5 reasons why you should buy Garmin Forerunner 210 and ditch you Android app

I received my Garmin Forerunner 210 yeasterday from Lelong.com.my, one of the best online shopping mall based in Malaysia. After paying RM680, the item arrived as expected. By the way, this is NOT a sponsored post.

This is the situation that I was in:

  • I have been actively running for about 5 months since March 2013
  • I have been logging all my run using an Android app, Runkeeper
  • And now I DECIDED to become more serious at running to improve my health and well being, and maybe run a cempetitive event like the Borneo International Marathon and the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon
  • And want to  slim down my gadget from the bulky Galay Nexus smartphone to just a wrist watch

garmin-forerunner-210So, if you are like me and have similar situation, I would like to share with you the justifications on buying a dedicated GPS wristwatch like the Garmin Forerunner 210 and upgrading the app from Runkeeper to Garmin Connect. The 5 reasons why you should get the device are:

1. When you started to think that your smartphone is bulky and heavy to run with (like running with a brick on your arm)

Don’t get me wrong here. I love my Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Since March, I have installed and used few Android apps to track my running – which includes Endomondo, Strava, Nike+ and Runkeeper. After trying those apps for a few weeks, I decided to stick to Runkeeper as I think it was the most user friendly and less buggy as compared to other apps.

However, after running for about 5 months with the smartphone strapped on my right arm, I started to think that it’s very bulky and heavy to run with. It’s like running with a brick strap on my right arm. Do the math. Galaxy Nexus weighs 135 grams, WITHOUT the strap. Garmin Forerunner 210 weighs 52 grams. My Galaxy Nexus is almost 3 times the Forerunner’s weight.

This weight differences will be very significant when I want to run the Kinabalu climbathon. You want to get the least amount of weight running the climbathon, as extra weight will need extra effort to get yourself up and down the mountain. I am a student of minimalist running and I think it is the best way to run. To add on the minimalist ideas and  weightlessness issues, I even run on minimalist shoe – Skechers GoRun 2 which only weighs 190grams.

2. When you want to separate your GPS running tracker from your smartphone

forerunner-210A dedicated device to track and log your running is NOT always the best way of doing things. But for some people like me, having a separate and dedicated device will actually “simplified” your running. You can track your running even if you don’t have your smartphone with you. With only one press of a button, you are ready to go. With the separation, you can get specific device to do specific task.

However, the downside of running without your smartphone is when you have an emergency by the roadside. Or even get lost in the wilderness. Garmin Forerunner 210 does not have a compass or a way finder. So, you can be in trouble if you get lost in the woods. With the smartphone, you can have a compass app installed.

3. When you don’t want to look like those chicks who run with their iPhone strapped on their arm with earphone in their ears

iphone-armbandHaha. I was just like some of you guys when I started running with my Galaxy Nexus on my arm. I think I am cool with that brick strapped on my arms. However, my view changes after running with some pros in running. They were NOT that impressed with the bricks on the arm.

Almost all of them that I knew wears small wrist type GPS devices to track their run. Few other brands that I saw was Garmin, Soleus and Suunto. They just looks cool without the brick. Smartphones are for beginners. True gps wristwatch is for the pros.

So when I see those chicks who still runs with iPhones on their arm and earphones in their ears, I just smile.

4. When you have converted to become a stats freak which includes a heart rate monitor (HRM) and a foot pod

When I started logging my runs with Runkeeper, I realized that I have becomes a little bit like a stats freak. Runkeeper helps you log almost all aspect of your run – the distance, the time, the duration, the weather, the speed, the pace, the splits, the lap, the interval, the elevation etc… etc… I have to admit that the more I dwell into the numbers, the more I becomes obsessed with the result. Most of the time I tried to do better the next time I run, in which sometimes it’s NOT a good way to train myself.

