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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \"blustery\" wasn\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

 

Media Release – Record International Entries For 38th Annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Saturday 25 June

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon continues to grow as a major sports tourism event for Queensland with a record number of runners from overseas set to hit our shores next week, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones announced today.

With a week until entries close, more than 3,250 runners from 59 overseas countries are registered for the 38thGold Coast Airport Marathon to be held on 2-3 July.

“Attracting a record number of visiting runners from overseas is a great outcome for the Gold Coast,” said Ms Jones.

“Events like the Gold Coast Airport Marathon showcase the Gold Coast to international visitors and to overseas markets.

“Since the marathon was accredited with an IAAF Road Race Gold Label in 2014, there has been even greater interest from elite and recreational runners.

“The event is expected to attract more than 7,000 international visitors to the Gold Coast, which will be a great boost for local tourism operators.”

Ms Jones highlighted the growth from emerging markets such as Greater China and South East Asia as the main reason for the record international numbers.

This year also marks the first year of the landmark agreement between leading Chinese sports media company Sina Sports and Events Management Queensland.

“China represents a huge marketing opportunity for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon moving forward,” said Ms Jones.

“We had one participant from China in 2010 and we are closing in on 300 this year. There is also record participation from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Japan continues to provide the most number of visiting runners as it has for nearly two decades and New Zealand will also go close to a record number.

“It is a really exciting time for the event as it continues to grow in popularity as a destination marathon.”

Ms Jones said the global media exposure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon now receives has provided a significant boost to the profile of the event and to the Gold Coast.

“Television coverage of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon last year generated 1,500 hours of air time with a potential reach into 850 million households across 129 countries,” Ms Jones said.

“Adding to this is a live stream of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon available around the world and our ability to engage with a global audience on social media.

“Not only are media partnerships raising the profile of the marathon, but also of the Gold Coast as a destination for international visitors.

“We will also host more than 50 media representatives from Japan, Greater China and South East Asia this year, generating further interest.”

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is organised by Events Management Queensland, a major event management company wholly owned by the Queensland Government as part of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Events Management Queensland Chairman Kerry Watson said he was delighted with the growing interest in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon from overseas.

“The participation numbers we attract from overseas markets is the result of long-term marketing strategies in collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, Gold Coast Airport, City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Tourism and major sponsors.

“We take a long-term view with our marketing and what we do today is laying the platform for even more visitors to come and experience the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in future years.

“The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has created another significant focus on this destination, and we plan to ensure the Gold Coast Airport Marathon adds value to that focus on the Gold Coast for many years after.”

This year’s 38th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July. Entries for all races on the program close on Friday 1 July.

For more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au

For information contact:

Stephen Lock, Media Consultant, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9811 Mobile: 0408 124 694 Email: stephen@goldcoastevents.com.au   

Jacob Bush, Marketing Executive, Events Management Queensland
Phone: 07 5668 9801 Mobile: 0448 188 927 Email: jacob@goldcoastevents.com.au

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphone Review

In all of my reviews on earbuds and earphones, I’ve always emphasized on the importance of exercising safety when considering running outdoors to music. I’ve my personal safety protocol when it comes to running with earbuds plugged in.

Music continues to feature in many of my runs these days, more so these days having moved nearly half of my weekday sessions to 5:30am. On double days, I alternate between the outdoors and the treadmill. Without some kind of diversion, I wouldn’t be able to get through the miles without losing my sanity!

When I read about a new sports headphones to hit the Malaysian shores recently that focuses on safety, my interest was piqued. Relying on bone-conduction, the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium (ATT) lets you listen through teeny vibrations generated by patented transducers which are then conducted to the wearer’s inner ear by way of the cheekbones. As you can guess, that method leaves the ear canals uncovered, all the better to allow the wearer retain a fantastic level of situational awareness. I’ve put the gear to test and came away pretty impressed. There are some compelling pluses and some areas which can be improved, so let’s get to it.

Where are the earphones? I was listening to music when I took this shot. :D

The ATT comes in a medium-sized box and inside is where you’ll find a zippered soft carry case, a QRG (Quick Reference Guide), a pair of foam earplugs, a pair of silicone FitBand (should you require a snugger fit), a micro USB cable, and a small 2-year warranty card with online registration. The earphones itself is made of flexible titanium encased in silicone sleeve so you can confidently handle the device with confidence. The micro USB charging port is located under the rubber seal and 45-minute charge from a PC topped up the juice – charge indicator will change from red to blue. The unit probably still had a good amount of juice left hence the shorter than the published period of 90 minutes.

Micro USB port for charging.

Blue = fully charged!

The Volume Up button doubles up as the power button as well and the wearer will be greeted by a female voice prompt. The first pairing was with my iPhone which was very easily and quickly done.

Pairing was very easily done.

Bluetooth and battery level indicator are displayed on the phone.

From then on, it was a matter of getting acquainted with the unique listening experience. Unique because with the other earbuds, surrounding sounds are always blocked out, allowing for an immersive musical experience. With the AfterShokz, you get to hear everything from the sound of the photocopier, colleagues chatting and of course, your music. Audio quality (AQ) is a mixed bag. On paper, the frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20KHz, which isn’t the most dynamic in the market. Given that the Trekz Titanium adopts an open-ear concept, the music will always lose the low-ends. If you’re looking for thumping bass, the ATT will not impress. However, the mids and highs were surprisingly open and presented with great clarity. The AQ will vary by wearer due to anatomical differences, sensitivity to frequencies and how one positions the device. You do have the option to stick the 2 foam plugs in to block off the outside noise resulting in AQ changes – bass levels are immediately boosted, ideal for casual listening when not working out.

