EXCITING: Participants display team spirit and determination to get through tough challenges
THEY huffed and puffed, and suffered cramps and fatigue, but were determined to cross the finish line at Balai Berita, Bangsar.
Such was the fighting spirit displayed by participants of the New Straits Times Streets Race on Sunday. The more than 500 participants of the race also showed great team spirit as they helped their teammates through the more gruelling challenges of the 13 checkpoints.
The teams of four included teams of soldiers, college students, siblings, office executives and fitness enthusiasts.
Organised by the New Straits Times in collaboration with Original Bootcamp, participants raced on foot and used the light rail transit (LRT) and monorail to get from one checkpoint to another.
The inaugural race kicked off at 7.45am when teams had to solve five riddles to get their next clue at Bangsar Village 1.
At the shopping mall's open-air car park, the teams had to make balls out of rubber bands before throwing them into plastic cups.
Some teams had lucky first tries, and hurried off to SJK (Tamil) Bangsar for their next challenge.
To their relief, many found the next challenge of looking for paper clips in bags of sand a breeze.
"That was the easiest task so far compared with the first challenge of riddles," said Irfan Izzat Ahmad, who was participating in such a run for the first time with his Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology classmates.
At this early stage of the race, the teams were moving swiftly, but pressure began to rise as they rushed off to the Bangsar LRT station for their next challenge where they had to name three interchange stations.
Muhammad Amir Hamzah, who came all the way from Ipoh to join the race, said his team almost got lost on its way to the Bangsar LRT station.
"We had to ask directions from people to get to the LRT station, as we were not familiar with the area. It is challenging to travel around KL, but it's worth the effort as we get to know the city better," said Amir, who teamed up with his two sisters and a friend.
The race from one checkpoint to another soon took its toll on many participants who began to suffer leg cramps.
"I was running to the Bukit Bintang checkpoint when suddenly I felt a muscle pull in my right leg. It was so painful that I had to be helped by my teammates and first-aid personnel," said Khairul Rijal Mohd Dahlan.
Other challenges included solving a Sudoku puzzle and carrying a sandbag weighing 20kg, 16kg, 12kg, 8kg and 4kg to the last four checkpoints.
Which bag they had to carry depended on how fast they were. By giving the lighter bags to slower teams, the race gave equal opportunity for everyone to catch up and get back into the race.
Persistence was what participants needed in the 10th challenge as they were tested by two mental and physical challenges at Padang Merbok.
The first task saw the teams struggling in a nut-stacker challenge, where they had to stack six hexagon nuts into a single, free-standing tower using a stick, and later re-position the nuts without collapsing them.
The tough part was stacking while standing, with one team member holding the plate as the base. Each failed attempt forced the team to start all over again. Some teams spent half an hour stacking the nuts.
After completing the first task, the teams continued with the second one, which was more physically challenging as they had to flip a tractor tyre weighing over 150kg.
Exhausted, the teams worked together to flip the heavy tyres with shouts of "one, two, three" filling the air.
International Islamic University Malaysia undergraduate Muhammad Faris Zainudin said the nut-stacker challenge was the most time time-consuming task.
"Carrying a 20kg sandbag in the earlier task had left us with unsteady hands, and this was the main problem in stacking the nuts. We spent 10 minutes to balance them," said the architectural student.
He added that he did not expect the NST Streets Race to involve physical challenges.
"I thought it was only a race around the city. The tasks were quite impressive as we had to come out with our own strategy to execute them, something which was physically and mentally demanding," said Faris, who teamed up with his classmates.
The second last checkpoint turned out to be the toughest for most. At the Kuala Lumpur City Hall Sports Club field in Brickfields, the exhausted participants had to complete a mini military obstacle course in which they had to dash across tyres, crawl under a net, jump over barrels, crawl on a bed of ice, climb over a wall, a pile of giant tyres and a flight of "stairs".
Team 80, comprising soldiers Muhammad Leslie Jirin, 30, Mohd Azril Ishak, 26, Mohammad Fariszul Syauqie Ismail, 27, and Anthony Abong, 34, was the first to arrive at 11.30am, thus winning the race and the prize of RM10,000.
Despite being used to physical exertions, the challenge was no walk in the park for the team members. In fact, when one of their members almost passed out.
Second place was won by Team 18, comprising Hashida Lee, 36, Sunil Bangah, 36, Eugene Tham, 35, and Dzul Aminuddin, 41. They won RM8,000.
Team 90 comprising Mohamad Azarul Azuan Omar, 24, Mohd Noor Izman Jaliun, 28, Mohd Faiz Kamaruzzaman, 28, and Sahaidi Abd Raof, 33, won third place and bagged RM5,000.
Ten consolation prizes of RM1,000 were also given out, as well as lucky draw prizes, including hotel stays at international destinations.
They received their prizes from New Straits Times (NST) group editor Datuk Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd general manager (marketing) Putri Shireen Syed Othman, NST Streets associate editor Chan Cheng Tuan and Original Bootcamp co-founder Selva Kumar.
The sponsors for the race include Kosmopolito Hotels International, Holiday Villa Hotels and Resorts, Sunway Putra Hotel KL, Sunway Pyramid, The Gardens Hotel & Residences, Red Army Watches, Resorts World Genting, Avon Cosmetics (M) Sdn Bhd, Mid Valley City, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Tune Money, Starbucks, Banana Boat skin care, Nature Valley and Heinz products. Additional reporting by Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi