Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Powerman Malaysia Duathlon - 25 Sep 2005

Part 3 of 3: On Race Day

My heartfelt thanks to Jason Lee and Weng, who after running the Shah Alam 10km race, rushed to Putrajaya to capture the funs and excitement with their cameras to share with the rest.

Jason Lee likes photography as hobby. Equipped with a Nikon digital SLR D70, he was able to demonstrate his artistic skills when taking a few of the photos shots. Due to re-sizing (by me, of course) for faster transmission of images over the Internet, the photos may not look that stunning as in the original photos.
My appreciation to Penguin-8 (Chiam) too for being there at the event to take photos. The third photos album below is by courtesy of Chiam.
To view 45 great photos taken by Jason Lee, please click here.
To view 81 great photos taken by Weng, please click here.
To view 86 great photos taken by Penguin-8 (Chiam), please click here.
This time, there will be no photos taken by KC in his Canon IXUS camera.
Written By KC

I resorted to walking after running for every 500 meters. I was too exhausted in running the final segment of the race under scorching weather in the late morning. Unperturbed by the grueling condition, I did my very best and pressed on aiming to achieve a better timing.

When the going got tough, I was inspired by Shawn, who completed her Desaru Half-Ironman race on 17 Sep 2005 with a timing of 6.5 hours. My self-talk encouraged me that if she could conquer the race starting at 10am, I must complete this race! After all, doing the Powerman was easier considering that in Half-Ironman race, every racer is to swim 2km, cycle 90km and finally, run a Half-marathon in the hot afternoon.

Running the final 10km was most satisfying. Most of the other runners were tired too and a few were limping with muscles cramp. They ran as though they were running in slow motion. Overtaking them one after another was really the motivating factor to maintain the pace by putting each step forward in a mechanical manner.

I was in great form without symptom of leg pain or muscle cramp. Slowly but surely, I ran past the Putrajaya Convention Center and heading back to The Boulevard. I could see the white tents of the starting/ending point from far. And within minutes, I could hear the announcement and music from the loud speakers. And finally, gathering all my energy, I dashed over the finishing tape in 3 hours 55 minutes. Yes, I made it in sub-4 hours!

To the Starting Line

At around 6.30am, Tony arrived in Chiam’s car. Almost at that instant, I saw Lim FW arrived and later followed by another lady racer called Maria who parked her car next to mine at the Dataran Putra, Putrajaya. While exchanging greetings, we were busy assembling our racing bicycles and then posed for photo shots together. Chaim was not participating in the race; instead, he was there equipped with a digital camera to capture the event.

We cycled slowly to the starting area. It was almost two kilometers from the Dataran Putra. Without knowingly, there were two open-spaced car parks about 200 meters away.

When Tony and I entered the transition area around 7am, I was surprised to see Terence (Penguin-6) and Meng (Penguin-2) were already in there. I was even most surprised to see that Penguin-6 donning in PowerBar specially designed one-pieced jersey and short clearly revealing the pot belly. It was really a rude awakening to see Penguin-6’s body size fit the description nicely of a Penguin runner. I told Tony jokingly that with our body sizes, we are the grossly under-nourished Penguins.

Standing at the starting line waiting for the super-charged moment, I had the opportunity to greet Shawn, Jessie, and Pacesetters runners: Thomas, Ong of FRIM and Bernice. Thomas was spotted with a striking red biking jersey with black dots in the size of a plum. While talking to Meng, I saw that he had already put on his gloves ready for the biking segment later.

At 7.30am sharp, the Powerman race was flagged off. My heart was beating faster and the adrenaline was pumping hard. Yahoo!, the race had begun.

In the Race

The first 10km of the race was to run along The Boulevard. While running, I was admiring the government office buildings at both sides of The Boulevard. Without any vehicle on the road, it was indeed a pleasant change from the other races. I love running here.

All runners were making U-turn at the roundabout and then heading to the Convention Centre passing by the starting area. Though The Boulevard was flat, there were two up hills approaching the Convention Centre.

The landscaping at the entrance of Convention Centre was beautifully decorated with grasses and plants in neatly arranged designs. The flowers that are hung in the divider of the road were really bright red – a rare view to behold. And on the far end, there is a beautiful bridge in the shape of a clam.

At the last two kilometers in the first segment of running, I have the urge to complete the runs quickly and start the biking segment. I find that it was more comfortable in cycling as I could rest a little with the help of bicycle gear system.

Completing the first 10km runs in moderate speed was fairly easy. All racers were directed into the bike transition area. Since I was wearing the running shorts, other than putting on the helmet, glove and sunglasses, I have to put on the biking shorts with padding to provide cushion at the vital area. After the mistake at the first Lumut Duathlon in May 2005, I was cautious to wear it properly. And within two minutes, I was ready pushing my bike out of the transition area.

Riding the bike for the first one minute was most enjoyable. From the slow running to fast-speed traveling on bike coupled with wind blowing were really refreshing indeed. The biking routes lead us to the Wawasan Bridge and the racers began the 60km bike racing.
The 30km biking route was well designed where racers went through the scenic areas and breathtaking views of buildings and bridges of Putrajaya. Amidst the fairly flat terrain, there were seven hills to negotiate. There were only two junctions that required traffic policemen to control the traffic with hardly any cars.