A point worth noting is that there’s a little sensation of vibration when music is being played depending on how loud you’ve set the volume. It isn’t uncomfortable but I thought it’s something I should mention.

Sweating profusely but the ATT still held on nicely.

With the indoor listening out of the way, it was time to take the ATT outdoors. Since I dislike lugging my phone when I run, I paired the headphones to the iPod Nano 7th Gen. To pair the ATT to another device, just hold down the power button to put it back into search mode. The Bluetooth pairing was quicker than my Garmin in acquiring a sat lock, so it was a very quick affair as well.

Again, there was practically no bounce from the ATT, even when the pace picked up. I was able to detect all ambient sounds, passing traffic, approaching vehicles from behind and to even engage in a conversation. It was as if I was running to background music rather than an in-your-face experience. If anything, I found toggling the volume to be a rather fastidious affair, finding it hard to engage the correct buttons.

The ATT fits over the ear and the transducers rest just in front of your ear, on your cheekbone. Looking at the Trekz Titanium’s band, I thought that the headphones will bounce a fair bit as I run but none of that happened. Well, I’m pleased to report that I thought wrong. The fit was secure from the get-go. Changing of the tracks were easily done with the multi-function button on the left earpiece. Double-tapping it will advance to the next track while triple-tapping it will reverse the selection. Pausing requires a single tap as is taking a call (which I separately tested at home) via 2 noise-canceling mics located at the tip of both earpieces.

Techies will be interested in the spec sheet below:

 

So the AfterShokz has surprised me. Granted, one shouldn’t expect ground-shaking audiophile quality music (even though the mids and highs are pretty sweet) out of it but as workout headphones with a strong emphasis on safety, it performs as described. A few friends and I remarked that it would be nice if a 4GB flash memory for music storage can be incorporated into the left earpiece so that there’s no need to carry around another MP3 player or phone.

Pluses:

  • Excellent situational awareness.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Good fit with no bounce.
  • Very easy to connect.
  • Voice prompt.
  • IP55 sweat-resistance.
  • 6-hour battery life should accommodate most training runs.
  • Open mids and highs.
  • Reasonable pricing for a pair of Bluetooth earphones.

Can Be Improved:

  • No internal flash storage.
  • Weak low end
  • Access to volume controls needed some getting used to.

Word of caution: Regardless of the earphone design, please be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium is distributed by Distexpress (M) Sdn Bhd and retails for RM499. is available at TheMarathonShop outlets.

Disclosure: The product was made available for my use as an AfterShokz Ambassador.

A Prolonged Case Of The Pee-Eff

This file is made available under the Creative Commons

The last 4 months have proven to be a testing period for me, running-wise. Hardly a run went by without some level of discomfort and pain as a result of a prolonged bout of PF. I’ve not sought external consultation and treatment but I suspected that the flare-up was caused by a session in a racing flat early in the year. Per standard PF symptoms, the pain centered around the heel and arch areas of my right foot but unlike the usual cases, the pain can strike at anytime of the day, even when I was seated or in bed.

I’ve been blessed with staying injury-free for as long as I’ve been running (since the early ’90s!) by exercising caution and not hesitating in taking a couple of days off if I don’t feel right, so this was downright annoying. As a result, I’d been training sub-par, laying off nearly all speedwork and hillwork, and also limiting my time in 4mm-drop shoes. The Saucony Ride 8 became my go-to training shoes and I even ran Kasumigaura Marathon in the 8mm Breakthru. When I needed a bit of pace, I relied on the Zealot (while 4mm, it afforded a cushy ride).

Then a couple of days’ ago, the pain disappeared. It was literally a heavy day with strength training sandwiched between 2 runs. The discomfort, still present and noticeable, wasn’t as pronounced in the morning right up to the early evening. However, as I cleared each mile, I suddenly realized that there was no pain in the area. A little apprehensive, I waited a week to see if the condition stayed the same or if the pain would recur.

Now that the monitoring period has elapsed, I’m pleased to update that for the most part the pain is gone. The discomfort no longer reach the levels nor persistence I’ve experienced in the last few months to the point that I ‘m now able to engaged in faster-paced running and maintaining form and concentration without the distraction that comes with dealing with the pain.

Now that I’m nearly recovered, I thought I’d share with you what I did to get better – it’s basically EVERYTHING. I read up whatever I could from various online resources (Competitor, RW, and other physio sites), applied release techniques, trigger point massages, rolling and stretches not only at the trouble spots but also directed plenty of focus on the calf where tightness is known to exacerbate the PF. I also taped the foot up (a placebo effect or otherwise, I found it to provide some relief) prior to Kasumigaura and came away from the race unscathed, even though I spent longer time on my feet than usual on race day due to challenging weather conditions. I watched YouTube videos to get a better idea on where to target the massaging. I believe there’s no silver bullet for the PF problem but an amalgamation of the remediation steps taken. On top of what I’ve mentioned, here are more measures which I took:

  1. Reduced my time in low drop shoes, running more in the cushier Ride 8.
  2. Wore an orthortic for arch support.
  3. Avoided over-stressing the arch and heel areas by laying off/reduce hillwork and speedwork.
  4. Incorporated stretching and massaging several times a day as part of my on-going daily routine.
  5. Be patient. Some issues just need time to resolve.
  6. Incorporated lower leg strengthening regimen as the foot got better.

