YAM Raja Datuk Seri Yong Sofia Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah (right) mooted the idea of the Sultan of Perak’s Birthday Run
Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh (right) and the writer at the start of the run
Running in the French morphsuit for the Larian Hari Keputerraan Sultan Nazrin Shah
Masjid Ubudiah, Perak’s Royal Mosque

KK Yum returns again to Perak for his favourite marathon

I LOVE to run in different places. I have participated in many marathons around Malaysia. I have run all states except for Kelantan.

Some events I have participated in once, some maybe twice but there’s one event that I have been joining consistently since its inception.

That’s the Birthday Run of the Sultan of Perak held in Perak’s royal town of Kuala Kangsar.

This event is the brainchild of Raja Datuk Seri Yong Sofia Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah.

Held for the first time in 2011 and until 2014, it was known as the Larian Hari Keputeraan Sultan Azlan Shah.

From 2015, the event has been known as the Larian Hari Keputeraan Sultan Nazrin Shah. This year’s edition was held on Nov 12.

The event is held in conjunction with the birthday celebration of the Sultan of Perak which explains why it was held in May initially and now on the second Sunday of November.

It is held in Kuala Kangsar where the official palace of Istana Iskandariah is located. All officials banquets and investiture are held there.

The purpose of this run is to promote a healthy lifestyle. This year’s participants were aged 13 to 80.

In addition, it allows the people access to the Tuanku and the orang-orang besar of Perak. It also enables villagers of Kuala Kangsar to come support the visitors to this royal town.

Sultan Nazrin Shah and Tuanku Zara Salim have never failed to attend the event since 2011.

The run started with 600 participants in 2011 and now has grown to 6,500 participants this year. So do book early for your accommodation in Kuala Kangsar. If not, Ipoh and Taiping are just a short drive away.

TOUR OF KUALA KANGSAR

I took the KTM ETS to Kuala Kangsar this year. The race bib collection, held at the Dewan Jubli Perak, is about 500m from the train station. This year, shuttle transfer was also provided from the KTM station to the hall.

For the second year, I also signed up for the complimentary VIP bus tour of Kuala Kangsar. It is usually held on the Saturday before the run at 10.30am and 2.30pm.

The first place of interest for the tour is the Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah. This gallery exhibits all the gifts given to the late Sultan Azlan Shah. His own private collections of cars and watches are also on display. The wedding attire of Sultan Nazrin Shah and Tuanku Zara Salim can also be viewed here.

This is followed by a visit to Masjid Ubudiah which is a century old. It is known as the royal mosque of Perak.

From there, we are brought to the other side of the Sungai Perak to Kampung Sayung where the labu sayung is made. Labu sayung is a clay water container that originates from Kampung Sayung. Many types of labu sayung are on display and sold there. We can also try our hands at making the labu sayung.

The tour lasts for nearly two hours. After that, it is nice to have a bowl of laksa and cendol. This is very popular in Kuala Kangsar. The ais kacang next to the Perak River is also very delicious.

RACE DAY

I found out earlier that Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh is attending the event this year. I managed to approach the royal box during the 15km race flag off and snuck in a selfie with Yeoh, who is from Ipoh.

Despite being a global citizen, she’s a true-blue Perak girl at heart. Yeoh made the trip back home to support the Sultan’s birthday run.

She asked why I was dressed in a French Flag costume and I told her that I did it for her. Her other half is Datuk Seri Jean Todt who happens to be French. I also gave her a French flag magnet. I hope she remembers me.

The 15km, 10km and 7km categories of the race start from Dataran Pavilion which is right in front of the Malay CollegeKuala Kangsar.

It then passes through Kampung Sayung which is situated on the other side of Kuala Kangsar.

As in previous years, Malay kuih were laid out on tables along the running route for the runners. Live bands were set up along the way and runners are even encouraged to karaoke with them.

Apart from that, local games were showcased and the runners were encouraged to join in the fun. For the first time, the Sultan and his entourage had increased the distance of his walk to 2.8km and they got to cross the river via the Sultan Azlan Bridge and enjoyed the entertainment plus coconut water drinking station there.

At the end of the run, all runners were treated to a buffet breakfast. They were also given finisher medals. This year, the finisher giveaway item was a 10-litre Quechau backpack. Previous years, we had drink bottles, overnight bags, towel, etc.

All runners and dignitaries were treated to spectacular performances of bhangra dance and parachute drop in front of the royal box by the VAT 69.

I was most impressed by the Gamelan group from Pusat Kreatif Kanak Kanak Tuanku Bainun from Taman Tun Dr Ismail. It comprises teenagers and was a multi-cultural group. This group is helmed by Lorna Omar.

I have seen contemporary gamelan groups, gamelan groups playing pop songs but this is my first time seeing a multi-cultural teenage gamelan group. For more information on them, visit www.pktuankubainun.com

POST RACE

After the race, we went on the Balai Gambang Cempaka Sari River Cruise. This royal barge was built for the coronation of Sultan Nazrin in 2014.

The weekend cruise usually costs RM15 per pax but it was free to all runners till the end of the November. All we had to do was show our race bibs.

It was a three-hour journey via KTM ETS back to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday afternoon but we felt very satisfied for completing yet another edition of the Larian Hari Keputeraan Sultan Nazrin Shah.

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