Menara KL Night Towerthon 2011

This is a long overdued post. Sorry folks. Some posts can wait, right?

The Towerthon took place on 7th May 2011, so it’s exactly a month since I raced up 22 floors of the Menara KL in the night. This was my first time entering a race that involves going up a skyscraper. Last time I remembered training for a climb (not race!) was Mount Kinabalu in 2005.

Even if you boastfully said that you’ve been trapped in an elevator for 10 minutes and not feel a clinch in your stomach, then try the claustrophobic stairs of the KL Tower that goes up all the way to the observation deck and see why claustrophobic is a gross understatement. Before the race, I wiki-ed ‘KL tower’ which states that there are 22 floors of stairs including 4 elevators that makes up 2,058 steps. I was like, wow… but I was also thinking: if I could conquer Mount Kinabalu, what harm can 2,058 steps do?!

Again, a gross underestimation of the horror 2,058 steps could do to your soul. The combination of the claustrophobic-ness of the staircase and the number of people climbing at the same time PLUS the lack of ventilation (claustrophobic lah tu!) makes walking up Batu Caves 10-times while fending yourself against monkeys, a piece of cake. I dedicated a substantial amount of time to train for this Towerthon and ended up in a total 6000++ steps accumulated over that period. It was one of my more well-prepared races compared to say PBIM 2010 and HK Marathon 2011

 Looks can be decieving. Tough race up the brightly lighten tower.

On paper, my race starts at 8.30pm. Biasalah, the Malaysia boleh mentally sets in, and for whatever reason my race delayed to 10pm. In Malaysia, memang apa-apa pun boleh! I was sitting there mengantuk like crazy, and because I was all by myself and alone for this race, I was bored to death. The race organizers were releasing 300 ppl up the tower any one time, and even so, we heard that a human traffic jam was already forming within the walls of the Menara. Before the start of the race, I really felt like being in a kandang lembu, being sequestered from other race categories with wooden barriers. While at the starting line, I saw Yuen Yu Fang, our Malaysia veteran pro-long distance runner at another kandang just behind me. She was staring at me. Maybe I look intimidating! But I quietly thank the Lord that she is not in my race category.

Tip no.1: The starting line is 800m away from the foot of the Tower. No one told me to do so, neither did I google for this tip, but I told myself to run as fast as I could for this 800m even though it was 100% uphill all the way. I ran as fast as I could 800m overtaking approx. 100+ runners, as all these runners were blimley oblivious to the fact that running as fast as u can RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE is the key to this Towerthon. Many took their sweet time walking uphill towards the tower. I was delighted I came out top of the pack cause there’s no better time to beat 100 runners anymroe….not at the narrow staircase, no!

I was the first few girls in my category to reach the staircase. I ran ASAP up for first 10 floors. Wasn’t really tired, but I’ve anticipated the impending human traffic jam on my way up. It was almost impossible to run up anymore – the stairs are narrow and you have to overtake the person in front of you in the most flattering way: by saying “EXCUSE ME” all the way up. Not easy. And thats like soo many people ahead of you. There was this one time where I blocked by this fat girl (sorry!). Her huge frame blocked the whole stairway. Being behind her, I had to resort to walking about 5 floors, but unable to take her (slow) pace, and excused myself to overtake her. She wasn’t happy.

I had to watch my steps…Tip no. 2: The stupidest idea for one who does a Towerthon, is to listen to his Ipod while racing up! It will definitely kill your concentration because it was very easy to trip and fall. You need to focus on your footsteps, taking care not to fall over papercups and slip over wetfloors.

Stamina and breathing is core to this race. But your mind should be above all, be strong and stubborn. Let me tell you why: Ventilation is almost zero, the stairs is claustrophobic (how many times have I mentioned this word here already?), people are behind and in front of you mere inches apart, you smell fresh sweat, and finally….you see people stopping halfway, hyperventilating and some idiots sitting on the stairway blocking other runners (where are your manners, people!). Some looking at you, their swelled up faces probably demanding that you empathize with them. Tip no. 3: Do not look into the faces of runners who stopped. Their faces demotivates you. Their tired faces sucks the life out of your pace. Continue running and focus on your steps.

I finished the race in 27 minutes!! I can’t benchmark my performance against anything, but for the first time in my life, my name was at the first page of the results pages. I was Top 48 in my category. Maybe you’ve heard stories, but did you know that it was wayyyy tougher to come down from the Menara then racing up?  The idiotic organizers had only one lift working for the thousands of runners coming down. That aside, I was satisfied and convinced to not let this be my last Towerthon up the Menara KL. The observation deck awarded every finisher a pleasant night scenery of KL for a tough finish to the top.

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