Monday, May 2, 2011

Borneo International Marathon 2011

I wouldn't say that the Borneo International Marathon 2011 (BIM) was perfect, but I'd describe it as at least among the best I've joined so far. I've heard of regular runners complaining about the value of the goodie bags; or quality of the the finisher T-shirts. I don't look at those when assessing the success of the race.

This year, the BIM has attracted about 2,200 runners in all categories—a far cry from the huge crowds in even small races in West Malaysia. However, for the BIM, that figure translates into an increase of about 50% against last year's participation. I must congratulate Andrew Voon, the Race Director of BIM, who happens to be a good friend of mine. We ran marathons together in Penang last year, and more recently in Hong Kong. It was while we were in Hong Kong that I shared a room with him. I was able to get a glimpse of the kind of commitment required to pull off a successful marathon.

Andrew would tell you that I'd be among the first few people who'd be quick to criticize when the organiser screws up. And of course BIM didn't escape my criticism in the past! I've participated in all of Andrew's races so far, and I can attest that Andrew is improving the BIM all the time!

This year, Andrew managed to enlist a number of cyclists as race marshals on wheels. And I can say that the volunteers did a good job at the many drink stations spread evenly along the entire route. My only small disappointment was the fact that I had to suffer a terrible thirst on my return leg from Tg Aru (about 10.5km to the finish line). By about 4 hours into the race, all the drinks at the Segama drink station were gone. That's the station supporting all the race categories. And because that station was dry by then, I had to endure about 6km of thirst between the drink station near Sutera and the one about 2km before the finish line. Now on any ordinary training day, I can quite easily run 10km without a single drop of water. But when running a race beyond the 30km point, under the scorching sun, 6km is extremely hard to run without any drinks! So this is probably one thing Andrew can look into when organising future BIMs.

Speaking of the scorching sun, I think contrary to popular belief, the BIM is not really an easy race even though its terrain is almost fully flat. The hot sun during the last 10km-12km of the 42km is enough to drain 20km's worth of energy! Even regular marathoners are talking about the famous morning sun of Kota Kinabalu!

When I reached the starting line of the 42km race, the injury in my left foot had not recovered. As a matter of a Plan B, I took ponstan—a painkiller—about an hour before the race. That was the first time I took any painkiller before a race. Even when I ran the Hong Kong Marathon with a back injury in February, I refrained from taking any painkiller. But this time it's a bit different; I reckoned that I wouldn't have lasted the 42km without the painkiller.

During the first 10km or so into the race, my foot felt great. Just a bit of pain, but it was totally bearable. I and my running buddy, Dr Peter, ran side-by-side almost throughout the northern route. But as we were nearing the northern turning point, I realised that we were running somewhat too fast for the targeted 4 hours 30 mins. I reduced my pace a bit, but still keeping Peter in sight. As I reached the turning point, Peter had already started his return leg to the south.

The run was rather pleasant until I reached around 1Borneo on the return leg when I felt a slight pull in my right calf, and then soon after that, I felt a similar pull in my left calf. I looked at my watch and realised that I was still running too fast. I reduced my pace a little further and began to lose sight of Peter in the dark. It was just getting bright when I reached the 21km mark. I looked at my watch again and saw about 1:57, way too fast for a 4:30 target.

By the time I reached the Wisma Perindustrian roundabout, I suddenly merged into the crowd of the 10km racers. But I was still able to run comfortably. I ran all the way to Tg Aru, stopping to drink in almost every drink station along the way. On the way there, I saw some of my friends running the half marathon on their return leg. By then, I have developed cramps in both my thighs; and the pain in my left foot was becoming quite unbearable.

About 300 metres before reaching Tg Aru, I saw Peter on his return leg for the final 10km of the race. And my heart sank because I knew it there and then that I've lost my bet for the second time in a row! Frankly, I didn't have high hopes of beating Peter in this particular race, but losing is never easy on my pride, you see (smile)!

