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Friday, April 2, 2010

KL-MARAN 204KM PILGRIMAGE WALK



What : 33rd KL-Maran Marathon 2010
Date : 26 - 28 March, 2010
Start : Batu Caves, Selangor D.E.
Finish : Maran, Kuantan
Distant : 204km



This is my 5th year into the pilgrimage walk in celebration of Lord Muruga. An event that I have marked on my calendar every year. What's so special & unique about this walk . . . . there is no medal, no certificate, no recognition & no big hohaaaa . . . . . .

This year is the same as all previous year. Peter Goh decided to tag along after giving it a miss for 2 years. This year the walk coincide with the Energiser Night Marathon held in Cyberjaya.

Arrived in Batu Caves at 1.00am. Peter arrived earlier & we went to register at the counter. We paid RM30.00 which come with 3 pcs T-shirt sponsored by Sports Toto, a mug, milk pot, insurance and all the refreshements & food for all the 3 days.

This is more of a spritual journey where one truly find time to reflect on their journey in this universe. Each year, participants will face with new challenges despite walking the same route year after year. This is a journey of self-reflection & soul-searching irrespective of your color or creed.

The toughest is when you start your journey at 3am walking along those never-ending stretches in total darkness sandwich between those palm oil plantation. Most of the time, one will walked that lonely dark lane with occasional vehicles or lorries zooming by.

picture courtesy of runwitme

This year we started a little later - 4.00am from Batu Caves. After the light refreshment of vegetarian mee-hoon & tea, we headed towards Karak Highway to the 1st stop in Genting Sempah (just before the tunnel) which is almost 20km, the toughest stretch in the entire journey. It started raining quite heavily after 1 hour into the journey & I quickly put on the poncho. Walking through that undulating road with one of the steepest strectch of almost 5km uphill before Genting Sempah can really drained off all your energy. Nevertheless, Peter & myself managed to reach there just before 8.00am for a good breakfast before continuing the journey of another 22km before lunch time at Hutan Lipur Lentang.

After lunch, we continued our journey heading towards Karak town. Just after tea break, Peter & myself slowed down our pace as the heat was too much to endure. It was like walking between the blazing sun and oven hot tarred-road! One good thing is there were plenty of water & many locals also set up little 'stall' at bus stop to serve us watermelon, chilled can drinks, ginger tea, yogurt & sweets. Without their support, we may not make it that far.

Just after tea break, I asked Peter to go ahead as I did not want to slow him down with my turtle pace. There was a sharp pain just behind my right ankle. Most likely its that old injury on the tendon. I couldn't walk or lift my feet anymore and there is another 18km before we reach Karak town. I took off my shoe & walk barefooted for almost 7km before one of the Rela personnel gave me a lift for the next 5km. On the way, I saw Peter, Param, Dr Dervinder & few other hardcore walkers struggling to complete the first set for the day.

There were 150 participants compared to previous years of more than 400. This is because the group has split into two with the other group teaming up with Makkal Osai. They decided to start a day earlier thus stretching the journey a little longer to give the participants more rest time in between. But I chose to stick to the original group under Tamil Nesan as I do not wish to participate in their political game.

With lesser perticipants, we have more 'rooms' to ourselves & cleaning up is much better as less people are using the limited facilities like the bathroom especially the ladies. Crowd control is better & people seems to walk more instead of waiting for the 'sweeper bus' compared to previous years. And the local medical team from the hospital was there to give medical check-up & prescribed the necessary medication to those in need. All were encouraged to take the glucose & blood pressure test.

After resting for less than 4 hours, we were woke up by the organiser as they decided to start the journey one hour earlier! Gosh . . . . . thats unbelievable! It was too early to chuck those bread & biscuit down my throat so I just dressed up & started the journey again. I had my Power Gel & Powerbar Performance with me. So, there goes my 1st Powerbar Performance before breakfast at Km8. That was the best breakfast that I always look forward - puttu mayam with dark sugar (the original serving that I had more than 25 years ag0), tosai & freshly cook daal curry.

One good thing about this trip is all the food are freshly cooked & prepared for the participants irrespective of the serving time. I truly salute all the volunteers & sponsors for their dedication & enthusiasm.

By now, I could not walk with the shoe on anymore. So, I requested to jump onto the ambulance & chase after the lorry that carry our baggage to get my slippers. I was then walking with my slippers for the whole of 2nd day. Thats when I got 2 tiny blisters.


