Self-support Genting Sempah - Janda Baik Hill Marathon

Self-support Genting Sempah - Janda Baik Hill Marathon :)

Over the weekend, my Facebook account has been flooded with friends' race updates on Titi Ultra, Miri Marathon and Seoul Marathon, just to name a few. Since I have not registered for any full marathon races in February and March, my legs were truly itchy seeing friends' race reports.

At the same time, I have started to have butterflies in my stomach thinking of the first ultra marathon that I will be joining in less than a month.

Less than a month from today? Route 68 Challenge 50 km? The killer hills at Genting Sempah and Janda Baik?

Oh no - what have I got myself into?😲

For the last few weeks, I have been running with few running friends who are preparing for their ultras at Route 68 Challenge in April. Mind you - they are all experienced ultra runners!! And they will be running 50km 84km and 168 km respectively.

When they popped up the idea of running 42 km as part of the training for Route 68 Challenge, my jaws droped!! What? You crazy xiao xiao people! Run a 42 km full marathon as part of training? I could only imagine myself running a full marathon in a race! It never ever crossed my mind that one day I would become crazy and run a 42km distance as part of training.


But I guess my anxiety that's slowly building up towards the actual D-day in April for my first ultra 50 km short-changed me!! I was pursuaded by ultra friends to join them to be crazy runners!!

I really regretted knowing them! Keep pushing me to go the distance! haha!! (Kidding lah! I love them for pushing and encouraging me!)

So, off we went - running a self-support 42 km full marathon from Hospital Orang Asli in Gomback to Genting Sempah then Janda Baik and back on March 19, 2017.

Genting Sempah - Janda Baik Hill Marathon (adequately named by beautiful ultra runner Julia. 😀)

Date            : March 19, 2017
Time           : 5.45 am
Distance      : 42 km
Participants : 4 (Julia Lim, Keng Piew, Wooi Keat, me) - smallest ever full marathon!  😋

The 4 participants (from left): Keng Piew, Wooi Keat, Julia Lim and me. This photo was shot by Wooi Keat 1 week earlier when we did our 30-32 km LSD.

Uniquely Genting Sempah and Janda Baik

Genting Sempah route can be quite a familiar ground for most runners and cyclists. Janda Baik route is more familiar to cyclists. Since this full marathon was a self-support, non-race 42 km run in preparation for our upcoming Route 68 Challenge, I decided to highlight things that are uniquely Genting Sempah - Janda Baik in this article so that more people can get to expeirience the wonderful world of nature.

1. Convenient start / finish venue

If you mention Hospital Orang Asli Gombak (HOAG) or Museum Orang Asli, most runners and cyclists who have been there can resonate well. This is the place where most people would gather before they start off in the hilly roads of Genting Sempah. For cyclists in particular, this also means a meet-up point before they cycle all the way to Janda Baik and even Bukit Tinggi!!

There are plenty of parking in this area. Otherwise, you can park further up at the football field or the road side near Hospital Orang Asli Gombak (HOAG).

4 of us started off at around 5.45 am from HOAG.

It was also my first time to wear a headlamp - a mandatory gear for the upcoming Route 68 Challenge. I was using the headlamp from the infamous Energizer Night Run at F1 Sepang Curcuits few years ago which had very bad publicity due to poor event organisation.

Hospital Orange Asli, Gombak (HOAG)

2. Long suffering killer hills 

Yes, this 42 km route is rather challenging with killer hills 15 km up and down, and 6 km up and down. It's not for faint hearted but it's guranteed very fun! :)

I would break this 42 km route down into 3 key distinctive stretches:

First half (21 km)
  • Hospital Orang Asli Gombak (HOAG) to Genting Sempah Bridge: 15 km uphill
  • Genting Sempah Bridge to Genting Highlands' roundabout: 1 km downhill
  • Genting Highlands' roundabout to Janda Baik T-Junction: 5 km downhill 

2nd half (21 km)
  • Janda Baik T-Junction to Genting Highlands' roundabout: 5 km uphill
  • Genting Highlands' roundabout to Genting Sempah Bridge: 1 km downhill
  • Genting Sempah Bridge to Hospital Orang Asli Gombak (HOAG): 15 km uphill
With the elevation from 107 m (351 feet) all the way up to 664 m (2,178 feet), there are generally 2 uphills (15 km from HOAG to Genting Sempah and 6 km returning from Janda Baik to Genting Sempah). Due to the distance and the elevation, it really makes the hill running much much harder and longer

When there is an uphill, there will be a downhill. 

But don't be fooled by the 6 km downhill from Genting Sempah to Janda Baik and the 15 km down hill back from Genting Sempah to Hospital Orang Asli Gombak. The last 15 km can still be a daunting, tiring experience despite it's downhill nature. By then, a runner would have been very very tired.

Shall I call the 42 km a usual Long Slow Distance (LSD) running or I shall rename it to Long Suffering Distance ("new "LSD") running? :)

Most runners under normal hill training would just run 30 km, HOAG to Genting Sempah bridge and back. Or perhaps to run down to the Genting Highlands roundabout and back for extra 2 km or so. 

