Race Review: KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2019 - An Experience Starting From Behind (Pen 4)

KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2019 Finish Line


Tokyo Marathon is THE marathon to run for many of us. Since I started running full marathon, it has been my goal to run Tokyo Marathon. And after 5 years of unsuccessful applications, finally my running dream came true on February 25, 2018.

When I completed my Tokyo Marathon 2018 , I felt like I was on top of my running journey.

I finally ticked off Tokyo Marathon from my bucket list in running!

But then what next?

After I came back from Tokyo Marathon 2018, suddenly I lost interest in running. I lost motivation to run again. I lost the direction and aim. I lost the reason to run. I stopped running.

I lost it totally.

I don't know why!

Was it the burnout from running five (5) full marathons including Tokyo Marathon within four (4) months?

Or was it that now there is nothing else for me to look forward to? I "have been there, done that"?

Seriously, I don't know. I just don't have the mood and fire and passion to run anymore.

Any runners out there who have faced similar situation as me? How do you overcome? I really would like to know.

Over the course of the last one (1) year and seven (7) months, I signed up for four (4) full marathons (Putrajaya Night Marathon 2018, Twincity Marathon 2019, Hatyai Marathon 2019, and Score Night Marathon 2019).

I was hoping that if I signed up for a race, I would force myself to train, to run again.

Unfortunately, I failed miserably in all my comeback attempts.

I DNS (Did Not Start) in all four (4) full marathon races leading to KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2019.

Can you imagine? 4 DNSs in a row! I couldn't believe it myself! Don't say I haven't tried! I tried - but failed!

My excuses: not enough training; lack of motivation; afraid I couldn't finish 42 km, blah blah blah.

But the key reason: my fire to run has died! I no longer feel the joy of running with the adrenaline rush.

I have been feeling very miserable. My self confidence got beaten up pretty badly.

When physical and mental strength both take a downward turn to the rock bottom, it's very hard to crawl back.

Hence, when the days were nearer to September 29, 2019, my anxiety and worries started to build up. I started to have doubts again. I started to have this intention to pull out (DNS) again.

But after four (4) failed comeback attempts with 4 consecutive DNSs, would I make KLSCM2019 my 5th DNS in a row?

No, I gotta stop this. I can't continue to stay at rock bottom forever beating myself up everyday. I gotta pick myself up again.

Therefore, I told myself that no matter what, even if I had to crawl and walk the whole 42km, I wasn't going to pull out from KLSCM2019.

And knowing my current poor physical and mental state of health, I knew if I continued to be stubborn wanting to start at Pen 2 (as I have always been for the last few years), it would be a total suicide!

I was so glad I changed from Pen 2 (below 4 hours) to Pen 4 (below 6 hours) at start line. I gave myself 2 more hours to crawl back to finish line.


I bumped into a few friends during my race entry pack collection at PWTC on September 26.

One of the funniest conversations:

Friend A, "Hey Vincent! Long time no see. Good to see you again. Another sub 4?"

I blushed wishing there was a cave for me to hide. I replied politely, "Yeah, good to see you too! Yeah I haven been running. Therefore you don't see me around. Sub 4? Neh! I am starting at Pen 4. I will be happy if I can finish in one piece."

Friend A replied unbelievably, "No training? You must be having some secret training!"

It's so much pressure after completing a few sub 4 hours full marathons. Of course, I wish I could continue to run a sub-4hour full marathon every single race, especially at KLSCM2019. Of course I wish I could run 100-150km weekly clocking in high weekly mileage or have some sort of secret training. Of course I wish I could continue to improve my time.

Unfortunately, my age is catching up and I foresee I will run slower and slower. At 52, I gotta accept it. No choice! Unless I can go to South Korea for a total body make over - of my heart, of my legs, and all! Otherwise, the hard facts of ageing are still kicking in daily. Slowly but surely.

But worse - the passion to run has diminished! Oh gosh! Where is the fire now that once burned fiercely in me to run?

Therefore, I don't know how to answer friends who used to see me run a sub-4hour full marathon. In fact, most of my friends that I usually run with during training are all sub-4hour running kaki. Now I feel I don't belong to that group anymore.

Anyway, the conversation was good because it prepared me to accept that I'm a slow runner now.

