Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deprived Achievement

The Borneo International Marathon (BIM) was first organised in October last year. Before that we did not have any marathon in Sabah for a good 20 years. It was a very brave and admirable effort by the organiser to undertake such a big event.

Before the BIM, I've been running quite frequently for some years, but only for short distances of between 3km to 5km. Back then if anyone had suggested that I could run the 42km, I would've told him that he's mad. I ran my very first half marathon (21km) in BIM 2008, and discovered that it wasn't such an impossible feat after all. With a bit of discipline and proper training, anyone can do it.

Some of my friends have also been supporting the BIM 2008 and 2009. We are not elite athletes—we're merely ordinary people who took up the challenge to prove to ourselves that we could do it too. When compared to the elite runners, our results are laughable, really. But we're proud of our achievements. No doubt that they're a far cry from the world records, but because of the time and efforts we've invested in these events, those pitiful results mean quite a lot to us.

Apart from personal satisfaction, we've also earned the bragging rights to our friends who've yet to run the marathons. We don't have our running certificates on us all the time, but we can still guide our friends to the official website of the Borneo International Marathon where one is able to find the results.

Immediately upon crossing the finish line on 11 October 2009, I looked at my stopwatch and saw a time of 04:40:20. When some of my friends asked me what's my time, I told them quite honestly that I ran a 4:40. I asked Dr Liaw how was his run, and he said he did a 4:26. But when the results were printed out at the stadium, I noticed that my time was shown as 4:42 instead. And Dr Liaw's result was 4:29. It's quite embarrassing, for it gave the impression that we haven't really been honest about our achievements.

However, later on, when the final results were published in the BIM website, I was pleasantly surprised to see my time recorded as 04:40:19. Dr Liaw Yun Haw's time is given as 04:26;57. That sort of redeemed our pride a bit.

However a friend of mine, Claire Andrew, who's been participating in my KK Challenge treasure hunt series, wasn't so lucky. She joined the half marathon in the BIM 2008 and clocked 03:08:37. She has since run the half marathon in KL this year and improved on her time.

She attempted the BIM again on 11 October 2009, and was very happy to finish in 02:50, which is an improvement of almost 20 minutes of the BIM 2008. But that happiness was short-lived, for her time was officially recorded as 03:15:38, i.e. almost half an hour more than her actual achievement. Imagine her disappointment!

That's Claire (the taller girl) running towards the finish line beside her friend, Alice Mathew. Although the photo is a bit blur, the bib numbers are clear enough; and one can easily match them with those in the official results.

And this is Claire and Alice again crossing the finish line together. But the trouble is that Alice's official time is 02:49:48, whereas Claire's time is almost half an hour more than that.

Claire then wrote an email to Tanya, the coordinator of BIM 2009 who promised that she'd look into the matter. After a few days' silence, Claire wrote to Tanya again. 3 emails later, and about 10 days after the event, and a week after the results were published, Tanya finally replied and acknowledged that there's been a mistake—that someone else probably ran with Claire's timing chip! One has to wonder how such a thing could happen, but I guess we can all accept that there's bound to be some glitches here and there in such a big event.

So now that Tanya has acknowledged the mistake, she's prepared to print the same time as that of Alice's on Claire's certificate. But nothing is done to the official results in the organiser's website.

As I said, we're not elite marathoners and our results are laughable at best when compared to the world records. But please don't deny us these pathetic achievements which we're so proud of, and have worked so hard to accomplish. People like Tanya may not understand how much those wrong results, which the whole world can see, can affect some of us who crave for just a little bit of recognition.


aineej said...

Ms Tanya itu sangat tidak mesra alam.
She just threw the pasta party voucher at my frens face and I was denied the finisher medal as I reached the finih line 5mins b4 9am.Luckily my fren demanded the medal for us as we were too tired to react.
My fren said maybe bcos of hormone change as she's pregnant,but hello??My sisters have been pregnant many times but they never had such bad behaviour/manners.Having good manners pun kena ada kaitan dgn perubahan hormon?Karut lah!

Cornelius said...


My staff, Vivian, had her share of bad experience from Tanya during the race pack collection day. Apparently, there was some mix up of the timing chips.

I can understand the frustration and confusion from Tanya's point of view that day. But to burst out with "SHIT!" at a participant was very unbecoming of a person in her position, hormone or no hormone. I hope her behavior did not reflect the attitude of the organiser.

