Monday, November 30, 2009

MotoGP Sepang 2009 (2)

The ride continues ... Please click here to view photos (Album #2) by courtesy of JASON LEE taken during MotoGP at Sepang F1 Circuit from 23 to 25 October 2009.

Stay tuned for more photos of MotoGP girls and queens.
(Jason Lee at left)

Big bike, small rider.

Big rider, small bike

Keenly compete for top positions

Amazing skill and guts to negotiate corners at angles almost touching the ground... in high speed and in wet ground

Posted by KC

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Penang Bridge Marathon 2009 (6)

Botanical Garden of Penang (final posting)

Please click here for 113 photos taken by yours truly (KC) for the entire trip to Penang.
Cannon Ball flower (Couroupita Guianensis) with an insect busy harvesting nectar

Alexis and I took a 30-minute tour of Botanical Garden which is just around the corner. Lined with lush greenery and flowers, it is indeed a great place for runners in Penang who do their regular training runs there.

Lush greenery that is good for running

Besides, there will always be spectators watching the runners – the monkeys. After running for numerous loops, a runner may even recognize the monkeys. Or the moneys may miss a runner if he/she does not turn-up for the entertainment in running around.

Many monkeys in the garden

Conducive environment for running

Enjoying cups of fresh fruit juice at a stall outside Botanical Garden. Alexis likes it and order a second cup. Cheers!

We later rushed back to the hotel, refreshed and then check-out of hotel. After lunch, we left Penang at 2pm and safely returned to Kuala Lumpur at 7pm. That concluded a great journey to and fro Penang in participating in the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2009.

We shall be back again next year for the next Penang Bridge marathon run which is slated on Sunday 21 November 2010!

Our heartfelt thanks to our friends in Penang who have assisted in showing us the right direction to move around Penang. Other than the maps, maybe we shall come back with GPS sytem next year. The End.

Written by KC


Friday, November 27, 2009

Penang Bridge Marathon 2009 (5)

Leisure Travel and Penang Hill

Sunday 22 November 2009
After the run, we returned to B-Suite hotel at around 8am; refreshed and rest, and we were ready to start our leisure travel at 10:30 a.m. With the main navigator, Alexis, and the co-navigator, Josie, we started our travel to Gurney Drive area hunting for the famous Penang hawker food.

Sight-seeing at Snake Temple ... Josie

Equipped with a map (that cost me RM 30) and another map from the hotel, we started our ‘expedition’ quite excitedly in two cars. The other car, a brand new dark-blue Toyota Altis, was driven by Cheah. We started from Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and after a while, we realized that we were lost. Instead of joining to Jalan Gelugor, we were traveling on Jalan Jelutong, heading to different area.
Savouring the yummy ice chendol

We went round and round not able to connect the road on the map with the actual location. Finally, after two hours of ‘groping’ (now in bright daylight), we finally get to have our lunch. Hmmm … the food in Penang tastes superb; possibly we were also hungry after the run.
Swift operation management -- The owner is busy dishing out orders non-stop!

Alexis took another great effort to locate the famous ice chendol which is near to Komtar. From the road sign, it reads: Lebuh Keng Kwee, off Jalan Penang. My first impression from far was that why would there be so many people standing at a back lane? Was there a commotion? Later, I was also one of them standing there savoring the delicious ice chendol.

Alexis at Gurney Drive. Lots of development with high-rise buildings around this area.

While Josie’s group went to Kek Lok Si temple, we spent the late afternoon in Gurney Plaza shopping complex (along Gurney Drive) as it was drizzling outside. We later have our early dinner at the famous hawker centre near the roundabout of Gurney Drive. In the evening we went to Batu Ferringhi beach for an evening walk at the pasar malam there. There were not many people around as it was still drizzling in the evening.
Yours truly (KC)

Monday 23 November 2009
The thought of going up Penang Hill after the Penang Bridge run must be quite intimidating; finally, only Alexis and yours truly (both EBC certified trekkers… ahem!) took the challenge again. I believe it has to be a hybrid of runner and trekker in order to go up the Penang Hill after the run.

