35-year old Penangnite Andy Lee, who works as a business unit manager in an automation firm, may initially seem like your typical running enthusiast.
His story sounds familiar – he ran in primary school and was former state runner, then stopped after secondary school due to study and work commitment. Picked running up again in 2017, and explored trails in the following year.
Andy added, “I run because it able to help me release stress and now it become my part of my life routine,”
“Achieving my target time for a certain distance and winning a race is my proudest achievement as a runner. Podium is one of the affirmations I have trained for.”
That last bit perhaps sets the difference between most average runners who are happy enough to complete races, without podiums in mind.
“Being a father of three, to balance work, family and hobby is never easy. Key is to balance things by being well organised and sacrifice certain things,” added Andy who won a few races in 2018 and 2019.
Andy loves both road and trail runs. He has his philosophy of how they differ, “Road runs enable me to have a clear mind to think. My brain seems to be clearer and more active. And most of the decision and direction in my life happens during my (road) runs.”
“Trails are the opposite; I am never able to think during trail runs. I focus on the route and things that surround me during the season and it help me to release my stress. Sometimes, when I feel my stress level is high, I will take a day off and go long on the trails.”
Andy shares his four favourite trails in Penang. Whether you are a Penangnite embarking on trails for the first time, or visiting Penang for holidays or work, do enjoy the information below.
Cherok Tokun Nature Park
- 6km away from Bukit Mertajam Town (5°21’29.4″N 100°29’35.9″E)
- Start from the carpark toward hill top, 546m above sea level. You may decide via which route or trial you want to use.
- Via tar pavement, total distance 3.50km. There are shelters at KM 0.3, 1.2, 2, and 2.7. At KM 2.7, there is a viewing platform which enables you to have a full view over Mengkuang Dam. Photo with Telekom Tower is the prove you make it to top 😊.
- Via Kolam Trail – Big Tree – Hill Top, total distance 3km. The entrance is right beside prior ascend via tar pavement. It is a mix of trail and tar pavement route. You will pass thru Tokun Hill landmark, “Big Tree”.
- Via Vertical Trail, total distance 1.70km. It is a technical ascent and shelters are located at 600m and 1km away from starting point. Old dam (starting point) and Long Men (1st Shelter) definitely worth to pay a visit.
- Bring some solid food and sufficient water for a 2-hr hike.
Berapit Hill Temple
- 3km away from Bukit Mertajam Town (5°22’37.7″N 100°28’30.5″E)
- Start and end will be at the carpark area.
- The route is connected to Cherok Tokun Hill Top. Starting with cement route and continue with trail towards hill top. Total distance is around 3.2km. There are lots of shelter between the the first 4km and the last shelter at km 2.6. It is not recommended for new hikers and are not suitable during heavy downpours as this trail can be rough.
- There is no opening time as it is a private estate but is open to public. Recommend start the hike around 7-8am.
- Backpack and hydration are recommended if you plan to complete the full trail. You can refill water at the temple hall if you are running out of water. There are a few viewing platforms for full panoramic views of Bukit Mertajam Town towards Penang Island. There is also a vegetarian teahouse at KM 1 where you can enjoy your breakfast.
- 8km away from George Town.
- Botanical Garden is setup by the British in 1884. The carpark just few meters away from the entrance.
- It is open 7am to0 7pm and gets crowded during weekends and holidays.
- You may do loops at Botanical Garden or Youth Park. One big loop of Botanical Garden is 1.90km with some elevation and youth park is just further down from Botanical Garden.
- Botanical Garden is also famous for hikers via trail to Penang Hill. Most common trails for hikers are MoonGate, Cendana and Lilly Pond. It is recommended that you get locals familiar with the trails to accompany you if you are new to Penang Hill as this trail can link to the other parts of the island.
- Do prepare trail and road shoes. Who knows? You might change your mind and go for a hike.
- Prepare some clothes to clean after the workouts. Toilets at Botanical Garden and Youth Park are equipped with shower rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. There also some coffee shops and cafes around.
- The entrance of Heritage Trail is located at Penang Hill lower station, which is approximately 7km away from George Town.
- Start and end can be at the same or different locations. Depends on your plans as many routes can be accessed.
- The entrance is right beside the lower station. After a few hundred meters walk, you will arrive at the staircase with heritage trail sign. It starts with thousands of steps leading you to the middle station, which is located at 350m above sea level. Have a rest and enjoy the 180-degree views before continuing for the second part, which will be a mix route of cement, steps and trail. Overall, the route is approximately 3km with 700m elevation gain.
- There are shelters every few hundred meters. Bring enough water and solid food. Total journey will be around 3-6 hours for a round trip, depending your fitness.
- Recommend to start around 7am as you can enjoy your breakfast when reaching hill top. Can be earlier if you wish to see sunrise.
There you go! Enough reasons to quickly book that next flight to Penang!