I’m writing this review few weeks after running that race on July 26, 2015. I ran previously the 2014 edition and it was fun though there were couple of issues: congestions at some section especially in the first half and too big road sections while overall being under distance. These were not too big issues, the race was well organized and it was fun. It was a challenging run as there is quite a bit of elevation there though you would not suspect that at first. This year edition had 6km, 12km and 18km categories. The organiser was the same as last year (same company) however the race director changed. The previous one (who did a great job last year despite few minor issues) moved away to organize races in Bario (I would highly recommend the Bario race organized by runners wild). We’ll get back to that later.
I registered for the 18km as a training milestone for King of Sungai Lembing and because that hill is nice and challenging. Running the same race two in years in a row is also a good way of benchmarking your progress with training (provided the route does not change too much). I picked up my bib at Key Powers Malaysia in 1 Mont Kiara. It was very convenient as I live 1 kilometer away 🙂 the lady there told me that the race starts at 7am despite the email sent by the organizer which said 7:30am. The TShirt was from Ultron, a new brand (where’s ironman ?). The quality is ok but not great from my point of view. It’s too heavy. But that’s accessory, I don’t race for the TShirt or the medal 🙂
So the next day I was there early just to hear from the organizer that the race was starting later… Not good. I had to wait quite a long time. To kill time I went barefoot walking then running at the back of the start place. I probably did 3-4 kilometers but mostly walking to keep energy for the race. Coming closer to the race start, I went back to the site and bumped into couple of friends (Jeffrey, Kartini and Khairul, …).
The 18km Race
The race was flagged at 7:26am for the 18km one. I was in the pack, not a front runner as I usually try to pace myself slower at start to avoid being dragged into a high pace effort straight away. After all it’s still 18km to do ! We all took a turn to the right to the Carpark toward the trail entrance. There were cars and we had to pass in between them. I told myself wtf… Then on the trail it was ok, climbing up straight away then I heard “wrong way” and some runners going back to the start… I followed. Front runners were trying to overtake as fast as they could. In fact there were no markers showing to go to the Carpark nor any markers showing not to go there… Someone made a wrong judgment call and the pack followed. The organizer should have put markers too.
Back on the real route, we were just ahead or even mixed with the 12km crowd. There were a lot of runners. Going into the hill was steep and extremely crowded. I actually was doing well from my point of view but there were massive congestions:
- A steep going down with a bridge (same issue as last year) then a steep climb
- A new section going into the jungle with a newly made trail, single person lane.
That new trail was not a good idea. If you have 10 folks hiking great but not hundreds of people passing by there ! It was impossible to overtake without being rude and putting yourself or the other person in danger. I lost like many a lot of time lining up, walking slowly because of congestion, … I’m not sure they can avoid these sections for next year but if possible they should. It really sucks.
Once I passed that trail hike section it was then large trail/palm plantation soil road which was nice. Many ups and down which I like there. I was doing well, no left hamstring issue, I was not hungry yet. There were few water station (after all it’s a short race there should not be tons of these). However there was just water from what I remember. I would have like to see maybe bananas like the previous year around km12, but I ran mostly on water so I’m ok with it. They were doing “Bring your own cup” concept, which is great for the environment. There were no alternatives, I think it’s good but many people come unprepared.
On top of one of the hill I bumped into Lili, we chatted a bit, ran together then I proposed her to pace her for a while as she seemed to struggle a bit. I’m not sure she followed me for long ! After a while I was back chasing the guys in front of me. The course was different from last year (no staircase this year as it was a major congestion area, no jumping between terraces). I was starting to feel hungry after km12 and I didn’t bring food with me (I thought they would have banana). Move forward few kilometres, I reached the road section which happened to be where I ran early in the morning ! I finished the last kilometre faster and overtook few folks. I finished the race in 2h17. That was decent I think for myself, considering the initial detour and congestions. One of my friend who was running got lost 3 times (start issue then 2 wrong direction).
The race finisher pack was just a medal and a banana from what I remember. Again I do t expect much and I’m ok with that but the fee was quite steep. 94RM. That’s a lot of money for that race ! As compared to the year before, it was disappointing. The only real nice thing was that there was little road run in fact and that hill is fun.
Couple of photos taken there with friends:
Kudos to those who managed to get a good placing within the first 10 of their category (Teck Wai, Lili, …). Also kudos to Kenny Lee who ran it full barefoot !
Final thoughts on MARDI MAEPS
I’m torn for next year. It’s a beautiful place. Though I like the hill there I would not recommend that organizer races. They’re out for easy money clearly. There were a lot of critics on their Facebook page and on Facebook in general. They’ve done little to address them. Just a generic press release which does not even acknowledge the real issues. Disappointing, yet typical of many new races in malaysia. Be wise when choosing your races folks ! Below the only communication from organiser… The certificate was useless (no mention of time or rank) and one of my friend who registered for the race but did not wake up (yes you read correctly !) got his certificate of completion !