Since KLSCM was postponed, Jackie and I made the last minute decision to sign up for Ipoh International Run and join some of our MF Safra friends (Yvonne, Ray, Laichee, Andy, Michael & wife) for the trip. It was fortunate that the online registration was still open 1 week before the race so we quickly signed up for it just before we left for KL.
7 July 2013.
It was my first time participating in Ipoh International Run. Jackie on the other hand, had participated this race in 2010 and even came in top 20 for his category. However, as the race got more popular in 2011 and 2012, we saw more and more Kenyans dominating the run.
The start and end point of the race is at Stadium Indera Mulia. As the stadium was a distance away from our hotel, we set off a bit earlier. Upon reaching, we quickly registered and were given a cable tie each to be locked around our wrists. We were told to stay inside the compound to wait for the flag off. To make sure we could start as close to the starting line as possible, Jackie and I headed to the entrance first when we saw many people had started gathering there. Though it was almost time for the 21km flag off, there were still many people streaming into compound and we were not allowed to leave. We spotted many runners from Kenya around us. No doubt they are going to dominate the race again this year.
It was approaching 7am. We were then suddenly “released” from the compound. And like wild animals escaping from cages, participants dashed to start line for the official flag off. Not long after we all gathered at the start line, the emcee reminded 21km runners to collect 2 ribbons along the way and 10km runners to collect one ribbon as well. The next moment, the horn sounded and everyone started running out of the stadium. 21km and 10km category were all flagged off together. Adrenaline rushing, I went with the flow, running at a faster than intended pace.
It was very crowded, but eventually we reached a junction whereby 21km and 10km runners were separated. Majority of the group of people whom I was running with were 10km runners. They turned left, while I turned right. It was then I realised, there are not many 21km runners ahead. I could still make up Jackie from far ahead, but he was gradually picking up his pace. There was another male runner not far away, and I decided to follow him closely in case there were no marshals around to direct the running route.
With less runners running alongside with me, I felt myself dropping my pace a little, which was I thought was ok since I had started a tab too fast for my first km. I could still see Jackie from a distance then, but he seemed to be picking up pace and I lost him totally after conquering a steep incline.
After about 4.8 km, I was glad to finally catch sight of the first water station. I was thirsty and quickly gulped down the water, and pour a cup over my head. I was happy that I managed to come close to my target pace when I realised my first 5km took me about 21 mins 48 sec.
There were volunteers distributing wet sponges too after about 2 km from the water station. I gratefully took one and squeezed it over my shoulders.
The next water point came at about 10 km mark. And once again I grabbed a cup of water to wash down my gel and another cup to cool myself down. I was feeling ok, but I was slightly disappointed to know that I had taken more than 22 mins for my 6th to 10th km. I had slowed down considerably and I knew it would be impossible to go any faster. I could only hope that I am able to maintain my current pace and do not go slower than 4:30″/min.
Came another sponge station not long after and this time I took two sponges. The sky had gotten brighter and I saw a lot more motorists on the road. It was heart warming to note that the drivers were all very patient when they see runners on the road. There were no rude honking at all.
Along the way, I also spotted marshals recording bib numbers on their clipboards. I guess this was because there was no time chip given to us or embedded in our bibs, thus this was another way of ensuring that the ranking were correct at the end of the day. By the 15 km mark, my race pace had dropped to about 4:28″/km. A male veteran overtook me and urged me to run together with him. I told him to go ahead as I definitely could not keep up with him. He soon disappeared from sight as he went on to chase a few runners ahead.
Close to the 16km mark, I was surprised to see a female Kenyan runner ahead. She seemed to be struggling, no doubt still continued running to the best of her ability. I kept on running, getting closer to her by the minute. Eventually I overtook her at the 17 km mark and was relieved that she did not chase after me. Knowing I only left with 3-4km of the distance, I pressed on and attempted to speed up.
Alas, it was so chaotic when I reached the roundabout. There were runners everywhere, mainly 10 km joggers and walkers. I had to weave in and out of the crowd and even run on the side of the pavement to continue running without stopping. At the same time, I was also looking out for signages to make sure that I was on the correct route for 21km runners. There was another male runner following me from behind and I waited for him just in case I was on the wrong route and I could follow him. Saw many runners cutting across a field and I followed suit.
After running past a stretch of houses, we were finally running towards the stadium. The finishing point was different from the start point and I made one last surge to cross the finishing line. As expected, the distance was much shorter than 21km. My Garmin registered only 19.6 km. Unofficial time taken was 1hr 27 mins 31 sec, with average pace of 4:28″/km. And I came in 12th position for my category too. Yvonne and Lai Chee also did very well and came in 15th and 19th position respectively.
All in all, a cheap, simple, no frills race with no time chip, no road closures and only 3 water stations. Yet, all of us had enjoyed the run very much. It is a very different and refreshing experience racing in Ipoh. A nice memorable race could be that simple. And the holiday mood coupled with amazing company made the trip even more awesome and worthwhile! =D