– ODO- 21756-21917km
– Location- Slim River, Malaysia
– Weather- 31-38 humid
Today my sights are set on Kuala Lumpur. I should reach the capital city around lunchtime tomorrow assuming the traffic isn’t too overwhelming. Last time I was in Kuala Lumpur on a day-long layover I went out to a park for a run to clear my jet lag. It was a weekday and the temperature was already at 30 degrees. My Grab dropped me at the foot of a long drive to the park. I walked in the sun with my plastic water bottle and my now tatty trail running shoes, a vest and not a great deal more.
I’d gotten the bug for trail running a couple of years earlier on my paragliding course when, in need of something to do before thermals switched on, I put on my running shoes and headed off into the clouds above the small Spanish village. There’s something freeing to running. But running off-road turns the churn over distance into a game of balance. You duck under branches, scramble up scree and emerge on a hilltop overlooking the route you came. You sweat, drink and listen to the sound of your firm foot-fall. It’s far and away the toughest form of running and my heart and lungs scream stop but there’s a joy that exceeds it in its urgency. I’ve now headed out on the back routes with my running shoes in several of the countries I’ve passed. The most compelling being Turkey and Bulgaria.
Back in KL, the park trees swallowed the direct sunlight and I set off. Tired and slow in the thick air I kept a steady pace on the tarmac. A sign presented itself and I took a sharp turn down a mountain bike track. The earthen ramps and banks kept my momentum beautifully as I sped downhill and climbed the other side. There weren’t any cyclists out that day but there were the giant lizards I’ve found again as I cycle through Malaysia. They’re two to three feet long and startle easily. That mass of reptile moving in confusion throughout the trees gave me a real fright. Now on the road, they’re often basking on quieter streets or crossing in front of my tires. I wouldn’t want to confront one in my tent.