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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

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

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.


Taper Begins!

In terms of consistency and volume, training for GCAM15 has been one heck of a ride. An 18-week program is a lengthy one. Compared to last year, racing has been kept to an absolute minimum. No ultras (last year I completed Titi and Nuang) nor marathons (did Nagano then) and the handful of races were short and quick ones (Shape, CXP, TM Fan Run) where they would function as speedwork or a “sandwich day” (pre-race/race/recovery).

I felt that by keeping these “fun” long runs aside, I would be able to focus on GCAM training without the protracted recovery days and risks of injuries brought about by the ultras. Over the weeks and months, the body has responded pretty well to the change of base pace. Other than the usual niggles, there’s been no injuries. A mild flu floored me in the early weeks but I’ve been healthy for much of the training period.

With that many hours invested in running and its related activities, maintaining the motivation has been a challenge. Pushing a weekly goal mileage is one motivation (that’s where logging your workouts come in), and relying occasionally on music to keep me moving is the other. Music is only a factor when I’m on the treadmill (I relinquished the gym membership at the onset of GST implementation), or when doing my loops around the housing area or park. For safety reasons, I never plug in while running on the roads. On double workout days, music would feature prominently in my sessions. Music, made the miles go by easier :D . The GC team has been fantastic in training together and so were Comrades veterans Frank and Zijill who provided the extra incentives to pick the hilly routes. If you followed me or the training team on Facebook, you’d have seen how much fun we’ve had.

If there’s a common trait that was observed throughout the months, it would be consistency. Rarely did we skip our organized weekend runs. As a result, the momentum carried over the weekdays as well. That said, I do take unscheduled off-days if I was just too tired. Several good habits were picked up along the way – from spending much less time on social media (all that running meant I’ve only time left for the truly crucial matters), even not turning on my home laptop for a couple of days, and earlier nights. Waking up for the morning runs became progressively easier.

Shoes worn – Kinvara 5 (regular and Runshield versions), Zante, Breakthru, GRU, GB2, GR4, GS3, Boston Boost, adiZero Ace 6, Ultra Boost, Flyknit Lunar 2, Hitogami, and X-Scream 3D. Gear tested included the Mio Fuse, Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless, Sony Smart B-Trainer.

Now that taper has started, the mileage will of course be reduced but I think I’ll be enjoying those shorter and quicker workouts while sleeping in a little more over the weekends.

Since there’s no such thing as certainty when it comes down to the outcome of a marathon or indeed Life, I’m as ready as I could’ve been. The most important thing is to relax, have fun and finish happy come July 5th. I’m already looking forward to breathing in the crisp and clean air in the Gold Coast again!

Giveaways: Jabra Sport Rox Wireless

Last month I reviewed the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless which you can read up here. I’ve also posted the Jabra Sport Rox Wireless here, and you can also head on to the product site to find out more about it.

Here are the specs of the Sport Rox, which is essentially the Pulse without the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). Click on the image below to enlarge.

Now comes the exciting bit – Jabra Malaysia will be giving away not one but 2 units of the Sport Rox Wireless earbuds. Each unit retails at RM549! The raffle opens June 1st 2015 12am (Malaysian time) and ends June 15th 12am (Malaysian time). As always, the draw will be randomly determined via Rafflecopter. Here’s how it works:

  1. To enter, simply leave a comment in this post (it can be a simple “I want the Rox!” or a sonnet but no extra beanie points for creativity though :D ). Be sure to leave your email, otherwise there’s no way Jabra Malaysia can get in touch with you if you win.
  2. You must also like the Jabra Malaysia Facebook Page.
  3. Be sure to enter your valid email.
  4. Opens: 12:00AM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), June 1st 2015.
  5. Closes: 12:00AM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), June 15th 2015.
  6. The 2 winners will be randomly drawn by Rafflecopter.
  7. Announcement will be made on this blog by 6:00PM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), June 17th 2015
  8. Giveaway is only for those residing in Malaysia.
  9. All the best!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I receive no payment nor commission for the running of this giveaway.

