“Jaguh kampung”*

*for my non-Malaysian readers, “jaguh kampung” can be loosely translated as a homeground winner

When was the last time you get to know your own community? Some prefer to mingle through volunteering, such as through recycling programmes or “gotong royong”. Others like to invite their neighbours over during festivities. For me, I like to get to know my community doing what I love the most: running. Last Sunday I decided to join a 10K run around my neighbourhood in a small-scale event. What better way to know my neighbours than to run with them? There was no fancy sponsors and organizers – it was supported by the Residence Association and the local city council (MBSA), with prizes and goodies mostly contributed by neighbourhood shops and local businesses.

As it was a simple event, there were not many participants. From my rough estimation, there were less than 100 women for all categories: 10km, 7km, and 3km. There were also 3 Kenyans only (no point trying to outrun them, my short Asian feet will never be able to keep up!). The route was also my regular running route – I knew every turn, elevation, and landmark by heart. Based on these parameters, I concluded that my chances to finish in the top 5 for the Open Women category was pretty high.

Very early in the race (at about 1km) I was overtaken by the Kenyans. I let them take the lead, for I know I will not be able to match their 4:00 – 5:00min/km pace. As you might have read from my previous running posts, I am not a fast runner. I maintained my regular pace of 6:30 – 7:00min/km for the first half of the race, however I was leading among the women after the Kenyans and about 20 male participants. I can see a few other female runners just right behind me a few hundred meters away. They eventually dropped out and started to walk. After securing that no female runner could overtake me, I got comfortable and complacent, so my pace slowed to about 7:30-8:00min/km. I cruised away until the finishing line and finished in 2nd place for the 10km Open Women category.

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From right: The Champion, The Runner Up, and The Second Runner Up

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Despite the small-scale event, it was surprisingly well-organized. With the exception of a few hiccups during the bib and t-shirt collection, the event went smoothly. They did not compromise on safety; police, RELA, and the ambulance were patrolling along the route. The direction and distance markers were clear, and at every water station there were enough water and even bananas. I wished that there were timing chips and the medal design could be improved, but since the registration was pretty cheap at RM45, the price point matches the quality of the event.

I was happy that I managed to finish in 2nd place but I was more happy when I see participants having fun and enjoying themselves while getting to know each other in this event. In conclusion, we should always support our local community and contribute back in whatever way we can, no matter how small the event might sound or how insignificant our efforts might be.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

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