March 14, 2016 by Soo Ee
Race #8: Malaysia Women Marathon
Venue: Shah Alam, Selangor
I woke up at 3 am on the morning of the run. It was pretty early for a 5.30 am race but I wanted to be early.
Pre-race routine: Eat the homemade chickpeas brownie, stretch and get dressed.
Though I mapped my destination route and knew the race start venue wasn’t too far off the grid, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of being lost or arriving after flag off.
Recalling what I read from the information booklet that came with the race tee and bib, there were road closures along some parts of the way. This being an overseas run in Malaysia, a place I wasn’t very familiar with, I didn’t know how race road closures worked in Shah Alam.
I ubered a cab the night before. Cabs were scarce and drivers were sometimes not sure of the destinations. It could be worse at 4.00am. The driver arrived promptly, calling me prior at 3.15 am to confirm that I will be taking his cab. He wasn’t at the compound when I arrived at the lobby. A call from him calmed me as he told me he was at the petrol kiosk in front of the hotel.
Okay, so how Uber works is that is you have to be at the exact place you make the booking in order for them to know exactly where to pick you up. So sophisticated, the technology. I made the booking from my room, which was just behind the petrol station out front.
There was only one road closure on the way to the race venue so it wasn’t too much of an issue.
I redirected my google map to assist the driver in his drive and with our combined powers, we were able to find the destination easily. Where he dropped me, I only had to walk for about 200 m to the start.
I was too early and tired, so I decided to lay my head down for a while, on the stone benches, where many heads were laying down for a nap. A gentle breeze was blowing. I guess that was why there were quite a number of people taking a quick power nap. I drifted off but woke up at about 4.50 am. The caffeine was working its magic. I felt serene and energised all at once.
The crowd was smaller than what I had expected but it was still substantial. I thought that was good. Many but not too overwhelming where bottle necks were inevitable.
The race started on time, at 5.30am. The full marathon start time was 4.00 am. We ran out to about 2 km before we hit the expressway and it was running on the expressway all the way till we hit Jalan Bukit Menuming, where we made a u-turn back to the finish. There wasn’t much to see on the way, just signs depicting the diferent sections and more roads. What was interesting was the fact that I was able to see the faster runners out in front, about 1 km away because the expressways had many up and down slopes. That helped me to pace myself and also, motivated me to catch up with them.
Though this was a run for women, there were a few chaps around. Not many, just a handful. I saw three of them dressed up in wigs and mini skirts for festivity. Along the way, a young man was running ahead and occasionally turning back to a lady and urging her to keep up and there was an elderly man with his wife.
I lost count of how many up slopes and down slopes I did. I do know that when there was a down slope, there would be an up slope too. The up slopes killed my legs a little with every metre I covered. Challenging indeed.
The crowd thinned out further at 8km back to the finish point. As the day broke and the sun shining more brightly, I saw more supporters gather as I approached the finish line. They had hand made sign boards of encouragements and were cheering for everyone who was running. There was a point on the route where runners from all the categories merged and suddenly, it seemed like everyone was back together once again! It was at that point when I realised where most of everyone was at: in the 5 km and 10 km category. Their number surely surpassed ours.
I would likely come back here again next year to do this race. There weren’t many women only races around and I really like the medal that they gave!