I was on the look up for Shawn, whom I come to know, always beat me in the biking segment. At the first 10km runs, I was having a lead time over her as I could run faster then her. Eventually, she overtook me at the beginning of second loop while going uphill. I was exerting my best effort to cycle as fast as I could but to no avail. Within minutes, she was out of my sight. I must be very slow in my cycling. There were so many other bikers that overtook me that I had lost count of them.

It was a sunny Sunday morning superb for outdoor quest. At times, there was slight tint of clouds to provide the necessary shades. Overall, it was hot and humid. The roads were wide without any shades from trees.

One of my favorite moments would be cycling downhill. I would engage the smallest gear, peddled hard and the racing bicycle would zoom like a speeding bullet. After a while, the racers that I overtook during downhill would catch up with me again. This is similar to running downhill but without the pounding and the knee injury. But if in a collision, the consequence would be much damaging than knee injury!

One of the water-stations was positioned immediately after an uphill. That was a brilliant idea as most bikers would be struggling for the uphill climb with much slower speed for race officers to hand over the bottled water. However, after the flat terrain of 10 meters, there was a steep downhill approaching the big roundabout at Precinct 1. I was holding the water bottle in one hand while busy changing the drive plates and gears with another hand.

Chiam was doing a great job taking photos with lots of enthusiasm. He maintained mobility by riding this mountain bicycle along the Boulevard all the way till Convention Centre. Wearing biking helmet, jersey and shorts, he could be mistaken for another racer except in non-competition mode.

At around 10.30am, I saw Tony at the opposite side of The Boulevard during the last segment of running. He was about one kilometer behind me. Later I saw Meng who was about 1km behind him. It was at that moment that I spotted Jason Lee and Weng arrived at Putrajaya to assist in taking photos. It was like the cowboy movies where the heroes arrived almost at the last moment to rescue the situation.

After the race

The organizer was most thoughtful for the needs of every racer. Immediately after receiving the medal, each racer would be given an ice-cold towel, 100 Plus and bottled water.

I walked around at the finishing area. This time, I was busy taking photos – but in the photos. With the presence of Jason Lee and Weng each holding a camera, I was having more time to have my photos taken instead of me taking the photos for others. For each pose, two cameras were clicking same time resulted a minimum of 4 shots (each took at least two shots). At times, it went up to 8 shots. But I would have headache later when selecting and re-sizing of photos for uploading into Internet.

Guess how many T-shirts that I have collected for this race? First one was distributed at Friday night’s pre-race briefing; second was collected immediately after the race; the third one was given by Pacesetters Club.

I was glad to meet Mr. Chan WK, official photographer of Pacesetters Club. While shaking hand with him, I told him that we have not met for many months already. Previously, he was holding the film type of Nikon SLR. This time, he was holding the Nikon D70 digital SLR.

After witnessing the award presentation ceremony hosted by Adele, I left the scene feeling satisfied that I have completed the Powerman race.

The effort to complete the Powerman race in sub-4 hours was just like running a full marathon but without the soreness and pain in the legs muscles. However, I had another new problem -- quite severed sunburn. On that Sunday evening, while doing light walking in the playground, my friends commented that I nearly look like an Indian. On Monday, I could see that the skin on my face was partly peeling off. Oh my gosh! I have to attend an office colleague’s wedding dinner at Concord Hotel in the evening.

Signing off,


Part 2: Pre-Race Briefing and Dinner -- Friday 23 Sept 2005, 7pm

To view 46 great photos taken during the dinner, please click here.

With the afternoon’s convectional rainstorm, the first thing that struck my mind would be the traffic jam later to the Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya (along Federal Highway) to collect the race kits and attend the pre-race briefing. Without doubts, traveling from my workplace at Bangi to the hotel at 5.15pm did take a staggering of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Entering into the lobby of Laksamana Ballroom, the first familiar person that I spotted was Melody, the Competitor Relations Manager from the event organizer, Quick release Adventures. She was always busy. As usual, she would be tallying entries with the database in her PC Notebook at the Registration Desk cum Race Kit Collection booth. Of course, not forgetting the other Penguin runners who were there earlier.

The set up of the lobby would be the Powerman booths on the left side with the buffet food ready in the sparkling clean stainless steel utensils at the opposite side. The other usual booths would be: collection of timing chips and T-shirts and the PowerBar merchandises. And without fail, for every Duathlon race, PowerBar would distribute one free Power Bar to every participant.

For a change, it is refreshing to see the familiar runners or bikers in well-dressed attires other than the usual running vest and shorts. We were having good times together mingling and chatting with other participants.

With the help of Race Director, Mr. Geoffrey, I had the opportunity of my lifetime to take a photo with the two Champions (please refer to the photos). From the photo, three of us are seen with almost same height, well-build and equally handsome (ahem, ahem). But on the race day, the distinction would be obvious.

Other than the Penguin runners, the other persons that we chatted with were: William Chin and wife, Lok (Pacesetters Subang Jaya Team Lead), Azwar, Ronnie Gui, Christine, Jessie, Carmen, Miss Lisi and Alex of P2K Group.

We were jostled from the conversation when Miss Adele from the event organizer, announced at the top of her lung of the commencement of the pre-race briefing. I presume she was testing her voice as she is also the announcer on the race day.

The pre-race briefing was conducted by Hafidz Fikri who had vast experience in this area. Other than the necessary details, he also informed the racers the Do’s and Don’ts during the race on Sunday.