The recovery couldn’t have come at a better time as GCAM16 draws nearer. If you’re saddled with PF, here’s a short video by renown Gold Coast physio, Brad Beer, on how to work that area. Here’s hoping you get better soon too!

Press Release: Saucony® Unveils Game-Changing Technology – EVERUN™

Delivering Continuous Cushioning to Runners, No Matter How Long the Run

THE ALL NEW EVERUN TECHNOLOGY
Global performance running footwear and apparel brand Saucony pulls no punches in writing the next
chapter of its performance innovation success story. Maintaining its relentless commitment to elevating the running experience through innovation, the brand announced today the launch of Saucony EVERUN™, its most advanced technology to date. Brand-new for Spring 2016, EVERUN represents a new era of cushioning innovation, delivering a continuous cushioning experience to runners, no matter how long the run.

First launched at the New York City Marathon, Saucony’s Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 are the first models in the Saucony line-up to be powered by EVERUN. The technology will later be incorporated into the new Hurricane ISO 2, Kinvara 7 and Peregrine 6 which is set to be available in Malaysia February 2016. EVERUN will be supported by the brand’s biggest marketing launch to date and will coincide with the retail launch of the Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 at the New York City Marathon. “EVERUN is not only a game-changer for us but for the industry as well,” said Patrick O’Malley, senior vice president of global product for Saucony. “Runners are once again responding to the benefits of cushioning, including increased energy return and underfoot comfort. One of the primary objectives in the development
of EVERUN was to deliver a continuous cushioning experience to runners, combining smoother landings
in the heel with reduced pressure in the forefoot.

“Our designers came up with a fundamentally new approach we call Topsole™, a breakthrough
construction process that positions our best cushioning material closer to the foot. The result is that
EVERUN delivers the same plush feel in mile one as mile twenty, continuously giving back to runners,
especially at the end of the run when they need it most,” added O’Malley.

EVERUN Delivers Two Key Benefits

Lowers Peak Pressures:
EVERUN’s patent-pending Topsole construction process positions a 3mm layer of Saucony’s revolutionary EVERUN foam material closer to the foot, directly under the sockliner, instead of embedding it in the midsole below a layer of rigid cement. This construction process distributes propulsion force over more area, reducing local peak pressures while delivering a dramatically more lively and responsive ride.

Absorbs Impact:
The EVERUN Landing Zone and heel insert provide remarkable impact protection, maintaining cushioning properties three times longer than standard EVAs while returning 83% of the energy absorbed, according to research in the Saucony Human Performance and Innovation Lab. Typical EVA foam heats up, getting softer the longer the run just when the body fatigues and needs impact protection the most. The EVERUN technology addresses this breakdown of cushioning and consequently, joint protection, in running shoes during the course of a run.

Introducing Max And Miles
The Saucony EVERUN Series of performance running shoes will be supported by the biggest marketing launch in the company’s history. “Not only is EVERUN a breakthrough in cushioning and construction technologies, but this is also the first time that Saucony is using video animation in a marketing campaign,” said Mary O’Brien, vice president of global marketing for Saucony. “We’re always looking for the best way to tell our story. We knew that video animation would not only be entertaining and fun, but it would make a rather intricate technology story clear and meaningful to runners everywhere.”

The launch campaign focuses on the ground-breaking idea behind EVERUN, occurring in a secret
laboratory in an undisclosed location. The new multichannel global marketing campaign features an
animated video starring fictional lab technicians Max and Miles, the purported inventors of EVERUN.

The conversation between Max and Miles provides a unique and amusing take on their eagerness to share their newly-discovered continuous cushioning technology with runners everywhere. While Max delivers a serious high-tech explanation of EVERUN’s myriad benefits, Miles eagerly gives his own perspective of EVERUN in excitably unscientific terms: “There’s this stuff we came up with … amazing stuff! You should see the stuff this stuff can do!”

The EVERUN Product Lineup

Triumph ISO 2


The new Triumph ISO 2, the successor to the Triumph ISO (named “Editor’s Choice” by Runner’s World; Spring 2015 Shoe Guide), is the brand’s super-plush neutral trainer now featuring a full-length EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone, TRI-FLEX outsole and ISOFIT upper.
RRP: RM 529.

Guide 9


The lightest Guide ever (9.7 ounces in men’s size 9) has been completely updated for Spring 2016. With
an SRC Landing Zone in the heel, a Dual Density medial post and a full-length EVERUN Topsole, the Guide 9 provides an efficient stride while also delivering a lively, resilient ride. A new TRI-FLEX outsole helps prevent late-stage pronation while a seam-free toe box provides comfort and allows the toes to splay during the latter phase of the gait cycle.
RRP: RM 469

Hurricane ISO 2


The Hurricane ISO 2, heir to the Hurricane ISO (named “Best Update” by Runner’s World; Summer 2015 Shoe Guide), blends the benefits of a premium stability shoe with unparalleled cushioning. An EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone along with a PWRGRID+ platform provide shock attenuation and set the foot up for an efficient transition. The ISOFIT saddle is engineered to provide additional stabilizing support. A Dual Density medial post offers superb guidance while a lightweight Support Frame secures the heel upon foot strike.
RRP: RM 529

Kinvara 7


Lockdown fit, a quick, resilient ride, and a great underfoot feeling are the calling cards of the award-winning Kinvara running experience. The latest edition gets an EVERUN Heel Insert for cushioning where it’s needed most, while the sleek, FLEXFILM-infused upper supports the foot with every stride. A new outsole configuration that includes TRI-FLEX and wider lugs delivers more ground contact and increased flexibility and durability.
RRP: RM 429

Peregrine 6


With a protected upper, heel and forefoot rock plates, and a new PWRTRAC outsole, the Peregrine 6 gives runners the means to conquer any terrain. EVERUN in the heel delivers shock-dampening cushioning, while the highly flexible midsole allows runners to adapt and react to uneven surfaces.
RRP: RM 429

For more information on EVERUN, visit:
www.saucony.com/everun
https://www.facebook.com/saucony.my/

 

 

For more information, please visit www.rshlimited.com, www.facebook.com/RSHMY.

