Road or Trail
It’s unusual that road running events have skyrocketed in numbers in recent years, and yet there are comparatively fewer trail runs being organized locally. I suspect the majority of runners prefer the convenience of running on tarmac roads because they regard trail running as being too technical, too challenging and too risky for the same energy and resources spent.
Trail runners, on the other hand, despise road running because it’s too boring, too predictable and too contrived compared to the boundless natural beauty of off-road trails. Personally, I don’t have a clear favorite as I like both road & trail running in equal measures and for different reasons, depending on my mood.
There are days when I feel like being surrounded by trees and breathing the fresh air as I dart up and down a grassy knoll; avoiding tree roots and branches and crossing a cool stream. On other days, I might want to run in the city before the break of dawn, and watch the city dwellers slowly waking up and coming alive; breakfast sellers setting up shop, and morning people exercising in the parks.
In reality, I join many more road races than trail runs because there are more road races to choose from, and given the inherent dangers associated with running in the wilderness, I’ll join trail runs only if I’m confident that the race organizers are qualified and experienced enough to plan and execute a race which is both challenging and safe for the participants.
The new Buff Trail Run was held at Sungai Buloh on 1st July 2018 and it was organized by Corezone, a shop which specializes in a wide range of outdoor adventure gears and sporting goods, and its main sponsor was Exped Pro. Helping-out with selecting, mapping and testing the routes for this trail run were the experienced Corezone Buff Trail Running Ambassadors and Salute Runners Club.
Being expert climbers and runners, the Buff Trail Run organizing committee is more than capable to stage an exciting trail run which will showcase the hidden trails of Sungai Buloh for the first time.
More than 700 eager runners gathered at the starting arch which was erected in the front of the Lighthouse Building and home to Corezone outlet. The 17km and 10km runners were both flagged off at the same time, 7:00am.
The initial route was a 3.5km road which stretched passed the sprawling Sungai Buloh Hospital at 1km mark. At the end of that road, we turned left into a kampung and in no time, we were at the foothills of Bukit Lagong where our trail journey really began.
Once we were in the woods, I could detect the distinct freshness and stillness of mother nature welcoming us into her warm bosom.
The trails under our shuffling feet consisted mainly of the dirt path, grassy patches, tree roots, some rocks, and fallen leaves. At times, we had to clamber over or duck under tree trunks which had fallen across our paths.
When we reached the clearing at the top of the hill, we were rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the valley below. Many runners even stopped briefly and took photos and selfies against this breathtaking backdrop.
It was fun running down the sloppy path to the bottom, and for the next few kilometers, we were running between huge grids of private nurseries where their farm workers were busy tending to the plants and flowers. I was sure that the languid laborers were as thankful for the remaining coolness of the clear morning as were the fleeting runners.
After running for more than 7km together, the 17km runners veered right to the next big climb, while the 10km runners continued straight on the flat plains.
A small part of me wanted to follow the happy 10km runners back and call it a day, but up to that point, I was so impressed with the wonderful landscape so far that I needed to see more of it, even if I had to push myself up a couple more big climbs.
As I wanted to avoid any onset of muscle cramps, I alternated between walking briskly uphill and jogged gingerly downhill. With my slow and determined pace, I was able to observe more closely my natural surroundings and enjoy each step along the way.
As I was about to exit the farm and nursery plots, I was just thinking how unusually dry my trail shoes were. My joy of keeping my feet dry was suddenly cut short by an underpass tunnel which was filled knee deep with water accumulated from the previous night’s rain.
Alas, resigned to the fact that no trail run is really complete without some sort of water crossing, I splashed my way noisily through the dark tunnel like a playful kid. The volunteers watching my commotion from the other end of the tunnel must have thought that I was high on magic mushrooms! For good measure, I did a little rain dance as I stopped by their last water station.
At the last 500 meters, I met two other runners along the road and suggested we ran together to the finish line. I might have started the race alone, but it was more enjoyable to finish the run with my two new friends. Even though we were one of the last batch of runners to cross the finish line, we still were happy with our personal achievements of having covered the same distance as the faster runners.
Prizes & Giveaways
The sponsors were very generous in awarding prizes to the top 10 runners from all the age/gender categories for both 17km & 10km distances. Even lucky draw prizes were given away too!
Looking at all the happy faces of the runners who were sitting around during the prize presentation and cheerfully chatting away, I can conclude that they enjoyed the first Buff Trail Run as much as I did.
Special thanks to Dee Lu (Exped Pro), Sharon Tan (Corezone), the Buff Team and all the event sponsors for showing us that a trail running event can appeal to the novice runners, seasoned veterans, as well as every other type of trail runners in between.
As for those who have yet to discover the hidden trails of Sungai Buloh forestry, I hope there will be another Buff Trail Run held there again….
About the Author:
Gus Ghani is a HIIT Fitness Coach and Running Malaysia Magazine Columnist. You can follow him at www.gusghani.com or Instagram @gusghani.