Monday, July 30, 2007

Running Back in Time

What? Melaka Historic City International Run 2007 (MBMB Run)

Where? Stadium Tun Fatimah, Melaka, Malaysia

When? 29 July 2007 (Sunday), Start 6:45am

Who? Organised by MBMB

How Far? 21km (Half Marathon)

The above is the back of our event T-shirt. There is no print in front. Quite boring design if you ask me. Why the font size of the date is the largest is beyond me. No goodies bag this year.

We reached historic Melaka about 4:00-ish, a day before the run. After collecting the T-shirt and checked into the hotel (The Baba House), Lai took us round the Melaka International Run route. At that point we were not sure how to get to the start point, Stadium Tun Fatimah from our hotel. So, we back tracked the route from Jonker Walk (7km mark). We managed to find the stadium at last after making lots of wrong turns. (Too many one way streets).

There were lots of people running/ jogging around the stadium area. It must be the place to train in Melaka!

We walked around Jonker Walk searching for a place to fill out tummy. FYI, Jonker Walk is a must-visit place if you come to Melaka.

The best time to visit is every Fri-Sunday evenings from 6.00pm to 12.00 midnight. During these hours, traders are lined along the pedestrian street offering antiques, local and ethnic traditional food, unique arts and crafts, souvenirs, ornamental jewelry, clothings and wooden clogs. Very busy, happening and colourful place.

We finally settled at a shop called Long Fong Ge. I ordered the popular Nyonya Laksa, a noodle dish in a rich coconut milk based curry. Yummy!

Not really your regular carbo-loading fare, eh?

For dessert, I tried the Cendol with durian - shaven ice, mixed with green noodle, red bean, coconut milk, Melaka palm sugar and topped with a dollop of durian cream. Double yummy!

After dinner, we combed the Jonker Walk, checking out the goods on display. Seen here are my favourite souvenir items - Fridge Magnets!

We continued to be assaulted by the tantalizing aroma from the food stalls. Dim sum. Fried radish cake. Pancakes. Grilled cuttle fish. Fried ice cream! What? Fried Ice cream? (Insert jaw drop here!)

Yup! Impossible is Nothing! We, Malaysians love fried food. Even our ice cream have to be fried! Heheh!

The ice cream, covered in egg wrap is fried in oil. Basically, it is more like a "quick dip" into the boiling oil. As a result - warm soft eggy outer (very oily too!) with a creamy cold strawberry/ chocolate/ vanilla center. A delight to the tastebuds. Very cheap too - RM1.50 per piece. Must try!

More things to see at Jonker Walk. Karaoke singing. Line dancing. Fire eating! You name it, they've got it!

My feet were tired after all the walking but it was fun! I was completely knocked out as soon as I hit the bed that night. (Insert ZZZZZZZ here).

Race day! Melaka International Run is a very popular race. It was not a surprise to see so many familiar faces from Kuala Lumpur at the race. Even the Thais have come all the way in van-loads.

It was supposed to be a great start but it was marred by some incompetent officials and poor coordination.

As all the halfmarathoners were gathered underneath the start point banner on the main road, one official dashed out of nowhere and instructed us to go to the stadium to collect our start point band. He threatened to disqualify who didn't. Some of us ran to the stadium which was about 200 meters away only to be told to get back to the start point. There were a lot of confusion and frustration.

Like it or not, we ran back to the start point for nothing! (Insert expletive of your choice here!)

So about 6:50am (5 minutes late), they decided to set the race off without giving out the starting point check band.

I started the run to the tune of Pussycat Dolls megamix. It felt great until my face was hit by droplets from the sky! Drizzle!

Thank God, it was just drizzle, so I could continue listening to my MP3 player.

I uploaded many 80's extended mixes to my MP3 player specially for this run. Songs from Janet Jackson, Rick Astley, Cathy Dennis, Karyn White and Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam (remember them?). These songs sure brought back some nice memories.

I remember the time, I used to run with my bulky "walkman" cassette player clipped to my waist!!! Since it was heavy, it bounced up and down as I ran. Heheh! I used to make my own mixtape of all my favourite songs in one cassette. Remember those double decks cassette player?

After cassette, I graduated to CD player. But I did not like taking my CD player for a run as it was prone to skipping.

I am really grateful to the person who invented MP3 player. Now, I can enjoy CD quality music without the skip and bounce. I can even create my own playlist (equivalent to "mix tape" like in the cassette format) for any occasions. (Insert ear-gasm here! Heheh!)

Enough about the music player evolution, now back to the race. The race led us up this beautiful elevated bridge. From here we could see part of part of the Melaka City and Straits of Melaka. Too bad my pictures didn't turn out well. As you can see, they sky was still dark and cloudy.

