While everyone’s falling asleep safe and sound or even having fun on their weekend night, it’s a different scenario for Sabah’s running scene. It’s time to run out in the darkness for the Asia Xtreme Adventure (AXA) X12 Dark Run which was held on Sunday, 1 March 2015 at Nexus Karambunai Resort in a suburban area of Sepanggar. The event flagged off at 12:00 a.m. and went on till 6:00 a.m. in the morning.
The Sabah running scene has been booming lately—especially for 2015 with the announcements of races through each month, be it charity run, road racing or trail running. This race was brought to my attention last year as AXA was announcing a couple of their race series for 2015, and I decided to join the impelling bandwagon of midnight runners.
Starting the Run
So I started my six hour journey on Friday the day before to the race pack collection at The Grand Ballroom, Nexus Resort. Fewer runners were collecting on the day, so I made my way pretty quickly. Inside the pack, you get your bib number with a timing chip, tyvek band and a race shirt. Nothing more, nothing less. A running route map would have been very helpful for runners to plan their race strategy.
The race registration was stated to be on 28 February from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.—though there was actually none that night. During this time, runners gathered at the race site. The car park is nearly 2km away from the starting line (you have to walk to the starting line), and this was bothering most of the runners as there were some concerns about the security of their cars and belongings. This would have been very easily rectified if there were shuttle bus service provided by the organisers; runners wouldn’t mind to pay more for their own ease and comfort. There were no prior highlights on the baggage drop so I reluctantly left my stuff (including phone) inside the car, and to my surprise there was a baggage drop counter beside the glow sticks booth that night (what a bummer!).
Running in Darkness
At the stroke of 12 midnight on 1 March, full marathoners were flagged off. Then the second category, 21km, was released on a 10 minute gap, and so on for the 10km and 5km fun run. Runners had to line up at their own category lane before proceeding to the starting line. While this was a very systematic and orderly arrangement, there were still runners who are lined up at the wrong lanes that night. I guess this could be due to the lack of clear indications— there were no lights on the notice board and there were no volunteers allocated every lane to advise runners where to line up at.
The route for 21km (which I participated in) that night is almost the same as the 42km, with the only difference being the loop through Sepanggar Container Port, a naval base. The first part of the route was definitely in total darkness; runners were required to wear headlamps as they made their way out from Nexus to Sepanggar’s main road. Water stations were based at every 3km to 5km interval, with basic provision of plain water and 100Plus. There were no distance markers (there were only route directions) that night, which I think was an oversight by AXA since not every runner was using a GPS watch/tracker and it would be very helpful for them if there were markers on that night.
The second part of the race involved making your way to the Polytechnic roundabout for a U-turn, then heading down to Sepanggar Container Port to make another U-turn, before routing back to Nexus Resort. The third part (the last part) of the run that night was on the road heading back to Nexus, and as runners saw the lined up cars parking along the route, they knew the finish line was near. To summarise that night course, it was mainly dealing with short repetitive hills from the start to the finish line.
The overall event was a success, in my opinion, with more than 2,000 accumulated runners lighting up the streets that night. Kudos to AXA for making runners run on the weekend, especially in the middle of the night. I would certainly love to be back on the race the next year (for a longer distance) and look forward to a better arrangement from AXA in their near future events.
To end the review, here are the highlights of the race on that night.
- The overall route is 60% in darkness and requires light for you to run.
- As you pass through the outer area of Nexus, dogs were barking and there were some concerns on disturbance of illegals from the village around Sepanggar area.
- The course is filled with up and down of small repetitive hills.
- The race is the first of five series that AXA offered this year whereby, if you completed all the 5 series, you will unlock a final medal.
Until the next race review, RUN YOUR OWN RACE!