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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Macau Galaxy International Marathon 2010

The last race of the year for me. One last chance for me to get the elusive sub 2 which has been eluding me the whole year. Okay I said I wasn't going to be obsessed over it but somehow it is what pushes me to continue to run. Guess without a goal, running will be just be like a headless chicken running round and round in circle.

Race Pack Collection at the Olympic Stadium
So to make doubly sure that I can get the sub 2, we packed ourselves off to cool Macau while our poor friends endure the heat in hot humid Singapore. Since we were there to holiday as well and in line with our resolve not to run the full marathon, we had signed up only for the comfortable half marathon which means we could spend the days prior and after the race to shop, shop, shop. The weather in Macau was a breezy 17 - 20 degrees with low humidity. It is our first time in Macau and our first time running in temperature that did not exceed 23 degrees.

The Grand Lisboa Casino
The start and finish was the Olympic Sport Stadium at Taipa. There were only about 4000 plus participants for the race which comprises the full marathon, the half marathon and a mini race of 6.5km. And everybody were flagged off together! No separate start but because of the small crowd, it wasn't too difficult to run. The start was a bit boring though going through some roads with constructions alongside but soon we came to the bridge - a massive 1 km bridge that links Taipa to Macau island. Going up wasn't too bad but on the way down the other end of the bridge, my heart sunk in fear when I saw the horribly steep upslope on the other side of the bridge. Soon we hit the 10km mark and the start of a stretch of run that took us through the casinos' heartland. If only we were running in the night, then the place would be beautiful with all the glittering flashing light but it was daytime and the buildings looked so ordinary. The bright spark was that most of the hotels along the route had their staff out in full force supporting the runners. There were all sort of dancers, cheer leaders and the run through was so much more enjoyable because of that.

I took my SIS gel at the 11km mark in preparation for the coming assault on the upslope of the bridge. Fortunately, the climb was not as bad as it look and I managed to conquer it without losing much speed. At 15km, I was about 1 hr 22 mins into the race. Another 6 km to go to get my sub 2. At this point, I even entertained thoughts of trying for a PB but quickly gave up the idea. I was here to enjoy myself not to suffer and I was just going to do enough to get back my sub 2. I was on target and no point rocking the boat. At 18km, I took the Kick Butt energy sweet for a last charge. I knew the sub-2 was in the bag but still.... At the final stretch, turning towards the stadium, our travel mate, wonder-woman and ultra marathoner extraordinaire, Kelly was there taking photo. She had earlier completed in the mini-marathon, gone back to the hotel to bath and came back to take our photos. A final 200 metres run into the stadium yes after a one year break, I got back my sub-2! M got a PB but did not hit sub-2, something I had expected her to achieve. In fact, I thought she should have finish ahead of me since she has been doing rather well for the longer runs recently but I guess we were not really there for the run but for the holiday so running was a lower priority.

The towel given after the race 
Overall, I like the race route - not crowded and sufficiently challenging. I like the start and finish at the stadium - makes one feel so 'pro'. Results were up almost instantly there was a big electronic board inside the indoor stadium where runners can check their timing. The full marathoner has a finisher tee but us half marathoner only got a medal and a beach towel. There was an earlier waist pouch which was given out during the race pack collection. These were the pluses. On the other hand, notwithstandng the small crowd, I felt the organiser should have segregated the start time for the 3 catergories, maybe 10 minutes apart. There were also no full road closure along most of the route and the fumes from the passing vehicles was a spoiler in the cool crisp air. Also, no isotonic drinks were served throughout the route. There were only plain water and sponge station. But on the whole, I enjoyed the experience especially running in this sort of weather. If only we can get this type of weather in Singapore. But I won't be back though. I will continue to go for 1 race each country and not do any repeat so that I can sight see at the same time.

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