That runner (in white Tee) was not running towards me! In fact he was running backwards away from me. I felt quite embarrassed as his pace was much faster than me. In no time I was eating his dust! (Insert coughing sound effects here!)

That was the first time I encountered such method of running a half marathon! Amazing, isn't it?

Enter THE HIGHLIGHT of the run - Jonker Walk at km 7. Are we suppposed to walk here since the name is Jonker Walk? Heheh!

No, I didn't walk here but I slowed down my pace to enjoy the charm of the historical place here. I did plenty of photo stops though...Heheh!

Big foot wuz ere...

See....I just have to stop and admire the beautiful facade of these houses, some dated back a far as 17th century.

The Stadhuys as seen from the MBMB Run. It was quite far to get a nice shot. However, can you see the unmistakable red exterior.

The Orang Utan House! No, they don't sell Orang Utan! It is a very popular place to get your souvenier T-shirts.

A'Famosa? Nah...We did not get to run pass the famous Portugese built fortress. This one is just a replica. A bad one too! Heheh!

An Indian temple and a mosque in the same row. Furtherdown the road, there is a Chinese temple. I think you only get these set-ups in Malaysia!

Is that a carp fish climbing up the lamp post? No, it is just a decorative light! Only in Melaka! Heheh!

One of the oldest Chinese temple in Melaka.

Sungai Melaka - Where it all began! Melaka at her glorious day was a busy port and Sungai Melaka was the vein of the shipping network.

After the interesting Jonker Walk, the "scenic rating" went down hills. I didn't take much pictures there after. We ran along highways and some residential areas - all concrete grey structures. But I did stop and smell..I mean snap the flowers....

Long road still but where are the runners?

Don't go chasing waterfall.....(Remember the R&B all girls group TLC?)

A greeting sign at one of the many kampungs we ran passed. It features a "pantun", a Malay poetic form. Something like rap to the blacks in US. Heheh!

Here's the unpoetic translation. (Don't laugh)

Pauh fruit falls like flying,

Brought to the surau (prayer house) in the horse cart,

You came from faraway places

We at Bukit Pulau readily await.

Another sponging station! But where is the water station? From what I gather there should be a couple more drinking station after the 10km mark, however, I didn't see any. Must have ran out of water! Thank God I brought along a can of Milo! Fortified with Antigen for a stronger me! Heheh!

Remember the backwards running guy? Here is he again. I saw him on the opposite side of the road after passing the 19km mark. We supposed to make a U-turn somewhere down the road. I tried to look for him after the run but no avail. I would love to find out why he ran his half marathon backwards. Do ask the question on my behalf if you spot him on the road races, OK? Email to runwitme@gmail.com.

Me on the Sweeper truck? Nooooooooo way! I must complete my race. I'll crawl if I had to.

OK...Swaggering towards the finish line. No need to crawl.

If you thought, the start of the race was bad, I tell you, the ending was worse! There was no water for the finisher!!!! Unbelievable right??? They can have all the nice monetary prizes for the winner and sponsored goods for the lucky draw but they have forgotten about the runner's basic need - WATER! I get very upset and I will write an official complaint letter to the organiser! This is simply not acceptable! If you want us to bring our own water supply, please let us know in advance so that we could run somewhere else.

I had to forked out RM2.00 for a can of 100plus from the petty trader outside the stadium. Sad! Sad! Sad!

It further saddened me to hear about the death of a Kuantan Pacesetter member after crossing the finished line. I am not sure what was the actual cause of the death, I hope it was not caused by dehydration. May his soul rest in peace. (Insert condolence to the family of the departed runner).

After the run, we treated ourselves with the Melaka famous dish - Chicken Rice Balls. (The one opposite OBBC bank).

Please click here for runwitme's VT Guide to Restaurant in Melaka

Overall, the trip was fun. The company was great! Thanks to Lai, Ryan and Loong for waiting for me at the finish line!

The run was actually enjoyable if you take out the bad start and the lousy ending.

Will I come for the race next year? The temptation of running through historic city again is great. (And of course, the Nyonya food too). If I do, I think I will have to bring my own water supply. (Insert snigger here!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Running With Patience

What? KUL Melawati 10K Run

Where? Padang Fasa 5, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur.

When? 22 July 2007 (Sunday), Supposed to start at 7:00am but delayed to 7:30am

Who? Organised by MPAJ, New Balance & Vernier (No FTAAA in this run)

How Far? 10km (as stated in the entry form but please read on….)

Patience

noun

1. The ability to endure delay, trouble, pain or hardship in a calm and contained way.Thesaurus: forbearance, endurance, perseverance, stoicism, calmness, composure, restraint, cool (slang).