Salomon X-Scream 3D Initial Impression

Salomon, the outdoor gear company from Annecy, France has pretty much the trail and mountain running market cornered. Any outdoor person worth his/her gnarly toes will know that the brand invests a lot in R&D, its stable of ultra talented (and good looking) athletes, and of course producing great products. Redefining traditional products in terms of design, material use and functionality has been synonymous with the brand. The S-Lab Skin Hydro packs (the 2012 12-liter version was reviewed here) and the S-Lab Exo TwinSkin Compression Shorts as just 2 examples of great design coupled with performance.

With close to 20% market share in this niche yet fast growing segment secured, Salomon is now training its sights on road-running with its recently launched CityTrail series of shoes. The hybrid take on the shoes can actually be traced back to the days of the XT Mission. What we have today is the X-Scream 3D, with several more models to hit our shores in the months to come. CityTrail, if you haven’t already guessed, represents gear designed for use in a mixed conditions that a city provides. Grassy parks, sidewalks, and stairs, and surfaces like concrete, tarmac, packed dirt – those are the playground for the X-Scream 3D.

Photo courtesy of WOS.

I was one of the fortunate ones invited to try out the shoes last weekend around the KLCC Park, my weekday haunt. The park has seen tremendous increase in human traffic lately, to the extent it’s hard getting a smooth run in. As a result, I’ve been forced to run the paths less taken, up the grassy sections and knolls, around the concrete frontage of the KL Convention Center, in between buildings, and along clogged roads around the city center. Anywhere and anything goes. I hope I won’t need to be forced to the rooftops anytime soon though!

Out of the box, the X-Scream is quite a looker. It has a typical road shoe look-and-feel but you can trust Salomon to inject some catchy colors to their shoes. In the case of the X-Scream, a bright canary yellow. It’s also one of the lightest Salomon that I’ve held in my hands, though at 11.5oz (for my US10) it’s still not a flyweight. The S-Lab Sense Ultra, Sense Mantra or the X-Series (this one is exciting!) are lighter. Most of Salomon’s proven tech continue to be applied to the X-Scream. The seamless upper consisted of the SensiFIT overlays to provide upper structure, while the medial and lateral toe areas have a 3D stretchy webbing for a more forgiving fit. Padding around the collar is decent and just about right for a road shoe but I felt that the internal heel counter to be too stiff.

3D Flex overlays on the front lateral side

On the medial side

Medial look.

Lateral side

The Quicklace system with a lace pocket is, of course, standard. The lacing works very well with the EndoFIT inner sleeve to provide a secure yet not-too-restrictive fit. Of all the other brands’ adoption of the inner sleeve design, Salomon’s EndoFIT has one of the best implementation. I remembered the first time I tested the Sense Ultra in the store and found the inner sleeve to be impressive.

There’s the usual lace pocket. Tuck them in to prevent snagging.

Moving down, the midsole comprises of 2-density EVA and a flexible ProFeel Film is there to provide some midfoot stability. The thin layer extends from the midfoot to the forefoot via 2 finger-like strips. The X-Scream 3D doesn’t have a full contact outsole. As you can see, the midsection has a cutaway and the center heel has a concave cutout. The Contagrip outsole on the X-Scream 3-D discards the chevron-shaped lugs for lower profile ones laid out in the shape of pentagons. We were informed, during the product briefing, that the lugs are designed to deform and splay out on impact to provide traction and cushioning. It’s all solid rubber in the forefoot while the heel plug is given the high-abrasion variety. 2 flex grooves cut across the forefoot section.

First impressions caught me by surprise, particularly the roomy feel of the shoe. There was no need for me to upsize. The lacing was quick and fast and I needed to really cinch it tight to get a snug midfoot feel. For a shoe that’s supposed to go along with the runner in a non-linear direction negotiating the twists and turns, it’s important to have a secure lock down. Over the course of a short 3.4K with the media group and the brand ambassadors around the KLCC Park, I found the X-Scream 3D to be a little stiff and hard. There was some slippage as well around the collar. The park offers plenty of twists and turns, ups and downs with surfaces ranging from synthetic to concrete to grass, which was perfect to gauge the performance of the shoe. Pace varied from a slow 7:15 all the way to fast 4:20 and didn’t slip once. Foot plant was assured, although I felt that the forefoot was a little too wide when taking a fast corner or negotiating a quick change of direction. The ride remained firm and a little awkward and stiff throughout even when deliberately heel striking.