Oh - about the new queue system. I found it to be a longer wait compared to the old system. It was also much more congested at PWTC compared to previous REPC venues at KLCC, Merdeka Square underground arcade.  Perhaps due to overwhelming response to the full marathon, the queue was at least three times longer than half marathon queue.

In situation like this, it would be good if there is a traffic controller to mobilise more counters to cater for full marathoners to help speed up the process. It's just like queuing up at immigration counters at the airport. If the resident queue or aircrew line were empty, the immigration officer would open up for others to help ease other lines.


Personally I have not run a full marathon in this latest KLSCM 2019 route course before. There was a change of the route since KLSCM2018. But last year, I only ran 21km.

Usually I would study the route map before I ran a full marathon. But this round, I told myself, "The heck with it! I am not gonna study the route map beforehand. I am going to run this full marathon as if running my first FM. I will accept whatever comes my way. I just want to finish in one piece."


As usual, I couldn't sleep the night before a race. I ended up having 30 min nap around 11.45pm. I left home around 1.30am and took the 2am LRT from Bukit Jalil to Masjid Jamek Station. I guess I was too early. Not many runners were in the same coach. Anyway, it was good to be early.

I bumped into a few friends. Some I went up to say hi. But most I withdrew myself and shied away. Most of my regular friends were in Pen 2. And I was supposed to start at Pen 2 too.

Anyway, I braved myself to walk past Pen 2 and slowly walked towards Pen 4.

I couldn't describe the feeling! It was more of internal struggle that I had! I really wanted to start at Pen 2 but I knew I couldn't. Oh well, I gotta accept my condition. No point torturing myself unnecessarily. I also need to humble myself to go into Pen 4. There is nothing wrong to run slow. There is nothing wrong to start at Pen 4 even though I have been used to starting at Pen 2.

With 13,500 runners running full marathon and most of them in Pen 4, you could imagine the crowd!

I was so glad to bump into my cousin's husband who was running his firs full marathon. We walked to Pen 4 together and waited with the rest for the 3:45am start.

While waiting, a friend passed by seeing me in Pen 4. He shouted at me, "Hey Vincent! What are you doing here at Pen 4? You belong to Pen 2!"

Oh no! What an embarrassing moment! lol! I quickly replied, "Neh! I am a slow runner now. So I will start at Pen 4."

This friend of mine still didn't want to give up teasing me. He smilingly said, "Oh I know! You want to start from behind to potong (overtake) them later and still achieve sub 4!"

I was speechless and I just had a good laugh about it!

I don't blame my friends for their concerns and remarks. I fact, I am very grateful that they still think highly of me to run a sub4 hour full marathon! Very nice of them indeed! But I guess my physical and mental conditions have changed over the last 1 year 7 months in bad way.

Why no one gave me a warm welcome into Pen 4?  A warm welcome would be nice for a change! lol!

I started at PEN 4 (6 hours) instead of PEN 2 (4 hours),
giving myself extra 2 hours to crawl back to finish line.


In previous races where I usually stood close to start line, I could hear the cheers and noise of the runners and organisers. I could hear the opening speech. I could feel the excitement of starting a race. Unfortunately, being at Pen 4 standing between 6:00 hour pacers and 5:30 hour pacers, I could vaguely hear the announcements and the gun-off. There wasn't any much excitement because there wasn't any loud speaker around Pen 4 to keep us excited about the start off.

Anyway, I heard some runners saying, "Start already! Start already!" That's how we Pen 4 runners got to feel a bit of the excitement! lol!

I quickly switched on my Garmin VivoActive GPS watch. I was planning to wait until I passed the sensor at Start Line only to press start.

Imagine this - thousands of runners! We could barely run, not to mention walking without stopping. We slowly but surely inched ourselves nearer and nearer to start line.

It finally took me 9 minutes and 15 seconds to finally move from Pen 4 to the start line. Phew! The longest ever for me to wait to press the "start" button on my Garmin GPS watch.

I wished my cousin's husband good luck and off I went. Slowly, but surely!

I was targeting to finish around 6 hours. I told myself that as long as I didn't let 6:00 hour pacers catch up and pass me by, I would still be pretty safe to finish within 6 hours.

