Race Report: 17KM Penang Run 2013

Distance:17 KM (more precisely 17.7KM)

Time: 1.37.52

Net Time: 1.36.30

Placing: 67/357 (Men Junior)
211/1205 (overall)

So after a short gap,Penang finally had its first official run for the year 2013.The 17 KM Penang Run 2013  was the first of its kind on the island,starting at USM,passing through Bukit Jambul,Jelutong Expressway,Bkt Gambir Road and finally back to USM.

Image                         Route Map

It was also unique in the sense that it was one of the few runs in Penang (apart from Malakoff and PBIM) which used the RFID chips to track timing. Thus naturally a good crowd of curious runners bent on knowing their exact position and timing joined in,even with the hefty participation fee.Being a “long run” it started early,at 6.00 AM to be exact.I barely made it in time to the starting point when the MC was screaming on the mic “WE ARE STARTING THE RUN IN 20 SECONDS !!”

Alas,didn’t even get to go to the restroom or get into the mood of the whole event.

ImageAt starting point.One among 3000+ runners

Being late,naturally I was somewhere far behind the starting line.It took almost a minute or two before the whole crowd around me started moving.Such a waste of time.The first 1 KM was also “crowded” as usual.It took almost 5-6 minutes,forcing my way through the “maze of humanity” before I was really “running”. At the 1.5th KM the run took a turn up the Bukit Jambul Hill slope.

Steep and daunting,I could literally feel my legs crying out as I went up this stretch. I always stick to one principle during these long runs~no matter how difficult the the terrain,NEVER STOP in between!!~

After reaching the top of this steep hill slope, it was an easy run downhill to the BJ Complex and on to the Jelutong Expressway.I was still in high spirits,running to the beat of Batzri’s Classical Sephardic Tunes  which were surprisingly very motivating at that moment.At the same time the Sports Tracker app on my phone was tracking my distance,keeping me well alerted as to how long more to the finish line.

To encourage myself,I would often say,”Rexy,6KM more,5KM more,GO,GO!!” Indeed self motivation is the best motivation!

Before I knew it, i was running along Jalan Yeap Chor Ee and Jalan Bukit Gambir,the last 2KM of the run.It was a great,euphoric feeling,knowing that I’ve come this far,and so little was left ahead of me,but my legs were in pain as I headed up the last hill along the Bukit Gambir Road.I had to push myself hard and finally reaching the top of the hilly Bukit Gambir Road,I knew my redemption was near!! Zoomed down the hill,and there I was at the gates of USM. Unfortunately,redemption was not as near as I expected it to be,it was still a 600m distance away,in the USM Stadium.A classic “Potong Steam Moment”.Image

Scene at USM 30 minutes after I finished the race

With whatever energy left in my body,I just pushed myself to the finish line. 1 hour 37 minutes and 52 seconds,satisfied I was…

ImageA very happy and satisfied finisher!! LOL!!

Hike:Sungai Ara to Bukit Papan

So this time it was Sungai Ara again.We started from the same starting point as last week (Refer to “Hike: Sungai Ara to Malihom” for more information on how to get to the starting point.)But this time instead of taking the same route up to Malihom we turned left up into the hills of Bukit Gambir and Bukit Papan.

Image                     This is the starting point of the hike,right after the Sungai Ara Muniswaran Temple.

From the starting point walk straight for 30 to 35 minutes and you will come to a shed. All the while you will be right beside the Sungai Ara waterfall stream.Take a rest here at the shed if you feel tired

Image                 Sungai Ara River.Image                        As you go further up, the Sungai Ara stream gets smaller and smaller                                        At the shed the path diverges to the left and to the right.Take the left one and continue up.In 10 minutes you will come to the Bali House Chalet,a posh chalet in the middle of the orchards.Turn left after the Bali House Chalet.

Image                      Bali House Chalet

Image                       An interesting hibiscus like flower along the way.

Continue up for another 10 minutes and you will come to a junction where the path diverges in 4 separate ways.The path on your extreme right leads to a handsome home.DONT GO IN. All hell  broke loose when the dogs started chasing us after we accidently went in.Instead take the path which goes up the hill,second from the right.Continue up along this path for 30-35 minutes.This path goes up the Bukit Gambir hillside and at certain times,might be a bit steep too.Brace yourself. Lots of fruit trees to behold along the way,but no snacking on em!!

Image                          We spotted a Pulasan along the way.Its a close relative of the more well known Rambutan.

Image                          Scenic View along the way up the Bukit Gambir hillside.Image                               The after-rain view.

As you reach the higher parts of this trail,you will enter a semi forested patch.Keep going straight and soon you will spot a jungle trail on your left going up into the forest.Continue straight along this path for 30-40 minutes.It will lead you up,circling the peak of Bukit Gambir. There will be occasional views of  the airport area and the southeastern side of Penang.This part of the trail is forested,one of the few natural patches still left in the Southern hills.Enjoy the ambiance and the fresh air along this stretch.

Image                      The forests of Southern Penang. Enjoy its beauty while its still intact.

