Off- road running
Some people prefer the added adrenaline of running through rough trails and muddy rivers.
I was invited to the inaugural Semenyih Eco Trail Run at the hot springs of Sungai Lalang ( near Semenyih, Selangor) which is only an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. The idea of trail running through natural greenery and getting away from the everyday concrete jungle of the city sounded very appealing to me.
Without the help of GPS, I headed to Cheras and Kajang ( south of KL), before reaching Semenyih town where I turned- off unto the quiet back road of Jalan Sungai Lalang. About 5km from the main intersection, I reached the race venue which was essentially a hot spring recreational area which had been converted to our event venue in that cool morning.
There were about 300 runners for the 16km category, and around 500 runners for the 7km route. There was a pre- race warm- up and stretching session for the runners – which was a good way to shake off any muscle stiffness and rev up the body’s engine.
100% Off- road
At 7.30am sharp, the first group of 300 eager runners were flagged off amidst fresh, cool morning dew. Although, I had no clue exactly what stood between me and the finish line, I was nevertheless thrilled at the prospect of running in such natural surroundings and filling up my lungs with fresh air.
The terrain underfoot was a variation of grass, dirt and gravel. We ran through shaded oil palm and rubber estates, as well as along fruit orchards and small rivers.
These well kept trails were normally used by the estate and farm workers. At times, we ran along the wider dirt tracks which were used by trucks to ferry workers, equipment and harvested fruits.
The hilly route tested the fitness levels of the runners when climbing. The downhill portion favoured runners who could withstand the additional strains on the knee joints as they bombed down the hills.
The last hurdle was a river crossing situated 100 metres from the finish line. Although the water was only ankle deep, the slippery and muddy embankment added a final challenge for the weary runners.
According to the official Seiko timing system, the average finishing time for the 16km was around two hours.
Upon crossing the finish arch, every runner was given a medal, and we waited in line for our delicious egg sandwiches, donuts, bananas, watermelons and cold drinks.
Some runners were wading in the hot springs as they rested and waited for the lucky draw ceremony. Afterwards, trophies and prizes were given away to the top five runners in the various categories ( Men, Women and Veteran) for both the 16km and 7km distances.
In summary, the race organiser Inno-tex Sports Management did a great job looking after the welfare of all the runners from start to finish with adequate course marshalling, sufficient water and isotonic drinks stations.
The chosen trails were well mapped out and gave the runners an exciting all- terrain challenge. The bonus was the beautiful countryside backdrop not far from the city.
there’s added thrill when running through rivers and then trying to clamber back up slippery, muddy slopes.
1 One of the running groups which came early to tackle the trails.
the flag off for the 16km run was held amidst the cool, misty hills of Semenyih, Selangor.