Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Penang Bridge Marathon

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Pacesetters members gathered at Bukit Aman car park on Saturday 23 June, 8:00 a.m. before going by charter buses to Penang

The Penguin runners traveled almost 800 km to participate in Penang Bridge Marathon (“PBM”), ran the race on Sunday 24 June, and they were already back home in Kuala Lumpur to resume their normal daily lives albeit with a little soreness in legs muscles.

The brave Penguin runners who went to Penang for this full marathon were: Meng (p2), Tony (p3), Steven (p5), Eric Teo (p10), Jason Chin (p12)
and Weng.

Collection of race entry pack in Penang on Saturday

The fastest Penguin Runners’ title goes to Eric Teo with a handsome timing of 3 hr 48 minutes to cross the finishing line in his full marathon. That sub-4 timing is also his personal best record. However, due to heat stroke and dehydration, he fainted after crossing the finishing line (I was shock to hear that piece of news). As informed by his better half, he was warded into Penang hospital for one night and he is Okay and discharged on Monday.

Jason Chin and Meng were quite close in their timing with 4:31 and 4:35 respectively to cross the finishing line.

Steven was not able to complete the full marathon despite that he put in all his best effort. He hit the wall before 30km mark – a solid wall and he could not find the window to escape. I hope he was not affected by listening to the album: The Wall (1982) by Pink Floyd, a famous rock band.

At 1:30 a.m. on race day when going to starting point

He encountered leg muscle cramp together with leg pain. After enduring the pain for considerable amount of time, he was in despair; he decided to throw in the towel and abandon the race.

Though the starting time was at the unearthly hour of three in the morning (3:00 a.m.), the PBM area was hot and humid. There was not a slightest breeze at all. Worst still, the entire area was filled with unpleasant “fishy” smell. Every breath a runner took would remind them of the song by The Police, “Every breath you take”. Or the song “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies.

It was no easy task when approaching the final 100 meters for the full marathon runners. The “runway” was criss-crossed with other runners or school children who have completed the race. I could imagine that one has to elbow all the way to cross the finishing line – that would enhance the fighting spirit (or “pia” spirit) to complete the race.

Steven (L2), Rustam (L3), Gurdev (R2), Meng (R1)
Collection of bibs – each person spent almost 30 minutes to get the race entry pack on Saturday afternoon. There were just too many raw processes: to make or confirm payment (through online registration previously but payment was by means of remittance); to verify a runner’s details; to identify correct size vest or T-shirt. Due to insufficient vests, guy runners were given ladies vests. The runners were directed here and there waiting in line to get the procedure right. Looks like this area requires process re-engineering to ensure the repeatable process are smoothly handled.

Beautiful sunrise along the running route of Penang Bridge Marathon on race day

After struggling for 42 km, the full marathon runners began to realize that the bus chartered by Pacesetters Club was another 5 – 6 km away from the finishing area due to closure of road for the PBM run. For those full marathon runners who finally reached the bus, congratulations to you as it is an indication that you can take on the more punishing ultra-marathon race (distance more than 42km).

What motivates a runner to travel hundreds of kilometers away, with not much time to relax, run the grueling race and the next moment, they packed their bags and were on their way home? This is the extraordinary spirit of full marathon runners!

Weng (in yellow vest, R3) after completing his full marathon

According to schedule, the specially arranged bus ferried the runners from hotel to the starting point at 1:30 a.m. They could hardly sleep on Saturday night. They just rested for two hours and off they go for the race. After the run, the bus came at 1:30 p.m. to fetch them back to Kuala Lumpur.

Cheers to all runners… BRAVO!

Steven with Mr. Lee, a hometown friend from Parit, Perak.

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