In the wee hours of the morning on the 11th of March 2012, I rolled-out my trusted road racer and headed into the twilight. At 4am on this Sunday morning, the traffic was clear except for the odd vehicle carrying late-night revelers home or early shift-workers to work. I rode along the Kesas Highway, hugging the emergency lane all the way to the Exit for Bukit Jalil National Stadium. It took me a good 50 minutes to travel the 18km distance. Around 5am, the stadium’s car park entrance was busy with long queues of cars filled with avid runners and lining-up to enter the venue.
As I chained my bike against a lamp-post, I was greeted by fellow marathoner, Yimei, and her husband for the first time. They were both surprised to learn that I had ridden there from Subang Jaya. Acting cool, I told them it was just a warm-up for the pending Half Marathon. As I was changing to my running vests, I received calls from Duan & Cikgu Syed who wanted to collect their 21km running bibs from me. Before that, I was handing over a couple of mascot bears to Aeda who had ordered them earlier.
As we entered the stadium stands, the sight of 6,800 eager runners was inspiring. The starting was already overflowing with the 21km runners. The flag-off was delayed a few minutes as there were still many runners making their way from the stands to the starting pen at track side.
Let’s start with my list of the event’s low-points:-
- There were long-waiting time to enter the car park, the inside of the stadium and the starting pen; collection of the medals & goody bags were slow, and so was the line for the snacks & drinks.
- The organisers and sponsors should not have accepted an extra 1,800 registrations when they were only prepared to handle a crowd of 5,000. It’s unprofessional, annoying, and potentially dangerous.
- Some parts of the course were so dark that a few runners had stumbled, fallen on the road and grazed their knees.
- At certain and later parts of the route, impatient motorists were showing their dissatisfaction, for being kept waiting at junctions as the runners crossed their path, by blaring their horns. I think in the future, the police will be stricter in issuing their permits for big running events. Clearly, there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of providing adequate public safety.
- With only 3 hours sleep the previous night, it was not surprising that my running time was BAD. Let this be a lesson for me to get proper sleep before future races.
Despite my above complaints, there were many positives vibes and memorable moments which I will cherish as listed below as my high-points:-
- My friends (KH Tang, Cheryl, Kahwai & Aeda) donated money to the Breast Cancer Wellness Association (BCWA) by buying cute little bear mascots for this event. It is uplifting to be able to give to a worthy cause, and I thank all of them for their generosity.
- I met many FB friends for the first time that morning, namely, Yimei, Aeda, Duan, Soon and Joseph. Sadly, there were many friends that I missed too: Sorry Iylia, Paul, Razif, Zainudin and Yew for missing you guys.
- My cousin, Atin, only realized that she had mistakenly registered for 21km instead of 10km as the 21km runners were already starting their run. To Atin’s credit and to everybody else’s amazement, she did run and completed the 21km course despite the fact that it was her first running event, and before this day, she had never spent more than 1 hour on the treadmill.
Inspirationally unbelievable first effort, Atin! Your phobia & nervousness facing 10km has been totally cured for good!
- My darling partner, Mar, finished her 10km in respectable personal time despite suffering a stomach ache. Well done, babe!
- My experienced running friend, Karen, had set-up her own refreshment booth to quench the thirst of some grateful runners like me when we needed it most. Thanks, Karen!
- I was pleased with the completion of my second and longest unofficial duothlon; providing me valuable training time in preparation for my first triathlon in the next 2 weeks.
- I did manage to give my friend, Duan, a running bib which had originally belonged to Evelyn who had to withdraw from the race because she injured her toes.
Overall, my poor performance on race day has made me realized that I need to train harder and smarter if I am going to improve my time for Half Marathons. It’s back to the drawing board for me. I will need to pull my socks up if I am to face the greater challenge of my first triathlon – gulp!