Every year, as summer fades, Malaysia throws a huge party to recognise the important role sports plays in the lives of her citizens. Malaysia's Ministry of Youth and Sports is behind an initiative called National Sports Day and it's celebrated on the second Saturday of every October.
You can't keep a great "holiday" secret. National Sports Day appeals to millions of Malaysians and when the HSN21km race was first staged in 2015, word spread across Southeast Asia that this nation was moving into the big leagues, positioning itself to become a running mecca.
As year 3 of the HSN21km appears on the horizon, we are launching an early campaign to get runners onboard—despite the fact that October may seem far away! Early calls for registration have been successful and it's anyone's guess whether or not those 13,000 runner slots will fill before the final 15th August 2018 deadline.
But, you're not too late. You can take advantage of RunSociety's 10-percent promotional discount or you can opt for the HSN Early Bird rate that ends on 28th March (not both), so you've still got enough time to register and start making your plans.
The half-marathon of the year
If the number 3 is lucky for you, imagine how precious it is to event organisers who are planning the 3rd HSN21km to be held on 13th October at National Stadium, KL Sports City.
Only 13,000 runners can be accommodated for safety reasons, and if you see that number 3 popping up repeatedly, you understand why the event's hashtag was selected: #3rdyearrunstrong.
You don't necessarily have to run the 21km if you're not up to speed. There are also 10km and 5km categories, with caps on each. Only 5,000 participants can run the half and there are just 4,000 slots each for the 10km and 5km.
Despite that lucky number 3 being bandied about, the HSN21KM isn't short on firsts. This race is the first competitive event to start and end at a stadium. Runners can snag fully-sublimated running and finisher tees made of the highest quality fabrics, especially when compared to materials usually used to make race shirts.
The usual rules apply
Race pack collection has always been a hot topic on the marathon scene and while some organisers have done lots to make the process easier over time, the folks running the HSN21km have gone a longer distance.
Not only can participants pick up their race bibs, official t-shirts and items before 3 p.m. on the day of the run, but the Race Expo will run two additional days: the 11th and 12th, so you've got more time than usual. Take advantage of bulk collection if you intend to run with at least 9 mates.
On race day, you'll spot a special booth just for prize winners. It's called the "Secretariat Room" and as soon as the sanctioning authority (FTKLAA) signs off on mandatory doping tests, winners can collect prizes based on their net finish times. You'll only have 30-minutes to act, so get that test out of the way fast.
The stars will align
If you're an elite runner, you're deserving of extra attention. That's why the HSN21km pays tribute to the best of the best by inviting runners in this rarified class to report to the Elite Pen.
All you need to qualify is proof of a personal best in the form of an acknowledgment from an international sports federation or an e-cert proving you achieved a personal best.
But you'll need to be quick about digging out those credentials because there's only enough room for 200 elite runners per category to make the cut. Do you keep your running stash in more than one place? You'd better find it now. Proof of your elite status must land in the hands of organisers before 30th July.
While you're in town
Whether you qualify for the elite category or you're just looking for a grand time in a grand city at a time of year that celebrates all things sporting, you can't go home until you've seen a few sites. It's almost mandatory to visit the Petronas Twin Towers at night. Get your wild side on at the Batu Caves where monkeys steal the show.
Eat your way through Bukit Bintang's Hawker Food Road. It's a fabulous way to take a break from the training diet you suffered while preparing for the HSN. Have a mate snap your photo against the backdrop of the city from the top of the 421m-high KL Tower if you have the courage to climb that high.
There's so much more to do in connection with Hari Sukan Negara (this celebration's official name) that you couldn't get bored if you tried. As a matter of fact, thousands of sports events will take place all over the 13 states of Malaysia at this time of year. But in our humble opinion, the HSN21km is the best of them all!
When another nation pulls out all stops to stage a race that appeals to runners' sensibilities, egos and wanderlust, how likely are you to say, "Count me in!"?
Registration fees for the HSN21km ranges from RM55 - RM80. Visit the website for more details.