest eatery for a tummy refill.

The angel (because he has a halo-ish light) is FooFRIM.

Questions About The Race
1. Why is it called a "trail" run in the event title when it was only 45% trail, the rest on tarmac? Why were participants even advised to wear their road shoes instead of trail shoes, somewhere amongst the comments on the Facebook page?
2. Was it stated somewhere that breakfast and goodie bags were limited while stocks last, or were they meant to be available for each and every participant? Last year's participants received a cap at the completion of the race. This year, there weren't enough to go around.
3. If the organisers were short-staffed for the event, did they publicise the need for volunteers to come forward to lend a helping hand?
4. Was the title sponsor, Salomon aware of the event's planning, potential shortcomings and troubleshooting plans?

The Verdict On The Event

1. The medal and event t-shirt were great. Loved them!
2. Thank goodness isotonic drink was provided at the 1st/2nd water station.
3. There was not much of a delay in the flagging off, give and take a few minutes,
4. Adding the touristic route around the lighthouse was ingenious, but I was not a fan. Sorry.
5. Forgot to add, thank you to the people manning the water stations. :)

1. Not enough volunteers at junctions and on the premises. If not, we wouldn't have turned left and taken the wrong way, nor made to queue up for our finisher medals.
2. No food/breakfast or goodie bags for the late finishers. Why?
3. The extra distance of approximately 4KM proves to be a catch-22 situation. First, the proposed event distance was 7KM and was then extended to 11KM due to some people's request for a longer route. I find this puzzling. Take away 4KM from the actual distance I ran, that would leave the participants with a mere 9KM at best.

Before we play the name, blame and shame game, and before the organiser refutes any claims whatsoever, I believe that they should take responsibility of the issues at hand and learn from this experience. Some runners have come to the defence of the organisers, saying that it is their first time, so please give them a break.

But if you choose to organise a running event, you must be prepared to deal with the many issues and scenarios. Organising a race is tough, so be very prepared with a good team of people to do the work, and have a plan B at all times.

Consumers these days have loud voices and if they choose to demand for what was promised to them, please do not deny them that. Yes, they have no right to shout and call you names, but be the bigger person and deal with them diplomatically. Don't forget that the world is watching and should you want to remain in the event business, you will rise above this. :)

That said, please give me my top 10 placing. :D

I take my hat off to the lead pack who managed to retain their lead despite the wrong route. You deserve your win. Great job for the fantastic finish!

On A Happier Note
The objective of joining this event was to hang out with the GCAM group. I called it a road trip (an hour for each to and fro journey)!

Photo courtesy of Khairi.
He's showing off his calf muscles!

Bumped into the usual people you tend to meet at the races. :)

We were wondering where Super Kew went! He turned it into a LSD training instead.
It was a fun trip after all, and oh my goodness, my first ever mamak session with the group, can you believe it?? :P

Foo looks like a chipmunk and Nick is stoned. The rest are happy campers!

I wished I had ended my racing experience in Malaysia for the year with a bang (first, SCKLM got postponed and then this one turned out to be a mess) but I guess it was not meant to be. :)

Better luck next time, Piffs!


  1. So... Were you the diva who insisted on getting her refund because she was denied top placing? Thought I read about it somewhere. Heh heh :-D

    1. KAKAKAKAKA!!!!!!!

      I wish I was THAT diva but I'm not deserving enough to make such a big fuss. :)

  2. Wei, it's not often CY and me get to smoke you la ... hahaha! I actually wanted to just stop and walk back when Khay An asked us to turn back but I was doing so well up to then, it would be a waste to just stop so I just had to push myself to keep moving. And errr, I though you top 5?

    1. hahahaha smoke me pulak!

      i think i was overtaken by 2 girls when i struggled to get my power gel out of my bag after KM5 so i was down to 6th or 7th la.

  3. Oh bummer... What a hot mess, that trail run event... Nice write up, Yvonne! It wasn't a proper trail run since it's just a 30:70 ratio... My goodness!

    Pity those late finishers, no breakfast and goodie bag? Haiyoo... Heard that the registration fee was not that cheap too...

    Anyhow, best of luck for your Ultra Trail 50km soon, ok! Looking forward to meet you again..

    P/S: I'm normally very nervous during my 1st meet with people, especially with famous running bloggers/speedsters.. =D

    1. heyo! hopefully the organiser will buck up and improve in the future. :)

      RM60 for medal and t-shirt and 20% discount voucher for Salomon products tops the no breakfast and goodie bag, i suppose. :D

  4. forget this episode. this is indeed a great outing.

    but I do wanna race those Navy guys again. a bit sad as 4 of them came all da way from Lumut base but went back cursing d organiser.

    another sad side is v didn't get to see u on podium this time...sob sob

    1. wow, pity the Navy guys who traveled so far. but i'm sure they may have expected more trail as well, like most of us were. :D

      hanging out with crazy people are always fun haha!

  5. well written account of the run. and i truly agree that the organizers should not be defended with the excuse of it being their first time. i am hoping to hear a respond from mountdesign. they have truly let runners down here.

    the consolation is that runners being runners, we're happy to be in the company of each other and just to keep one foot in front of the other as we bound along any path/trail/road/route.

    thanks for the write up. enjoyed reading it.

    Adrian - BWC Runners

    1. hey adrian!
      yeah, the runners will always be happy when surrounded by runners. a great race/event will be the cherry on top.

      cross fingers the organiser will respond soon. keeping quiet is not the solution.

    2. No wonder one of the participants called it the "sor lo" (not clever man) run ... For those who are not the podium finishers, treat it as extra fun ... :-) A good report ...