For more information contact:
Advertising and Promotions Department
Tel: 03-5123 2668 Fax: 03-5637 0531
Yi Xuan Lai, Executive Advertising & Promotions │yixuanlai@rsh.com.my

Kasumigaura Marathon Race Report

Up till last November, plans for returning to Japan was not in the works. I truly missed the country and some friends thought I was going bonkers from all that pining! Having run Nagano (race report here) during the same period in 2014, as a tune-up to my first PR in Gold Coast, I thought I’d replicate the same approach and training formula again this year, and mix in a few days of sightseeing in Tokyo. While I’ve covered a number of wards in Tokyo over the course of the 2012 marathon, there are still plenty of exploration to be done in a far less strenuous mode. Poking around the Internet late November ’15, I found a spring marathon which was still open for entries, a rare phenomena in marathon-mad Japan! After getting the much appreciated blessings from the wife, I quickly threw together a rough itinerary and finalized the flight and hotel arrangements by January. It would be a short visit since the family won’t be able to come along due to the kids’ schooling.

Tsuchiura is a small town of 141,098 located in the Ibaraki Prefecture next to Lake Kasumigaura, the 2nd largest lake in Japan. Hitachi has its roots in Ibaraki and the area is also well known for its lotus roots and curry! Located a 45-minute train ride away, to the North East direction of downtown Tokyo, the town hosts the popular Kasumigaura Marathon (KM) which also incorporates the International Blind Marathon every April. While KM is lesser known to runners from Malaysia, it’s really quite a well-spoken off race in Japan which sees approximately 20,000 runners.

Location of Tsuchiura in relation to Tokyo

Marathon superhero Yuki Kawauchi won the 2012 edition in his personal worst timing when the event was the 3rd largest marathon in Japan then. Incidentally, KM would be the 6th marathon courses after NYC, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagano, and GCAM, that both of us have run (not always the same edition, and definitely not in the same class!). The event has many charities tagged to it and is very much a community event for the townfolk. The 2016 edition would also be the trials for the visually-impaired athletes for the Paralympic Games. Kasumigaura Marathon is run basically on an out-and-back course, with just a small switchback unlike most Japanese races.

Also unlike other major marathons in Japan, there are other shorter distances such as the 10-Miler and 5K. The start is from the narrow strip of road sandwiched between the JR Tsuchiura Station and the Athletics Stadium in Kawaguchi Athletic Park where the race finishes. The course is front-loaded, with several climbs (the longest approximately at the 16K mark) before settling down to a flat final 21K close to the lake. The organizers even provide several vessels to ferry the supporters out for cheering duties. If one is sufficiently prepared, a smart pacing strategy early on should ensure freshness in the legs ready to exploit the “easier” second half for a negative split race. As mentioned earlier, I went into KM with the same mindset as for Nagano which meant adopting it as a training run. I started Kasumigaura with slightly more consistent training than Nagano, but the mileage logged was nowhere close to something that would bring about a breakthrough performance. Plus, nearly all of the running since December had been at a pace a full minute slower per km than my goal marathon pace! In short, I had no speed and endurance toeing the line. I don’t race often, and the mind and body had been at rest marathon distance-wise since GCAM15, and they needed some jolting if I wanted to fare well this July.

Other than a handful of friends, I kept things hush-hush. The main event was, after all, GCAM. I left my favorite Kinvara 7 at home and instead brought along just the Breakthru. Due to my on-going battle with PF, I swapped out the Breakthru’s sockliner with the softer Ride’s. This time around, I based myself in Ueno, an older part of Tokyo, away from the madness of Shinjuku and Shibuya. I’d have preferred somewhere near Ikebukuro but Ueno is excellent for this trip’s objectives due to its direct connection to/from Narita and to Tsuchiura. As with most parts of Japan, it’s easy to love Ueno. There are the museums, the famous park, zoo (next time with the kids!), Ameyoko-cho and runnable distance to Senso-ji in Asakusa, and Skytree.

After a very pleasant flight on-board ANA (A first for me! Cost RM1,200 all-in), I touched down in Narita (also a first!) on Friday and hopped onto the Keisei Skyliner (did I mention it was my first time? ¥4,300 return) directly to Ueno.

Thanks to Google Streetview and some prior homework, I managed to stumble my way to the New Izu Hotel (RM1,165 for 5 nights) not too far away. Don’t be fooled by the name though, because the establishment isn’t new :D . Bathroom and toilet were on shared basis, in line with keeping my budget low. The convenience and privacy of a room made things easier what with the race gear to lay out. I was famished  by then but nothing a hot bowl of yuzu udon couldn’t satiate.

