Sunday, March 3, 2019

Running in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 40 miles off the beaten tourist trails

A new country, a new capital, a new post in my "Running in..." series, new trails, new experiences, all this on my feet, that's a lot to be grateful for!
Now, over the weekend I could spend in Kuala Lumpur after a client visit last Friday, did I do all the top 10 or 20 of the tourist attractions or recommendations? Maybe not, but I've had a more authentic encounter with the local culture for sure!

I didn't get hawker food on Jalan Alor Road, but ate in local eateries. I didn't get in line to go up the 7th tallest building in the world, the KL Tower, nor either to the top of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and their Sky Bridge, but I got views from them from the 15th floor of my hotel room and the nearby hills. I didn't visit museums but ran by several of the main ones. And I saw key landmarks representing the diversity of religions of the country.

And I crossed many neighborhoods where I didn't see any tourist at all.

When I started including "Running in..." posts to my blog, there wasn't as many reviews of local runs out there. 12 years later, there are many more available, and that's one of the first things I check upon visiting a new country or city. Given the heat and humidity, I was curious what I'd find about running. To my surprise, quite a few hits came up, for instance:

  1. 7 great parks for runners and joggers in Greater Kuala Lumpur 
  2. 8 best places to run in Kuala Lumpur 
  3. 9 best places to run in Kuala Lumpur
  4. Great runs in Kuala Lumpur 

You will notice though that they pretty much have the same spots. Indeed, I wouldn't qualify Kuala Lumpur downtown as a great place to run: busy streets, dense construction and, of course, the heat (90-94F) and humidity (60%) which makes the weather app qualify the temperature as "feels 100 or 104F...!" To set a goal of running long this past weekend however, I set myself a goal to visit as many of these running places as possible. I did map 5 of them for a 50K+ loop around the West side of the city.

With that, please do me a favor to get a more immersive experience from this post: turn on the temperature to 100F (no cheating!), turn the rice cooker on, boil a few gallons of water, then read on from your couch! ;-)

Relive is probably the fastest way to retrace my tour around Kuala Lumpur (click on the image or that link). Note that, for a change, I did embed some pictures in the movie!

Weather wise, I got really lucky. While it was really hot and humid, at least the sun was shining all day. 30 minutes after I made it back to the hotel, a major storm hit the city with pouring rain and impressive lightening and thunderstorm, phew!

On Sunday, I was aiming to run at the FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia) but the description of the trails didn't seem so appealing and when I spotted a very nice running path around a lake, I asked the cab driver to drop me right there: it was the Taman Metropolitan Kepong Park, one of the top spots recommended in all the above posts. I even ran into a few Brooks fans, look at the tee on that one, a Brooks-sponsored running event in KL!

I certainly didn't regret my decision, with a 2-mile loop in perfect conditions and even some shade from trees, this is exactly what I needed to add a few miles before my flight to Singapore in the afternoon. I was planning on running about 20 miles to make for a 50-mile weekend but had to bail out after 5 laps (10 miles), losing my stamina in such a heat.

Here is the corresponding Relive fly over (with embedded pictures too!):

Great way to discover this city, hope you have the opportunity to visit Malaysia too!


And now on for more pictures and details of these runs, if you are still with me, sweating...

(I'll add more details later when I can make more time...)

 I left around 8 and headed South toward the Botanical Garden.

 There, to my surprise, I ran into hundreds of runners, all wearing the same t-shirt! Dang, I had missed the opportunity to run a local race, they had started at 7 am, actually a smart way to beat some of the heat.

I made sure to see the collection of chickens and roosters, then a few deer they keep in an enclosure.

The National Mosque

The original main railroad station (now replaced by KL Sentral)

Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary

The Vivekananda Ashrama

A rugby tournament
The International Gallery

Some safe open space to practice archery!

The city keeps expanding with luxury condominiums

While, a few miles later, you find modest housing in a jungle setup
The exit of the gated community I couldn't cross (Google maps had it quite wrong on this one):
Another interesting Google map direction (although, they were right on this one: while the road was closed, there was a trail to cross under this impressive bridge and get to Desa Parkcity).
Desa Parkcity
Desa Parkcity's Central Park

Really? I though this level of interdiction was only in Singapore...

Another Catholic Church (Gereja Katolik Jesus Caritas)
Some overdue renovation...
Another near-miss on Google maps (road closed to car traffic, but ok for motorcycles, and runners...)
More renovation needed!

Ramayana Cave

Batu Caves (Hindu Temple in natural caves)

Just before the storm...

After the storm (next morning)
Kepong Metropolitan Park
A Brooks fan!

An urban 2.2-mile loop around a lake, and partly in the shade

With rubberized sections!

View of the nearby FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia)

Colorful kites:

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