7km from the Orang Asli Hospital in Gombak is a small Orang Asli village, with no more than 20 indigenous households, was where approximately 150 participants & volunteers gathered for what I would term as an eco-jungle run or commercially known as the Orang Asli Trail Run on the 28th April 2012.
This morning’s delightful event backdrop was lush greenery and much sought after fresh air. While waiting for the 8am race briefing, I caught up with familiar faces (Rich, Sumes, Advance, Duan), and met many more Facebook friends for the first-time (Marathon Mohan, Stup, Karim, William, Barkley, Renee & Kyle). The mood was certainly chirpy and as bright as the glorious morning sun.
The race briefing was very lighthearted as we felt great supporting the Orang Asli cause via running. The famous Marathon Mohan kept the crowd entertained with his tom foolery, while Karen, being the organiser’s spokeswoman, introduced us to the village head, and she briefed us on the essential race Do’s & Don’ts. Apparently, the chosen route was an unused old loggers route which was cleared by the villagers 2 days ago. Being a jungle trek, it was imperative that we don’t venture outside the 10km tracks or else, there would be other more alarming critters waiting for us far nastier than the slimy blood-sucking leeches even.We were split into 4 groups according to our preferred pace & the little kids, destined for a shorter route, tagged at the end.
In my el cheapo slippers, I joined the second group led by my lean buddy, Stupe.As we ran past the edge of the village, we disappeared downhill into the jungle full of expectations & excitement. In the beginning, the surrounding trees were not too dense, and we bathed in warm sunshine as we meandered up and down the trail. Before long, we crossed our first stream; the shallow water was cold & clean and the current was strong. As other runners took off their shoes, I jumped straight in the waters without much thought.
For a while, I was running closely behind barefoot aficionado, Rich, who was running fleetingly in his homemade sandals.At the second river-crossing, I spent a good 15 minutes soaking myself in the refreshingly cold waters before continuing on my journey. The further we ran, the steeper the track, At one point, the gradient was so steep, my chest almost touched the ground. I used tree trunks & roots to pull myself upwards and onwards. Along the way, I met 3 Orang Asli volunteers, and I made a special point to greet them, and even posed for some snapshots.
The hardest part was navigating the narrow muddy ledge littered with small rocks & wet leaves where full concentration was necessary to avoid any nasty falls. At one stage, we emerged out of the jungle and I ran barefoot on the warm tarmac road downwards to the next checkpoint.
Before, I knew it I found myself back to the village finishing line; collecting my unique hand-woven medal; and celebrating the event with a nice icy tin of milo.
For lunch, we were fed white rice steamed using the traditional bamboo method and locally caught fish cooked with fresh local vegetables.
We were also entertained by our great hosts with traditional music and dancing.
My special thanks to the talented organisers of Karen, Julie, Vivienne, Alvin, Stupe, Advance and all their hardworking Orang Asli and visiting volunteers – CONGRATULATIONS on a great job done. I hope there will be a reprint of the finishing T-shirts as there were many people who were left out as the number printed was very limited. For more photos, check-out my FB page.