Sunday, June 16, 2013

Larian Tanggathon Batu Caves 2013: Race Review

The Larian Tanggathon Batu Caves 2013 was a race I never intended on running. The wife signed up for this race ages ago and I decided not to join her simply because I seriously, honestly, positively hate stairs and the last 200 metres or so of this race requires you to run or crawl up the 272 steps of the Batu Caves temples. I didn't find that a very sane thing to do.

My ever faithful medal model at work ...
I only agreed to bandit the race and pace the wife during the road aspect of the race and then wait for her to trek up those almost vertical stairs. The initial race day was postponed due to the general elections and then rescheduled again due to clashing with another race.

Strangely enough, the race was 're-distanced' as a 5km race from a 7km because some people complained it was too long. Too long?!!! Seriously?!!! A 7km race?!!! First time I heard of a race being made shorter because people complained it was too long. Oh well, it takes all kinds to make the world go round anyway.

Camwhoring around before race start ...
A couple of weeks back the wife decided to drop me as her pacer citing reasons that I'm secretly trying to kill her by pacing her too fast. She said I make a totally horrible pacer and was sacked as her official pacer ... LOL!

The FTAAA, the organisers of the race is my client. I'm perpetually in and out of their premises quite a bit. A few days back, I saw the registration forms lying on the table at their office and since I was out of a job as a pacer, I might as well just sign up and run the race. How bad could 272 steps of stairs be anyway.

When I told the wife I signed up for the Tanggathon too, she said I was a dirty little rat who didn't want her to have a medal that I wouldn't have ... hahaha! That's not true though cos I don't have the Towerthon medal which she has.

Anyways, come race day and we were there bright and early like we always do for races. Parking was a breeze with ample parking at Batu Caves itself. There was a small crowd already. First time I've ever seen Batu Caves at that time of day, all lighted up.

The temple is actually very beautiful lighted up .. My camera doesn't do justice to it!
I had to find a toilet cos the call of nature was calling out with a vengeance. Toilet facilities were good since Batu Caves caters for tourist and had ample toilets. After a quick pit stop to the toilets, I looked for the wife, ran a few slow loops around the car park as a warm up and waited for race start.

Saw a few familiar faces like Jason, Kah Wai, Fendy and my dog's husband and wife vet team though they don't know I run (I think). The crowd was kinda small, close to 600 or 700 participants but I thought it was just nice for this race. The initial postponements and rescheduling of the race saw some participants pulling out.

The race started exactly on time at 7.30am and we were off. My race plan was simple, do a fast paced speed run (speed run for my lowly standards anyway) on the roads and take a nice and slow jog up the stairs. Well, at least the road part worked out exactly as planned.

Immediately upon race start I shifted to high gear and kept a nice steady constant pace of 4:40 throughout the entire 4 plus kilometers. The flat roads helped quite a bit with that. The Skechers GOrun Speed I had on was an entirely superb shoe simply built for speed. I think Foo's (of the GCAM group) cheerfulness rubbed off on me cos I was practically wishing everyone I passed a good morning! Some just gave me the evil eye though ... hahaha!

Those stairs actually look as daunting as the picture ...
The race being handled by the experienced race organizers, the FTAAA was pretty well managed with one complain. The first water station was placed on the left hand side of the road, which was the norm but then runners had to cross the road after that to head for a right turn about 300 metres ahead and cars were just zooming by. The runners had to actually stop to look for cars before crossing. Could be an oversight, but where were the marshals or police to attend to traffic? Other than that, it as a very smooth race. There were isotonics at both the water stations. Chilled even!

The entire road section went without a hitch. Then I came to the foot of the stairs and that's where I cursed every bit of the limited intelligence I had in me for signing up. 272 flights of stairs might seem like nothing. Well, try saying that after running 4 plus kilometres and then tell me it's nothing. I was practically crawling up the stairs like an old lady. My breathing was coming out in waves of pain, grasping for air like a fish out of water.

The birdman of Alcatraz ...
It was a never ending trek up. The end never seemed to come fast enough. There were times when I wanted to crawl on all fours up but I still had some dignity in me so I soldiered on gulping whatever air I could find. My legs were shaking like a rattlesnake on steroids! I finally made it up, gratefully took my medal and tee and plonked myself on a bench and wished I was never born! How hard was it? Well, it was 4:40's on the road and 7:20 on those blasted stairs alone! That's how hard it was!

After an eternity of rest, I slowly made my way down while giving whatever words of support I could to the rest of the poor fools ... urmmm, I mean participants making their way up ... hehehe! Just as I got down, the wife was about to start her trek up. Gave her a 'you can do it' shout but secretly sniggered inside at the torture she was going to go through in the final stretch ... LOL! But then she's a Towerthon veteran so she kinda aced the stairs, dammit! After all,whats 272 steps compared to the 2000 plus of KL Tower for her?

A shot with Mr. Vegi, head honcho of the FTAAA  ...
Once she was finally down, we headed to pick up our free breakfast consisting of fried mee hoon and a curry puff which I gobbled down faster than you can say fartlek and made our way home. Was it worthwhile? Yes, in a way it was. It was quite an experience I would say. Would I do this again? Nope, not in a million years. Let's just say I'll be sticking to road races and trails from now on. Next time I'll just stick to being a spectator.

Before I end though, I'd like to say that all of you who braved the stairs are awesome! It was tough, it was painful, it was hell but like the champs you guys are, you gamely did it. Good job folks, all of you!

Since the monkeys were nowhere in sight on the stairs today, I had to settle with this fellow instead ...

14 comments:

  1. I think you won't be able to resist the Towerthon medal though. :P

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    1. No, no seriously. I'm done with stairs ... hahaha!

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  2. aiya, 5KM is too short for you lah.
    and start training some stairs, will ya! :D

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    1. Too short? Damn, for old people like me, it's just nice ... LOL! No more stairs for me. You'll never hear me complain about steep trails anymore!

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  3. Immediately after Towerthon, I've developed Tanggaphobia.... but u got d gutso 2 do it in BC. Cheeerzzz...

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    1. Well, I've just developed Tanggaphobia too ... hahaha! But you did 2000 plus steps, I did a measly 272, no fight la Kiew!

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  4. nice monkey.. mana u jumpa itu monkey ah?

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    1. The monkey followed me back la ... hahaha!

      Btw, wifey asked if we could meet up after the Standard Chartered marathon somewhere in early July. Coffee will be on me but I'll only buy one cup and the three of us share sips from it ... hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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    2. berpunya besar punya monkey u bawa balik ka? monyet sebesar ini akan menakutkan si pebbles engkao

      i m going bk already.. LOL! 2 weeks is up... will b back in July to catch up. Don't b kedekuts.. we need 4.35 cups of coffee for three of us :p

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    3. Hah! That dog would probably keep the monyet as her toy! Everything belongs to her in this house!

      You mean you ere in KL all this while? Damn, nobody tells me anything ... LOL!

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  5. steps. always a love/hate relationship.
    but if you intend to do Vibram HK100, it is essential.

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  6. Honestly I would rather run the stairs of Batu Caves than the crampy, suffocating shaft of KL Tower... Open space is much2 better... Hehee...

    Btw kudos for your victorious Tanggathon, Nick! Looks like you've overcame your Tanggaphobia... Hopefully it wont be your 1st and the last attempt, yes?

    Perhaps you should try out the steep incline in MARDI Trail soon... U'll be jumping in joy, I bet.. =D

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree. It's definitely better than being in a cramped enclosure.

      I'm actually already planning for MARDI right after SCKLM :D

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