The 3rd day is one of the toughest journey with long stretches of never-ending winding route. I walked the first 12km with my slippers on but as I reached the 1st pit-stop, I quickly climbed onto the lorry to retrieve my Digi yellow back-pack & shoe. I will not be able to reach that temple in Jengka unless I put my shoe on. I really dreaded this idea cos' that pain is still very much in my mind. But I have to do this cos' I didn't want to be swept by the sweeper. Peter was also injured by now. Yes, we both have the same problem. So, we decided to pace one another for as long as we can. Just after 5km . . . . OUCH! MY!!!!!!! there was this tremendous sharp stinging pain right behind my ankle. I almost fell on the ground . . . .. I have to lift my feet up & slowly removed the shoes very gently. Huhhhh . . . . there was cold sweat . .. I was so worried that my stubborness to walk with the shoe on may cause the tendon to burst!

So, once again I had to go barefoot for the next 12km. I felt much better but Peter is now struggling even after being treated during breakfast time. The swell on his right foot worsen with each step. I walked slowly with him until we reach halfway with another 5km to Jengka town for lunch.

Finally, Peter joined few other for a break. I took the opprotunity to run across to the petrol station to ease myself. I asked Peter to take a break & wait for the ambulance to fetch him to the next stop while I continued the journey barefooted.

Thats a very lonely 5km . . . . . . . This is truly a test of endurance & spiritual strength. I cleared my mind of all temptation when a couple of times the volunteers stop over to offer a lift. Its almost 11.00am and the heat is on!

I reached the Temple in Jengka just before lunch where most were seated awaiting for lunch and some were seeking treatment from the St. John medical team which has been with us from the start of the journey. As I just sat down to take a break, there was some kind of a commotion . . . . ... . . a loud scream followed by some sort of debate. I was curious but scare at the same time. One of the devotees & a priest were actually in trance. 2 different spirits had entered their body and were talking to the Chief of the temple. I will not go into detail as I am in no liberty to discuss or comment on the situation after getting a short briefing from one of them.

Well, its time to strategise again. I will never make it to another 5km barefoot or with slippers under the hot blazing sun! But, I can't even slip on the shoes! I carried a pouch which contain all the necessary - deep heat, powerbar & gel, Oral Rehydration Salt, pain killer tablets, plasters, baby oil, vaselin, nail clipper, scarf, towel and of course my personal belongings - cash, ID card & mobile phone. I did my own 'operation' to treat the blisters. But what can I do to enable myself to put on the shoes & walk again? Hahahh .. .. an operation on the shoes! So, I borrow a pair of scissors from the St John and . . .. . . . taaaadaaaaaaa . . . . . Yes, I decided to cut off the upper part of the 'ear' so that it will not compressed & 'eat' into the back of my ankle that causes the pain in the tendon! What a brilliant decision!

Just before I continued the last 23km to the final destination, I snapped a group photo with the SJA team. There were 2 fully equipped ambulance accompanying the participants. They are in fact ready to face any eventuality from blisters to heart failure problem.

They are highly professional & friendly in discharging their duty. I was told that they were called by the other group who split from us near Karak as one of their participants was having heart problem. They rushed to him in the nick of time and performed life-saving procedure to keep him conscious & breathing throughout the journey to the nearest hospital which is 10km away. The last we heard, he was still in ICU but in stable condition. This is the 1st casualty I heard off in 5 years.

Peter gave up after 8km as the swell is getting from bad to worse. So, once again I walked the road alone under the hot blazing sun. After 2km, I overtook many and was practically alone on the long stretch again! By now, I should have completed more than 5km and there is still another 8km to go. Now, time is a factor. We gotta be there by 4.00pm as Peter is joining the procession and we have to complete the task and leave for home early for urgent matter. Eventually, I jumped onto the lorry and head towards the MarathandavarTemple.

I 'retired' from the procession this year and joined the Rela to lead the procession instead.

They marched 500 meter towards the main temple before going 3 times around the temple. Finally, they proceeded into the temple to pour the milk onto a deity as a form of purification in fulfilling their deeds.


This majestic temple is being built around a huge tree right in the middle . Despite spending millions, the basic amenities such as washrooms are in such deplorable state. There is no clean water & there were really filthy & stinks! I usually will carry bottles of mineral waters & hide in a corner to clean-up before heading home for proper bath.



The toughest part of this journey is being back to basic without any decent amenities especially the very basic cleansing facilities. Overall, I always enjoy this pilgrimage as each journey is unique and educational.

Peter & myself decided to train 3 months before our next journey. This time bringing few other friends along. We would like to take 10 persons with us on this challenge especially those who has completed their Ironman or Iron Lady course. We are also looking for volunteers who are willing to drive along in their 4-wheel or any vehicle as a back-up team.

I DARE YOU to take on this challenge!





4 comments:

June Malik said...

a noble walk Jue and inspiring. thanks for sharing.

jue said...

june,

thanks. hopefully next year some ayam can join me . . .heheheee

RunWitMe said...

Wah..cinya...Nexy year hope Lord Murugan will clear the calendar from any road races on the Panguni Uthiram. :)

Maybe I can join again.

Anonymous said...

hello jue,
this walk really gives me the kick to try it.
when will this walk be organized on this year
can i get sum info
tq