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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Borneo Marathon Race Day

The day of the marathon. Should I run or not? Actually I had more or less made up my mind to run - bad knee or ankle be dammed. There was never a question of not starting although that was in my mind the last 2 weeks leading to this day. At most, I reasoned, if I cannot do it, I will DNF.

Arranged with the race organizer for a shuttle bus pickup from our hotel to Likas Stadium. Cost RM35 per person for a return trip. We were to regret paying for this later.

Reached the stadium in good time and was surprised to see the organizer still setting up the start point. There was a lot of Safra runners around. Met IMD and Jennifry(?) at the start. Also saw Alber, Jeffrey(?). Seemed like there were more Singaporeans than the other nationalities. IMD told M not to run too fast ahead of me and leave me behind. How prophetic his words were to become later on.

The race started slightly after 4.30am. We had to run 200m round the stadium before going out onto the road. Stepped on a plastic cup and and then another. Wondering why there were so many cups on the road so early in the race. An angmoh runner told me these were the route divider! So creative. Using plastic cup filled with sand for road divider. Later on the plastic cups became plastic bags.

From the stadium, we ran north in the direction of Mt Kinabalu. It was still dark and there were no street lights along part of the route so for the first half hour or so, we ran in darkness.

M and myself ran at a slow 7min pace. I had decided to adopt the same strategy that I adopted at last year SCSM and run 7min pace throughout and hopefully complete the race in 1 piece - just under 5hours. That should suffice for M's first marathon and for a crippled me. At around the 3km mark, I estimated there were only around 20 or so runners behind us. Was wondering to myself whether both of us will finish last since the field of 250 runners or so all looked so 'pro'.

We ran north, passing the majestic City mosque, 1Borneo hypermall, the Sabah University, past a row of durian stalls (hmm the smell was heavenly); and all the while facing the magnificent Mt Kinabalu. How I wish I had my camera with me. We did a u-turn at the 12km mark. At this point, we were still on target with our pacing and were running very comfortably. It got bright very early in KK and by 6am, it was totally bright. The sun came out in full force around 7am and when we passed the stadium, we ran into the 10km runners streaming out of it. As there were only around 1000 runners, we had no problems with the crowd and continued our run smoothly.
At 25km, I started to slow down or did M started to run faster because she was pulling ahead. Soon, we reached the city passing the Observatory, the Waterfront where the whiff of fish was so strong, passed our hotel and continued southward towards the direction of the airport.

Around the 28km mark saw Yee Hua who was doing the half running strongly. Strange - didn't see IMD. Then saw him some distance behind. He complained of stomach pain and was walking. By now, M was a full 50 metres in front of me and I was tiring fast. At one of the water point, I asked the lady where the u-turn was and she very discouraging told me it was still very far. We turned right into the Sutera Harbour Resort and that was a long way in indeed. I was feeling very hot and tired and the road seem never ending. Half way in, saw M running on the other side. She still looked very strong and I hope she won't hit the wall. At the end of the Sutera Harbour route, I took my first walk break. Exiting that, I was disappointed to learn that we had to go further up and not turn back. There was another 3 km loop to run before turning back. Then I saw the small little marker ( they were using small triangular distance marker) placed on the route which said 10km to go. Got a packet of power gel here and continued to jog along. Again saw M on the other side of the road. By now I estimated she was at least 1.5km in front of me.

At 33km, the wall came. I couldn't summoned any more energy to run and was so drained. The ankle and knee had held up well so far but the 1 month layoff was coming to haunt me. I decided to walk for a while. The walk became a 1.5km walk as my body refused to run. Another problem was the left calf was tightening and I knew if I pushed on, I will get a massive attack of cramp so it was walk walk walk and run and walk walk walk. With this stragety, managed to stall off the cramp but I knew the 5hours target was shot. Past the hotel, wished I can go inside and just lie down but I got to finish what I started. Pressed on. The 3km to go marker didn't bring any relief. I was hot and tired and wishing it was 300m to go. In front of me was a lady who was limping and sighed - she was limping and walking faster than I was jogging. There was another guy running and carrying an umbrella! Smart move considering that it was like noon here in Singapore!

With 2km to go, I finally managed to catch up with the limping girl and told her to run together and finished it off. But then with 2 strides, the cramp that I had been trying to stall finally came. Damn! Decided not to stretch, applied some heat cream and walked. The limping girl had disappeared. Walked some more. Where is the damn stadium? Finally, a guy said just after the bend and so I started to trot and there it was - the stadium floodlight!

Turned into the stadium and still have to run half a round. But I must admit it feel good to finish in a stadium. Like the Olympic! There were people on the stand cheering and clapping and I managed to run and even overtake another runner in front of me although 2 runners behind overtook me in return. Nevermind, I had finished! It wasn't a good time but I did it. From an initial DNS to a maybe will DNF to completion. And without major damage to my ankle, knee and legs. Ha ha now I can enjoy the rest of my holiday and not have to walk around like a crab with something stuck between the arse!

M had finished earlier within 5 hours and was waiting for me. I am so proud of her. Her first marathon! More good news was to come for her later.Unfortunately, they had ran out of milo by the time I finished. There was no free drinks at the end of the race and runners had to buy the isotonic drinks. Strange. There was a booth selling the race photo but it was so packed so we decided to forget it and go back. Waited for our bus but it never came. Went to checked with the organiser and after hanging around for another 45minutes, we were told the bus was on the other side of the stadium and we were waiting at the wrong place.

Got very cheesed off and told Shan off. In the end, the very nice Shan asked one of her staff to send us back to our hotel. If you are reading this, Shan - my apologies if we sounded rude but we were tired and hot and rushing to check out.

Back home here now, just checked the official result and believe it or not - M came in first for the Women Veteran category! Whoo whee! Ha ha seem like got advantage running in unwanted races.  But actually quite paiseh with the type of timing. Only 7 participants in the Women Vet's category. But that's not her fault or problem right. Now there is supposed to be a cash prize of RM1500 and a trophy, so where is it? Are they going to give it to her?

Overall, the organisation was good especially for a first time marathon. There are of course room for improvement - like moving the race kit collection to a more centralised location, making sure the runners get their correct size shirts as indicated on the registration form, better road markers and dividers, traffic control (at one stage on the return leg we were running on the extreme right of the road with cars whizzing past us). Also, the puzzle of why they ran out of women singlet. Saw many guys walking around wearing the woman's cut singlet. So, they must have just distributed the women shirt freely on Friday and ran out by Saturday leaving only the men's shirt for distribution. All these could be better managed but it was nevertheless a good attempt for a first time marathon.

The rest of the visit to KK here


  1. Interesting account of the marathon Tekko :) Great job on completing the event despite the tough conditions. I remember visiting the area many years ago when climbing Mt Kinabalu and have fond memories of the people and the atmosphere.

  2. congrats to yr Mrs... and well done on the completion of the marathon

  3. You guys were outstanding - M for coming in first in the women vet category on her very first marathon, and you for completing in spite of your condition!