The writer (right) with her husband Huzaini Zainal (left) who ran the half marathon and their friends, Sheikh Omar (second from left) and Fazlim Mohammad at the SCKLM 2017 last Sunday.

For many local runners, the annual Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon is a must-go annual event, whether it’s for trying a new distance or to meet up with new and old running friends.

LAST Sunday, I toed the starting line of the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon at 4am with about 8,000 other full marathoners. It took me a few minutes to clear the starting line mat. The FM crowd is building in numbers year after year.

Running in the city is not easy for me, especially with the hot and humid condition. But SCKLM is the biggest running event in the country, and if you don’t join any other race, you should at least, for the fun and atmosphere, sign up for this.

It’s a huge event for most runners. How huge? Well, this year, some 36,000 runners took part in various distances, from the 42km full marathon to the 5km fun run. Some 1,700 tourists were here to race on that hot and humid Sunday.

But the heat was mitigated, thanks to the generously located water stations; the first was at the KM4 mark while the rest were at 2km intervals. I made sure I was well hydrated all the way.

There was a mobile surau for Muslim runners along the route to perform their Subuh prayer. Two water stations had energy gels and another two provided bananas for runners to replenish their electrolytes and energy. There were timing mats placed at every 5km intervals and others could track your progress through the SCKLM 2017 app. I love this feature and it also enabled me to immediately look at my splits after the race.

A recent addition since last year was the checkpoints for full marathoners, apart from the 7-hour cut-off time.

With fellow runner Afzal Amran at the KM21 sign.

The full marathon route saw us running not only through the city but also on two highways along the Ampang Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway and Duke Highway. It was fun to pass through toll booths and not needing to pay! Just for the day, both highways were fully closed to traffic, with runners having full control of the route!

I had not set any target for SCKLM this year although I initially wanted to beat my personal record of 5:43 which I set at River Jungle Marathon. But with lack of mileage, I had to drop my earlier plan to follow the 5:30 pacers.

What made the run bearable this time, despite my struggle against the humidity were the friends, who chatted with me along the route. There were always words of encouragement, even from strangers. But then again, runners don’t stay strangers for long. And that’s what I love about running.

Unfortunately, before I reached KM29, even the 6:30 pacers had passed me. One of the pacers, Evelyn, hollered my name and I could even hear her words of encouragement and strategy to those who were following her. She’s so petite but boy, can she shout.

A friend waited for me at Jalan Langgak Tunku and offered a variety of drink options. He didn’t run this year but still came to support SCKLM runners.

I had hoped for rain but it only drizzled a bit at around the KM32 mark and we didn’t really get soaked. Weather-wise, it was a good day for runners and the sun spared us today. There were two stations that provided water mists to help runners cool down and I went through both. There were other running groups who came to support along the way and it sure boosted my spirit.

The best part about SCKLM is the festive atmosphere at the finish line. A friend once said that SCKLM is like a Hari Raya gathering for runners. That’s what I saw running towards the final kilometre of the run.

With 500m to finish, I saw participants who had finished and friends who came to support lining both sides of the road to cheer on the runners. It was exhilarating and emotional. Despite feeling fatigue, I sported a huge grin and ran, boosted by the cheers. The icing on the cake was seeing my husband waiting for me at the finish line.

He had finished his half marathon much earlier and was patiently waiting for me. He has always been a staunch supporter of my running and I am always grateful for that.

Despite a bad timing, I was glad I managed to finish my run. There were a few times I was tempted to board the sweeper bus but thankfully, I made it all the way. In front of the 7-hour pacers!

Then it was off to collect my finisher goodies, drinks, fruits, medal and finisher tee. The lines were orderly and we didn’t have to queue for long. Afterwards, it was time to meet friends who had finished earlier and take plenty of selfies and to congratulate each other for finishing our run.

SCKLM has always been the not-to-be missed event and I will certainly return next year. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the organisers, crew, volunteers and friends for a well-organised run last Sunday.

I had done two half marathons and two full marathons at SCKLM so maybe, I’ll just do a 10K next year?

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