Saturday started with a shakedown run towards the Sumida River, right up to the Azumabashi and Komagatabashi bridges with their distinct red and blue paint jobs respectively. Since I was already close to the Kaminari-mon I decided to extend the exploratory run a little before heading the same way back.

With Tsuchiura just a little journey out of Tokyo, I thought it would be a good idea to have a recce of the area. A one way ticket isn’t that cheap at ¥1140 (cost of a good meal), but I still wanted to be sure of the place.

I’m one who want as little surprises as possible leading up to a race, so I decided to proceed. The journey was smooth and after an hour, I found myself in the small town who will be hosting about 16,000 runners the next day. The race precinct was easy to locate, just 7 minutes’ walk from the train station. The site was being prepped. There, I met a couple of runners from Wisconsin, Marie and Jaime. We chatted a bit and Marie warned me of strong winds the next day, something which I regrettably didn’t pay enough attention to.

Comfortable with the site orientation, I decided to check out the Kasumigaura Comprehensive Park (I don’t know who comes up with such names! ) a 15-minute bus ride away. The park was truly beautiful with the signature tulips and windmill, a large park where families were seen enjoying the outdoors, and patient anglers by the waterfront trying to land a catch or two. There was even a helicopter ride for those who were willing to pay for it. The skies were overcast throughout but a few seconds of sunshine peeked through and I was lucky enough to be well-positioned to take the following shot.

A few hours later, I was back at the hotel after a simple pasta dinner and proceeded to lay out all the gear. I had no trouble sleeping early that night since I had been pretty deprived of it the last 2 nights. At 5:30am the next morning, I made the short walk to Ueno Station. It was surprisingly bright by then.

I was very early just the way I like it, and there were plenty of seats available on the train which departed right on time at 6:04am. Along the way, I made some new friends from Thailand.

With fellow runners from Thailand en route to Tsuchiura on race morning. That’s the Saucony Nomad jacket I had on – lightweight yet offers much protection.

From the station platform to the race precinct.

To the race pick-up tent (for foreigners).

When Marie told me about the strong winds, I had no sense about how strong a 46km/h wind would feel like. The strongest I’ve felt was on the slopes of Hong Kong’s many hills during my DNF in TNF HKG. After collecting my race pack (KM is one of the Japanese races when foreigners get to pick up their race numbers only on race morning), I had trouble finding a sheltered spot to get ready and change into my race gear before depositing the bag. It was increasingly blustery but thankfully not too cold. I cast an eye to the skies to see the gathering of dark clouds. Weather forecast had predicted rain in the afternoon but I wasn’t too concerned since the rains I encountered over the years in Japan were nothing like the thunderstorms back home. My gear for the day was a disposable tee over the Saucony Endorphin singlet which in turn was over a short sleeve compression top. And I had a thrash bag over everything else. I had the Saucony DryLete thermal arm sleeves on but no gloves. The plan was to stash the sleeves into the race belt once I warmed up along the course.

You can choose to stash your baggage in lockers or at volunteer-manned booths. Either option will cost you ¥100. I went with the booth as I didn’t like the idea of wearing the keychain on my wrist.

With 90 minutes to go, I scurried to the pier-side to warm up with some strides and stretching before joining a queue for the Family Mart toilets. The KM organizers got it right this time by providing plenty of porta-potties but Family Mart was the nearest to where I waited. Plus, it was warm inside!

Before the flag off, I needed a second visit to the loo having guzzled down a bottle of sports drink prior. I was definitely well hydrated. The sugar rush must’ve got to my brain because I started off with the masses only to realize that it was the 10-mile race! Luckily I “woke up” in time and sheepishly made my way back to the marathoners who were still waiting! Had I crossed the starting line, I was sure to have been DQ’d. Sharp 10am, the fireworks were lit and we were finally released.

The start was crowded but with fresh legs, everyone was going the same pace. The congestion lasted only a Km and the roads gradually opened up. The next 5K taking us gradually away from the town center. For a comparatively small population to, say Tokyo or Osaka, the level of support from the folks were fantastic. Everyone was so eager for a high-five, from kids to the old folks!

Hitachi employees have always come out in full support of the runners. Photo of the 2015 edition from the event website.

Things were always great the early stages of a marathon and there’s really nothing to report other than I’m still able to keep to a consistent pacing, the enjoyable running and good crowd support. Even the PF was behaving. At the same time I was under no allusions that I will not suffer eventually. Nevertheless, I averaged 5:23 in the early stages and the trouble with the early inclines didn’t materialize. I stuck to my trusted fueling plan of a gel every 25 minutes and a cup of water/sports drink at alternating stations. At the 22K mark, a pee break was so well executed (I spotted a row of toilets and as I approached, the first door open and I ran straight in!) that I lost only 20 seconds that K.

Meanwhile the skies remained dark and gloomy and as we cleared the suburbs and reached the wide expanse of lotus root plantations and the lake beyond, the first drops of rain came down. It was so light that I thought it would help in keeping us cool. That thought may have somehow angered the Gods, because not long after that, the winds started building up several notches. It was as if someone was toying with the intensity knob, ratcheting it up little by little just to spite us. The runners gamely fought on, thinking things won’t get any worse. But it did.

At 33K, it stopped being a race and more of getting myself to the finish line. The menacing weather decided it was tired of playing with us and finally unleashed its pent-up fury. The wind coming in from the lake whipping up wavelets on the plantations, driving the rain sideways. We were buffeted from the left where there was nothing to block us save for a shed or two located far apart. It was all either headwind or from the side. The 60kg me had to run at an angle and with my head down. A dude running next to me then had his palm covering his ear to prevent rainwater from entering while I was more concerned about the race bib being ripped off my vest.

