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The King's Track Guide : Sepang International Circuit
The 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix The 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, Sun 2 Oct 2016
Circuit : Sepang International Circuit, located in Sepang, Malaysia
Full Lap distance 5.543km, installation lap distance 5.693km
Lap Record 18m 06s set by Dan Sims, set in 2016


The Sepang International Circuit ranks with the likes of Spa and Suzuka as a must run track. This is not because it is the most scenic, nor historic, nor elevation wise tasking of circuits. It is simply because the oppressive Malaysian climate makes a lap or (for the sadistic) two one of the most challenging experiences a normally fair-weathered runner is likely to ever experience.

Bahrain has its dry heat; Valencia can be scorching, as can pretty much any race on the calendar (except Spa or Silverstone or the Nurburgring if recent experience is to go by), but nothing can rival the relentless humidity and the searing sunshine of Sepang between the hours of ten am and two pm. Not even the recently added Singapore GP can quite rival Malaysia, especially when only curfew breakers would attempt to run the Singapore track during the hottest hours.

Added to the climatic challenges of running in Malaysia, the Sepang circuit at 5.543km is one of the longest circuits of the year. It has two significant climbs - the first heading up to turn four after sweeping down out of turns two and three. The second is exiting the tight left hander at the end of the short back straight. It has two significant climbs - the first heading up to turn four after sweeping down out of turns two and three.

The second is exiting the tight left hander at the end of the short back straight. When the track temperature is at its hottest you can feel the balls of your feet burning inside your trainers. The never ending straight parallel to the start / finish straight can be equally tough on body and mind and, with the exception of the grandstand dissecting these straights, you are fully exposed to the force of the sun for the majority of the lap.

For RunThatTrack competitors seeking the ultimate challenge, I tentatively 'recommend' (and accept absolutely no responsibility for any negative consequences) heading out for two laps during a hot sunny day - it's rare for Sepang to not be. If you make it round be ready to find yourself a cold place very soon after (any air conditioned building at the track), have an unending supply of isotonic drink available, and be prepared to be more soaked to the skin with sweat then you ever have been! The savvy runner or those with time to spare will play the waiting game and head out for their quick lap either as late in the evening as possible when temperatures will likely only be around 20-25 Celsius, or at the end of one of the spectacular and frequent thunderstorms, when there is usually a brief slight respite from the unbearable humidity.

Whenever you head out for your lap of Sepang, I advise being well hydrated before you depart, carry liquid with you on your run and slow your pace somewhat to allow for the effect the humidity will have on you. Then, once successfully completed, bask in the knowledge that nearly every other run you'll ever do will not be as hard as that one.

Matthew
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A very special thanks to Matthew Kingston-Lee for this feature. Matthew (better known as MKL) is a twice RTT World Champion and all round nice guy. Since 2012 Matthew has been providing a invaluable track by track runners guide for each of the F1 tracks.

If you'd like to provide some feedback on this guide, or maybe suggest some changes or additions, please get in contact here.