He briefed the racers that there will be two loops of 30km each for the cycling segment. “After the first loop, you would feel tired. With the completion of second loop, you would be very very tired. However, if you are dead tired, you could have done the third loop, which exceeded requirements.”

We love to watch the video clips for the past Duathon events. They were recorded and presented in a lively and humorous manner. There was one mat salleh guy, while running quite exhaustedly, said, “I really need the Kenyan legs now.”

Immediately after the briefing, the participants were treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner. I was really surprised that Penguin-6, who was seated at the same table in the far corner of the ballroom, emerged as the front-runner scooping the food almost to the brim of his plate. I was not sure whether he was doing carbo-loading for the previous Dasaru Half-Ironman race or the race this Sunday.

While Adele was explaining to other participants, I took quite a number of photo shots of her with flash light. She felt she was like celebrity who has been zeroed-in by the camera man. Not used to looking at the flashes, she commented that the flashes from the camera almost blinded her eyes.

We left the venue feeling satisfied and start the mental preparation for the race day on Sunday morning, 25 Sep 2005 at Putrajaya.

By Penguin-1

Part 1 : Prelude to the Race

Wow! Doing three races in three consecutive Sundays? Yes, the Penguin runners ran the Putrajaya Half Marathon on Sep 11 and PJ Half Marathon the week after. And this coming Sunday Sep 25, we are taking up the Powerman Malaysia Duathon challenge at Putrajaya.

Of the three races, the Powerman would be the one race that we are most excited about. In this event, each racer is to run 10km, cycle 60km and follow by another 10km of running. Yeah, this time, there will be four Penguin runners participating in the race. They are: Penguin-1 (KC), Penguin-2 (Meng), Penguin-3 (Tony) and Penguin-6 (Terence).

Status of training

For the months of August and September, we were busy with other outdoor quest which leave very little time for bike training. We were busy with the trekking of Mount Kinabalu; training and running the Executive Rat Race; running the Putrajaya and PJ Half Marathons.

My bike training would be mostly done in the gym on the stationary bicycle – this is the best that I can do. To simulate the actual condition, I would tighten the tension for heavier pedal pressure; vary the intensity for slower and faster speed.
I was a little cautious after knowing that one of the Penguin runners actually encountered leg muscle cramped at the Johor Duathlon on 31 July. At first, I thought that only long distance running would cause muscle cramp but not cycling.

Penguin-2 just completed his 24-hour Walk at Genging Highlands by clocking in 82 km on Sunday. Bravo and well done! I believe his leg muscles would be well seasoned and conditioned.
Penguin-3 was seen carrying his racing bike in the car and went to Putrajaya to train after office hours.

Penguin-6 just went for the Desaru Half Ironman race. Doing the Duathlon is just like running 10km after doing a half marathon.
Collection of Race Kit

This Friday, the participants are required to collect the race kit, race timing chip and attend the pre-race briefing. Of course, it would be followed by sumptuous high-tea or dinner thrown in free by the event organizer, Quick Release Adventures. Pre-race briefing and dinner are unique to the Duathlon races. Of course, I like Duathon races not because of the free dinner. For this final circuit, the racers would be treated to a dinner party at the Armada hotel, Petaling Jaya.
It was love at first sight for me to take up the Duathlon race. It all started when I was there at the Bukit Aman car park cheering the bikers passing-by during the Kuala Lumpur Duathlon race on March 27. The Duathlon race is more fun and excitement compared to pure running. So, if you have the urge to take up road racing bike races, it would be good idea to follow what I have done: come and cheer the racers at Putrajaya. The fun and excitement would definitely revive the fire and passion in you.
Please click here to read the previous posting of Duathlon races for this 2005 season written by Penguin-1:

a. Love at first sight: Kuala Lumpur Duathlon on March 27
b. My first time: Lumut Duathlon on May 15
c. Experimenting: Johor Duathlon on July 31 (scroll to the end of the archives)
For more information on Powerman Malaysia Duathlon, please click here.

By Penguin-1

Sunday, September 18, 2005

PJ Half Marathon 2005 Sep 18

Why is Penguin-1 (KC) lying on the stage? He is supposed to run the PJ Half Marathon. Hey, behind him, lay another lady.

To know more, please click here ...

PJ Half Marathon report:

To view photos taken by Penguin-1's Canon IXUS-40 camera, please click here.

To view action photos taken by Jason Lee's Nikon D70 digital SLR,

Click here for main album containing 54 great shots.

Click here for second album containing 31 great shots.

Lens: NIKOR 70 -180mm; TAMRON 24-135mm. Flash: NIKON SB-800.

Written By Penguin-11

On 18th September Sunday morning, I had no trouble finding the Kelana Jaya Sports Complex in a half-awaken state! Why? I managed to sleep for 4.5 hours as my family was having a lantern party at my sister's place the night before. The celebration of mid-autumn Festival (Mooncake Festival) was ended at 11:00pm & by the time, we reached our own house was nearly mid-night.

I could see the car parks were filling up fast but luckily I managed to find a parking lot. I spotted some familiar faces & I believed that it was still early as there wasn't a big crowd. I heard that about 5,000 runners were expected to take part in this year's PJ Half Marathon. The organizer said that the crowd could have been bigger if the race wasn't held during the examination period. Anyway, the race was set to be an entertaining & exciting one. The annual PJ Half Marathon event is well-known of its friendly atmosphere.