Well, with Garmin Forerunner 210, you can add two more variables to your running statistic – your running cadence (using a foot pod) and your running heart rate (using a heart rate monitor). With this two additional gadget, you can get even more data to crunch in which, at the end of the day, HOPEFULLY will help you train yourself better, optimizing all your resources and reducing injuries. With all this variables, the aim of wearing a Forerunner 210 is to get yourself into a more competitive shape, as compared to most people who are using a smartphone which most of the time just to get themselves fit.

I must say that Runkeeper app also have a third party heart rate monitor that you can pair with your smartphone, but adding more gadget on top of a brick on my arm is a no-no.

5. When you have extra money to spend on extra device

Why not? If I had that extra money, I would buy the whole package of Garmin Forerunner 210 which includes the heart rate monitor and foot pod. With RM680, I only got myself the wristwatch. The heart rate monitor and the foot pod can wait. For me, it’s an investment for my personal well being if I used my Forerunner 210 correctly, more so when I planned to participate this year’s Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. Wish me luck.

If you are also interested to get yourself a Garmin Forerunner 210, check out Lelong.com.my for Malaysian, and Amazon.co.uk for international. Please check out the link below:

Tour of Borneo 2013 – Hopefully they organize better this year

I still remember their inaugural first ever Tour of Borneo last year 2012. It was held on 1st of May, Labour Day holiday. I did not know why they held the event in the city center for their last stage. In which they have to close almost all major roads in the city center. That leads to bad traffic jams in and out the city center.

That leads to travelers, tourist and locals cannot do business properly inside the business district. The major issues that time were with the tourist who has to catch flights back to their hometown. With the bad traffic jams, a lot of tourist stranded in the traffic and missed their flights. Not a good impression to Sabah’s tourism industry and the chief organizing committee.


After a year, hopefully the organizing committee learned the hard lesson of organizing a better event of cycling this year. Tour of Borneo, this time around they held away from the city center, covering just the west coast of Sabah.

The second edition of the Tour of Borneo, a UCI2.2 status race, will be centered around the picturesque capital city of Kota Kinabalu and will be taking the peloton to new destinations not covered in last year’s race, like Kota Belud, Tuaran, Penampang, Tambunan, Putatan, Papar and Beaufort. Riders will face a grueling climb in Stage 4 from Kota Kinabalu up to Kundasang.


  • UCI 2.2 status race
  • 5 stages
  • From 18-22 August
  • 20 teams
  • Covers 690 km total distance
  • Held over west coast of Sabah
  • Prize:


I did realized that cycling is becoming quite popular here in Sabah since the last couple of years. Almost every night I could see few groups of cyclist had their night cycle around the city center. Will be joining them soon.

How to overcome fear of the ropes on Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail?

I received an email couple of days ago, asking for an advise on how to overcome the fear of the ropes on Mount Kinabalu. Marisa (not her real name), asked me whether I have any good tips to overcome the fear of the ropes on her second part of the climb, starting from the Rockface.


I just came back from my climb via Timpohon. It was not a good time for me. The night before the climb, I was down with diarrhoea and fever due to seafood poisoning. When reaching Kinabalu Park, I was already shivering from fever. I almost wanted to give up my climb to Laban Rata the next day. But, I thought otherwise since I have made it so far from KL just to make this climb. Plus, I trained for 6 months.

Next morning, it was raining heavily and we started our ascend to LR. It was freezing cold and wind was so strong. I still grit my teeth and went ahead. Took some panadols to reduce the high temperature. What was supposed to take 4 hours to reach LR, I took 8 hours.

By the time I reached LR, I just had a light meal and rested. Sleep was not good cause my fever came back. Popped in two more panadols and just rested.

By 130am, was feeling better and got ready for the night climb. Climbed up all the way to the rope part. This was the part that stopped me from moving further. I was very afraid of the rope climb. Just did a bout a few metres and I retreated cause I was too scared and did not have any confidence to stabilise my body. I saw the others moved with ease but not me. I just “chickened out”. If you can advise me on how to overcome my fear of ropes, I would really appreciate it very much.


