Shape Night Run ’15 – April 11, 2015

Great event that I finished in 47min:17sec for the official 11.2km (self measured 11.37km) resulting in an average pace of 4:10. Managed to grab a top 10 position with my 9th place in the Men’s Junior Veteran category. Here the details …

Glorious come back of the legendary night run organized by publishing house BlueInc. Until 2013 this race was known as the Men’s Health Run / Shape Run. Then the Men’s Health magazine was sold to another publisher, resulting in no such race in 2014. This year then the come back of the Men’s Health Run under the new publisher two weeks ago. I missed it but what I heard it didn’t have the glamour as this run.

The Shape Run 2015 continued its legacy of giving generous prizes to the top 10 runners, while allowing plenty of categories. This year 6 categories were offered, Women’s Open, Men’s Open, Women’s Veteran (age 40 and above), Men’s Junior Veteran (age 40 and above), Men’s Senior Veteran (age 50 and above) and Team Category. The prizes are all in the range of thousands of Ringgit and consist mostly of products and vouchers, except the top 3 in each category getting some cash as well.

Since my first start in this race in 2012 I always made it under the top 10. This year I was really not sure. I struggled with an injury in January spoiling my good fitness at that time. Then when I slowly came back the injury hit me again beginning of February but luckily only a few days. Since then I have been training more consistent, introducing 2 quality sessions (intervals and hills mainly) every week for the last 4 weeks. I was certainly getting fitter but fit enough to make it to the top 10 again?

I knew that some stronger runners wouldn’t run in my category, such as Moey who promoted to Senior Veteran’s and Mark and Jeff who ran in the Team category. That helped a bit but due to its generous prizes this race attracts the fastest runners this country offers. Anyway, due to my only recent consistent training my fitness level is only at maybe 80% of where I was in December 2013, having been at my peak so far.

My main target was to benchmark my running after more than 2 months of absence from racing. Next week I plan to run the Half Marathon at the 3R event in Putrajaya and I fancy a finishing time there of 1h:35min, which meant that I had to run the 11.2km of the Shape Run with a pace of around 4min:20sec (see pace calculator at mcmillanrunning.com). With this thoughts and excitement I drove to Putrajaya.

The event area was setup as the years before with competitive and fun run having its own start/finish area and arch, separated by the event village where sponsors promoted their products and with the functional tents such as baggage counter, goodie bag counter, etc.

Nicely in time I started my warm-up. Met and said hi to a number of running friends I haven’t seen for months. Then it started to rain. It got stronger and stronger, so we had to seek cover at one of the buildings. There, lightning and thunder started as well just around 45 minutes before the planned flag off time. Everybody was still confident the race was on with sufficient time for the lightning to stop, which is a No Go to run, due to its risk of being struck by lightning. Rain was very strong at times and 8pm approached, the race couldn’t start. We waited more, the lightning seemed to stop, only to flash super bright again in the dark sky.

Argh, don’t tell me this race will be called off. I was so keen, so motivated, so excited, so much in need to run!

An official came and informed us that if by 8:30pm the lightning hasn’t stopped the race would be cancelled. Goodie bags and finisher medal could be collected nevertheless. 8:30pm! The rain subsided, still occassional ligthning and far roaring thunder. What would the officials decide? If that run is cancelled my family had to bear with a super grumpy Daddy for the rest of the weekend – don’t let that happen!

With many other runners I queued at the entry of the starting pen, showing the officials WE WANT TO RUN! 8:30pm past already. Every few minutes you could still see impressive lightning in the sky. I worried this makes the organizer scared to allow the race. Minutes past, I waited in agony.

Then the music started and the MC announced the race was ON! Yes! Thank you, thank you! We were allowed to move to the starting line. Flag off was done swiftly and by 8:43pm thousands of happy runners hit the streets of Putrajaya.

The concern now was that there was no time to warm up. A risk for injuries, pulling muscles or slip on the soaked floor. Nevertheless I started faster than I hoped to. I intended to start moderately at a pace of maybe 4:10 to not risk my targeted average pace of 4:20 by tiring me out too early. Instead I sped off with a pace of 3:50 for the first km. Km 3 and 4 I still managed at 4:05 before further slowing down to my actual target pace of around 4:20.

Plenty of water stations were provided and I still utilized them, even though it was still cool from the rain. That helped me mentally, allowing my usual routine of hydration, only the quantities of water and isotonic drink were less.

Soon the first check point was reached. It was at the half of the race. Good stuff, I were able to maintain a pace around and just below 4:20. There were hardly people around me but good quality runners. One lady from the Skechers team I think and one male runner from the Singaporean F1 Runners. We exchanged positions and paced each other along the way. It was great fun to run like that.

The km markers passed I still had my targeted pace. I knew I had a lot of time buffer from my very fast first 4 km, so could afford a slower pace later but not yet.

Then the marker indicating the last 2km. Wow, I still maintained a good pace despite some inclination at flyovers along the way. After an U-Turn the finish line couldn’t be far anymore. The route now was new to me, so couldn’t estimate how long it actually would still take.

With the “1 km to go” indicator I pushed a bit more, not knowing that this marker was put wrong. It was more than 1 km to go and I risked to run out of fuel. Then finally the right turn towards the finishing line. This is a part I dislike especially Putrajaya. After normally gruesome hilly and boring highway routes they make you run on a straight stretch towards the finish line. On that stretch I usually think to be in a nightmare, wanting to move but not being able to move.

I heard a runner approaching behind me. Seriously? A running battle now? OK! Let’s do it. I increased my pace over the last few hundreds of meters to a pace below 3:30, which dusted the runner behind me (didn’t turn around, so don’t know who it was).

Happy to receive a placing card at the finish line, showing that I finished 9th in my category. Good, especially the Skechers running shoe voucher was very interesting, with Skechers running shoes being one of my favourites. I was even more happy looking at my watch, I finished with an average pace of 4:09! I exceeded my expectations/hope by 10 seconds a km! The 1h:35min at the Half Marathon next week are in reach – Awesome.

In terms of organization and managing the issue with the harsh weather conditions the race was one of the best I have run so far. Big big thank you and well done to the organizers, volunteers/marshalls and police men that made this possible.

Certainly a tough call to still flag off despite the visible (far away though) lightning. Not sure what I had done as Race Director  in this situation, when runners safety is of utmost importance and priority.

From my perspective this event was flawless. I received my race pack complete with bib, running chip, event information and vest 2 weeks earlier via courier (an option you could choose during registration). The setup of the event area was as good as in previous years and prizes were given out very fast after the event, minimizing the waiting time for winners. Especially this prize giving was a problem in previous years, when I had to wait for more than an hour until the final results were out.

Really fantastic event. In terms of professionalism on par with last year 2XU Compression Run in KL.

Well done all! will be back next year, then hopefully a minute or two faster to still have a chance for the top 10.

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