That was the first time Vivian joined a marathon after much persuasion from me and her friend, and I hope Vivian will join again next year.

It is such a shame that Shan is no longer in charge of the coordinator role. She did a fantastic job last year.

Simon Amos said...

I have just come to be aware of these problems, (I have been away trying to save my business after months of neglect while we set up the marathon).
First of all it all sounds quite unacceptable and as a runner I too would feel a little cheated, 4.40 is faster than I could achieve by some way!
This year was very difficult, two of the directors left Sabah to work elsewhere and with only two of us left it was incredibly stressful and I guess little wonder that there were some mistakes.
There are no excuses though and you should not have been spoken to badly, nor should you have been given the wrong finishing times.
I will look into this, we flew a timing consultant from Australia to manage it all for us so he might be able to shed some light on it all. Please bear with us.
We do hope to continue to stage the event but so far we still lack a major sponsor and are unable to afford to keep funding it all ourselves. 2010 looks increasingly unlikely to happen.

Cornelius said...

Hi Simon,

I hope you don't it wrong, my friend, on the whole you and your partners have done a commendable job! The Borneo International Marathon did us Sabahans good, at least it was good for me, since I've found a new passion for running like never before.

I'm convinced that most, if not all, of us can understand the daunting task of organising such a big event, and there will inevitably be some minor mistakes. Just that some of us had bad experiences with some staff which I feel was such a pity. For it sort of overshadowed the otherwise well-organised event.

I have spoken to some friends and the feedback I've been getting so far is that we're all looking forward to BIM 2010. It would be a shame if it doesn't happen, as not all of us are able to fly overseas to run.

Andrew said...

Hi Cornelius, I am quite aware of the numerous complaints about Tanya and you can trust that it will not be repeated again - including the most likely scenario of finding another person for this role of event coordinuchator. Pregnant or not, such behavior is terribly counterproductive to our massive efforts to develop this event.
Same as Simon, I am now busy catching up on other neglected business related work.
My apologies for the mistakes and errors and hope we can get a sponsor soon to continue this event for 2010. Cheers, Andrew

teo said...

All in all, the BIM is really a memorable event especially for us, Sabahan runners. Great job by the organisors, minor mistakes are bound to happen especially for such a huge event.

Really hope that more funding would come in for this event..the State Ministry of Sports should support this event and make it an annual one from now on. I can see only positive outcomes rather than negstive ones this event will bring to Kota Kinabalu i.e Health, tourism, spirit of so called 1Malaysia etc....the only negative outcome i could see is the jam due to road closure.

I do hope more sponsors would look into realising this event, it would be really sad if BIM 2010 is not happening.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cornelius!! =)

I ran for the 10KM too.. but i couldn't find my in the results. Could this be the chip wasn't working well?

Oh well, at least i got my medal =D

Regarding the medals, i was sitting near the finishing line when i saw the pregnant lady or is't Tanya talking to the young girls.. i over heard that no medals are allowed to be given to the runners especially for the 10K's.I noticed that the time limit of 2 hours was over and the young girls were still giving out medals to the runners?

Instruction were given out clearly that the medals are for the half marathon runners which the time ends in half and hours time and also full marathon runners which ends another 2 hours.

After she left, the girls were still giving out medals to the 10k's!!

Guess those runners were lucky...

But overall, i think the organizers did well.. Looking forward to next years marathon..

See you next year Cornelius?

Cornelius said...


We're all looking forward to BIM 2010, and hope that it will really happen. We're also confident that you'll be able to attract more runners, now that it's scheduled in April instead of October. Keeping our fingers crossed...

Cornelius said...


The traffic jam is only for a few hours on a Sunday morning. Should be OK for this kind of sacrifice. It's only once a year anyway.

Now start training for a sub 5hr 42km!

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

The timing chip is a fantastic invention. But in this particular marathon, somehow there were some discrepancies. I'm not sure if that was due to human errors. But when taken as a whole, the system works wonderfully well.

Usually, the organiser is very strict on the eligibility for medals. But sometimes, I suspect if they have extra, there is no harm to give away to the finishers even though beyond the time limit. However, I find it a bit surprising in the case of "aineej" above where she was initially denied of a medal even though she finished before the time limit. Must have been a mistake.