We arrived at the Botanical Garden at 7am, the starting point of the route to Penang Hill. The terrain is divided into three tiers with the first and last tiers in steep slopes. It was a pleasant morning with the cold breeze gently blowing and the air was fresh.
Lots of power is required to overcome the steepness

The first rest area is labeled as Location 46, what a unique identification. At the first tier of the hill, we could still see a few persons walking down the hill. At mid-hill, certain part of Penang Island was visible from the unblocked view. Most of the time, the route is devoid of people. While on the way up, we saw three cyclists going up the hill in mountain bicycles. For once, we walked almost of the same pace as the speed of the cyclist. At the mid-hill, there is a run-down shelter labeled as 84 and without any people.
The final stretch before arriving at the peak of Penang Hill

We arrived at the peak at 9am after walking for two hours and after having scaled 800m above sea level. We walked around the Penang Hill areas enjoying the scenery and the cool fresh air. We later went for a refreshment break at the stalls there. The laksa was good and cost only RM 2.50 per bowl though the quantity of the noodle was very much less. Alexis ordered a second bowl and the owner quipped, "Boleh sakit perut!" (can cause stomach ache). The teh tarik from one of the stalls (second from left) was superb – the drink was strong with rich-flavoured brew laced with condensed milk for a creamy taste. It was indeed a good feeling having our refreshment there after walking all the way up to Penang Hill.
The serene peak of Penang Hill

The Penang Bridge is at the background. In the early hours of the run on Penang Bridge on Sunday, I could see light from this direction.

ahh... there is a tram arriving!

Lots of tourists in Penang as it is the start of a long, year-end school holidays.

Good choice -- The photographers have a field day shooting flowers, insects, scenery and model.

Since we were rushing for time, we run down the hill starting at 10am. Going downhill with steepness involved internal braking system in the leg muscles. We have to be careful not to injure our knees. We tried a few methods to avoid forward and direct movement. Alexis devised a method that walked sideway somewhat similar to the movement of a crab: a mixture of lateral movement while on a forward and downward advancement. The movement looked amusing! I did try walking backward which caused a bit of disorientation. Nevertheless, it took us only 50 minutes to return to base. Timing: Ascent = 2 hours; descent = 50 minutes.

Alexis running down the Hill
Maybe next time, we can try the trekking trail. But we need assistance/guide from the trekkers in Penang. [If you are familiar with the trekking trail going up Penang Hill, appreciate it if you could contact me… thanks]

A strategically located bungalow overseeing the horizon and the Penang island
The way up Penang Hill

Written by KC

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Penang Bridge Marathon (4)

Please click here for a complete posting on Penang Bridge Marathon 2009.
The Penang Bridge International Marathon staged on Sunday 22 November 2009 was a memorable run for me. I have not had this excellent form for a long time. This is one of the half marathons where I could run and run with vigour without getting tired.

The weather on the event day was superb in stark contrast to a cloudy, gloomy and drizzling weather the day before. Starting the half marathon race at 3:30 a.m., it was cool and breezy throughout the entire journey of the run. Besides, the air was fresh and there was no fish related smell which is typical of running near to the sea.

Participants run past the lion troupe

At the starting point, the atmosphere was fairly lively with the announcement, the music and the drum beats from the lion troupe. Runners’ movement was also not too restrictive compared to last year where all runners were asked to go into a huge barricade before the start of the race. With the timing chip introduced this year, we can take our own sweet time to cross the starting line to activate the timer in the chip. The various categories of the events were flagged off by YAB Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang, who was there in the early hours to grace this auspicious event.
The event is graced by YAB Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang

In this run, I managed to break the 2-hour barrier. I improved my timing by completing the run in 1:55:57. My last 5km was running much faster than the other 16km overtaking many of the runners that showed sign of tiredness. To sustain the 12 days of thin air in high altitude coupled with the cold weather in the trekking trip to Everest Base Camp, Nepal recently, in my opinion, strengthen my physical fitness.

Running Route
The organizer must have taken lots of effort to modify and improve on the route. Though the main structure of the run for half marathon was similar to last year, there was slight difference as the half marathon only runs for 7km one way on the bridge (making a U-turn after the middle span of the Penang Bridge) while the rest of the 7km was run on the Penang Island. The direction of the run on the bridge was the reverse of traffic flow. So, it was quite an interesting observation that the arrows on the road are pointing at the runners at all times. The feeling of being the King of the Road was apparent when running in the middle of the road.

