If you feel that trail running is tough, then imagine being a trail event organiser. Much work goes on behind the scenes, and usually decisions – good or bad – need to be made especially in regards to the route. Unlike road runs where the roads are typically permanent, forest trails tends to change, and its terms of use are also based on governmental projects gazetted on it.

49-year old Kelvin Wong, the organiser of Conquer the Trail and Classics de Kiara, is all too familiar with organising trail races. He first started Conquer The Trails @ Kiara in 2016, seeing the potential of Kiara – easily accessible to Kuala Lumpur residents – as a place for trail running purists who would be able to experience all kinds of trail conditions in a relatively short course. In 2017, he expanded into his second trail event at Denai Alam.

Participation was good, and it was a suitable venue for a night trail run; however, the government decided to build a highway and housing estate on that piece of land. So, in 2018, he had to move his run to Serendah, which has been gazetted for agriculture. Serendah offered the participants a bit of everything you could only find at ultra distance events: waterfalls, river trekking, steep climbs with a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area, and even tapir footprints!

On that same year, Kelvin also organised Run Asia Redang, and started Run Asia Kemensah in 2019, a real jungle in the vicinity of the city.

In the interview below, ToughASIA asked Kelvin on his upcoming races: Conquer The Trails and Classics de Kiara.

Can you tell us a brief history of Conquer the Trails and Classics de Kiara?
Kelvin: Year 2020 represents the 5th edition of the Conquer the Trails@Kiara event, and the 2nd edition of the Classics de Kiara. The event has grown since its inception in 2016, and in 2019 we decided to add a sister event, which is the Classics. Being 3 loops of the Conquer event, we made the first loop go in the opposite direction of the second and third loop. It’s a twist to give the participants a unique experience of the course.

What can participants expect from the upcoming Conquer the Trails and Classics de Kiara 2020?
Kelvin: Race pack collection will take place on 22-23 Feb at the event venue Taman Persekutuan Bukit Kiara. Sponsors and partners will have booths and retail their goods at special prices; some may do lucky draws and contest for participants.

On event day, we’ll get everyone pumped up for their run! The one thing we always emphasise to the participants is to not underestimate the trails. Kiara, to many people, may seem like a playground park. But the trails in there will give you a beating if you disrespect it in any way.

What can participants look forward to the 13.5km race course?
Kelvin: There are some new sections added as part of our usual event ritual. 5 editions, 5 different routes. March is a dry period of the year, hopefully it is, as predicting the weather pattern can be tricky nowadays.
It’ll be great if it there is a brief 20-minute shower the night before the event. Traction will then be just nice. Then again, the weather pattern nowadays seems like a lottery. Will it be tough? Yes, if you come mentally unprepared. No, if you come relaxed and eager to go out and have some fun.

What should the participant bring or prepare for the race?
Kelvin: Water bottles or a hydration pack is mandatory as we only set up water refill stations. We have made it a point to advise participants to have their breakfast before coming to the event. Running on an empty stomach is an open invitation to trouble. It’s our standard procedure to email all participants an information guide including where the venue is, where to park, route map, and elevation, among others. Best preparation for the event, or any event, is to read the information that is given or available, and strategise accordingly. As the saying goes, never bring a pen knife to a gunfight.

Any race advice for the participants? Especially newcomers joining a trail run for the first time.
Kelvin: Prepare accordingly the night before, have a good night sleep, wake up early, have a good breakfast, have a calm drive to the venue. Walk in, chit chat with friends, warm up, and proceed to the start line, go through your race strategy and begin your journey.

For first timers, just go out and have fun. Bring along lots and lots of common sense and humour. The easiest way to the finish line is to keep moving. Jogging or walking is good. Don’t do a stationary rest for more than 5 minutes. Your body will start to recover as soon as you slow down, it doesn’t need you to come to a complete stop.

There you go! Sound advice indeed from Kelvin Wong. For more information on registration, please head to the event website and Facebook page. Registration for Conquer the Trails will end on 1 February 2020.