If the BIM 2010 happens, there is no doubt that I will participate again. I will surely be among the first few to register in November. And especially since it will be held in April, it's just nice for my plan, as I'd like to do no more than 2 full marathons in a year. So perhaps one in April and another in the last quarter. The rest will have to be half marathons or 10k runs.

Tradewind said...

again congrats to the effort put in getting BIM 2010 off the ground.
On Tanya, to her benefit, she did do her job, i submitted by registration and i was faxed in return a receipt. Did not have a run in with her, just that i do 'feel' my emails do get replied abit on the slow side.
The efforts of the 2 race directors is heck alot better then the amature assoc trying to organise the Kota Kinabalu Marathon, with gov and ministry backing, its till today all talk, no substance. I have even emailed Daily Express about the story they ran with Susan Wong donating money to them asking if they had further info.
As for BIM 2010, when is registration starting?

Cornelius said...


The SAAA is fast becoming a big joke among Sabahan runners. They were supposed to have organised their so-called "first ever international night marathon" in July, even though there are already night marathons elsewhere in the world. But that didn't happen - as expected.

And now there's supposed to be one on 13 December 2009. That too will be an "international marathon", promising quite lucrative prizes.

Surely you don't seriously expect the KK International Marathon to happen? It's almost an insult to compare the SAAA with the organiser of BIM.

Some of us will be running in the Singapore Marathon on 6 December. If by a stroke of miracle, the KK International Marathon really happens on 13 December, I will still support by joining at least the half marathon. But don't keep your hopes too high. We're talking about SAAA here.

Cornelius said...


I'm sorry that I missed your question on the registration of the BIM 2010. I believe it was announced earlier that registration opens on 2 November 2009. But I don't know if that's still the case now. At any rate, once the date is fixed, I'm sure the organiser will send out emails to past participants.

By the way, I was doing a mild 8 laps at the Likas jogging track just now, and I met some friends there. According to them, the SAAA will be making an official announcement on their KK International Marathon within this week! If that is indeed true, I'm really glad to be proven wrong! Looks like we're gonna have something to look forward to this December. It's gonna be interesting to know how they plan to get the crowd within 6 - 7 weeks.

orangutan said...

looks like SAAA is trying to compete with BIM...

Heard rumors that BIM 10 wont happen? registrations suppose to start tomorrow which is the 1st November.

but i don't see any updates.

vasanthi Teo said...

Hello there: First of all me and hubby would like to congratulate to Mr Andrew , Madam Tanya and the team of BIM 2008 and 2009 for their great show and organisation for a fruitful international event of BIM 2009!!!!!!! Last yr me and hubby took part the 10km mARATHON AND FINISHED ABOUT 1 HR AND 48 MINUTES(NO MEDAL LASY YEAR FOR 10KM) hence this yr we upgraded to 21km and i managed to finish about 3 hrs and 18min(i noted at the sports complex clock) but hubby finished before me...... the spirit of the Marathon was so great...... I think we should find faults with the coordinator of BIM she did her job in fact great accomplshments .... just imagined with 8 months pregnancy and the two seniors were not around to assist in this international events.... Madam tanya was ther etoo last year and she has been very helpful...... I have been organising a lot of medical events too and we can't fullfill everyone and make everyone satisfied.... so please don't condemn her she did her best and i can understand the tough task she had taken on her back to organise this event... every human being do mistakes and we should accept this fact and BIM 2010 should go on or else we will be a looser...... especially us the Sabahans the host will be such an embarrassing situation if we call off this event of the year...... Mr Andrew should call all the BIM committee and go thro all this comments in his post mortem meeting!!!!!!!!! All the best to BIM 2010!!!!!! I respect to all the BIM Marathon participants for their great achievementn and don't let this minute technical problem become a disaster for the upcoming events!!!!!! Madam Tanya you did a great Job and God always be with the people who love each others!!!!!! Great organisation BIM 2009!!!!!!

vasanthi Teo said...

i would like to correct my statements(amendment) we should not find faults from the coordinator of BIM 2009 madam Tanya...sorry typing error see we make mistake so you cannot blame me ....... no human being are perfectionist!!!!!! but instead to do correction from our mistakes!!!!!!

Cornelius said...