2. Tolerance and forbearance.

3. Perseverance.

Etymology: 13c: French, from Latin patiens, from patientem - suffering.

My patience was really tested to the max the moment I registered for this run. It supposed to be held at Padang Merbok at 3 June 2007. Then without much explaination, it was postponed to an "unspecified" date with no option to cancel the registration.

So, we waited. My feelings were divided when they announced the race was going to be held at Taman Melawati on 22 July. Happy because it would a new route - new things to see and experience. But on the other hand, the new place was damn freaking far on the other side of the city. (Re: less sleep and hefty taxi fare).

I decided to go for the run anyway since I have no other run to go to.

I booked a cab the night before the run. I know it the damage to my pocket was going to be huge with the after midnight surcharge, tolls and booking fee. No choice. For the love of running, I would! Heheh!

The cab arrived about 5:15am even though I booked it at 5:30am. Better early than late. So, I arrived at the start point approximately at 6:00am. The field where the race supposed to start was dark. Sounds of nighly creatures filled the chilly air. It was a perfect setting for a horror movie. I wondered if I was at the right field....(Insert shudder here)

I sat patiently waiting by the field with my loyal Sony MP3 player pumping the music from MIMS and Diddy. Surprisingly no mosquitoes.

Next to the field, I saw people scrambling to set up the tents. I think someone must have forgotten to rent the generator. There was no electricity. So, the officials had to set up their table underneath the streetlight. Sad but true.(See above picture).

6:30am. Runners were seen trickling to the field. But the officials were still scrambling around. Lots of yelling. Lots of phone calls. Lots of running around. I observed patiently from afar. It would take a miracle for them to start on time.

7:00am. No sign of a start. I left the scrambling officials alone and walked around the field, admiring the beautiful scenery. I took this nice picture of the hill(not sure if its name is Melawati Hill) enveloped by morning mist. It reminded me of Mt. Kinabalu.

There were some confusions about which direction of the START. Initially, the runners were facing the mosque direction. But later we were told to face the other way. (Insert "Be patient..." here)

As you can see here, some runners (in white tees on the left) were asked to move to the back which used to be the front a minute earlier.

And we thought the wait was over,..the African (can't assume all black runners are Kenyan!) runners were asked to leave the start line. Yikes! What now?

There were some talking. There were some animated hand gestures. The manager of the African runners was also questioned to settle some seemingly dispute.

Not sure what was going on there. I no speak African! Heheh! Notice the looooooooong legs....

After squabbling for 10 minutes or so, some of the African runners were allowed to return to the start point. A few were turned away. The time was 7:30am. Can we start now? I have been patient enough.

"I have air horn and I am not afraid to use it!"

Blast off!!!

Jack and Jill and whole lotta people ran up the hill...

The route was rather pleasant. The scenic hills. The soothing greens. The fresh morning air. All these added to the joy of a morning run! Simply fantastic.

We ran though the Melawati residential areas, passing by some schools, shoplots and more houses.

Hmmm....Should I stop for roti canai? Very tempting....Heheh!

Rolling down the hill...

Scenic horizon. Can you spot the KL Tower and KLCC?

There were two water stations serving 100plus drink.

Cloudy but no rain. Thank you God!

Swaggering back to finish line. But where is the line? Not even the "FINISH" banner.

I was very surprised when I saw my timing for the supposedly 10K run. I finished way way ahead of my personal best. Impossible is everything! I couldn't have finished a 10K run with that kind of timing. Not even when I do not stop for pictures. The route must have been 7K only. I confirmed this with other dissatisfied runners. Killjoy!

Note to the organiser: Please do not cheat your runners. When you put 10K in your entry form, do make sure that the route is actually 10km. Not more. Not less.

The VICO van making its presence felt in the local running scene! Milo monopoly has ended. Heheh! I must say ice-cold Vico is as good as Milo when it comes to thrist quenching after a run. Yum!

Sneak Peek 1: Adidas King of the Road (5 August 2007) vest. It's fierce yellow with three signature black stripes! Simple yet stylish design. You'll float like a butterfly and sting like a bee...Buzz! Buzz!

Sneak Peek 2: The Klang New Balance 12K (2 Sept 2007) finisher medal design. It's gonna be square, so you gotta be there!

I must say with eveything else gone wrong, the organiser managed to get one thing right - the medal. It is a very nice. (Insert Borat's accent here). But then again, shouldn't it read 7k?

Event T-Shirt - Corrected.

See you next year. NOT!

KUL 10K will go down in the history as one of the worst races ever organised in Malaysia. I suddenly missed the officials from FTAAA very much. Heheh!

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