The Salomon logo offers a teensy bit of low light visibility.

Second run was 3 times longer which provided a more stringent test for the shoe. Instead of my usual thin socks, I wore the thicker trail ones which improved the fit. Here are photos taken along the run, incidentally my regular weekday training route. The terrain and surface are all what the X-Scream is designed for.

While the ride was still firm and leans towards the stiffer end of the scale (no change to my opinion there), the fit was way better than the first time due to the thicker socks. There was zero slippage on all the surfaces I ran, which was truly impressive. You can see from the photos that, with the exception of sharp rocks, I cover nearly all types of surfaces in the course of my running! The most recent run in the shoes was even longer at 13K, in pouring rain for much of the distance. The surfaces were naturally slick from the rain and road grease yet I didn’t slip a bit stepping off the squelchy grass onto those bricked surface and more. As I clicked off the miles, the confidence grew and I could really put in a decent pace for the remaining part of the session. Impressive hold on the surface, the shoe offers.

I tracked my run using Salomon’s free CityTrail app (iOS | Android) and you’ll see that on top of the KLCC Park, I included Jalan Pinang, Kia Peng and Stonor.

Aside from experiencing the shoes, I took the opportunity to also give the accompanying app, the CityTrail app a try. The free app allows the runner to experience the routes mapped by fellow runners in major cities around the world. Landmarks are nicely marked as well. There are no routes yet for KL and I was unable to upload my routes due to insufficient points earned. The more points you earn from running with the app, the more functions will be opened to you.

Once you’ve logged your run, you can view the usual metrics and share it out on Facebook and Twitter. And it appears that you earn a point for each K logged.

I can see how this’ll work where there are more users but don’t let that dissuade you. You can download the app for free for your device by clicking on these links iOS | AndroidWindows Phone (unofficial) or head on to the City Trail site (where your workouts are logged) for more details.

In conclusion, the X-Scream 3D is a decent hybrid from Salomon. There are several areas which I wasn’t particularly fond of such as the stiff ride. It doesn’t offer a smooth a transition as I would’ve preferred. While the stiffness is not that obvious when running on the urban trails, it provides for a jarring experience on tarmac and concrete. Despite the concave midsole in the heel, it’s not particularly light either, although it’s not a deal-breaker at 11ima+oz. In contrast, the Ultra Boost is a heavier shoe. The X-Scream 3D could benefit from a softer or minimal heel counter, the introduction of a softer crash pad in the heel for a smoother heel to toe transition. Elsewhere, the shoe shines, from the versatility, breathability, assured traction for urban use, lacing system, to the EndoFIT system.

The Salomon X-Scream 3D retails at RM489.00 and is already available in the country from Salomon boutique located at Pavilion, World of Sports and World of Outdoors outlets.

Disclaimer: The Salomon X-Scream 3D was a media pair kindly provided by W.O.S World Of Sports (M) Sdn Bhd. Review was written after logging close to 30K in the shoes.

Jabra Sport Rox Wireless

Last month, I reviewed the premium-priced Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless (SPW), which you can read here. The SPW combines excellent sound with a nifty built-in Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). For those who are merely looking for a version without the HRM, there’s the Sport Rox (SR) which retains much of the features of the SPW.

Built for premium sound and durability, the Jabra Sport Rox is similar to the award-winning Jabra Rox Wireless except it better meets the needs of sports enthusiasts who want to enjoy both their workout and music without compromising on either.

The Sport Rox was launched in January this year, so it’s not a new product. There’s, however, a reason to draw your attention to it. More exciting details will be posted on June 1st. Until then, here are some info about the SR.

The Sport Rox comes with a higher standard of IP Level (IP54) and an armband in pack. Like the original Rox Wireless, the sports variant comes with in-ear stereo Bluetooth earbuds for truly super sound. The earbuds are built to last with solid steel.