When looking from a distance, but not actually getting involved in the work, it's easy to think that anyone is able to organise an international marathon. For 20 years SAAA did not organise a marathon in KK, and the moment that Andrew and his friends organised one, SAAA suddenly became inspired to have one of their own too.

But looking at others doing it is entirely different from doing it oneself. And SAAA is not a likely party to be able to pull it off successfully. Yes, they may have the support of the ministries etc, but who's gonna do the work?

Being an avid Sabahan runner, I would try my best to support whatever marathon events in KK, but I don't believe SAAA can do anything as good as the BIM. But we shall see; I seriously hope that I am wrong.

As for BIM 2010, we're still hoping that it will happen. Otherwise, I will probably start planning for the KL Marathon which did not get a very good review this year. I supppose we can't expect everything to be perfect, so if I want to continue running, I will have to join anyway. But as far as KL is concerned, I am mainly worried about the slopes. Will cross the bridge when I come to it.

Cornelius said...

vasanthi Teo,

Thanks for your comments and congratulations for conquering the half marathon! Perhaps you should consider doing the full marathon next?

We're not here to condemn anyone. These are all feedback which are important. It's human nature to only want to hear positive reviews of one's event, but if we really want to improve further, we need honest comments from the participants. Knowing Andrew and his friends, I am confident that they welcome all feedback, positive and negative ones. For I am sure that they're trying their best to do even better in the BIM 2010 if there is one.

All this will be meaningless if we're only giving the positive comments, and then sweep the rubbish under the mat. Because how are the folks at BIM to remedy any shortfalls if they're not even aware of them?

I'm sure we have nothing against Tanya, and I guess we can give her a bit of leeway since she's pregnant. Maybe that was hormone, not really her; maybe it was just a bad day, I don't know. But when dealing with 1,400 people, we can't expect all of them to buy that "pregnant" excuse, can we?

In the end, if Tanya can't take the stress, then perhaps someone else should be positioned at the frontline. Tanya can still do all those background work if she is really good at it.

Again, we have nothing personal against Tanya. This is all in the best interest of the Borneo International Marathon.

Claire said...

Oh dear, I hope my emails and this blog post won't turn Tanya's name ugly. The emails I wrote and this blog post are meant to highlight the problem of my timing chip, which I thought the BIM committee would be glad to know of their technical problem to improve the event, since this is an international event. I'm running the marathon just to compete with myself and to improve my running time. Thus I shot those emails out after I found out the lapse in my time, cause I'm sure I did better this year, having running the BIM last year under the massive heat. I definitely agree with Cornelius's comment above. We have nothing personal against Tanya and this is all in the interest to make BIM better in the future. Besides, it's not Tanya alone organizing the BIM. She has a team standing behind her. She did reply me and corrected the time finally.

Cornelius said...


I went to the organiser's office to collect my certificate this afternoon. Andrew and Tanya were there, as were the rest of the crew. Tanya knew me by my name the moment I walked through the door! And I suspect the rest of them knew me too. But perhaps they knew me for all the wrong reasons! Who knows, maybe one of these days, they will really get to know me - the funny guy!

By the way, Claire, I'm sorry that I totally forgot about your question the other day. I suppose it's too late now to find a team for you to tumpang in theSun Hunt, since it's just a few days to the event. Never mind lah... at least now you can concentrate fully on your running. We'll meet again in Singapore in December. Will you be home by the last week of December? Am itching to do a Christmas Hunt, and if it happens, it would be a shame if you're not home yet! Don't get funny ideas about settling down in KL. We can't afford to lose a regular hunter here in KK!

scute said...

Christmas Hunt? Are we missing something interesting here? What's cooking, Cornelius?

Tal said...

Christmas Hunt? Hmmm....? Do enlighten us Cornelius..:)

Cornelius said...

scute & Tal,

Just an idea for a Christmas get-together for hunter friends. Something simple and easy; not so stressful. Well, OK, at least I will try very hard to make it simple and easy!... HAHAHA!

But the cost of venue and makan very expensive bah, even for simple makan. You know lah, our local hunters very koo hon one! We need to allocate for the venue, makan as well prizes for a bit of motivation for the hunters.

I'll see if I'm in the mood to assemble our local hunters, so that I can use up some Qs from my Q bank. If yes, I will send out emails soon to gauge the interest among local hunters.