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.