White-out

Exposed!

Puddles formed along the coastal country road which we were running/walking and my shoes had been soaked for some time so I no longer cared. I was more concerned about the feeling of nausea that had cropped up. Never before had I encountered this over the course of a race but it was bad enough that I felt like blacking out. Breathing deeply, I fought hard to maintain my focus and not to lose consciousness. An ambulance parked by the side tempted me for a moment but I didn’t come this far to DNF. And with the unwavering support of the locals, young and old, despite the weather conditions, no one would throw in the towel. So we slogged on and having walked like 10 minutes or so, the nausea wore off and I resumed my shuffling to maintain my core temperature. Because my gaze were fixed downwards, I saw plenty of road kills on the road – frogs! The paddy field-like plantations must be home to many of these amphibians.

The battle with the elements continued for the next 7K and for some reason, the ambulance sirens were only heard as I neared the town center. By then, I had wolfed down 2 delicious anpans (red bean buns), and 2 cups of hot tea from an ad-hoc kiosk manned by concerned supporters in view of the weather. They even kept a fire going to warm us up! Just wonderful. I would’ve stayed longer had there been no race to complete! A 5:40 pace for the next 7K would’ve snuck me under 4 hours but it was useless trying to fight the wind. At that point, I just laughed at the whole thing rather than being depressed. In fact, I attracted some stares when I “woo hoo’d” as the wind continued to rachet up that close to the finish. I was a little concern that power lines could be brought down and remembered praying that the potty that I was in won’t be blown over, as I hurried on with my business!

I eventually finished my 30th marathon in pretty dramatic weather conditions. Unlike most marathons, there are no finisher medals, towels for Kasumigaura. An event tee, a banana, a bottle of water and a pack of lotus root noodles were what awaited finishers. And also an on-the-spot certificate. While I went into Kasumigaura as a training run, I’d lie that I wasn’t a little disappointed at not being to keep the sub-4 streak going. Yet, at 4:15:05 it was 3 minutes quicker than Nagano prior to a 20-minute difference logged in GCAM the same year. Whether I’m able to run 3:45 in GCAM16 will depend largely on these final 2 months. The marathon is a fantastic event where one needs to have a blend of speed and stamina to nail it. I already have the sense of pacing and locked down fueling strategy. What remains is the cultivation of the right blend of training needed to get the job done, and so we shall see.

Website: https://www.kasumigaura-marathon.jp/
Entries: Opens sometime in November, capping off at 15,000 runners.
Race Fees: ¥6,000 (approx RM220)
Cutoff: 6 hours.
Entitlements: Short sleeved event tee, a pack of lotus root noodles, instant race certificate, post-race banana and drinks
Description: The inclines weren’t too much of a concern and with a flat 2nd half, this can be a PR course. Small town vibes with plenty of countryside farming scenery. No complains on the organization and the team improved on the many feedback on the lack of toilets. Love the town folks’ support.
Weather: Hard to predict Spring weather. Monitor the weather constantly.
Quirks: Overseas participants can only collect their race kits on race morning between 7:30am to 9am! ¥100 baggage deposit.
Challenges: Frustrating search for accommodation in Tsuchiura, with only 2 hotels in Booking.com within reasonable distance to the start/finish. In my walkabouts, I did see a few smaller ones which weren’t found on the booking website. Consolation is that the race starts at 10am, and it’s about an hour from Ueno. Post-race commute back to Tokyo will be arduous.
Good: Small town vibes, post-race runners’ village with plenty of food stalls.
Bad: I don’t think there’s any, just some quirks (see above).

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara 7

My experience with the Kinvara dates back to version 1 (ViziPro version), the 3, and 2 pairs of the 5 (the Runshield as well as the regular version). You can say that I’ve a pretty good idea on how far the K has come since the early 2000s. Since major changes are put into the odd numbered (1, 3, 5) Kinvaras, I’m in a unique position to have experienced the enhanced editions. Since I’ve ran my best marathons in the 5s, I’ve a soft spot for the Kinvara.

The K5 weighs 7.5oz while the 7 has a slight increase. Do note that the K5 has a substantial mileage logged and the wear and tear is sure to have shaved off some weight. Taking that into consideration, I’d say an increase of 0.3oz on the K7 would be a reasonable guess.

The Kinvara has always been positioned as a low drop (4mm), conventionally stacked (23/19mm) lightweight trainer/racer. Its DNA have been that of simplicity, although the shoe has seen its ride qualities alternating between soft and firm. When v7 was announced last year, I was already enthused, bugging Frank when the release dates would be. The thought of a new midsole material, new upper and a rocking look only added to the impatience! Having used the Ride 8 as a slow-burn trainer, and the Zealot ISO the ultra versatile shod, I was eager to bed in the K7 quickly in preparation for the 3 marathons I’ve committed to this year. Through the help of a friend, I secured the Tokyo edition (¥9000) and promptly got down to seasoning it. The brand had a large presence at the Tokyo Marathon expo, from the looks of the photos here.

Medial side. Moderate toe spring.

Lateral side.

The aglets have the Tokyo identity as well.

