Runners Took Over E10 At IJM Allianz NPE Highway Challenge
After PJ Half Marathon in mid-Jul, followed by SCORE Run Day Edition last week, I was back to running in a road race at the IJM Allianz NPE Highway Challenge.
The run was a series of two runs; the first in the series was the BESRAYA Highway Challenge held on Apr 29th, 2018 and the second was the NPE Highway Challenge held last Sunday on July 29th, 2018.
|Photo from IJMHighwayRun website|
I ran in the 13K category for BESRAYA Highway Challenge and did 21K in NPE Highway Challenge. There was a special package for runners who signed up for both events (13K at BESRAYA and 21K at NPE) and we got to register at a special rate for the two combined categories plus during NPE Highway Challenge REPC (race kit collection), we got a special stand for our combo medals and also an upgrade from a drawstring bag to a dry bag. Cool!
The 21K category was flagged off atwhich was around 15min before Subuh prayers. Some runners had made inquiries about the location of surau (or mobile surau) beforehand and the NPE Highway Challenge Facebook admin had assured us that there will be signages to point to the suraus. Interestingly, the only signage I saw of a surau was located at KM18(!) at Toll Plaza PJS 5 so I sure hope that wasn’t the one the admin was talking about. Anyhoo, more on that later.
IJM Allianz NPE Highway Challenge saw a crowd of 9,000 runners joining in all categories: 21K and 10K and the crowd for the 21K was BIG!
Flag-off was at(my watch) and I waited for a few minutes outside the pen area before joining the rest of the 21K runners and it took me 3 minutes to cross the Start Line timing mat. Yes, the 21K crowd was quite impressive.
Compared to BESRAYA Highway Challenge where it was rather packed at the start and I find it hard to run in the first 2K of the route, NPE Highway Challenge was much better. So much better.
It helped that it was a 3 to 4 lanes highway that was fully closed for us runners so there was ample space for everyone.
Marshalls on rollerblades made their rounds (so cool!) as did medic on motorbikes and ambulances were seen driving past with emergency case(s). There were medic stationed along the route too. Not forgetting the cheerleaders at the tunnel at the first 1K and last 1K of the run.
Distance markers were placed at 1K intervals. The first water station was located at KM3.5 and subsequent ones were located about 2.5K apart. Signages were also available to alert us that we were approaching a water station and they were placed 500m in front of each water stations.
|Final water station|
Most of the water stations seemed to be able to cope with runners except the first water station. When I approached it, the volunteers could barely cope with the number of incoming runners, so I took over one bottle, helped “susun” some cups and poured drinks to other runners before joining the run again. I have to give special mention to the water station volunteers at KM13 (if not mistaken). They came with their own cheerleading squad!
There were a few mobile toilets located along the route and runners could use the toilets at the toll plaza (at Toll Plaza PJS2 for instance) and a mobile surau located at KM8 but runners had to dart to cross to the opposite side of the highway to get to it. Lucky highway fully closed, right? There was a nice construction site surau located farther ahead at around KM10 when we entered Pantai Sentral Park, near the ICE Gallery.
There was a sponge station at the ICE Gallery and ta few hundred metres ahead at KM10 water station, bananas were served. The cold sponge were heavenly but I decided to skip the bananas as they still look kinda green.
One would think that running on an elevated section of a highway is boring but I really did like the NPE Highway Challenge route.
Running past all the toll plazas and a fully closed highway just for us runners for the morning were already a novelty, together with interesting sights to see (apartment buildings, KL tower in the far background), Klang river flowing by; and all seen from up above and not on ground level made for a nice run for me. With a nice breeze and a somewhat overcast morning, it was really a good run for me.
We merged with the 10K runners at their u-turn point at around 16K mark and my initial worry about congestion on both the route and water stations had proven unfounded.
Plenty of space to run for both us 21K and 10K runners even though plenty of us had resorted to walk breaks at this point. Water stations crew were cheerful and plenty of mineral water and 100-Plus Edge to drink. Oh yes, they served chilled water at the water stations! Heaven!
I hadn’t been running much lately (one run a week doesn’t count much) so I took it easy this time. And I truly enjoyed my run, much better compared to last week’s SCORE Run Day edition.
Finish line management was great. We crossed the Finish Line, got our bib ticked, given our medal then seamlessly got into the queue for a packet of sandwiches, took a bottle of mineral water, avoided the rather green looking bananas and then for 100-Plus. It was good that the crowd just kept moving and we claimed our refreshments pack as we exited the area and into the race village.
Then I just followed the crowd for Milo and Nestle cereal at the race village completely forgetting that I also earned a Finisher tee for finishing my 21K run.
The FInisher Tee tent was located at the farther end to avoid congestion immediately at the finish line, I guess. Luckily as I followed the crowd, I saw the tent and made my way to collect mine. It was really fast and then I joined the queue for more refreshments! There was even popcorns for us!
And some games booth too but I just zeroed in the food tents.
Met up some friends, both local and overseas (thanks Ben for saying hi!), met up with the NPE Highway Challenge awesomely friendly PR people, drank copious amount of Milo and Teh Tarik before finally making our way home.
It was truly a fun morning and I can’t wait to join the run again next year. A friend had commented that maybe we should suggest IJM do a special 30K category next time. Now, that isn’t such a bad idea, right? Hehehe
Some photos taken by Hubby can be viewed at our Cik Arnab and En Kura-Kura Facebook page. Do LIKE and FOLLOW us for more race photos and updates in the future. We may even have giveaways and race entry discounts too!