Hardly I see runners run the Janda Baik route. Therefore, the Janda Baik stretch can be a little more quiet and tranquil with mostly cyclists there.

Here is a glimpse of what Janda Baik's stretch looks like:

Tranquil road of janda Baik after rain on Sunday morning with water gushinng down from the jungle.

a rather wet morning  with puddle of water on the main road of Janda Baik

3. Beautiful scenery at Genting Sempah to Janda Baik

Many people who run here love the fresh quality air and the beautiful scenery. It depends on the weather.

You can actually witness some amazing sceneries along the route - from clear blue sky and clear road to dark cloudy sky and road with puddle of water.

Regardless of whether it's a sunny or cloudy day, the nature doesn't disappoint. The views are simply breathtaking - a very good break from the hustle bustle of the city life!! Good for rejuvenation before back to office to work on a Monday! :)

I took this shot from Janda Baik stretch.  I believe across is the Bukit Tinggi resorts.

Another view of the mountains, trees, mists, clouds. Beautiful!

I have never run beyond this roundabout at McDonald's / Petronas at Genting Sempah towards Janda Baik. This was my first! Must take a photo for memory!

t Janda Baik's T-Junction before making a u turn back! Again, my first to be there - by foot or by wheel! Never before! Such a beautiful serene stretch!

4. On top of the world at Genting Sempah Bridge

This must be the most popular spot for cyclists and runners alike!

Last Sunday was such an exceptional day with so many cyclists and runners! After running there for so many times, I have never seen such a big enthusiastic crowd of runners and cyclists at this highest top after 15 km uphill from Hospital Orang Asli Gombak (HOAG).

From the runners that I managed to speak with along the route, I found out that everyone there was training for the upcoming Route 68 Challenge 2017 to be held on April 15-16 which is slightly less than a month away.  :)

As for the cyclists, it looks like they must be training for RHB Shimano Highway Night Ride 2017 @ Lekas Highway or the Port Dickson International Triathlon 2017

There was such high energy in the air - with chatting, catching up, taking selfies (including myself! :)), and taking a short break.

A Malay couple had a stall there selling drinks, fruits (water melon) and some sandwiches for quick bites. A wonderful place to fill up stomach after the 15 km uphill run / cycle.

Popular spot. The highest point of the whole stretch.

Nice yeah? I love this view with the bridge and adrenaline junkies!

Another view of cyclists ready to continue riding to Janda Baik or Bukit Tinggi

Caught up with my colleague and friend FL who was up there on his bicycle!

5. Natural 'water stations

You might ask - where is the hydration / water station for the full marathon? :)

Well - didn't I say it was a self-support full marathon / 42 km run? haha!

Fret not. 

You can still get yourself hydrated at 15 km, 16 km, or 16.5 km

Besides the Malay couple selling drinks at the Genting Sempah bridge area, you could also replenish your drinks at Petronas Station or McDonald's close to the roundabout. And yes - some people even stop there for McDonald's burger or fries or breakfast! :) There is also a Malay stall about 500 m from the round about on the way to Janda Baik that sells drinks and breaksfast (fried noodles, nasi lemak, etc) as well.

Or - if you are daring and adventurous enough, you can be like me - drinking the natural spring water flowing out of the forest! 😊

The natural water is full of mineral and refreshing! Very clean too! I have tried few times and I love the freshness of it!! No diarrhea after drinking it for me! So I guess it's safe for drinking! haha!

Anyway, you may find a water fall with a tube with water flowing out at about 12.5 km from HOAG along Genting Sempah stretch. At the Janda Baik stretch, I also spotted 2 places with water flowing out from the streams. 

I actually stopped at these 2 places to have my water replenished!! :)

at 12.5 km from HOAG - stream of water with a pipe for easy drinking.

Yohoo! This is the "natural" water station! Self service!
Another water station at Janda Baik. Can you see the little stream / water coming out from the jungle along the rock on the top right of this photo? Refreshing natural mineral water! :)

Completion of first non-race 42 km full marathon training

4 of us ran together at beginning. After which, we followed our own pace. I stopped by several places to take photos, and replenishing my water as well as catching up with cyclist friend at the Genting Sempah Bridge. 

The 42 km full marathon route was rather tough!! 

Even with 15 km downhill all the way to reach the finish line (Hospital Orang Asli Gombak), by then my legs were so painful after 15 km uphill, 6 km down hill and 6 km uphill. 

I finished my first every non-race, self-support full marathon training with a time of 4:18:32 at an average pace of 6:09 min/km and a total of 1,578 m (5,177 feet) elevation gained. I didn't calculate the time I rested, chit chatted, took selfie and photos. :) If I didn't my finish time would have been longer. sob! sob! I didn't manage to achieve my targeted average pace of 6:00 min/km. But I guess it's okay! At least I managed to complete the 42 km full marathon run as part of the training for next month's first 50 km ultra.

Garmin Vivoactive!

Do I love this route? Yes, most definitely. And I would recommend to anyone who loves hill training to try out this route. 

You too can have your own self-support Genting Sempah - Janda Baik Hill Marathon!! It's free registration! haha! But beware of the killer hills!! 

Enjoy the run!

Written by Vincent Khor on Mar 22, 2017


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