In this race, my ultimate goal was to finish it within two hours & my second goal was aiming to have a better finishing time result. Nevertheless, I could feel that I would have a hard battle to flight in the PJ Half Marathon as I didn't train at all, throughout the last whole week. I told Penguin-1 about it when we met at the entrance of the Stadium; our last run was the recent Putarjaya Half Marathon. Hopefully, our reserved energy could help us to compete & complete the race. I hope for an enjoyable run & told myself that "to take it easy & have fun".

My PJ Half Marathon's Journey Begins…

At the starting area, I was looking high & low for Penguin-1 who promised to run with me for the first 5km. All the sudden, he & his brother showed up before the starting time. Then, he quickly asked us to walk over the starting line & asked Jason Lee, who was holding the Nikon D70 digital SLR camera, (one runner asked whether he was a reporter, but actually he is a friend of Penguin-1, who was there to take the starting photos and our photos; what a commendable effort!) to snap a photo for us. We happily posed ourselves for a good photo with other elite runners at the starting line. Ha! This is a first time in my life to have my photo taken at the starting line.

I started my stopwatch at the sound of the gunfire. Here I go… finally taking up the challenge to run the PJ Half Marathon run. As usual, I started with my own pace. Intended to do slow paces, but everybody seemed to take it seriously & run on with a high speed. I could see Ronnie (aka Pacemaker-1) running very fast pace from the back & at the right side of road, on the grass. However, I observed that there were not that many half marathon runners compared to the last Sunday's Putrajaya Half Marathon. Was it because of the examination period & the 24 hours international walk at Genting or the celebration of Mid-autumn festival & International Day of Peace?

The recent Putrajaya Half Marathon provided a better route, much less traffic; runners could run freely & less stress. As for the PJ Half Marathon, it was totally different; it was heavy traffic especially along the Federal Highway; runners were running side by side with traffic & they have run through few stretches of roads were dark & under construction.

At the Freescale (formerly known as Motorola) interchange, Penguin-1 & I were heading towards the U-turn at the well-known bridge in PJ & running on the pavement. I stopped at the 1st water station which was located at 4km mark for some isotonic drinks. They were so many runners didn't stop for a drink. I could feel that so many of them were passing by the wind!

Before the U-turn, we spotted Lisa Oon who was wearing a special running long pants. Penguin-1 has a quick chat with her before we were turning back on the other side of the Federal Highway. Cars and buses were all over the place; we were breathing in so much of carbon monoxide. Somehow I wasn't disturbed by the presence of these vehicles since I have been used to running on the road shoulder at the Bukit Aman (Sunday morning training run) & other races venues.

In the next 2 kms, we were trading leads with Lisa, as well as Kelvin Ng (aka Pacemaker-2). I was striving to keep up my pace with them & so afraid that I couldn't maintain their paces. Now, I could fully understand why our bodies have evolved so that they could produce extra adrenaline (epinephrine) when we are threatened (just like this situation). This could make our hearts pump more blood to over muscles to enable us to fight and flight (run) with our strong energy. After a few more KM run, I started falling behind them...bye-bye! my running friends.

I could see those 10km fast runners were running at the opposite side & really admired their running talents & athleticism. Then, suddenly I spotted a familiar & cute lady runner, whom we met in the Putarjaya Half Marathon just one week ago, running in front of me. I ran up to her & said "Hello, June, nice to meet you again." Later on, Penguin-1 joined us to run a few KM. Her footsteps were smoothly pacing out. Very good fast lady runner; I was hardly hearing her breathing.

At the 6km mark, it started drizzling; I could see the flashes of lighting. I was a bit worry that if the rain was getting heavy, we would be in a deep trouble as the shoes would be totally wet; this might be causing us with some blisters. Not to mention that our running vests & pants were becoming wet & heavy. Putting us a cold condition!

At the start of the Subang flyover, I took my time to neutralize the hill and run a consistent pace downhill. Heading toward the 2nd water station which was located at 8km mark; I grabbed 2 cups of 100 Plus & then started to run slowly with a cup of water in my right hand. I could see Penguin-1 who was not too far from me; but I told myself that "I am not going to chase after him & it will be good for me if I could just keep him in my slight". Normally, after 5km, I couldn't see him anymore & he probably run ahead & disappeared from my slight. Nevertheless, I just preferred to run on with my own pace.

At 7:30am, right after the 8km mark, started to rain heavily. All runners were in soaping wet from top to bottom; just like taking cold shower with the clothes on in the morning. I really hope that I was wearing a swim suit or water proof pants under this type of weather condition. My underwear was terribly wet & my shoes were getting heavier. In spite of all these, frankly speaking, I was really enjoying the run & welcomed the rain.

At certain points, I was singing & dancing in the rain & feeling sense of "runner's high". I guess the rain was helping me to cool down my body temperature which I experienced once in the 30km training run at Bukit Aman which was organized by the Pacesetters club. I was energizing & feeling great! It was amazing that you could see the runners' hairstyles changed to a spiky type due to the rain. Hahaha! But, will I survive if today I am doing the full marathon? The answer is NO...

At the 11km mark, June, the lady runner slowly overtook me. This spurred me to follow her pace until the 3rd water station. I just followed her closely and soon realized a guy was running with her at most of the speed! This may be an opposite’s attraction. At the finishing, she told me that the guy was actually chasing her when she increased her pace & pacing with her when she slowed down.