But you know - 42 km was a long journey! Anything could happen! I decided to listen to my body and run by feel without paying much attention to my pace and speed.

It would be great if loud speakers could be installed at Pen 4 area so that Pen 4 runners could also feel the excitement of the flag off! It would be even more awesome if some big screen TVs could be installed so that runners at the back could see what's happening in the front!


For the first 11 km or so, we ran within the city, passing by KLCC, Bukit Bintang area, etc. 

It was very nice and thoughtful to have such route for runners, especially foreign runners, to see the beautiful KL skylines. If I could recall correctly, I did pass by some locations twice to make up the 11 km city run.

I was really struggling to run during this first 11km city run.

KL roads were not known to be wide compared to other cities like Jakarta, Taipei, Tokyo. With such small roads, and thousands of runners jammed up together, I was trying my best to run. But most times, I had to slow down and even put a brake to my run to walk due to too many runners in my front, on my left and right. lol! Many times, I was trying zig zag approach to run passed other runners! However, it was still hard due to the narrow KL roads. 

The air was humid. I felt quite suffocated indeed. I guess if I were to start from Pen 2, I wouldn't have such problem. 

Nonetheless, I was glad that I got to have a feel of how Pen 4 runners felt. A good experience from behind indeed!

Since I wasn't chasing time (not that I didn't want to, I know I couldn't), I told myself to settle down and be at ease with the situation. And I should just run along, flow along with the crowd. 

At KM4, I managed to catch up with 5:30 hour pacers. I had a small chat with Kelvin Ng about Tokyo Marathon 2020 then I continued to run on my own. I wasn't looking at my watch. No point!

I felt such a great relief when finally we ran passed Lot 10 and out of KL city towards Jalan Tun Razak. I felt that finally I could breathe some fresh air!

I ran in Tokyo, Taipei, Jakarta and Hong Kong before. Tokyo has wide roads to run on. No problem at all even running within the city for the whole 42km. Hong Kong - I remember it was just a few km run within the city, then quickly we ran out of the city already due to the narrow roads in HK. 

But KL roads are so narrow. It was really a struggle to run 11km within the narrow roads in the City with thousands of runners together. May be I'm the odd one out feeling this way! 

Anyway, as I ran slowly by feel, I could see 5:00hour balloons at around KM14 ahead of me. I was so excited! 

I was thinking to myself excitedly, "Hey! 5:00 hour pacers! Probably, I could still make it within 5 hours instead of the targeted 6 hours."

At K15, I managed to catch up with 5:00 hour pacers. I saw a friend Jack running with the pacers. I said a quick hi to him. 

I was really happy at that point. I started from Pen 4 near 6:00 hour pacers to finally catch up with 5:00 hour pacers at KM15. That gave me hope that I could probably finish this full marathon after 4 consecutive DNSs!

Little did I know after KM25, I was starting to feel shitty and demotivated. My feet were becoming very draggy. I was very exhausted despite stopping at every single water station to drink mineral water and/or isotonic drinks.  I even drank too much water until I had to use the mobile toilets twice. Well, it's better for me to stay hydrated and go to toilets than dehydrated and faint!

But I told myself, "By hook by crook, I must finish this 42km. I can't repeat another DNS. I can do it!" I also said a quick prayer to depend on God's strength for me to have strong mental strength to sustain me through for another 17 km.

If I recall correct, there were 2 places where full marathoners merged with 21km runners. Boy! What a huge bottle neck there. I would be frustrated if I were a fast runner. But this round, I was running with the majority. Hence, I couldn't be bothered that I had to do some zig zagging again to pass through 21km runners. Oh well! What to do since I ran slow and couldn't avoid the 21km runners? I might as well enjoy the crowd! 

Without me realising it, the excellent post-race analysis provided by runpix.co showed that I actually ran passed 5042 runners over the first 30km with 59 others running passed me!

What? I ran passed so many runners? I actually burst into laughter when I read this analysis! I found it to be too funny not to laugh at! I guess that was the biggest unexpected bonus I got for starting from Pen 4. 

When I started from Pen 2 previously, I hardly ran passed anyone. lol! And usually I had more and more runners running passed me in the last 10 km towards finish line. 