They’re also sweat and stormproof and built to US Military rain, shock, sand, and dust standards – so there’s no excuse for missing a workout.

Enjoy an ultra-secure and comfortable fit with a selection of EarGels™ and EarWings™ that lets you lock your buds in so you can confidently focus on your workout.

The handy magnetic clip serves to conserve power when not in use.


Powerful speakers deliver world-class Dolby® music performance. Control music playback, volume, and take calls with a quick tap on the earbuds. And when you need to catch your breath, simply clip the earbuds together around your neck to save battery power. When you’re ready just pull them apart, and they’re good to go. Exercise is about breaking free, so don’t let wires hold you back. Get the Jabra Sport Rox and break free to a new level today. Other features include:

  • Simple pairing with NFC
  • Rich Dolby® sound with the Jabra Sound App – adds extra depth and dimension to your music. Create / share playlists and adjust equalizer settings.
  • Built-in noise cancelling microphone
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Talk Time: Up to 5.5 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 18 days
  • Music Play Time: 6 hours

Click to enlarge

The Jabra Rox Wireless are already available at the following stores listed below nationwide with a price of RM549.

List of stores in Malaysia:

  1. ALL IT Hypermarket Sdn Bhd
  2. epiCentre
  3. Harvey Norman
  4. Machines
  5. Radioshack
  6. Viewnet Computer System

It’ll Be Worth It

It’s under 50 days to GCAM15. Just about the time when doubts start to creep in. Even after 28 marathons, each time another race draws nearer, I can’t help but have this nagging feeling if I’m ever going to be ready.

Have I adopted a way too aggressive goal? Will the missed days come back to haunt me? Since these unproductive thoughts can’t be avoided at least for me, it’s a matter of managing them or somehow turning them into positive affirmations, if that’s possible! One thing I know for sure is that I’m looking forward to the day when I can sleep in over the weekends .

There are no certainties in a marathon no matter how well one’s training went. And I’ve had some frustrating weeks to be sure. There’s no point in dwelling on those but keep forging forward for the remaining crucial weeks. That said, I’ve been running better than ever – greater consistency the last 2 weeks are reasons for a little optimism. I’m monitoring the body and recovery closely while going through the race strategies based on 3 goal times. It’s all these and playing the correct mind games in the pursuit of running better that makes the marathon such an intriguing prospect.


Press Release: Standard Chartered KL Marathon Returns For The 7th Time

Standard Chartered KL Marathon Returns For The 7th Time
35,000 runners from all around the world expected to participate in Malaysia’s premier running event

Kuala Lumpur, 18 May 2015 – Malaysia’s premier running event, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) returns for the 7th time to test the physical and mental endurance of runners.

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015 has been confirmed to be held at Dataran Merdeka on Sunday, 4th October.

Officially launched at the Standard Chartered KL Park, the event was officiated by the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Yang Berbahagia Datuk Seri Hj. Ahmad Phesal bin Hj. Talib. All categories of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon will be open for registration from 18th May onwards.

35,000 runners from all around the world are expected to participate in various distance categories, positioning Standard Chartered KL Marathon as an international sporting event that is accessible to everybody, from all walks of life. Since its inception, over 115,000 runners from more than 48 countries have participated in the Standard Chartered KL Marathon.

The running routes that were launched last year have been well received by runners and will be maintained for this year. Runners will start from the historic Dataran Merdeka, with the full marathon route taking them through highways which provides them a vista of the scenic cityscape of Kuala Lumpur.

Elite runners will also be competing for a total of USD 125,000 in prize money; making the Standard Chartered KL Marathon one of the most lucrative races in Malaysia.

Mr. Rainer Biemans, Director of Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd, Owner and Organiser of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon., giving the opening address during the launch of Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015.

“The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is an annual event that appeals to everyone. What we hope to achieve is a great and memorable experience not just for runners but for spectators, supporters and volunteers alike. We are also looking forward to welcoming international runners and supporters and we hope that they will bring with them good memories when they return home,” said Rainer Biemans, Director of Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd.

“The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is also an endurance challenge of both mental and physical abilities and promises to put elite runners to the test. Every year, we look forward to somebody breaking our race record which currently stands at 2:14:45,” he adds.