As I was approaching the 12km water station, I saw Penguin-1 who arrived at that station ahead of me. Immediately, shouted his name few times. Finally, he heard it & responded & wanted to wait for me to continue the race with me. But I gave him a wave/sign to go ahead as I wanted to take my time to drink few cups of isotonic water. By this time, Penguin-1 was ahead by about 50 meters. No more rain! The rain has stopped. But, the roads were still wet & slippery which could be dangerous; however, if we have to run in the dry weather, we would breathe in a lot dust as those roads were under construction. Never have a perfect condition to run on the roads especially they are messy repairs.

After passing the BP station, reaching the Subang roundabout, from the opposite road, I could see the half marathon fast runners (elite runners) who had already u-turned back from the Terminal 2 & heading back to the Stadium. I shouted & cheered for those runners whom I could recognize & know. I gave my high thumb-up to Ronnie who was running & competing at the top 20 positions. His final result was at 18th position with an excellent timing, under the 21km Men's Open category.

At the same time, I was sort of giving myself some encouragement as I could still see them before reaching the U-turn at the Terminal 2. That could mean that I wasn't too far from them & a high possibility that I could make it below 2 hours.
After making the u-turn, I could see those runners coming from the opposite side. It really encouraged me to push harder & keep on my running pace. Otherwise, they might overtake me joke, man!

Before the 16km mark, I was looking forward to the 4th and last water station. I was in a joyful mood when I drank few cups of isotonic water. Azwar (aka Pacemaker) was standing by the water station cheering and taking photos. He told me another 2km to go. I puzzled & doubted it as the distance markers were not accurate. Anyway, didn't matter, I just have to keep on going until I reached inside the stadium.

I was excited when I approached the last sponging station under the flyover. That meant I am getting nearer to the finishing area. I ran and kept wondering where the hell is the stadium entrance. There wasn't any runner in front of me until I turned in a road, leading to the MAS's training center. Finally I entered the stadium, about another 300 meters to the finishing line, I run on the red track & felt so good to be finished within 2 hours as I could see the big clock at the center of the Stadium, just clicked to 8:21am. No one was cheering me on. It was alright as I was so glad that my goals have achieved & accomplished with my own style. While I was waiting to collect the finisher medal from the official, Mr. Wan (the immediate-past President of Pacesetters Club) was busy distributing and promoting the GE Pacesetters 30km runs.

While we were waiting for the rest of runners coming back to the Stadium, we took some group photos. Then, we saw our friends Chooi Wei & Chantelle entering the Stadium together & we cheered them. Immediately, we alarmed Jason Lee to take their photos. Chantelle was running gracefully in the last 100 meters (you can see it the attached photo), as well as Chooi Wei. It was very funny that I noticed Chooi Wei's shoes were completely dry. She told me that by the time she reached the 8km mark, there wasn't anymore rain.

We also met up with June, who won a prize for 9th position under the 21km Women's Open category. While we were talking to June, Chooi Wei & Chantelle, all the sudden, Kelvin Ng were shouting "Penguin-1's name" from a far end, app. 100 meters away. Maybe he was trying to attract Penguin-1's attention, or maybe, he felt that some people had the luck. Hahaha!

Before leaving the Stadium, June, Penguin-1 & I were looking for the 100 Plus drink. We realized that the 100 Plus station was left with a lot of drinks. This told us that the responses to this year's PJ Half Marathon wasn't that good.


What was my finishing time for the race? An unofficial time 1 hour 52 minutes & position 81. I am happy to receive the Finisher Medal as it is printed a position number on it. Overall, it was a fun & healthy run for me. I shall return for the next year's PJ Half Marathon race again. Hopefully, it is a sun shine day!


Penguin-11 (Chee Wee)

* * * * * * * *

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Putrajaya Half Marathon 2005 Sep 11

By Penguin-11

Before the Starting Time

On 11th September Sunday morning, at Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur, at 5:05am, it was a peaceful morning when I arrived at the designated place to meet Penguin-2 & -7 (Khee Meng & Ah Kit). As planned by Penguin-2 for our departure to attack the Putrajaya Half Marathon run. Nobody was late, truly a spirit of KL Penguin runners.

September 11th was a sad day in year 2001 when two air planes were crashed into the New York City's World Trade Center (Twin Towers). Thousands of lives had gone & now, the skyline of Manhattan is without the World Trade towers presence. Well! let's move on & live in a better life...therefore, today I came to Putrajaya to run for the health & happiness.

I have two agendas to accomplish in this perfect Sunday morning. One was to take the race as a Sunday morning training run, and second is to compete the half marathon run with our own capability & to see how I performed under the hot & humid condition (the heat generated under the hot morning sun was tremendously strong; I was half-roasted especially after 9am). Putrajaya township is well known as a place without much of shades & high humidity due to its geological layout; may be a few years later, it will be different with all tall trees & more greens shading around the areas.

We chatted a lot in the car; we talked about the late happenings (about my car accident at the North-South highway happened last two weeks ago; on Penguin-2's recent success & adventure in his marathon run in Songkhla, Thailand...) but we didn't talk about those recent hot topics such as APs issues, Petrol prices, Reduction in road tax , etc (anyway, these issues are beyond our control & no point to talk about it & to be sad over them even though we are pretty concern!).