Aside from the Sakura-motifs, the Tokyo edition certainly lives up to the visual aesthetics of Toshikazu Nosaka, a pro skateboarder and artist. There’s a bit of Zen in the understated black and white colorway punctuated by the green Saucony logo. It’s been awhile since I wore a shoe with this much white and I’m torn between dirtying it and giving the shoe its due (i.e. putting many miles and getting them dirty and soiled)! #firstworldissues. A consolation is that the entire range of K7’s are lookers themselves, and replacing this pair eventually will not be as painful a thought. The regular colorways that we will see in Malaysia (3 for men, 2 for the women) will no doubt appeal to many, what with the anything-but-boring dark-to-light cues. The Boston Green Line edition which is due out in time for the world’s second oldest marathon has a simpler all-green take.

K7 Boston edition. Photos released by Saucony.

The upper is an improvement over the K5 in several ways, from the greater use of Flexfilm overlays. The sleeker logo, relocated to a more forward position, is now a thin strip which means it no longer presses down onto the top lateral side of the forefoot when flexed at push-off. The mesh looked ever more refined on the K7 as well. Apparently the position of the Pro-lock has been moved back a little for better midfoot support, but the feature isn’t something I particularly needed.

From top: K7, K5, K5 Runshield

Moisture-wicking RunDry lining continues to be used on the sockliner and collar. The padding around the collar is just nice as on the tongue.  The tongue is semi-gusseted which means sliding will be kept to a minimum. What would be nice though, is for the Kinvaras to have a slightly longer tongue – just 2cm extra just so that the laces have a bit more room to secure over.

Removable sockliner is awesomely detailed as well. No Everun foam on the topsole. It lays deeper within the midsole.

The left shot shows the medial construction. Notice that it bulges out slightly, giving the Kinvara a touch of stability. Conversely, the lateral side has a curved indent, promoting a nice transition to the toe-off.

Gone are the reflective strips on the lateral side of the midsole, outsole. All that remains that is shiny is the teensy triangle with the logo. This shot shows clearly the concave lateral and convex/bulging medial sides of the midsole.

Moving along to the SSL EVA midsole, there are changes to be had as well. There are now horizontal grooves on the medial side and a concave impression on the lateral side, possibly to promote a smoother transition. The use of Everun isn’t visible in the case of the K7, unlike the Hurricane and Triumph ISO 2 where the molded PU material can be seen on the topsole as well as in the heel section. Instead, the implementation is much subtler for the K7, with the Everun layer inserted into the heel.

Comparing the outsole of the K7 (foreground) against the K5.

Tri-Flex configuration for the outsole replaces the triangular lugs. While this may seem like a design decision, I notice a subtle change in how the shoe feels. More of that when I cover the wear experience. There are sufficient IBR+ material used to ensure durability doesn’t take a drastic hit. I’ve worn enough shoes over the last 10 years to state that IBR+ is the most durable blown rubber material I’ve experienced. The heel plug remains the dependable XT-900 carbon rubber variety.

I’ve logged close to 80K in the K7 and thus have a better idea on how the shoe rides. Runningwarehouse rate the K7 as firm and responsive, and that would be pretty much my take as well. It has a performance feel to the toe-off phase, not hard but more of a fast and firm bounce, resulting in a very engaging experience. The Tri-Flex configuration makes the midfoot to toeoff transition snappier and urgent than before – I can’t explain how or why, just that it feels that way! Heel cushioning is there but it’s not what anyone would call plush (for that, look to the Ride 8 or Triumph ISO 2) since the Everun layer is placed deeper into the midsole. I like the furrow in the midsole, which extends from the heel to the midfoot area. Besides being a weight-saving move, the longitudinal groove will provide some “center-of-the-pressure” cushioning during the impact-loading phase.

The ride characteristics change as you put in the miles in the K7. Having inched closer to the century mark, I notice a mild midsole softening which should stay the same for the life of the shoe. The wear and tear signs are not as pronounced as expected, a sign that version 7 will most likely outlast my ageing K5 :) . The traction offered by the K7 is exceptional, which is surprising, given the understated appearance of the outsole. The K7’s hold on the wet tiled and brick surfaces felt superbly assured as I ran at pace during one rainy day.

Narrower? Same?

So what of the supposed narrower toebox? I don’t notice it at all, maybe because my choice of socks tend to be that of thinner material. The upper is still a little stretchy, no different from the previous version. That said, if your favorite socks are as thick as those traditional Thor-Lo’s, you may want to first try out the shoes in the stores before committing to a size.

You can surmise then, that the K7 is more suited for uptempo sessions than long easy runs, at least for me. For the most parts, the Kinvara 7 continues its tradition of providing a fast and lightweight ride. The fit remains true and if you’ve been a Kinvara faithful over the years, you’ll recognize it the moment you slip the it on. The slight bump in the weight department doesn’t slow the shoe down. The converse is, in fact, true. An enhanced midsole and a re-tweaked outsole config ensures that all you need to worry about is whether you can keep up with it.

The Saucony Kinvara 7 is available from today at Running Lab – Tropicana City Mall, Stadium and selected Royal Sporting House outlets, and retails at RM429.00.


Thinking of running your best marathon on a scenic and flat course? Well, entries for the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon is now open and early bird rates valid till April 28! With public holidays slated at that time of the year, join a record number of Malaysians and I in Gold Coast this July where you and your family can run and then enjoy what the world-famous holiday destination can offer. For details, please refer to my blog post here where I’ve shared some important info for you to plan your travel and race!

Press Release: Standard Chartered KL Marathon Elevates Competition and Improves Running Experience

 

 

 

 

 


KUALA LUMPUR, 9th March 2016
: Race owner and organiser of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016 (SCKLM), Dirigo Events announced today that runner’s registration will begin from Tuesday, 15th March 2016. This year marks SCKLM’s eighth installation and will take place on Sunday, 7th August at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.

