One of the nicest things about running outdoors is to discover new things about familiar run routes depending on the time of day, weather and the direction one takes ‘on the run’. I have had many happy moments upon seeing something new or something pretty while running.
However, to mix it up, it’s also nice to try new run routes in my own city, outstation or overseas once in a while. This can be a once off run due to to distance or logistics or could become a new favourite run route.
The Dragonback route in Klang has fascinated me since I first heard of it shortly after starting my running adventures in 2010. For me, the name immediately conjured up images of medieval dragons, jousts and knights in shining armour. I wondered how the route got its name – hopefully there were no fire breathing dragons along the way! Experienced runner friends patiently explained that no, there were no fire breathing dragons but the route was very hilly like a dragon’s back (geddit? :D), hence its name.
It was also very far away from our base in Petaling Jaya and thus difficult for my running group to organise our own run there. I finally got my chance to run the route on 10 January 2016 after signing up on the Pacers Sport website when i saw the run advertised in August 2015. And due to my running capabilities, after hearing fearsome tales of the hilly route, I stuck to the 10K distance.
In 2016, the Dragonback Run and the MPI Generali Run were both held on the same day , Sunday 10 Jan 2016. Thus, in our running group, those interested in running that weekend had to choose between the two events. Another consideration for those considering the Dragonback run was the early start time listed for the 23KM at 5:45AM which would mean that the 15K event and the 10K event would start before 6:30AM though extrapolation. This would mean waking up around 4AM or earlier to prepare for the event allowing for morning ablutions, travel to the run location, parking and run registration before 5:45AM. A few runners in our group decided not to sign up after hearing about the hills.
In the end, only two of us signed up. Race pack collection at the Pacers sports HQ was quick once one located the office. (GPS apps are a necessity for those unfamiliar with Klang!)
Run day started with a 3AM wakeup to prepare myself for the run (much muttering about why we chose to torture ourselves this way). Then it was off to pick up Edelweiss at 4:30AM before heading up to Klang via the Federal Highway. Suffice to say that we made it in time just before the start of the 23KM run at 5:45AM. As we entered the school compound, the 23KM run was just being flagged off and both Edelweiss and I nearly jumped out of our skin at the fireworks that heralded the start. Fireworks at flag off was something new for both of us!
The 15KM run was flagged off at 6:00AM with more fireworks and then it was our turn at 6:30AM. No fireworks for us, just the normal run countdown and then we were off! Turning out of the school compound, the route led us on Jalan Paip headed towards the Jalan Bukit Cerakah (about 2KM). This first part of the route was flat and as it was dark, the landmarks that were clearly visible at this time were the Masjid Al Falah and the lighted intersection between Jalan Paip and Jalan Bukit Cerakah.
I was wondering when the hills would start and was enlightened after turning left onto Jalan Bukit Cerakah where a race official informed us that we would shortly encounter the first of the two hills for the 10K route. The first of two water stations for the 10K route would also be found after the two hills. KM 2-8 of the run was the most scenic part of the route with a U turn at KM 5 to double back to the start/end point. The second and last water station was roughly at KM 6 just before the two hills heading back.
By the time I reached the top of the first hill, dawn was breaking behind me and I had to stop to take a few photos of the scene from the top. I had a much better photo opportunity on the way back later in the morning when I took a photo from the top of the second hill where the morning light gilded the power/telephone cables on the right side of the road with a beautiful golden hue.
Just before the 5KM U-turn point, monkeys could be seen playing on the overhead cables and in the tree branches.
For me, the hills were tough – I was very glad that I had elected to do the shortest route available. It was big relief to reach KM 8 to turn right and head for the race finish line as I could count on a flat route from then on.
The organisers had promised lots of refreshments after the run and there certainly was plenty in the school canteen area. There was watermelon, bananas, pretty pink jellies, nasi lemak, fruit juices and a lot of other goodies which I didn’t manage to take note of. After meeting up with Edelweiss and stretching, we headed home.
Despite the early start, I was very glad that I completed the Dragonback Run this year – one more destination run crossed off my list of running to-dos!
Thank you to Edelweiss for being adventurous enough to join me this year. After the event, other runners in our group are interested to check out the route next year so it looks like there will be at least one more visit to the Dragonback route for me! 😉