I am not sure why Marisa was afraid of the rope in the first place. Was it really the rope? Or was it related to fear of height, because on Mount Kinabalu, climbers usually associate the ropes with heights. For me personally, I don’t have any specific advise for Marisa, but one thing that I was told to overcome this type of fear was “JUST LOOK UP THE WAY YOU ARE GOING and HOLD THE ROPE TIGHT. NEVER LET GO OF THE ROPE”. It works every time.

In addition, during the time you start climbing the Rockface which has the ropes, it’s usually very dark. You won’t be able to see that much further out of your headlights illumination. So, most probably you won’t be able to know how high you are from the ground below the rocks. It should not gives you much of a problem.

That’s the best advise that I can give. JUST DO IT.

Anybody want to add some more advise on the fear of the rope? Please share with us below.

Sutera Harbour 7k Sunset Charity Run – register now!

marathon-running-trainingYou can start to register for the event that will be held on 21st September this year from Sutera Harbour official website here. You have to download the form, fill in and send it to Sutera Harbour office to get the t-shirt. An attractive prize will be given to the supporter for the “Most Creative 7K Run Outfit”.

Adult registration fee is RM28 and children fee is RM18. I will be joining the event with my children. Come and join us run for a charity!

By the way, I am wearing my Skechers GoRun 2 for the event. I have shared a review about this shoes in my previous post. If you still thinking of what shoes to buy for a long distance run like this, you may want to read about GoRun 2. A very lightweight shoes indeed!

Mount Kinabalu is the 10th highest mountain in Southeast Asia

This is the latest information that I received from a friend. According to Wikipedia, Mount Kinabalu is now the 10th highest mountain in Southeast Asia. With 5 new findings of mountains in Myanmar, Mount Kinabalu now drops to number 10 from number 5. I did made a blog post about this in 2008. You may want to check it out here.

Don’t worry Malaysian. Our Mount Kinabalu is still the easiest of the top 10 mountains to climb in Southeast Asia!

Highest Mountain in Southeast Asia

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail map comparison between a climbathon runner and a casual climber

While browsing through Every Trail, one of the best website which has a connecting apps for the smartphone to track any jungle or mountain trail that you took, I found two different trail profiles of Mount Kinabalu. One trail profile was posted by a Mount Kinabalu Climbathon runner and the other one was posted by a casual climber. Both showed the elevation profile of the mountain in simple term of how did they do while running / walking / hiking / climbing / scrambling the trail in relation of the time they took and the elevation of the trail from sea level.

Although both person took the same Summit Trail, you can see the difference in the profile of how they took the trail. I just would like to inform you that the most immediate difference that you could see from the profiles was the TIME taken to finish the trail climb. While the average climbathon runner took less than 6 hours to complete the course (some climbathon runners can make it in less than 3 hour mark), casual average climber will take at least one and a half day. Haha. (Click image to enlarge)

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon Summit Trail profile information

Mount Kinabalu casual climber's profile information

The Climbathon Runner

If could see the red button with the word “GO”, that is the point where climbathon runners starts their run, just few hundred meters before Timpohon Gate. Timpohon Gate is situated at about 1600 meters above sea level (the start of the blue line in the graph) where this is also the official gate for anybody who would like to enter the Summit Trail up the mountain.


You could see the starting speed of the runner, the first 800 meters of the climb showed the climber ran about 9 km/h. That’s a pretty fast starting speed as these few hundred meters was run on a paved road. After entering the gate, the runner will start climbing stairs – some says that its the unending stairway to hell – and starting from this point, you could see that the speed goes down to around 6 km/h for the next 6 kilometers. As the runner gets higher and higher, the speed is significantly slower, as fatigue sets in.

