NM Galaxy Race 12km- Secret Results & Phantom Prizes

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Apology posted on Facebook by the organisers of the NM Galaxy Race Series 12km run which took place this past Sunday at Lake Titiwangsa.

If you ran the race, you’re very much aware of the NM Galaxy 12km run’s deficiencies – lighting, toilets, loudspeaker, legible distance markers, inaccurate route distance, not to mention the endurance event that was race bib collection! Plenty of people have been voicing complaints and suggestions on these issues, an others, on the NM Galaxy Facebook page so if you didn’t run, but are considering joining the next NM Galaxy race in May – there is a planned series of four races with interconnecting medals – or you’re just curious with some time on your hands, pop over there and have a look. (By the way, I’m sick to death of people going on Facebook after races – not just yesterday’s event, it seems to happen after every race here – complaining about goody bags. You sign up for a race to run for goodness sake, not to get free mouthwash samples and cartons of Milo.) That said, most of the online complaints have been very valid. And to give credit where it’s due, the organisers have not been defensive in their response. In fact, they’ve been downright apologetic promising to do better next time (very like a child who knows they’ve done wrong).

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NM Galaxy 12 km (11.5km) route recorded on my Garmin watch.

My biggest reservation in signing up for this race was the route along a very busy highway, Jalan Tun Razak, in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. However, thanks to traffic police and placement of cones, I felt pretty safe throughout the race on a route that proved to be very pleasant with only a few small inclines. I imagine though that as traffic got heavier, this was not the case for all runners. The route doubled back on itself twice which meant that there were runners running on either side of the central reservation which was actually nice as people could cheer friends along when they passed in opposite directions. (And thank you to the people who shouted ‘Go Expat Runner’ – you really spurred me on to keep going).

Now, cheating is unacceptable but a route with two u-turns does lend itself to such behaviour for the deviants who engage in it. At the first u-turn there were volunteers writing down bib numbers of the leading runners, and at the second there was a timing mat. I really hope there weren’t any participants taking shortcuts and then collecting Finisher Medals. At the end of the day, such people are cheating themselves as much as undermining the efforts of the folk who push their limits to complete a race. And to the person on Strava who only ran 8km of the route? Maybe you weren’t registered and just went along for the ride. Hopefully you didn’t collect medal. I’m looking forward to your response 🙂

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Is this the finish line? Confidence in the organisation being a bit low, and my watch being 500m short of 12km, I had to ask.

Back to me. Since coming back from my PTT injury, I’ve aspired to run a 10 or 12 km race at 5 min/km pace and on Sunday I managed 4.58min/km so I am really, really pleased. I’ve come a long way from the person who moaned and complained and cursed their way around a route as I’ve realised that a positive mental attitude when you’re hurting is everything. I can’t blame the shin splints I suffered for the first 3 km or the side stitch I had for the final 8km on the organiser unfortunately; these were all my own fault, but I managed to run through them thankfully. However, the debacle at the finish certainly was the organisers’ fault, and as no one has yet to mention it on Facebook, I would like to suggest improvements here.

Now I know it took a bit of effort to figure out the event rules, regulations and prize details, as no handbook was provided at bib collection, but being a pedant, I had searched out this information on the event’s Facebook page. Clearly, the lady operating the laptop with the timing information at the finish line had not read the handbook. Or maybe she didn’t like the look of me, or perhaps she’s always rude. Whatever. It is the norm here to place tags around the necks of the placed athletes who cross the line. It hasn’t happened to me often, but when it does, I tend to cry. There were no tears this time, because there were no tags. I knew that there weren’t a lot of women in front of me so I thought I might have been placed but I was only guessing. So I approached the laptop lady to politely ask if she could check my placing. I suggested that place tags at the finish line would be useful but was told quite definitively that this is too confusing. Huh? I was certainly confused.

Laptop lady initially refused to check my placing but I explained that I wanted to know whether I could go home or not, so she relented and tapped her keyboard to check. She showed me four fingers. ‘Fourth?’ I clarified. ‘Yes, but I don’t know how many prizes there are,’ she said dismissively. Thanks to the fact that there were several races on Sunday, and some of the ladies who are faster than me took their chances with other events, I had come 4th place in the Women’s Veteran Category. I’d read the information so I knew this meant some sort of prize. I think I came 5th or 6th overall, but as the organiser is so secretive about the results, I can’t tell you that for a fact. Again, I’m only guessing.

Mea Culpa picture posted on Facebook by the NM Galaxy Race Series organisers.
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Two hours after I crossed the finish line, two hours in which no information was provided to participants and no placings were posted, two hours of listening to dodgy music and the results of some prize draw (in Malay so I can’t tell you if I won anything or not, or indeed whether I had even entered), and five hours after I’d got out of bed to come to the event, I was called to the stage to collect my Rm150 prize.

Except it wasn’t my prize; it was a letter telling me to go to some other part of KL to collect my prize! Yes, I ran for 57 minutes on Sunday, faster than it took to collect my bib, way, way faster than it took to not collect my prize, and no doubt faster than it will take me to drive across town and back to find the organisers office to get 150 Rm. God help me but if they give me a cheque that requires that I queue up in the bank, I will lose my cool altogether.