It was more or less about then that I shifted my focus—looking at my watch, I saw that I still had enough time to make the sub-4:30 target. It's gonna be close, but not impossible. The only problem was that the cramps in my legs and the pain in my left foot were beginning to bug me. All I had to do was to hope that my legs could still move. For as long as they could still move, it's a matter of enduring the pain that last 10km. Turning at Tg Aru roundabout and making my way back to the finish line, I was already struggling to endure the pain. By then the morning sun was already burning my exposed neck and arms.

The above photo, courtesy of Tey Eng Tiong (thank you), is just at the turn leading to the Wawasan roundabout.

Before long, I was reduced to the walk-run-walk-run routine. About a thousand steps later I arrived at a drink station just shortly after turning into the coastal highway from Jln Mat Salleh. And another drink station after about 900 steps later, a little after the Sutera Harbour Resort. I grabbed 2 cups of isotonic drink and continued my run. What followed next was the 6km run without any drink. I lost count of how many times I walked within that 6km. I've endured similar heat in past BIMs, but this time I felt it was more serious—I was at the verge of puking.

The last few kilometres was mainly about mental strength. Step by step until I reached the Wisma Perindustrian roundabout for the third time that morning. Turning into Jln Istiadat, I knew that I had about 1.3km to the finish line. Looking at my watch, I had a little over 9 minutes left for the sub-4:30 target. I ran-walked-ran-walked until the last 200 metres when I kept running, limping, and basically dragging my left leg to the finish line. Peter was there when I crossed the finish line just under 4:30 (Will have to wait for the organiser to publish the official results in a couple of days' time). Although I lost my bet to Peter, I'm happy that I at least improved last year's time by about 7 minutes.

Unfortunately, we were unable to find friends to help us take photos for the day. The above was taken by a FB friend who was there shortly after the race. Those are all happy faces. Gosh! my legs don't look too good in tights! (smile) From left to right: Yours truly, Dr Peter, Judy, Dr Liaw and Dr Felice.

Now that the race is over, I'm determined to take a break from running races to allow my legs a bit of time to fully recover. Running will still continue, but at shorter distances. To compensate, I'll be spending more time on cycling and swimming instead. Who knows, maybe I'm still in time for the 120km road race in late July!


Khadeeja Shah said...

Congrats on your 4:30 Corny! Finally someone fast enough to post a blog on BIM! And Im envious of ur pic, it caught u in a pretty heroic action.

Heard the sun was crazy, and I think everyone suffered at that last water station...

Another thing everyone agreed is that this BIM is one of the best organized, and fun race esp it being in KK and the atmosphere of familiar faces.

Guess I missed out on alot huh?

Tekko said...

Congrats another sub 4.30. 2 in a row. Great job!

Azman said...

well done sir! congratulations for the awesome timing.

i found your blog while googling for BIM2011 pictures. may i know how did you get photos from tey? i tried to search for his site but only got his multiply site which hasn't been updated since 09. i appreciate your kind help.

Cornelius said...

Thanks, KD. And you had an interesting race in Seoul too, didn't you?

But, yes, you missed quite a lot of fun here in KK. You must make it a point to RUN (not just register for the race) next year. Andrew has worked very, very hard to ensure the success of the BIM. I'm sure he will find ways to improve it even further next year!

Cornelius said...


Thanks my friend. Of all the BIMs I've joined so far, this was the one I felt like almost fainting. The heat was probably similar to last year's but somehow it felt much hotter this year. I'm soooooo glad it's over!... hehe

Cornelius said...


If you're on Facebook, you can search for Tey and request to be a friend. Once he accepts, you will have access to his thousands of photos. Good luck.

Anonymous said...


PMTEY3 didn't update recently cause work busy and also multiply reduce their resolution size of the pix,and more friends in fb,so,I save my time and convenience for friends in tag their own pix and friends pix.

N FB has increase their resolution.

Keep it up !


Tey ET

Anonymous said...


My multiply site still update lah after 2009,only till recently 2011.But if u wish to view previous pix,u hv to add each of them,cause multiply has limited volumn for the albums pix.