This year’s Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon broke records on many fronts. I’ve been following the marathon scene in the region for some time now, and while it is customary for race organisers to boost anniversary celebrations with promotion and gimmicks, this one certainly topped it all.
When registration opened on 10 January 2018, categories after categories were snapped up, and were eventually sold out on opening day! For a relatively young event in Southeast Asia, this means that interest level is extremely high, and only bodes well for its future editions by race organiser Dirigo Events.
I’ve been taking part in quite a number of marathons in the region, and for whatever reasons, have always skipped this one. So, when the opportunity arose for this historic tenth edition, I just could not resist even though I’m in the midst of training for a longer trail running event.
Mind you, this will be my third Standard Chartered marathon event in five months, having completed the Singapore and Hong Kong editions in December 2017 and January 2018 respectively.
Short Getaway in Kuala Lumpur
In the last few years, we have been reading about Singaporean runners going further than just across the border for overseas running experiences. However, the running community is constantly growing, and for newbies, Kuala Lumpur is always a good starting point to embark on the overseas running journey.
I will skip the cliché Top 5 or Top 10 reasons to run this marathon; here are my honest to goodness opinion:
- Good foreign exchange rates (1 SGD = 3 MYR)
- Great local foods
- Cheap transport
- Affordable accommodation
- Same time zone, so that you do not need to manage jet lags
- Similar temperature, so you can wear your usual running gears
- Accessible by road, rail and air.
To put things simply, you can get out of Singapore on Saturday morning, get into Kuala Lumpur by midday, collect your race pack, enjoy good foods and shopping, the rest for the night.
You get up on Sunday morning, run, have one more round of good food and make your way back to Singapore. Your colleagues and boss will not even know that you have been out of town, unless of course you limp from muscle soreness or blisters on a Monday morning.
Race pack collection took place from Thursday through to Saturday. I collected mine fuss free on a Friday afternoon, with the whole collection process done within five minutes. For locals, there was also a race pack delivery option. The race expo had about twenty booths carrying the usual running and fitness gears and gadgets.
On Saturday morning, a warm up 5km Friendship Run was organised to allow runners from all over the world to meet and make friends. In the evening, a Kids Dash took place with 1km and 3km distance categories.
The main event for me was on Sunday morning. I was at the iconic Dataran Merdeka early so as to soak in the festive atmosphere. Think Singapore’s City Hall – or the current National Heritage Gallery – and you will understand the sense of pride just to be there with thousands of running enthusiasts.
The 4 a.m. full marathon is not ideal for my biological clock, but I could certainly understand the need for the race organiser to strike the right balance between runners’ satisfactions and traffic management for the city folks.
I thoroughly enjoyed the race routing. The race started on a five-lane road and it was easy to get into a natural running rhythm; unlike running in the Singapore marathon where the first few kilometres were very much congested.
The route then took runners mostly on the highway before hitting the city again around the 30km mark. The route was mainly flat until it hit 32km, where there were a few uphill and downhill efforts required until the last 5k,.
There is a huge grassroots feel to this event seeing Malay makcik (ladies) in hijabs, and the Malaysian “can do” spirit of “Malaysia Boleh!”. A unique feature on the course is a mobile prayer stop for Muslim runners wanting to answer the call of the morning prayer.
As I approached the finishing line at Dataran Merdeka, the atmosphere was electric, and it felt so good to have another marathon ticked off my bucket list. For the record, I was happy to clock just a few minutes under five hours, with a morning prayer thrown in en route.
Planning for 2019 Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon
I enjoyed this marathon and recommend it to Singapore based runners looking for that short overseas race experience. Given the great results that the race organisers have accomplished, I can only hope they outdo themselves next year!