After nearly 55 minutes smooth driving, we were reaching at the Putra Square at 6:10am & parked the car there. It was still dark in the morning but we could slight a few buses & cars were parking at the area. Few yellow halo lights shining part of the square. We got off the car & headed to the public toilet. Then, we came back to change our attires & put on our shoes. After we have changed into our running attires, we were ready to head to the Starting area except Penguin-7 who could take a nap while waiting for the 10km event to be kicked off at the later time. Penguin-2 warmed him not to oversleep.

When we made ourselves to the starting area for the half marathon category; we met many regular runners; we met quite a number of Pacesetters members & friends. My good friend, Francis Toh, the VP of Pacesetters club called me while I was walking around the area, intended to do some warm-up exercise but didn't manage to do so because I was busy meeting people. Anyway, in my mind, I was thinking that I still could start with a slow run at the beginning for a warm-up. But, guess what? In spite of the thought, I was actually running at a 5 minutes pace for first 5km. I didn't realize it until Penguin-2 told me at 4.5km mark. Were we running that fast pace...sometime, I just run without paying attention to my pace & time.

We met Penguin-1 when we headed back for the public toilet again. So happy to see Penguin-1 who was already gearing up for the race. At the same time, I took the opportunity to personally congratulate him on his great achievement in this year’s The Edge Rat Race which was held on 6th September 2005. Together with a total of 500 runners from 56 companies took part in this year's race (annual charity event), his team had made a strong race & won the rat race competition.

At the Starting Line

At the entry point, we have to queue up & walk slowly to make our way into the barricade. We were standing & positioning ourselves at a situation like a "bumper-to-bumper" or "back-to-back" traffic condition. This told us the race was well promoted & overwhelming response. They were so many participants (including "mat salleh", who was wearing 007 bid, spotted by Penguin-1) taking part in this race, resulting in a cheerful atmosphere. We could hear the loud music as we were situated nearby the big speakers. I still remembered Francis told me some time ago that "we aren't the elite runners or don't have ability to win prizes; therefore, we are coming to enjoy the run & cheerful atmosphere."

At the place, I overheard from one of the runners said that "Singapore atmosphere also like it". Great, now, we could have Putrajaya to compete & organize a high international standard in running event. Hope, next year, the organizer can introduce & promote a full marathon category for the local & international runners.

Glad to meet & talk to some friends inside the barricade; to ease the standing at a limited space. We were standing at the middle of the big crowd. Nevertheless, we managed to take a few photos with Tey Eng Tiong & other friends before starting the race.

The half marathon race was flagged off on time at 7:00am. It was a bit late to kick off the run at such time as the morning Sun already raised up in the sky & shining on our beautiful bodies. Penguin-1 & -2 were running together from the stating point with the end-in-mind that they could finish the race & crossed the finishing line together (but, not holding hands? Otherwise, it might be misleading to people, hahaha!). As a matter of fact, they complete the race with their own style (before reaching the finishing line, Penguin-1 detoured to his car to take his digital camera).

From the first 3km, we were passing by the Government's buildings; the buildings are enormously huge & with modern artifact designs. I felt proud to see all the buildings & respect when passing by the "Palace of Justice" as a Malaysian. Our Government has been putting a lot of resources to build up the township. It is modeled after those well developed countries (e.g. Washington, USA). Generally, our Government is striving to its best for the betterment of all Malaysians.

Water & Sponges Stations

After running over the 1st bridge, I could see the 1st water stations where it was supposed to be set up. Immediately, I drank three cups of 100plus (three favors of 100plus served in the route). In fact, I was happily stopping at every water & sponges stations to enjoy the drinks for easing my thirst & preventing having a dehydrated condition under the hot Sun. To the extend, I have to make a pee-stop at the mobile toilet which was placed at 14km marker because of drinking too much of water. So far, in my life or the past races, I have never drank so much of isotonic & mineral water within a short period time. In this race, it was a totally a different ball game.

Nevertheless, I got to praise the Organizers for their well thoughtfulness by setting up so many drinking & sponging stations. Super! they was a total of 5 water stations & 4 sponges stations were well located & set-up. In addition, two water sprinklers were set up by the Fire Department & they were located at the 10km & 20km distance respectively. I didn't use the first water sprinkler as I afraid to have wet shoes which might cause some blisters in my feet; however, I used the second sprinkler & felt so great after running through it. Water was gently splashing on my hair, face & shoulder. Cool, man!

Bridges & Roundabouts

This was a tough route compared to the hilly slopes at the Bukit Aman. We were running to cover quit a substance area of Putrajaya, starting at Precinct-2, running through Precinct-3,-4, making a U-turn at Precinct-5, then running through Precinct-7, -8, -10 & -1, finishing at Precinct 2 after running across the Putra Bridge. They are total of 4 bridges & 3 roundabouts for all the half-marathoners to conquer. With the well & modern designs of all bridges, I was quit impressed with its structure & art-work.


We were required to make a u-turn after the Putrajaya Convention Centre. Upon nearly reaching the u-turn, I was constantly looking at the opposite side to search for Penguin-1 & -2 who would be running in front of me. But, surprisingly, they suddenly showed up themselves before we were reaching the u-turn. We were shouting to those runners whom we recognized at the opposite side & at the same time cheering them (i.e. Looking good, Kenny etc). It was fun as we could see who were running ahead of us before making the u-turn, & those at the back right after our u-turn.

After the 5km distance run, going uphill slope, we were eventually spreading out ourselves. Penguin-1 & -2 were surfing themselves forward & I was starting taking up a slow long run pace. In fact, I was trying to keep up with them, but failed to do so. So, ended I have to flight for my own battle. I had my own mission. It was to finish the race within 2 hours.

