Sundown Malaysia 2014: Inaugural Night Race Lights Up the Kota Iskandar
Following the success of Sundown in Singapore over the last few years, 22 June 2014 saw the race series march north and venture for the first time into Malaysia.
With flag off timings at 8pm and 8.30pm for the 21.1km and 12km respectively, the race attracted 5,000 participants from over 35 countries. With runners from Malaysia, Singapore and as far as Philippines, Brunei, China, Indonesia, India, USA, Iran and Australia, all of them were ready to "Bring on the Night"!
Travelling to the Start
The race commenced at EduCity Sports Complex, a covered stadium approximately 5km away from Legoland in Johor Bahru, with both races following out along the Nusajaya Highway.
Access to the starting point at EduCity Sports Complex was limited, so runners were shuttled in a quick 10 minute bus ride from the carpark at Legoland. On arrival, runners were spoilt with ample amenities (massage, baggage deposit, toilets, sports drinks) as well as a large covered area for runners to loosen their nervous legs before flag off.
This area was a great spot to rest and check out the crowds mingling at the start. I saw an eclectic mixture of locals, expats and Singaporeans who ventured over the border for a taste of running in Malaysia.
Troy Mytton, a regular expat runner based in Singapore, travelled over to Sundown Malaysia, saying,
"I wanted to see a new place and take part in a race that was a bit cooler. I'd heard about the Sundown in Singapore and had been put off by the late start. This timing seemed a bit more reasonable."
Smooth Roads, Cheerful Smiles
The pre-race build up consisted of energetic music, beating drummers and a choreographed warm up that unfortunately, due to positioning of the stage, most runners failed to notice. Despite this, the buildup was worthy of an inaugural event. As the starting airhorn blew, we surged forward for the first steps of the Sundown race in Malaysia.
Wide and generally flat roads ensured there was little jostling along the course with the field quickly stretching out. Enthusiastic and vocal volunteers manned the drinks stations and whilst there was confusion at some points about who was handing out water and who carbonated sports drinks (which wasn't to my preference), there was no confusion about generous hi-fives and encouraging words of support.
Lighting Up the Kota Iskandar
Being a night race, what visible scenery was unremarkable, and meant my focus was mainly on the road ahead. A special highlight was in store for the half marathoners, who snaked through the Dataran Mahkota, the administrative center of Kota Iskandar at around the 8km mark.
Adorned with majestic fountains, the Dataran Mahkota offered a panoramic view of Kota Iskandar to runners making their way through one of the iconic landmarks of Johor. It was a spectacular building to see lit up at night.
Hanging Out After the Finish Line
The event ended with 24 participants receiving prizes for finishing with the top 3 best times in their respective categories; 15 out of these were Malaysians.
Micheal Xenos from Greece clocked in the fastest time for the 21km Men's open, under 1 hour and 16 minutes, and Eng Hwee Ling Ezann from Singapore was the champion of the 21km womens open, in under 1 hour and 40 minutes.
For the 12km Men's open, local runner Chaless Sivasanngaran reached the finish line in less than 46 minutes and 52 seconds and Asha Niven won the 12km Women's open, clocked just under 54 minutes and 2 seconds.
Crossing the finish line, both 21.1km and 12km participants received a palm-sized medal with half marathoners also receiving a finisher race shirt. Complimentary massages and reasonably priced food packs (RM$8) were some of the goodies on offer in the finish area.
Doing it Right
The Sundown Malaysia has all the ingredients to become a very successful race in the next few years.
Shuttle buses were again on hand to ferry runners back to the Legoland carpark. Unfortunately if you didn't have a car, then grabbing a taxi was near impossible, an unnecessary frustration after a race.
It would be great to see better provision for transportation, especially for those who do not have access to a car, but this aside was a great first crack by Sundown and we hope to see this grow to the popularity of its sister event back in Singapore.
- Earlier flag off timings of 8pm and 8.30pm compared to the Singapore Sundown Marathon.
- Wide and flat roads meant generally a smooth race route.
- Running through Kota Iskandar was a treat for half marathon runners.
- Efficient 2 way shuttle services from Legoland to the starting area.
- Some provision for transportation for runners who did not own a car would be appreciated.