Putrajaya International Marathon - 10 Sep 2006:
Please click here to view 319 great photos taken by Jason Lee.
Please click here to view 99 photos taken by WENG.
My heart was pounding hard, so were my feet on the tarmac. My shirt was completely drenched with sweat despite the mild weather after an afternoon drizzle. “Come on! Maintain the steady form. Hold on to the big stride. You can do it!” I kept reminding myself when weaving my right hand holding the cap bearing RHB logo.
On seeing the cap, the group of cheering team members from RHB Group stationed in front of the T-junction of AmBank building (Jalan Raja Chulan) immediately ROARED. With a smile creased on my face, I engaged the attention of my fellow colleagues and instantly, I connected with them. The cheers gave a renewed boaster power to me for the final 500 meters run to the finishing line.
There were only three runners in front of me maintained at about 10 meters in intervals. I was not able to overtake them, as I believed every runner was pushing their maximum power to pull through. Finally, the uphill ramp and the spectators were within sight; I could hear the cheers.
With full throttle ahead, I tackled the ramp and with a left turn, the finishing line was right in front of me. Yes, I made it. When I received the positioning tag, I was pleased to see that my position was good though I slipped another six positions away compared to 2005. Knowing that I was the slowest runner in my pack, I was quite certain that we would regain the Championship title again.
About this Event
This is a charity race that mirrors the Rat Race originally started in New York. According to the Sun newspaper published on the event day, 5 September, the response was good: 110 teams (550 executives) and 39 CEOs would be running in this race. And the collection of money in aid for 12 charitable organization soared to one million Ringgit. RHB Group was fielding 12 teams again – the biggest contingent for another year. RHB Group also sent in the most number of cheering teams along the course.
In 2005, it was indeed my privilege to represent RHB Bank in competing with another 100 teams and emerged as the Champion Team. This time, I went there with a mission – to defend the 2005 Championship title.
The rule of the game: One team consists of five runners who don office attire to run a distance of 4.5km each. Positions of all five runners are added as points; winning team is the one having the minimum total points.
At the Starting Venue
As usual, the runners and spectators in this event were treated to a display of pomp and splendour. The road in front of Bursa Malaysia Building was alive with fanfare. The cheer-leaders were carrying colourful pom-poms; pretty girls dressed in attractive outfits and vibrant colours that resemble their corporate colours. With the lively music, each team would perform a little synchronized movement that were pleasing to watch.
Whenever I heard the screams of the ladies cheerleading team members, it really charged me up just like the horse wanted to unleash the power – to run. Since it was not the time to start the race, I did a warm-up run at the car park just next to the starting area.
There were quite a number of Pacesetters runners present in this event. Those that I met: Bassin from Telekom; Nancy Lai and Mr. Chan from HSBC Bank; Miss Lesley Tan from IBM; Jessica from Ernst & Young; May Ching from Accenture; KK from KNN and Christine, etc.
Looks like this race is getting popular: more teams were participating with an increased in collection of charitable money. From a photographer stand-point, Jason Lee also recognized more cameramen and photographers were keenly competing for pole positions to take photos. The other two photographers from Pacessetters Club were Chan Wing Kai and WENG.
With an accumulation of storm clouds, the sky could not control itself and started drizzling at around 4:00 p.m. The rain did not deter those that were there and I could see actions were still going on. The rain was welcomed by most runners as it was cooler to run.
The 1km race for the CEO start as planned – 5:00 p.m. sharp. Immediately, the runners for the Executive race, who were positioned behind them, moved forward a few feet to the starting line. And at that moment, many other runners who were standing by the side just lined themselves in front of the starting line defying the basic protocol and manners – similar to jumping queue in traffic jam. I could see that the fast runners were worried as the slow runners were then blocking their way.
The last minute announcement by a FTAAA official was causing anxiety among the fast runners. He informed the runners that there was a car accident along the course resulted in diversion of route. First, we could not hear well what was said and secondly, we could not comprehend the direction: Turn left at this junction; turn right there… With the announcement, it really worried me that what if the runners ran in the wrong direction.
Nevertheless, with all those uncertainties, the event started when the last CEOs returned. Luckily, no runners were pushed and fell down that lead to untoward accident.
While most teams dressed in their office attires, there were many teams that ran with props that showed products marketed by their company. For example, GE (General Electric) company’s team of runners were dressed in locomotive.
This is the only race in the entire Malaysia where most cheerleading teams congregated along the course. Added on to the fun was to hear the cheers and feel the sensation of screams when running passed them that would sure super-charge any runner.
It was most comforting when I see so many supporters that I know lining the course calling my name: Chee Wee (P11), Jason Chin (P12), Lisa Onn, Lawrence and Penny who was blowing a whistle. Jason Chin managed to take photos of me too.
I was trailing about 20 feet behind Mr. Chan of HSBC Bank and I could not overtake him. At the finishing line, he said that with the roar of RHB cheering teams, he could precisely identify my distance behind him without having to look back.
Dinner and Awards Presentation
All sponsors, volunteers and runners were treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner at 7:00 p.m. While dining, it was most meaningful to revive the memorable memories by watching the video on the happenings and running actions at the four big screens.
I was most excited that when the announcer announced that the second runner-up team went to Tony and Steven’s team. The first runner-up team went to MAS – new team on the block. And finally, the announcement for the champion team: Team 4 of RHB Bank – the name of my team.
The feeling of walking to the podium was electrifying. Standing at the podium facing the audience with flashes from cameras, I was in jubilation and spirit having flown. It really felt good to stand up there. It was worth all the effort for spending more than a month of focused speed training on my own to aim for that moment.
Unlike last year, where the prize was just ordinary; however, the prize was fantastic this time. It was like the icing on the cake: I have the Nike MaxAir running shoes with iPod. There is a remote control device that can be inserted into the shoes for transmitting data back to the iPod – what a cool gadget.
Tony said, “Just look at KC... Smiling all the way.” Another running friend commented: "On the podium, you are so happy.”
Another person that should be happy and proud is Tony. With his strategy, two teams of runners from RHB Bank managed to distribute the points perfectly in order to push two teams up the podium.
The result means that the reigning champion team from RHB Bank has extended its lead in this year’s championship again for the second time. That evening, it was a proud moment for the Penguin Runners – KC (P1), Tony (P3) and Steven (P5). As for me – mission accomplished. See you all again in this fun-filled event next year.