A new staggered registration system will be introduced to ensure a better registration experience for runners as it simplifies the online registration process and lessens the chances of web-traffic congestion.

In addition, participants of SCKLM 2015 will be given priority to register for the 2016 event due to last year’s race cancellation caused by the haze. Further details of the staggered registrations can be found on www.kl-marathon.com or the Standard Chartered KL Marathon Facebook page.

Apart from the staggered registration system, the official cut-off time of the full marathon has been extended to 7 hours to reduce route congestion. A checkpoint system, commonly practised in international marathons, will also be implemented this year. Runners will need to reach each checkpoint within a designated time or will be shuttled back to Dataran Merdeka.

Other initiatives to look forward to this year include the Friendship Run and Pasta Party, which will be held on the eve of the race. Opened only to Full Marathon participants, the event aims to foster camaraderie amongst runners from around the world.

“The Standard Chartered KL Marathon has grown to become Malaysia’s premier running event that draws thousands of local and international runners to navigate a route covering beautiful and historical landmarks around the city of Kuala Lumpur” said Rainer Biemans, Director of Dirigo Events. “We hope that these additions will not only improve participant and fan experience but elevates the Marathon’s level of competition”.

Mahendra Gursahani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia adds, “We are proud to return as title sponsors of such an iconic sporting event. The marathon, along with its additions, showcases a perfect example of Standard Chartered’s dedication to sporting brilliance. This devotion is displayed in the Bank’s dedication to building trust through continuity, credibility, competence and skill in the field of sports”.

This year’s participating beneficiaries for Run For A Reason are Standard Chartered Foundation (SCF), Hospis Malaysia, Yayasan Sejahtera and IJN Foundation.

The 2016 Standard Chartered KL Marathon is once again made possible by title sponsor Standard Chartered Bank, and along with event owner and organiser, Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd. and co-organiser Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.

For more information and updates on SCKLM, please visit:

Facebook       : http://www.facebook.com/SCKLmarathon
Twitter            : www.twitter.com/SCKLmarathon
Instagram       : https://instagram.com/SCKLmarathon
Website          : www.kl-marathon.com

For more information, please contact:

David Joshua Lau | 03.7493.5588 | david@my-essence.com
Jacqueline Khoo | 03.7493.5588 | jacqueline@my-essence.com

For more information on Standard Chartered KL Marathon:

Gloria Ng | 603.7887.4717 | 2015@kl-marathon.com

For more information on Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad:

Nimmi Kamal | 03.2117.7770 | nimmi.kamal@sc.com
Geraldine Tan | 03.2117.7821 | geraldine.tan@sc.com

### End ###

About the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016
Back for the eighth year, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon is scheduled to take place on 7 August 2016. The marathon will open to 35,000 participants, ranging from elite athletes to first-time distance runners. A truly international event, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon boasts participants from all over Malaysia and over 48 countries. The Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016 continues as Malaysia’s premier running event with top runners competing for a total of USD 125,000 prize money.

For more information on the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, please refer to:  http://www.kl-marathon.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/SCKLmarathon.

About Standard Chartered
We are a leading international banking group, with more than 90,000 employees and a 150-year history in some of the world’s most dynamic markets. We bank the people and companies driving investment, trade and the creation of wealth across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, Here for good.

Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges as well as the Bombay and National Stock Exchanges in India.

For more information, please visit www.sc.com. Explore our insights and comment on our blog, BeyondBorders. Follow Standard Chartered on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

About Standard Chartered in Malaysia
Standard Chartered Bank, a member of the Standard Chartered Group was established in Malaysia in 1875 and incorporated as Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad in 1984. As Malaysia’s first bank, Standard Chartered leads the way through product innovation, consistent and strong growth performance and sustainability initiatives. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to corporates, institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals through its network of over 40 branches across Malaysia.

In 2001, Standard Chartered PLC established its third global technology & operations centre, Scope International, in Malaysia – the first international bank to do so in the country. Scope International provides software development, banking operations, IT support services and customer service capabilities to the Bank in up to 70 countries. It now houses the biggest software development company in the country, International Software Centre Malaysia (ISCM) and has a total workforce of more than 3,200 people.

Price Solutions Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered PLC is also located in Malaysia. The company promotes and markets Standard Chartered’s financial products in Malaysia through a network of direct sales agents.

Standard Chartered Saadiq Berhad (Saadiq), Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia’s Islamic Banking subsidiary was established in November 2008. It offers a full suite of Syariah-compliant products and services to individuals and corporates through its dedicated branches. In 2012, Saadiq established Kuala Lumpur as its global hub for Islamic consumer banking.

Standard Chartered employs close to 7,000 employees in all its Malaysian operations.

About the Event Owner and Organiser
The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is owned by Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd, an award-winning event management company founded in 2011 by Rainer Biemans and Gloria Ng. The event has attracted not only Malaysian runners, but runners from 48 countries.

Standard Chartered KL Marathon was awarded the Platinum award in the Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism award in 2014 for attracting tourists to Kuala Lumpur. The award is a demonstration to Rainer Biemans’ and Gloria Ng’s combined experience of over 48 years in executing and creating world-class and impactful events for international clients around the world such as Europe, Brunei, India and Singapore.

For more information on Dirigo Events, please contact +603 7887 1717 or email dirigo@dirigo.com.my

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