Soon the trail will open up into a small cleared area lined with fruit and rubber trees.The trail in this stretch will be wide and clear.Continue going down. Don’t take any turns either to the right or the left.In 20-30 minutes you will come to a junction right after a stream.A marker marked “101”  will be there at this junction.Take the right fork which leads up.Go on straight up, for the next 5-10 minutes and you will hit another junction where there will be two paths.A Left path and a right path.Take the left one and continue going up.

Image                      Penang’s Southern hills are a very interesting place to explore.

Continue along this path for another 20 minutes and you will come to a farm called “Ladang Haji”.Continue into the farm and take the left fork right after you pass the farmer’s hut.The trail soon leads you into a patch which is lined with coconut trees.Follow this trail up.Within 20 minutes you will be able to reach the Bukit Papan peak.Unfortunately,no scenic views up here.Just a “Bird House” where swiflets build nests,which are collected for to make bird’s nest soup.Take a rest here if you want to and continue down the same way.Malangnya, on our way down it started raining really heavily.Got a good,free shower on our way down.

Image                    Bukit Papan Peak.Coconuts everywhere.
Image                     Trail Map

Training – 9 KM

Distance : 9.00 KM

Time: 49.40mins


So this time my training was in what I consider the heaven of running in Penang – The Botanic Gardens.Well I didn’t start in the Botanic Gardens but instead in the Youth Park,making a loop in the gardens.(I’m sure you Penangites don’t need directions to get to the Botanic Gardens or Youth Park.I bet you guys can drive there with your eyes closed!!)

Image                     Map

Image                Penang Youth Park.

So this time it was 9km. Got me kind of scared thinking of why I chose to do this long a training(The last I did 9 KM was in November for Tanjung Run).Well, I’m basically left with no other choice.The 17KM Penang Run 2013 is coming up and  I got to be fit for that.So 9 KM it was.

Image                      My pre-run treat 🙂

Image                    Time is always of the essence,but I never seem to appreciate it.Planned to start at 6.00pm but ended up with 6.20pm. Guys,if you don’t want to get raped by mosquitoes all over, START EARLY!!

The hardest part of the route was the steep uphill ascent in the Botanical Gardens,heading towards the resevoir. Apart from that it was mostly flat and gentle terrain.Managed to finish in 49.40 mins with a pace of 5.31min/km (Dissapointing).Anyway it was a good run in the Botanic Gardens a.k.a “The Heaven of Running”

Image                     You ran so hard so why not treat your body to a dessert? That’s exactly what I did!!


Hike:Sungai Ara To Malihom

   Sungai Ara-Relau hills are mostly privately owned farms and orchards with little natural character remaining  but still it is an interesting and pleasant hike to do. (especially so if you’ve never ventured to this part of Penang) I went for this hike with the Anak Hutan Hiking group.

   We started from a small cement road leading away right after the Sungai Ara Muniswaran Temple.If you are coming from the main Sungai Ara Road turn right after Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sungai Ara (opposite Fisherman’s Grill).Go up straight along the road and you’ll see the temple on your right. (The trail is just beside it)

ImageTrail head is at the “Start”

The trail basicly meanders through orchards and for the first half an hour or so you’ll be walking just beside the lesser known Sungai Ara waterfall stream. (Looks tempting for a dip!)

 Soon you will come to a junction with a small shed.Take a short rest here and continue along the left fork.As you keep going,the trail becomes more and more uphill. (still manageable-lah)

ImageThe path is mostly cemented.


A house along the way up.

A word of caution-keep watch for cyclist coming downhill. (You don’t wanna be hit by one of them!!)


  Map of the whole trail.

The trail is great for fruit lovers as you’ll be seeing many fruit trees along the way.(but no plucking!!) Langsat,manggis,rambutans,durians,nutmegs,passion fruit and lime just to name a few.

ImageA strange fruit along the way.Anyone can help me identify this?

ImageFor my Malayalee readers out there,I’m sure you know what this is!!Nellikka (നെല്ലിക്ക)!!

After about 1 hour 30 minutes along this trail,you’ll come to the top of a small ridge.From here the trail seems to meander down into the valley below.There will be a view of the Balik Pulau-Pulau Betong area from here.

ImagePenang’s Southern Hills.Bukit Genting,Bukit Gemuruh and Bukit Pulau Betong.

ImageView of Pulau Betong and the Straits of Malacca.

Follow the trail down.5-10 minutes after following this trail downhill you will abruptly come across a cement covered drain along the trail.Follow this.It will lead you to a well maintained cement road which leads up to Malihom. 5-10 minutes along this road with excellent views of Bukit Genting and the Pulau Betong coast,you will come to the Malihom resort entrance.(For more on Malihom please do visit their website – http://malihom.com/)

ImageAt the Malihom Entrance.

ImageAnak Hutan group.Taking a break for lunch near Malihom.

Malihom is a private estate,so hikers please don’t trespass into the compound unintentionally or make too much noise.Once you’ve enjoyed your rest at the Malihom entrance you’ve got a choice either to follow the same way down or to follow the cement road down to the new Teluk Kumbar-Balik Pulau Road. Happy hiking 🙂