For the first 10km, I was really enjoying the run & meeting some friends (i.e. Tey, Alden Yap, Jason Chin etc) along the way. They overtook me before the 10km distance mark. The route was mostly run at the outskirts of the town which was good for runners to see the residential areas of Putrajaya. But, sadly to say that I hardly saw any tall & big trees. In certain stretches, I could only feel some cooling fresh air especially under the bridge area. Most runners could sense the heat from the tar road & humid weather by now.

At the last 5km, the run was getting tougher because of the hilly slopes and we, the half marathoners had to run under the hot & humid weather condition. Glad that the traffic was well controlled. I actually told Penguin-1 that "we can run "freely" in this race". The traffic polices strived to control the traffic in the well manner. No messy, not like other races, sometimes we were running side-by-side with a car & breathing in the carbon monoxide. Over here, we were safe & we could run freely.

While approaching the last 3km, I started feeling the heat affecting my running rhythm. Despite those adverse weather conditions, I told myself that "don't give up & stop running". I didn't give up the run. Continued my journey with high spirit, then I saw Tey who actually stopped running & tirelessly took the coming back runners photos. I thanked him for taking the photos for us.
After the last water sprinkler, I surged all the way to the finishing line. At the finishing area, I could see a lot runners have come back especially those who took part in the 7km & 10km events. They were standing around the line, to cheer for the half-marathoners.

At last, I finished the race within 1 hour 58 minutes finishing time. I would think that for this race, it was using the right fueling strategy and perseverance that had gotten me to the finishing line!
At the starting/ending area, I walked around greeting and talking to Pacemakers & other Pacesetters members. KC was busy taking photos of "leng lui". I met my secondary school classmate (Christina Lim) who came here to take part in the half-marathon run. Overall, the race was well-organized.


A thought that reflecting in my mind during the race: "I will be able to run tirelessly & constantly if I follow this simple rule: Run within my breath, don't run ahead of our breath". Hahaha! but please don't take away my breath.

Chee Wee (Penguin-11)

To view 59 photos, please click here.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Kuala Lumpur Rat Race 2005 Sept 06

By Penguin-1
All photos are up in the Internet photos repository. Please scroll down to the end of this posting to view great photos from the different cameras. All cameras were operating at different times and locations capturing different photo shots.
Note: Photos may not look as sharp due to re-size for speeding up trasmission of images via Internet. Original photos are of whopping 2,000 KB each and have been downsized to mere 30 KB !!

The Winning Team
“… and the champion of the Rat Race 2005 Top Teams is … RHB Bank!” the Master of Ceremony announced with gusto during the Dinner and Prize presentation. Immediately, my team members and I stood up. Yes! My team was the champion competing among the 98 teams.

I have not been up at the podium receiving awards for the champion team for a long, long time. Responding to the cheers of RHB staff while walking from my dinner table to the stage, I was like walking in air. I waved my hands slowly at them and put on my best smile – something like Michael Jackson did. I was jubilant. Though there was no music to welcome the runners to rise to the stage, it did not matter to me at that moment. However, one of the trekker friends could not help but think my gesture was similar to Miss Universe or Miss World was been crowned.

The remark from Tony (Penguin-3) was most interesting: standing on the stage with the other four team members, KC’s (Penguin-1) face was seen beaming with joy and Tony had to wear sunglasses to shield the radiant glow.

Of course, another runner friend suggested that it is most suitable for the occasion that I throw in a 10-course Chinese dinner to celebrate the triumph. I agreed. With that, Tony said that he will include me on all the Bank’s running races for more celebrations.

Under Pressure
A few months before the race, I was already under pressure. Tony, the Team Manager and also a runner in this event, informed me that being in the elite team, my team must win. After listening to that instruction, my legs really started to shiver. Since there was a plan, we just focus in our training and Tony double-up as the coach also.

A few days before the race, I was also under different kind of pressure: a few of the Pacesetters runner friends reminded me to take more “leng lui” (pretty gals) and pom-poms girls photos. What if they reject my request? Luckily, I was able to withstand such pressure, rest well and sleep well.

Pre-race Activities

I woke up to the sound of heavy rain at 5.45am on the race day. I was excited as the rain would cleanse the air ready for the runners in the afternoon – superb timing. Compare to the earlier race date of August 9, it was horrible to see the entire Kuala Lumpur was engulfed in terrible haze.

The three Penguin runners each drove their cars from office to the Bursa Malaysia and parked the cars just before the road leading to the car park was closed at 2.30pm. We were considered early and proceed to collect the bibs. There was a slight hiccup as the team members had not signed the indemnity cover yet. I think that was necessary as in 2004, I saw one runner was fainted and lied on the stretcher awaiting medical attention. A runner’s life is tough. If anything goes wrong during the competition, one has to bear the consequence.

I have actually pre-arranged with my brother, Weng, to assist me in taking the photos. Well, how was I able to take so many leng lui photos alone? I was most excited that his friend, Jason Lee, was also coming to help. There were five cameras covering this event: Jason Lee was using Nikon D70 digital SLR with few Nikor lenses for different shots; Weng was using Nikon Coolpix, so was Steven; Chee Wee was using Olympus and I was using Canon IXUS 40.