Having started this post endeavouring to keep calm and carry on as they say, I’ve ended up ranting after all. And only because I won something. I know, poor me! Time for a run.

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On the home stretch, running, which is what it is all about.

At the end of the day, no one was hurt that I know of, and the NM Galaxy race series is a welcome addition to the local racing scene. The more people who are encouraged to run and train, the healthier, stronger (and happier) this nation will become. Yes folks, I really do believe that running is that powerful! I personally had a great run and am grateful to the volunteers as always who gave up their time to facilitate that. I’m sure the lighting, toilets, distance markers, start-line loudspeaker, start-line chaos, protracted bib collection, over-sized t-shirts, finish-line logistics, and unpleasant demeanour of stressed personnel at the start and finish line, and other issues now being aired online, will be improved for the next race, a 15km, on May 18. They had better be, as I’ve already signed up!

Race photo links:

Maszuari Muhamad

Running Malaysia Magazine

RFF Team

UPDATE: Tuesday evening: The results of the NM Galaxy 12km Run are now on the event’s Facebook page here.

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9 comments

  1. And what about all the people that entered the run but decided to walk after 500 meter? Happily chatting away not realising they are blocking the way for those who actually signed up to run……. See you in may for the 15km…..

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  2. Oh dear, I am really surprised you managed to keep it together with laptop lady! I would have blown a fuse for sure. You must have been riding on a wave of elation after a fantastic finishing time! Hopefully the may run will be better, I think I may sign up for it. Is it at the same place?

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    • Shona,
      You’re right – I was riding high on post-run elation though Laptop Lady was immune to my good humour! The next run is at Padang Merbuk which is a tried a tested start/finish venue – with functioning lighting! Go on – sign up 🙂

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    • I have yet to run MWM so can hardly judge it before it takes place just as I reserved judgement on NM Galaxy until after the event. I was overseas last year and missed MWM 2013. I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean by ‘cluster’. It’s not a term I’ve heard used in this context before. I’d really like to know the meaning though as I’m interested in your opinion 🙂

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      • i did run it last year. sorry, i thought you had because of the photo with kathrine switzer!

        first off, i think they have a great mission and can really do some good with it. motivating women to run is an awesome thing to do, especially in malaysia.

        that being said, i do not want to cloud your judgment going into it, but i had several complaints and the organizers refused to take any of them into consideration, which is just bad business practice. a few sticking points: 1. where you say you were a bit concerned with running on tun razak, the course was on a busy road (although not nearly as busy as TR) and there were not many cones to separate runners from cars. look at the photos from last year and you’ll see it. it’s a blessing no one was injured. i think they have a different route this year. 2. the 8k ended up being over 9k, something the organizers stated was planned all along to make runners feel better about themselves, but i thought it poor taste as they advertise the race for beginner runners and some may not have been comfortable with that distance (i’ve done several halfs so i had no problems, just was wondering when the finish would come up!) 3. poor signage 4. not enough water stops, at least on our route, no idea about the full or half. 5. i know some muslim runners complained there were no adequate locations for prayers, which they say they have fixed for this year 6. no bathrooms. 7. anytime i’ve made a complaint about the above via their Facebook, i get shut down, so it could just be me. but i am an expat runner as well, and it was not up to my standards. not many malaysian races are, but it’s the way they reacted to my complaints that left a bad taste in my mouth. they wanted me to private message them, where i believe in transparency, and then took to name calling (saying i was not a real runner). i believe the latter must have been done by a lackey running the FB page, so i don’t hold it against them.

        i really do wish them the best this year and that they get it together because they have the opportunity to do some really great things and have pulled awesome speakers, but i will not be running it again.

        also, funny thing you mention about cheating – i just did the disney princess half and it’s an out and back, but with some deviations. where the later corralled outters are at mile 2, those running back are at mile 9. someone saw a woman go to the toilet in the road divider from mile 2, and exit onto mile 9. skipped 7 miles of the race, for what purpose? i would take to walking the course before even contemplating skipping it (and at disney, many choose to walk it versus run for time).

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  3. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and detail your experience. i can totally understand why you think last year’s event was badly managed as the things you have mentioned are race basics that participants should be able to bank on being in place. I agree that the manner of handling your feedback was also very disappointing. What was remarkable to me about the NM Galaxy Race was the humility with which the organizers owned up to their failings and accepted criticism, while promising to do better at their next event. This attitude makes me really want to see them succeed with the rest of their race series. Hopefully, as you say, the deficiencies in last year’s MWM will have been dealt with for this year’s event. I hope so as I know a LOT of women who have chosen the event as either their first Marathon and Half Marathon. I’ve also championed the event on here – not having heard any negative comments about last year’s event – encouraging women to enter. I will be mortified it it’s not up to scratch though I sense that it will be. By the way, I met Kathrine Switzer when she returned to Malaysia late last year. And as for cheating, don’t get me started! It’s beyond my comprehension altogether! I saw a woman who is often on the podium here cut at least 100m off a race by running on the pavement on the inside of parked cars while the rest ran on the road.I got so angry that I pushed hard to catch her and passed her just before the finish line. It was a small triumph 🙂

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