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10 Important Things to Know About Running Marathons in Malaysia

by On Nov 12, 2014
10 Important Things to Know About Running Marathons in Malaysia

Millions of visitors flock to Malaysia for the lush landscape, majestic mountains, pristine forests and breathtaking cities set like jewels amid primeval jungles. Beneath the landscape beats the heart of a nation enamoured with running, which is why official and not-so-official runner's clubs and marathons have sprung up across the nation like terraced tea plantations spilling across the Cameron Highlands. If your calendar includes running in one of this nation’s marathons now or in the future, these tips will prepare you for your experience.

1. This Nation Welcomes Runners from All Walks of Life.

If you want to keep track of when and where Malaysian marathons are staged, you need a reliable website that calendars dates and gives you information on everything from start times to types of marathons—those staged on trails, roads and mountains, those held at night or are open only to women runners. By bookmarking one or more calendar sites dedicated to upcoming marathons in Malaysia or looking at the upcoming events in Malaysia for the year, you won’t miss a thing.

2. Malaysia is a Major Player Within the Pacific Rim Running Community.

You'll meet runners from around the globe at events that draw crowds, garner publicity and promote running, but if you want to learn just how popular marathons are in Malaysia, compare them to events held at other geographic destinations around the globe by frequenting sites posting details on international running marathons and events. You can assess how Malaysian planners compare to those running events staged in other countries. Some sites even break out run types, so if your specialty is narrow, you can target just half-marathons, marathons, 5k, 10k and ultras to compare the largest races on the planet.

3. Pay Attention to Climate and Weather Patterns in Malaysia to Prepare Properly for Your Race.

This nation is tucked into Southeast Asia, sharing borders with Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Anticipate a tropical climate with year-round humidity. Because daytime temperatures surpass 30°C and nights remain above 20°C, you will not have to worry about packing thermally insulated running clothes because humidity will likely be your biggest challenge. Anticipate the southwest monsoon in summer (May to September) and northeast monsoon from November to March. Race planners are usually zealous about preparing participants for all eventualities, so rely upon organizers to help you pack for specific weather when you plan your Malaysia marathon experience.

10 Important Things to Know About Running Marathons in Malaysia

Photo Credit: 123RF

4. Be Wary of Terrain and Health Hazards That Can Adversely Affect Your Malaysia Marathon Experience.

Malaysia's terrain offers an abundant variety of experiences. Between forested mountain ranges running north and south and coastal plains rimming enclaves of trees and plants to mangrove swamps and mudflats separating bays and inlets, runners may even encounter cleared and cultivated plantations. Challenges await on mountains and hills above pristine beaches in close proximity to dense jungles and rivers. Health hazards you could encounter run the gamut from terrain-related to climbing injuries when competing on Mother Nature's terrain. Does that mean cities are healthier places to run? Not necessarily. Compete in cities like Kuala Lampur and you could encounter pollution hazards when participating in a Malaysian marathon.

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5. Outdoor Running Trails are Pristine, Primal and Lush.

Pay careful attention to your surroundings to avoid encounters with animals that can present extreme environmental dangers to runners. They are some dangerous animals in Malaysia that runners may encounter when training and competing, the list includes mosquitoes, snakes, mountain lions, bees and crocodiles, all part of a mega-diverse country like Malaysia. Big cats are particularly dangerous as are adapted animals living at the highest elevations that do not welcome runners to their environs. Stick to trails and watch your feet; the Malayan pit viper snake is but one of the reptiles that may be lying in wait within forests that are said to be 130 million years old!

6. Be Aware of Diseases and Health Issues So That You Do Not Get Sick.

International health agencies monitoring diseases in Malaysia report a variety of potential health assaults that transcend the usual case of travellers' diarrhea plaguing visitors who are not used to the food. Among the dangers you could be exposed to or contract are malaria, hepatitis A, B and C plus schistosomiasis (an organism found in fresh water). Cases of cholera and typhoid fever erupt from time to time. A variety of insect- and parasite-born ailments have also been reported, including a virulent strain of Japanese encephalitis. You can protect yourself best by monitoring health-, travel- and government-related websites posting updates on global diseases and risks and prepare for your trip by receiving vaccines recommended for those travelling to Malaysia.

7. Respect Malaysia's Culture and Languages to Enjoy the Ultimate Running Experience in this Exotic Nation.

You will leave with regrets if you do not add time to your itinerary to explore this nation's history in depth. With a tribal lineage dating back 40,000 years, Malaysia was colonized by the Dutch, Portuguese and English until it broke free. Kuala Lumpur, the nation's capital, was founded by Chinese tin miners but is now a major center of sophisticated commercial activity. Malay, Indian, Chinese and other ethnic groups are not always a harmonious mix, but the nation is working hard to bring citizens together no matter which of the languages they speak. If you want to want to greet new friends while you are in the country to run your marathon, touch your hand to your chest to show your respect for this diverse nation.

10 Important Things to Know About Running Marathons in Malaysia

Photo Credit: 123RF

8. Don't Risk Your Safety or Become a Victim of Crime.

Learn to be alert at all times--before, during and after you run your race. A quick internet tour of Southeast Asia can be an alarming experience if you inquire into some of the country's crime rates, but you will find that violent crime against tourists and visitors is less frequent in Malaysia than in many other nations on the Pacific Rim. Take precautions to discourage pickpocketing, burglaries and credit card theft, but take comfort in knowing that there are fewer crimes involving bodily injury here than are found in neighboring countries. That stated, expect to encounter more crime in and around Kuala Lumpur, as is typical of any big city on the planet.

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9. Remain Sensitive to Muslim Laws and Ethnic Runners, Respecting Customs and Traditions.

Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kuching are sophisticated cities in a nation saturated with rules and regulations for women's demeanor and behavior as a direct result of the influence of Islam, but you can avoid embarrassment by understanding proper etiquette when moving around this culture. Wear loose, respectful dress that bares little flesh and expect your fellow competitors to wear running clothing that is more modest than you may be used to. That does not mean women are covered from head to toe at Malaysian marathons! Fashion statements made by women on this website are surprising.

10. Have Fun When You Run in Malaysia.

Malaria. Tigers. Purse snatchers. Religious dictates. Like every country, your trip to Malaysia will present challenges, but this is a nation that takes pride in its close-knit community of runners, so you will feel right at home in no time. That means having fun while you are there. Discover Malaysia's top tourist sites like Georgetown Inner City, Taman Negara, Pulau Tioman, miles of beaches and the countryside. By the way, if you add the Petronas Twin Towers to your list of stops while in Kuala Lampur, it's okay to take the elevator to the upper floors. Participating in your race and crossing that finish line means you’ve earned that ride to the top!

Plan Your Next Race in Malaysia

What are you waiting for? Set aside the time, make the effort and undertake the planning necessary to run a marathon in a country that prides itself on its international running events and welcomes you to this exotic part of the world. Consult your favourite calendar. Book holiday dates. Do not be surprised if your goal—running a marathon in Malaysia—morphs from race destination to a favourite holiday spot in the future.

Aidan is the Editor-in-chief of RunSociety. His focus is to oversee RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the running community. Get in touch with him if you something to say, or want to weigh in on an interesting topic at hello@runsociety.com.

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