After the 6 kilometer mark where Laban Rata is, the speed of the runner gets slower, just around 4 km/h for the next 2.5 kilometers. The runner actually ran on barren rock – the summit plateau – for the last 2 km up until Low’s Peak. This slowing down of the speed may be due to exhaustion and exertion of the runners running up into thinner air. At 3200 meters above sea level, there is a significant drop in temperature, barometric pressure and thinning of air, making the runner hard to breath. It can be a significant stress to the runner’s wearing body, scrambling slowly to reach the peak at 4095 meters after running uphill for about 8.5 kilometers.

After tapping the signboard at Low’s Peak, 4095.2 m above sea level, the climbathon runner must run down the mountain as fast as they could back to Kinabalu Park HQ. You can see the runner running down fast at about 9 km/h for the first 2 km on the Summit Plateau, and the speed gets slower just as he reached the stairs. From kilometers 10 to kilometers 12, the speed was about 5 km/h and the speed gradually increased to about 20 km/h as the distance nearing the 20 km mark. These last few kilometers was fast because it was run on paved roads.

In total, a climbathon runner will cover 20 km of trail running (including paved road) with 2565 meters of vertical up and 2837 of vertical down. The fastest that a climbathon runner can finish the race in less than 3 hours. This runner finished the race in less than 6 hours. Almost double the time. Not sure about the pain.

The Casual Climber

Any casual, slow, relaxed and unfit climber of Kinabalu will start the climb from the same point as the climbathon runner – The Timpohon Gate. As you can see from the graph, from kilometer 0 to kilometer 6, the speed of the climber never reaches 9 km/h. The elevation gradually increased from 1600 meters above sea level to 3200 meters, and you could see that at this point, the elevation does not increases although he walked the distance.The climber walked about 2 kilometers at this level because he is at Laban Rata Resthouse, a point where every casual climber has to stop and have a rest.


After taking a rest for few hours, recharge the energy, refuel the body and maybe taking a bath, climbers have to wake very early to continue their journey up the peak. At 2 am in the morning, casual climber has to wake up to complete another 2.5 kilometers journey to the Low’s Peak. As you can see, the climb starts at 10 kilometer mark up to 12 kilometer mark, where he reaches the peak. The speed was really, really slow at about 1-2 km/h (snail pace) at this moment because they were walking in the dark, cold and high altitude. Usually they will reaches the peak after scrambling about 2-3 hours, just a nice time to catch the sunrise.

Ah… at that point, you have reached the highest peak of Borneo. It was such a relief to achieved one of your dream of a lifetime. But wait. The pain is NOT OVER yet. After spending less than 10 minutes at the peak, taking photos and congratulating other climbers that reached there after you, its time to go down. For those who love mother nature, this will be the time where you can see one of the most beautiful scene of your life – Mount Kinabalu at its heart.

Climbing down after the peak was also very slow at about 4 km/h, and the speed were consistent for the next 8.5 kilometers down back to Timpohon Gate. When a climber reaches Timpohon Gate, they will be picked up by a shuttle bus back to Kinabalu Park HQ. That is why you could see that the speed increases up to 40 km/h.

In total, a casual climber will cover about 25 kilometers of hiking (including walking about at Laban Rata) with 2710 meters of vertical up and 3057 meters of vertical down. An average climber will usually finishes this trail in one and a half day. Just to remind you that the post-climbing pain and agony will last for about a week.

Happy climbing!

*For geeks who want to know what did the climbathon runner used to track their trail, it was Garmin Forerunner 305. The data was then transferred / synced with Every Trail. For your information, Forerunner 305 is now obsolete. Get Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS Sports Watch with Heart Rate Monitor instead.

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much! 

Eco Village Challenge trail run in Kota Kinabalu

For hardcore trail runners, nature lovers and charity seekers – this event maybe suitable for you. Habitat For Humanity Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu Sabah affiliate will be organizing its first Eco Village Challenge on the 1st September 2013, to raise funds for families in Sabah in need of decent homes.

Eco Village Challenge

The day-long Charity Run is 15-km route inside a beautiful and pristine nature reserved called Kasalagan Park in Kampung Natai which includes tour around Kampung Borombon and Kampung Bongkud.

