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Ultrarunning around Kuala Lumpur

One of the landmarks in Kuala Lumpur

We take a direct flight from Banda Aceh in Sumatra to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

The timing is right. We have a few days to explore the city before Semenyih 100 Ultratrail Marathon series. The local trail running competition has two races of 25km and 50km to choose from.

Firstly, let’s have some brekfast. Nice pork soup for a good start of the day!
Chai Kueh, a variety of steamed dumplings that come with all sorts of different fillings
That’s one of the all year round settlements for homeless person.

Kuala Lumpur, actually just like most of the world’s biggest metropolis, is a city of contrasts.

Interestingly, the city is a very unusual combination of three different cultures that seem to be getting along pretty well. It is has nearly equally incluenced by Malaysian, Chinese and Hindii heritages.

To be honest, I have no idea what is the time…
Merdeka Square , one of the main squares in Kuala Lumpur, literally means “Independence Square”
It must have taken many days to prepare this decoration. A real art.
Canopy walk provided by Forest Research Institute Malaysia

There are numerous similarities between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It is not only that these big cities are international metropolis with a lot of foreign companies having their subsidiaries here. It is also about the city landscape, architecture and such as small details such as canopy walk (currently closed in KL) that may give you an impression that city has been planned by the same person.

In the middle of big city, yet very close to nature an actual jungle

We have even seen a really long snake in the middle of a public park! I regret I didn’t have camera handy at that time. Ela almost stepped on it!

Roasting coffee at one of KL’s marketplaces

We are certainly coming back to Kuala Lumpur after the race. For now we just grab a GRAB (local Uber) that will take us to Semenyih Ecoventure resort, the venue for the trail running event.

That is the official headquarters of the race where you register and pick up your bib
A picture before the race
That’s the start and the finish line
Having fulfilled our formalities, w are ready to check in

The moment I found out about these barrels that you can sleep in I knew this is something we need to try. There is no place to leave your backpack against the wall (because it would slide) but the idea is interesting and cozy. Nice alternative to a tent.

The sunset before the race

By the time we are getting to sleep, a lot of local runners have arrived. All of them seem to be professional. All wearing brand new professional clothes and having top-notch sport equipment.

Having even not taken my trail running backpack or any container to hold water (except for 1.5 liter water bottle) we really feel like we don’t exactly fit here.

The race is about to begin.

I go for 50k (start at 6:30 AM, at the crack of the dawn). Ela will start her 25k race a couple of hours later.

In the beginning the race follows a well marked route across palm trees
Lost during the race

At some point the way markers disappear and no one has a clue where to go. I got an impression that all runners have already found their way. Presumably at one of the slower end positions I decide not to give up and at least finish the race.

Semenyih 50km trail – checkpoint 2 with some fellow runners, West Malaysia

We somehow make it to second checkpoint and from there the trail is marked well again. At third checkpoint I ask the judges what is my position, to my surprise it is among the top 5!

The morale instantly goes up and I do my best not to lose the position, running across the forests towards the finish line. The trail is quite easy with some rolling hills. The main difficulty is probably the heat and steaming humidity of the tropical forest and palm tree plantations.

I finish the race at 3rd place

The 3rd place of Semenyih comes as a big surprise.

The ceremony of handing the prizes, medals and diplomas
By the time we are back to Kuala Lumpur, some shops have already fixed Christmas decorations
How could one miss such a popular landmark and the icon of Malaysia? :-)

First time I heard about Petronas Towers as a teenager. From the moment the buildings were raised I thought about seeing them one day.

It took me many more years than I thought to go there, so even thought the towers are not the tallest buildings in the world anymore, it is still amazing architectural site to visit.

Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004

The buildings are 451m high, which makes a total of 88 floors. The construction cost was $1.6 billion. Impressively, each of the buildings has 38 lifts and the lifts are among the world’s fastest.

The buildings remain world’s tallest twin towers.

Petronas Twin Towers, 451m high!
Among the roots in KLCC park, Kuala Lumpur
China town, one of the countless streets where you can spend the night away shopping
Street food at busy Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang (KL)

We are very lucky to spend one of the last evenings with some old friends from Kuala Lumpur (we met some years ago in Thailand), who take us to the most bustling and lively street food areas. Food at Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang district of Kuala Lumpur is just great. Without spoiling the fun, just try everything the street vendors are offering and if in doubt, ask locals or at least look how busy and popular certain places are. That is a paradise for street food monsters, such as myself ;-)

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