Therefore, running passed 5042 runners was a great consolation for me to start from Pen 4. (Note: I still can't stop laughing as I'm writing this race review. lol!).

I guess all the fast fast runners, elite runners wouldn't get to experience what I experienced! Yay! 


How could I describe my final 12km? 

One word: Tortoise!

Yeah! I was running at tortoise pace. I was running slower and slower. Duke Highways, Bukit Tunku, and all the hills along the route were just kidding me! It was an endless journey! 

The thoughts of giving up started to fill my mind again! But quickly I shook them off! I had come this far, I wasn't gonna back down! No way! 

I would rather run slow and crawl if I had to in order to complete this final 12km then to have a 5th consecutive DNS.

Feeling deflated, I didn't look at runners around me. I just focused on every single little step I could take, moving inch by inch to the front. One foot at a time. Left. Then right. Then left again. And repeat same process.

I prayed a silent prayer again.

Little did I know that I could still run passed 296 runners and 89 other runners caught up nicely and ran passed me. Compared to 5042 runners in first 30 km, you could see that I was running out of steam! 


Yay! I was so happy that I finally crossed the finish line in this so-called "crawl-back" FM at KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2019. KLSM 2019 was my 32nd full marathon to date.

My time wasn't impressive at all! I finished with a net time of 4 hours 57 minutes (4:57:37). It was my poorest KLSCM timing, and my second worst full marathon timing ever after Langkawi Island Ocean Marathon (5 hours 19 minutes) few years back.

Slow I was but I wasn't a quitter!

After 4 consecutive DNS leading to KLSCM, and knowing I couldn't do a sub 4, I had to eat humble pie, lowering down my own ego, accepting my own body condition, and standing at Pen 4 start line to finish this race!

I have peace in my heart now!

At least I know I could still run a full marathon despite my conditions.

At least I know I could still crawl back after 4 consecutive DNSs and 1 year 7 months of no FM races!

At least I know if I put my heart to it, I could still crawl back in one piece.

Most importantly KLSCM has taught me to be humble, to experience how it felt like to be a slower runner, how it felt like to be running from behind. I really treasure all my experiences starting from Pen 4 at KLSCM!

Officially, I am no longer a sub4 runner. I'm now a sub 5 runner! :)

It's a good thing! Less pressure to run fast!

But it also means I have got to find new runner friends to train. I can't join all my other sub 4 runner friends in their training anymore. haha!

Thank you KLSCM 2019! Thank you for helping me to complete this awesome "crawl-back" full marathon!

Great thanks to all the supporters and volunteers too!

And thank you too to my sub 4hour runner friends for your great understanding on how I feel!

And of course - all the Pen 4 runners! Well done to all of you who completed the full marathon!

Below are more photos on the "crawl-back" full marathon:

1. Running towards finish line

Running towards finish line. Photo courtesy: KLSCM

Running towards finish line. Photo courtesy: KLSCM
Photo courtesy: Run Pix
Photo courtesy: Run Pix

Photo courtesy: Run Pix

2. Embarrassing moments with poor timing

I couldn't help myself but sticking out my tongue.
An embarrassing moment when I bumped into some friends who
finished much earlier than me. :) Photo courtesy: Jason

Can you see me having an embarrassing blushed face?
So red! Photo courtesy: Jason

3. First Under Armour running vest and hard earned "crawl-back" FM medal

Hard earned finisher mewl and finisher T. Also my first Under Armour vest.

4. Poor pace and timing but at least I finished the race

4. Very nice e-certificate - my 32rd full marathon! Breaking the 4 consecutive DNS jinx!

5. KLSCM Participation History: KLSMC2019 poorest timing

KLSCM 2019 - my poorest timing so far! Getting slower and slower in running! Age is definitely catching up! haha!

6. Thank you and goodbye Saucony Kinvara 8

I love Saucony Kinvara shoes. You can see I really wear them until fully worn out! Oh well, I guess I need to say good bye to my Saucony Kinvara 8.

I guess it's time for me to buy a new pair of running shoes to pursue my next sub 5 hour (instead of sub 4) marathon! haha!

Shall I buy Saucony Kinvara again?

7. See you in 2020 KLSCM!

Written by sub 5 hour "crawl-back" runner, Vincent :)


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