Saturday, February 11, 2012

Christmas Round the Penang Island Run

Route from my Endomondo application on my iPhone. Complete distance 73.05km.

I thought about it some time, and eventually here I am writing about the Christmas Round the Penang Island run. Not to brag about it, but just to share experience and some learnings. I am sure someone will attempt this some point in time and it would be good to know a few pointers to make a successful run.

I had this wild idea of running around Penang Island in end of 2010. My motivation then, I thought it would make a good route for my attempt to go past 42km for my first try at ultra running. You see, I don't think running 200 laps on the track or 8 laps of Gurney Drive-Esplanade or even 4 rounds of Bukit Aman - Hartamas would motivate me to do that. The route I was thinking was the same as the route in the Round the Penang Island Relay event.

Fast forward all that, I finally got my runner friend, Andrew Loh to join me on this adventure on Christmas Day of 2011. Andrew got 2 of his friends, Chun How and Steve Baron to complete the crazy gang.

Crazy Gang. Photo by Steve.

Great support from Steve on his ride. Photo by Andrew.

Some more details from Endomondo:

Date: 25 Dec 2011
Start time: 5:30am
Start/Finish venue: (in front of) Marina Bay Condominium (near Gurney Drive)
Distance: 73.05km
Elevation Gained: 464m
Elevation Lost: 452m
Calories:4471 kcal
Time taken: 10 hours 31 minutes
Participants: Andrew Loh, Lee Chun How, CP Tan
Support/Marshal: Steve Baron

Elevation chart (from my Garmin log) showing 2 hard climbs. One climb to Genting Restaurant (before Balik Pulau). One higher climb to reach Teluk Bahang. My Garmin 405CX only logged up to 60.8km before battery used up.

Running barefoot on this clockwise route. Pakcik (uncle) at a store in Balik Pulau asked me where I ran from. I said from near Gurney Drive. Then he asked me if I was turning back. I said, "No.". Then he commented, "Tak pakai kasut, nanti kaki boleh pecah!" (Literally translated to: Not wearing shoes, your feet could break!).

Some other photos along the route below:

I was concerned about Chun How's condition as he dropped back. Steve was supporting him then, so I felt he would be ok. After all, he is an ironman.
Well-needed re-hydration.
Pit stop at Titi Kerawang on the 2nd hard climb. Andrew & I were exhausted and confused where to go now... (Photo by Steve)

Continued on the steep and rough climb... (Photos by Steve)

When we were at second climb, the road condition was very rough and I was really suffering. At some stretches I just slowed to a walk.

When we reached Teluk Bahang it was really hot, the road condition also became hot. Andrew & I walked & run a bit until Batu Ferringhi. It was becoming harder to run because of the heavy traffic also. We had under-estimated the traffic volume on that day (it was Christmas holiday). Then we had a short pit stop and I told Andrew to go ahead without me. I was thinking to myself, it would be very tough to complete the run, even with 11km to go. The road was very hot and rough, the road traffic was very heavy and I had hardly any space to run.

Finally, I had to get a pair of slippers and wore it for the rest of the route. I walked most of the remaining distance with a little bit of run until the I reached the finish point. Andrew had completed it earlier than me. We amazed ourselves on this good and crazy run. I thanked Steve for the great support, Chun How to join us in short notice, Andrew for being great running buddy in this Round the Penang Island run. It was an incredible experience on Christmas Day for us.


Some key learnings (for those who wish to attempt this in the future):

1. Start early. Should have started 4:00am or earlier when the weather was cooler.

2. Start point should consider to be at Teluk Bahang. The narrow road from Teluk Bahang - Batu Ferringhi - Tanjung Bungah is not safe/suitable for running when traffic is heavy and the day is hot. If start early, then can run this part when traffic is less and sun is not up yet.

3. Need to bring hydration pack/bag and money. Some stores available to refill water or isotonic drinks, but not during climb except at Titi Kerawang. So really need to hydrate well.

4. Safety first. Safety was, and still is my top concern on long run like this. Wherever possible, avoid running alone. Some stretches quite dangerous especially at the two climbs. Need to inform your family & friends if you attempt this. Bring lights for safety and a phone for emergency use. Better still, bring a few crazy friends but not too many. It will be safety issue if too big of a crowd running together without traffic control.

5. Need to pace smartly. We were pacing a bit too fast in the beginning. Maybe I was hoping we could finish faster to avoid the sun.

6. In case you wonder, my feet looked like this, one day after the run: (I had worse than this before).


June Malik said...

All I can say is memang crazy but so inspirational too ..u guys rock!!

blaze said...

Thanks June. Memang crazy. My friend gave me +5 MLC (Mid-Life Crisis) points for this.

jz said...

thanks for the tips... planning to go solo round island just before 2013.