Mr. Mahendra Gursahani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia sharing the Bank’s vision of Standard Chartered KL Marathon.

“As the proud title sponsor of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, we are delighted to be involved in an event that has put Malaysia on the sporting world map. We also hope to inspire and motivate runners to give something back to the communities and support a good cause in line with “Run for a Cause”, the theme for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon,” said Mahendra Gursahani, Managing Director and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia.

To celebrate Standard Chartered Bank’s 140th anniversary, the Bank recently ran a contest on SCKLM’s Instagram account inviting participants to submit the best photos of the Marathon. A total of 140 winners were selected, and they won complimentary entries to the Full Marathon.

Yang Berbahagia Datuk Seri Hj. Ahmad Phesal B. Hj. Talib, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur delivering his keynote address on the contribution of Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015.

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon has also positioned Kuala Lumpur as an ideal destination for sports tourism. In recognition of this effort, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon was awarded the ‘Platinum Award for Events Category’ at the 2014 Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Awards; making it the only running event to have won the award.

Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, Race Owner and Organiser of Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd., together with Gold Sponsors MSIG Insurance and Honda Malaysia, with their official partners: Seiko, Pacific Regency Hotel Group and F&N, accompanied by official apparel brand, adidas and official suppliers: Salonpas, GP Battery and Repucom.

The 2015 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.

It is also supported by Gold Sponsors, MSIG Insurance and Honda Malaysia, as well as Official Partners, Seiko, Pacific Regency Hotel Group and F&N. Race owner and organiser, Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd. also welcomes German sports-goods maker; adidas who is the Official Apparel brand for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015. Additionally, Salonpas, GP Battery and Repucom join the Standard Chartered KL Marathon as Official Suppliers completing the list of supporting brands.

Registrations for the race will open from 18th May onwards, and runners interested in signing up can register at

For more information and updates on SCKLM please visit:


For more information, please contact:
David Joshua Lau | 03.7483.5588 |
Hijas Fizzri | 03.7483.5588 |

For more information on Standard Chartered KL Marathon:
Gloria Ng | 603.7887.4717 |

For more information on Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad:
Mastura Adnan | 03.2781.7257 |
Nadia Khan | 03.2781.7351 |

### End ###

About the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015
Back for the seventh year, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon is scheduled to take place on 4 October 2015. 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 2015 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: and

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 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

Gold Coast Airport Marathon Finisher Medals

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) have seen a year-on-year improvement, from the race organization to the quality of the field assembled. It helps that legendary Australian marathoners like Rob De Castella, Steve Moneghetti and Lee Troop have supported the event and that the number of participants are kept manageable such that everyone has a great time out on the scenic course. I say that with certainty because I’ve ran it since 2011! You could say that I’m on a streak!

It helps that the Gold Coast won its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and is currently upgrading its infrastructure, most notably the rail services that run through the major spots along the city and last year’s marathon was an IAAF Gold Label event, the first one accorded to a race Down Under.

The finisher medals and t-shirts are awesome too, and if last year’s are anything to go by, I’m looking forward to a memorable run and post-race celebrations. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on these.

2011. The first time will always be special. Solid block of metal.

2012. Better than 2011’s.

2013. Dropped down to the Half. Crowd was bigger and more competitive!

2014. Finally the barrier was broken with a well-executed race plan. And the medal is, well, WOW! Reflective of the IAAF Gold Label award.

The only medal and t-shirt to have eluded me are those of the Southern Cross 10K which will kick off on Saturday, the eve of the main event. This year will be year I finally get my hands on them to complete my collection as I’ll be toeing the line to run that as a shake-out run before Sunday’s marathon. It’ll be a fun, photo-laden outing with the group of friends to stretch out the legs. There’s still time to register for GCAM15, although the early bird fees have ended. Take advantage of the many airline offers available today, and head on to to lock down your key race of the year.

The team from Malaysia is already knee deep in training and we’d love to have you join us in our weekend sessions or in Gold Coast itself. To read my previous years’ race reports, just head on to the Race Report link in the top menu bar.

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