Teams of four, will have an extensive back-to-nature adventure experience as they visit three kampungs (villages) where they will take part in three native sports, traverse seven rivers and streams, a waterfall and trek through jungle trails, valleys and ridges.

The journey is a salute to the traditional community practice of villagers traveling long distances to visit another village to celebrate together the important occasions such as religious festivals and weddings.

Non-existence of roads in these three villages is a great privilege for the Eco Village Challenge to link them using these villagers’ existing trails.

In order to participate, you need a group of 4 people, (at least one male and one female). The entry fee is RM1,200 ($400 USD) for Malaysians and RM2,000 ($665 USD) for non-Malaysians. The entry fee includes a free t-shirt, water, and support along the run.

Prizes will be awarded for the fastest teams!

1st place – RM$5,000

2nd place – RM$3,000

3rd place – RM$2,000

There is only room for 50 teams, so head to Kota Kinabalu’s website to register today!


Summit Trail of Mount Kinabalu on Every Trail

I found a very good interactive map and trail of Mount Kinabalu, specifically The Summit Trail, in which you start your climb from Kinabalu Park HQ and ends at the same place. It was posted by one of the climbers who uses his smartphone to track his climb using an app called Every Trail. If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, you may want to download it to your smartphone to track your climbing, or even your simple trail running at your own hometown.

From what I see, the good thing about this app with Every Trail is that you can post photos along the trail that you take. They uses GPS coordinate to locate your point, and the photos will be at the exact point where you snapped it. Just bare in mind that you may have to pay for some of their extra services, as the free version of the app seems useless (comments that I saw from their site).

Anyway, spice up your climb with this technology and you can share it with others from the website. If you have other smartphone app that could do the same or even better with less cost, leave a comment below.

Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

EveryTrail – Find trail maps for California and beyond

7k Sutera Harbour Sunset Charity Run 2013

I am going to join this year’s 7k Sutera Harbour Sunset Charity Run with my 9 year old son, Dany Hijazi. The run was usually held on July for the past few years. However, as this years July coincides with Ramadhan fasting month, they rescheduled the date to Saturday, 21st September.

Sutera Harbour have not published any official website for the event, but only mentioned it on their Facebook page. Stay tuned for more information, and for the time being, keep running!

Registration for 27th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon is now open

If you have been waiting to run in the world’s toughest mountain race, wait no more as they have opened the registration for the event. This 27th edition of the race has a new format, after last year’s edition which uses a new route that was claimed “too easy” for some of the international athletes who ran in the event.

Last year’s edition doesn’t require the runners to reach Low’s Peak. The highest point for the run is only at Layang-Layang Hut, halfway up the mountain. Even though the distance of the run was extended another couple of kilometers, it doesn’t make the run anymore difficult, as the last remaining couple of kilometers was a downhill pavement road surface. It was too easy as claimed by Killian Jornet, when he compared it with UTMB. Haha.

Because of last year’s climbathon feedback, they now opened this year’s edition with a new format, in which they categorize it for elite and non-elite runners. Elite runners (there are few certain criteria that they have rule out) will run Summit Race category – up the mountain to Low’s Peak and come down via Mesilau Trail and end at Kundasang town. That will torture them through 33km of layers of Kinabalu’s unique mountain forest and barren rockface.

Non-elite runners will run last year’s trail and now it is called Adventure Race. The Adventure Race will make runners only up to Layang-Layang Hut and down to Mesilau Trail. The trail is shorter 11km and was claimed too easy for elite runners. That is why the organizer has to make it really hard for them with the Summit Race.

The race will also be held in two days, one for each category. The registration fee is RM150 for Open category and RM100 for Veteran. Get to the official Climbathon website for more info. And register for the event of your life!

Anyway, this is my first climbathon. I climbed Mount Kinabalu 5 times, but it’s just a normal hike, not a race like this. From now to the date of the race, I will do few more training on the mountain. Maybe I will do the climb in one day.

If you still do not know who Killian Jornet is, enjoy this video;