I went for my first race for 2014 this morning, it was the Dragon Back Run organized by Pacers Sport. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term Dragon Back, it’s the nickname for a long (about 5 to 6 KM) stretch of palm oil estate-lined road off Jalan Paip in Meru, Klang. The name comes from the fact that although essentially a straight road, it’s pretty hilly with 4 big climbs and several small ones, resembling the proverbial (Chinese) dragon’s back.
The category I was running in this morning was the 23KM Men’s Open. We were flagged off at about 5.50-ish a.m. at a school, the Sekolah Kebangsaan Meru 2 which was a short way off from the junction to the Dragon Back and the start came complete with a fireworks display! The choice of having a school as the starting point was pretty interesting, and I’ll touch on that a little later.
Instead of turning into the Dragon Back at the start of the race, we were directed straight on to the 2nd traffic light and to a left turn that led us into Jalan Batu Arang. This is one of the main arteries in the area road-wise, and at 6 in the morning there were some big lorries going about their business. The stretch here was dark with no street lamps, although some runners had head lamps for illumination. Since the race organizers decided to save us the torture of the actual Dragon Back at the final stretch of the race, I decided to go slow at the start of the race.
It was an astute choice considering that Jalan Batu Arang was actually quite hilly, comparable to the actual Dragon Back itself. I count a total of 5 climbs in this 8 kilometer stretch, all the way to the junction which we had to turn left into Puncak Alam. I had a gel at this point. The Puncak Alam stretch, otherwise known as Jalan Meru Tambahan, to the junction to the Dragon Back was the only part of the race which featured a substantial amount of flat surface, but things got a bit hilly as we approach the Dragon Back.
The Dragon Back greeted us with a steep climb right at the entrance (kilometer 16) and while I managed to run up this tough customer and the following 2 hills, I walked the final two climbs. My Garmin FR10 was already flashing a low battery warning sign at the entrance of the Dragon Back but it had enough juice for the remainder of the race. The lesson here is to always charge the watch before any race.
The finish line was back at Sekolah Kebangsaan Meru 2 and I finished with a time of 2 hours 37 minutes and a total distance of 23.45 kilometers. That’s not bad for a really hilly race. The school turn out to be a pretty good venue for the race, the toilets were pretty easy to find and the canteen played host to a lot of food provided to the runners which included nasi lemak, fried kuey tiao, curry puffs, watermelon slices, porridge, kuih and drinks by sponsors Vico and 100 Plus.
This year’s edition of the Dragon Back Run marked the debut of the 23 KM category. The original 15 KM run was retained as well for this year and participants for that distance had to run the Dragon Back twice. There were plenty of plus points for this event, mainly a challenging route, plenty of water stations, a good start/finish venue with plenty of food/facilities and nice finisher goodies (check out the picture of my daughter with the finisher medal). The fact that it’s nearby my home is a bonus. There is also room for improvement, the race can use an upgrade to timing chips, more RELA and medical volunteers as well as illuminated traffic safety cones for those really dark stretches of road. After all, the entry fee is pretty premium at RM 78.
I would probably join next year’s edition. All I need to do now is complete a marathon with the FR10 (which I just gotten recently) but since it only has a battery life of 5 hours, I’ll need a repeat of my 2012 SCKLM PR (or better) to complete my set of PRs on Garmin Connect.