Immediate relief

Water stations
There was lots of drinking water this time. However, many runners just took a sip or two and then threw away the entire 300cc bottle. From the sound of the bottle hitting the road, we would know that the bottles are still loaded with water. This time, we don’t get to see the Chinese kung fu drunken master in action – runners holding the big water containers to drink; or sharing the 1.5 liters of soft drink bottle with other runners as in a triad.
. .
This poor youngster fainted just before crossing the finishing line. Immediately, the medical team came to his assistance. I hope he is okay.
Banana Power
It was indeed a surprise to me that bananas were distributed too. So after taken one, I found that it was a bit early to eat. So I hold it as though I was holding a baton, and that helped me to run faster a little. However, the stretch after this station was like a banana-laden route where skins and even peeled bananas were thrown everywhere on the road. If a runner were not careful, he could be running at lightning speed when stepped onto one.

The unique feature of running in Penang

Distant Drum
Somewhere near the middle span of the Penang Bridge, I could hear the soft, faint sounds of thunder from the horizon. When I looked up into the sky, there weren’t many clouds as I could see patches of white clouds. After running for a while, it was indeed a moment to cherish as the runners were passing by a row of drummers that really uplift the mood of the run, and to break the silence where the busy Penang Bridge, for once, was devoid of traffic.

All smiles after completing the half marathon... Alexis, PK Chan, Angie, Josie and yours truly (KC).

Event Organization
The various categories of the running event were flagged off systematically and in style too with drum beats to boost up the spirit of the runners. The introduction of timing chips improved the standards of races thereby making it more orderly. The route was well planned and there were ample water stations around. Congratulations and two thumbs up to the organizer for the great effort in making this annual event a success. BRAVO! We shall be back again for the next Penang Bridge marathon.

The only set back is the starting time at the very early hours in the morning. Since the Penang Bridge is an important link and it cannot be closed for too long, the runners would have to accept the reality of it that it has to start early not until the second bridge is completed.

With the signature sign ... Queen's crown

Road Closure
Another exciting moment on Sunday 2:00 a.m. was to go to Queensbay Mall, the starting point of the event, for the run. The road closer took effect on the dot. So my car arrived just a minute or two slower to the first entry point and the police on duty directed the traffic to the next entry point. To my horror, all roads leading to Queensbay Mall, the starting point, were closed.

Assisted by Alexis, the navigator, with Josie and Angie in the back seat, we were forced to divert further and further away. We even see Komtar and Times Square buildings. At 2:30 a.m., we were still ‘groping’ in the dark (literally) without any map to assist us. Calling our Penang friends in this early hours for help would be uncool though it was a cool morning.

Taking a short-cut to go back to B-Suite hotel after the run

Finally, we saw a police station at the cross-road along Jalan Dato Keramat and we decided to get help to return to where we stay – B-Suite Hotel. Well, that was a good way to know the streets of Penang better. Actually, the hotel is only about 1km to the starting point and we could have walked there. Using last year's method, I parked my car at a housing estate which is opposite Queensbay Mall across the highways. Finally, we arrived at the starting point after one hour of round-trip ride but we were still in time for the run.

To be continued …

Written by KC

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Penang Bridge Marathon 2009 (3)

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon
Date: Sunday 22 November 2009
Start/End: Queensbay Mall

Yeah! Glad to be in Penang after five hours of travelling from Kuala Lumpur! Background showing Queensbay Mall, the starting/ending point of Penang Bridge International Marathon ... Josie and Alexis
Just like going for holidays with designer sunglasses and handbag
Angie, Alexis, Josie, Carmen and Cheah ... with Penang Bridge as background

Weng and Jason Lee (the photographers) and YouBL are running in full marathon category. A few of the runners are coming by the AeroLine luxurious coach from Kuala Lumpur.

Interior decoration of Queensbay Mall

Christmas mood is in the air too

Collection of bibs are fast and efficient ... Weng and Jason Lee

Yours truly (KC) posing with Chooi Wan

YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng delivering a keynote address

The queen with an oversized crown?

Shopping before the run ... Alexis, Josie and Angie.

To be continued ...
Click here for other postings on Penang Bridge Marathon 2009 (scroll down the pages)
Posted by KC