JW Cameron Highlands Friendship Meet 2012: Race Review

Both the wife and me have never been to Cameron Highlands before so when she saw a post on Facebook promoting a run in Cameron Highlands, she convinced me to sign up along with her. I wasn't too keen initially cos it was a 12K run and having to drive close to 4 hours to get there just wasn't my cup of tea.

But I relented when she said that it would be like a holiday and what holiday can better with a race thrown in. I couldn't argue with that point so I signed up for it. We left the boys and the little dog at home with my mom and off we drove to Cameron yesterday.

She's happy posing today cos she has a trophy too this time ...
The drive there was pretty decent and we took the Simpang Pulai exit and things were going fine until we reached Brinchang where we were stuck in the most horrendous traffic crawl all the way to Century Pines Resort in Tanah Rata where our accommodations were.

I was cursing away. Don't I have enough traffic snarls in Subang and yet, here I am, 200 plus kilometers away and I'm stuck in a jam that's even worse than what I would experience in KL. It took us about 1.5 hours or so to reach Simpang Pulai but it took us nearly three hours or more to reach Tanah Rata from there!

I guess Cameron is everyone's favourite holiday destination. I was fuming and that bittered my first impression of the place. But once we finally reached Tanah Rata and seeing our place of accommodation, the cool, refreshing air and greenery around, my mood changed for the better.

The serene and beautiful night scene just outside our room ...
After getting settled in and getting a short rest, we headed out to scout the place for dinner and some sightseeing before heading back to the resort to wait for Julie (the race organizer) to drop by with the race kits. Called it an early night and curled under the comforters to enjoy the nice, cool natural air-conditioning provided by mother nature.

You can save a heck of a lot on electricity bills staying in Cameron cos you don't need air-conditioning or even a ceiling fan, the place was just like a perpetual icebox and I was sneezing away quite a bit. I have a sensitive nose and too much cold tends to get me into a sneezing fit.

Anyways, this is one race where we didn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn cos the race start was just outside our hotel. Woke up around 6 plus, washed up and headed to the race start all bundled up in my jacket to keep the really cold morning air at bay. I even had to use full bottom compression to keep the legs warm.

The race itself was a small 'boutique' race with a small group of participants. Everyone was pretty cheerful for such a cold morning. Did a couple of warm up loops to get the blood flowing which failed miserably. I was having a tough time getting the body warmed up cos of the biting morning cold.

Totally bundled up prior to race start ...
Before I knew it, Julie Wong called everyone for a briefing about the race and the route. She warned us to go easy at the start cos the first 7K was a gradual incline and that the high altitude would be hard on the unfamiliar. I took no heed of the warning, foolishly, I must say. My game plan was to do a quick run seeing as how it's only a 12K run.

Julie Wong keeping an eye on the runners coming back ...
I mean, I've done hill work training and how bad can high altitude be on running? Oh boy, did I suffer for that bit of cockiness! The race started and off we went on an uphill stretch all the way. Let me tell you something about high altitude running. If you've never done it before, then go slow. By the 1.5K mark, I was gasping for breath, my eyes were tearing from the knife like stabbing cold pain I felt in my lungs. If you've ever seen a fish out of water gasping for breath before, well, that's exactly how I felt!

Running on a high altitude is a whole ball game altogether. I had to slow down to a walk (at the 2KM mark at that!) to take lungs full of air and to regain my composure. Serves me right for being a cocky little bastard and not heeding professional advise. It took me quite a while to get hold of myself before I could start running again.

I lost a lot of time. Even though it was a torturous uphill all the way, the body and legs just weren't warming up fast enough to get into a proper running mode. Finally at the 7KM mark, the legs started to warm up properly and came into play. The breathing was much better now that I knew how to breathe properly and from that point on it was playing catch up.

I upped my turtle powered first half pace and kicked into a steady 5:10-5:20 pace all the way back to the finish coming in with a time of 1:10:52, far off my usual 12K timing but was delighted to be told I was third place in my category, the men's veteran.

My five seconds of fame :P
Even though it was a race with a small number of participants and most of the usual speedier runners from my category weren't there, I was still overjoyed with the third placing. I've never won anything for running in my entire life and getting a third place finish trophy will see me sleeping with a silly grin on my face tonight ... LOL!

But even getting third place cannot beat what this young fellow said to me after the race:

'Bro, you 35 year old guys are all pretty fast one la', he said.

'Urmmm bro, I'm 45 years old la!, I replied.

'Seriously? You don't look 45, you look like you're in your thirties la' was his response.

Man, being mistakenly identified as 10 whole years younger sure beats a third placing anytime. That made my entire morning ... hahaha!

But jokes aside, what I learned from this run today was not to be such an arrogant cocky little guy and heed the advise of the more seasoned runners when they dish it out. After all, that's why they're called seasoned runners, right?

The organization of the run, though on a small scale was handled pretty well, I must say. There was enough signage, static and mobile marshals at critical point of the route to guide you well. It would be pretty difficult to get lost on the run and there was even two water stations for the runners.

Doesn't this tree look like a fish that has just been eaten with  just the bones remaining?
A big thank you goes out to Julie for a race well organized and also to the volunteers, some of them young little children guiding you along the right path that aside from my earlier issues, I thoroughly enjoyed the run. The camaraderie of all the runners was simply fantastic with wild cheering for each and every runner crossing the finish.

After the small medal and trophy presentation, the wife and me headed back to the hotel, rested for a bit and started our long arduous drive back to KL and I really mean arduous cos it took us ages to reach home! While Cameron Highlands is a beautiful place, unless I own a helicopter, I don't think I want to suffer through  the drive up there again!


  1. Wah, top 3! Congrats! See you at Powerman - it'll be blazing hot since the noon temps hit around 36 the last 2 days.

    1. Thanks Jamie. It's going to be a 'hot' race, especially the second run. See you there!

  2. Congrats Nick! Who cares about getting third place when you have people mistaking you for a 35y.o.! LOL

    1. Hahaha, yeah being called a young man sure beats a third placing anytime ... LOL!

  3. Congrats Nick...the fastest cat from Subang..woootttzzz

    1. Thanks Ray ... hahaha ... you should have seen me struggling up the hill, more like a turtle la!

    2. @Lina, Cheetah? More like kura-kura la ... hahaha!

  4. If the hotel in Tanah Rata, you can actually take the Tapah exit, then you will not passing Brinchang (just the route will be quite challenging to drive).

    Congratulation on the third place and the 35yo :)

    1. I wanted to try the Simpang Pulai way which was easier but unfortunately it was a holiday as well. Came back using the Tapah entrance and boy was it bloody windy!

  5. congrats!!! i'm sure it was an enjoyable 5 seconds of fame :) but yeah, that compliment about you looking young is the best!

    1. Thanks. It was one of the most enjoyable 5 seconds ever ... LOL!


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