By GUS GHANI
The majestic Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur will always hold a special place in the hearts of all Malaysians. Its historical significance and central location make it the most sought-after event venue in the nation’s capital.
As a runner, I felt proud that the Federal Ministry and KL City Hall (DBKL), had chosen to organise a running event at these hallowed grounds on the first day of 2016.
This very first KL New Year Run 2016 (KLNYR 2016) would follow 10km and 5km scenic routes through KL city centre. The slight drizzle did not bother us one bit because we were there to celebrate our twin loves for KL and running.
Beginners and winners
I was lucky enough to be selected as a Team Ultron Ambassador by the official apparel supplier together with 19 other runners. We were given a customised bright yellow running T-shirt with the slogan, “Every WINNER Was Once A Beginner”, printed boldly in the front.
My understanding of the meanings are:
1: Beginners should not be intimidated or embarrassed by their lack of running skills and experience because we all started the same way.
2: Runners should support one another.
3: Running is equal for all.
Starting from April 2015, Ultron has appointed more than 350 running ambassadors to take part in over 20 events. More ambassadors are to come (look out for announcements on the Ultron FB page.
To properly usher in the new year, I decided to ride my ElliptiGO bicycle from Subang Jaya to the race venue, and thus, make it my first Ride (34km) & Run (10km) event for 2016. Cycling to and from the race venue made for great warm-up and cool-down sessions, and moreover, I could park my bike right next to the Start Line like some big shot – how cool is that!
Everyone seems to be more cheerful and hopeful on New Year’s Day because we can erase all our problems of the last 12 months. Thereafter, with a clean slate, we can resolve to do better in the coming year.
Such renewed hopes give us a greater sense of purpose to start planning ahead. The inaugural KLNYR 2016 was a unique opportunity to give its participants a positive “running start” to the year. Indeed, the collective spirit among the 2,000 plus crowd was elevated, perhaps in anticipation of an exciting year ahead.
As soon as the clock tower struck 7.30am, the eager 10km runners made their way along Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Ampang and finally, to the familiar home stretch of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Being the first outing of the year, I was happy to run at a slow pace while engaging in idle chit-chat with fellow runners, and at other times, it felt like I was just floating above the streets, lost in my carefree thoughts.
As the finish line drew near, I kicked-up my heels to the finish line in order to complete my first run of 2016 with a flourish. As in the case of many addicted runners, the sense of satisfaction of getting out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and jump-starting the day (and the year!) with a run never fails to lift my spirits and give me that extra boost of energy.
To mark this special occasion, all finishers were rewarded with an attractive medal, a sling bag containing drinks and snacks, and a certificate. There were also winners’ hampers and lucky draw prizes.
Since it was a public holiday, everyone was feeling particularly chirpy. A big Thank You to the Federal Territories Ministry, DBKL, traffic police, Ultron, the organising crew and volunteers for successfully hosting such a memorable event.
I hope that the KLNYR will return in 2017. It’s an option worth having for bored runners like me who typically spend every New Year’s Eve sitting quietly at home.
It would be great if even more runners can experience the joy of running on New Year’s Day in the heart of KL.
Gus is the Chief Entertainment Officer of Running Toons. You can find him on Facebook at Happy Runner.