In the presence of Nikon D70 D-SLR, obviously, we were very excited wanting Jason Lee to take the photos. At one time, after he was seen using a telephoto lens, Meng and I were standing in front of RHB cheering team members and they started cheering only to realize that Jason Lee has yet to change to the proper camera lens. We paused the action for 20 seconds and resumed acting when he was ready.

With the limited space, warming-up was done at the car park adjacent to the Bursa Malaysia itself. So Team A and B of the runners were running in office attire around the car park packed with cars at 4pm in the hot afternoon sun. It must be the most unusual sight to the parking attendant that he was asking me: “You are running here in office attire?”

One of the reasons that I like to participate at the Rat Race was that the atmosphere was like carnival. The runners were all dressed up smartly in office attire depending on the nature of jobs and their aspirations (may not be in sync). The teams that caught my attention were the Ikea team in vibrant colours; supermen with pot bellies; “Tai Kor” (big brother) in full suits. Not forgetting the beautiful pom-poms girls and the lively music that live up the mood of all present there.

The Race

The CEO race started first at 4pm with a total distance of only 1km. This year, all CEOs clocked in much faster timing than last year. At 4.20pm, the race for executives was flagged off by the FTAAA official without any sound amplifying equipment. “One, two, three” and we just sped off.

This was the second time I am running the Rat Race. Every time when I run, I would say that this would be the last attempt. Meng (Penguin-2) and I are marathoner and not sprinter. Imagine we have to run hard and subject the lung to pump at maximum capacity from start till end. I still remember very well that Meng’s classic statement in 2004: "running a Rat Race is even tougher than running a full marathon" to the bewilderment of those at the dinner table.

Unlike other long distance races where I would enjoy the journey and admire the scenery while running blissfully, this was a different ballgame. It was so tough that I was just focusing on the road and counting the remaining minutes to reach the 20 minutes – the estimated time required to complete the race. I was running and puffing hard. At times, I was doing self-check to see whether I could sustain the pace or increase a little harder. I was really thankful to all the training runs with Pacesetters runners in order to be able to run that fast.

The terrain of the Rat Race was quite interesting. It was going downhill from the starting line for almost 500 meters and then flat most of the distance. However, the runners have to negotiate two up hills, one at the Shangri-la hotel and the last one was going up the ramp 100 meters before returning to the finishing line.

Another reason that I like to run in the Rat Race was the presence of cheering teams. For a short distance of 5km, there were almost 10 cheering teams welcoming and cheering the runners. Runners love cheering teams as running pass them was really a fantastic feeling.

Instead of slowing down to engage high-fives with them, I would automatically run faster than normal because of the invincible force generate from the screaming sound that super charged me. You have to run there to experience it. Whereas in the normal running races held in Kuala Lumpur, we hardly find any cheering team.

Chee Wee (Penguin-11) who is working at Menara ING (situated along the running route), was really supportive. In his email to us, which was too late to be read before we went for the race, asked us to pause when seeing him holding the camera, and not to run too fast when approaching him, in order for him to capture some good photo shots for us. He must be wondering that when we passed by him, we actually ran faster (just to show off a bit that we were still running full steam ahead).

Another Penguin runner who assisted in taking photos was Steven (Penguin-5). He was stationed at the junction of Shangri-La hotel in front of the RHB cheering teams. According to him, the cheering team members would provide dramatic backdrop that lived up the mood. When runners passing by, the cheering team members would start to cheer and he captured the running and cheering moment together.

While running, I met Eric Teo, a Dive Master and a Pacesetter runner from the Bukit Gasing Area Group. As informed, he came and supported us and we really appreciate his cheering effort during the race.

At the Finishing Line

The uphill run in front of MUI Plaza (Jalan P. Ramlee) was a terrible one. The area was congested with traffic and runners would have to breathe harder competing for oxygen with the vehicles stuck in traffic jam.

All the hard running paid off. I got number 15 position out of 500 runners. However, I was the slowest in my team.

I could not see Miss Nancy Lai, one of Pacesetters Club’s darlings, during the race. She was representing HSBC last year. But after crossing the finishing line, Meng told me that she was running too. To re-capture the 2004 scene, the three Penguin runners took a group photo with her.

Unpleasant Encounter

One unpleasant moment that I encountered at this event was after the race, with shirt fully drenched, I wanted to take photos of those remaining runners returning to the finishing line. With the presence of the uniformed men (looks like army guys); however, they shoved me back when I cross the line a little. I saw one uniformed man signaling to his colleague to elbow me out of the area. I felt like being treated like a criminal.

I love the beautiful slogan from my recent Mount Kinabalu climb: Take nothing but photos; leave nothing but footprints. I was trying to find an unobstructed view to take photos and not causing trouble. Besides, the runners are management staff.

Moving Forward
The much anticipated Rat Race 2005 was over. Since RHB Bank is holding the Challenge Trophy, rest assure that RHB Bank runners are there to defend the title next year. And does that mean that the Penguin runners would run again for Rat Race 2006?

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Jason Lee, Weng, Chee Wee, Steven and Eric Teo who came to provide the assistance and the support. Hope to see you next year.

Click here to view 45 photos taken by Jason Lee with Nikon D70 digital SLR

Click here to view 64 photos taken by Penguin-1 with Canon IXUS 40

Click here to view 51 photos taken by Weng with Nikon Coolpix

Click here to view 18+3 photos taken by Steven with Nikon Coolpix & Chee Wee with Olympus

Signing off,