The Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu (DBKK) has been organising the so-called KK City Run over the years, but they were merely for a distance of 4km; they were meant as "fun runs" only, as opposed to races for speed. I joined one of them a couple of years ago, and that was the first and last time I joined the City Run. That's the tragedy of training and running marathons—you'd sooner or later reach a stage where you'd want to run at least 15km to 20km on a Sunday to make the early morning wake up worth the trouble! 4km seems just too short to justify waking up at 5:30am on a Sunday.
Then about 2 months ago, a friend told me that the DBKK would be organising a 10km race together with the KK City Run this year. So for the first time, ever, they had 2 categories: Run For Fun, and Run To Win. The former remained the same as in the previous years, i.e. 4km run which involved a portion of the city main road, but also Jalan Istana. The latter was an actual race comprising numerous categories according to the gender and age of the participant. These were divided into either 5km or 10km races.
I thought 10km was still too short a workout for a Sunday morning. So I have ignored this race until very recently when I signed up for the Standard Chartered Half Marathon on 08 April. I suddenly realised that the KK City Run is a week before the Brunei race, and according to my plan, I would be running about 10km on that day anyway because of tapering for Brunei. So I thought I might as well join the Run To Win, though of course I was well aware that there was no chance of winning!
It was a strange race, really. I arrived at the padang in good time for the race. The rest of my friends were also there. I found it amusing that Teo, Paul and Amelia were in their triathlon outfits. By the way, they had recently completed the Kenyir Triathlon. Just before the flag off, it was announced that the cut off time for this 10km race was 70 minutes, and I began to worry if I could finish in time. There will be an alarm which would go off after that 70 minutes is up. So everyone had to finish the race before the sound of that alarm.
At the start of the race, I felt good. But I noticed that Teo, Paul and Amelia had very quickly surged ahead. In no time at all, I lost them while climbing up the winding Signal Hill road. By the time I reached to top of the hill, I realised that I've taken almost 15 minutes. Then the downhill portion which was quite pleasant. When I reached the bottom of the hill in Likas, I've spent almost half an hour! I tried to run faster, but my legs felt like jelly. I kept moving anyway, and soon found myself at SM All Saints. Turning the corner, I made my way out to the coastal highway towards Tg Lipat. But I was fast running out of time.
That final stretch of a few kilometres was quite amazing; it felt like it'd never end. I ran and ran as fast as I could. By then Teo, Paul and Amelia were nowhere to be seen. I supposed they must have finished the race a while ago. Turning the last corner at Dewan Masyarakat, I had 67 minutes on my watch. That final push was very punishing, but I finished the race in the nick of time. I crossed the finish line cheered on by the rest of my friends. Among them were the triathletes in their colourful outfits, and Ah Diong, Claire, Felice and even Janna had finished ahead of me. It was quite embarrassing to finish last among my friends, but at least I made it within the time limit! A few seconds after I crossed the finish line, the time limit alarm went off. It went on and on for a while until it became quite annoying!
And then suddenly, I woke up from my sleep. It was the alarm clock by my bedside. It was 5:30am. I sat up in bed, trying to gather my thoughts. God dammit!... what rotten luck, I had to do the race all over again—only this time for real!
And again, I went through the race preparation ritual. Putting on my running outfit, I made a pleasant trip to KK, found a parking just in front of Tong Hing, and just as I was walking down that road, saw Felice getting out of her mighty Pajero.
The rest of the animals were already there at the padang. And I was glad to see the triathletes were not in their intimidating outfits. They had apparently done their warming up. Before the start, we took this photo.
There were familiar faces who we knew were very strong runners. They were all assembled in front of the pack. But we were several metres behind. At the sound of the horn, the elite runners shot out ahead, whereas my friends and I merely walked at a leisurely pace. About 20m-30m later, as we were turning into the feeder road leading to Signal Hill, we began to jog a little. But it was still difficult to run as it was quite a huge crowd.
Then at the foot of the Signal Hill, we started to jog a little faster. I was a bit conscious of the 3 Kenyir triathletes, so I was careful not to run ahead, because it would be very embarrassing when they overtake me again later. So I went slow at first, until I couldn't bear the snail pace! The journey up the hill to the top was perhaps a mere 5 to 6 minutes, but I'm sure we could've shaved off at least a minute or two; if only we did not waste so much time at the beginning. In the end, about halfway up the hill, I decided to increase my pace. It wasn't really fast; perhaps just a little under 6mins/km pace.
Soon, I was already at the top of Signal Hill. I took full advantage of the downgoing, perhaps reaching a pace of 5 mins/km or even 4.5mins/km, thus overtaking some familiar faces of the Kinabalu Running Club.
Upon reaching the foothill on the other side, I reduced my pace again, but kept it steady throughout. A long stretch all the way to SM All Saints, and having overtaken quite a number of people, I looked at my watch and it showed that almost half an hour had elapsed. I knew that that was about the midway point of the race, so it was time to up the pace a bit to ensure my target of finishing in under 60 mins.
All the while, I was looking for the water station. And I was expecting to find one after every corner. But it was wishful thinking; DBKK did not provide drinking water for the entire 10km race!
Deja vu—just as I had seen in my dream earlier, I was going through the same stretch yet again for the second time. The long stretch from the Likas mosque all the way to KK City can be quite punishing psychologically. For the mind tells the body that the road just never ends! But actually it's a test of mental strength.
Along the way, I saw a girl who had fainted; and seeing that my friend, John Chin and another guy were already attending to her, I continued running. All the while, I thought I was gonna miss my target of finishing the race in under 60 mins. But as I approached the Dewan Masyarakat, I had 50 mins on my watch. A short while later, I crossed the finish line in 52 mins 40 secs.
Still no drinks. I walked over to the padang and found people distributing free Red Bull energy drinks. I would have preferred just plain water then, but I downed the whole 100ml or so within a few seconds; still thirsty as hell!
One by one my friends crossed the finish line. I think Paul finished in 54 mins; Amelia in 55 mins; and the Kipas King, Teo, in 56 mins. The other ladies in our group finished several more minutes later, but because they were in different categories, they all finished within "medal" positions! (Well done, girls)
Yes, folks, you better believe it; life is quite unfair sometimes. We worked much harder than the girls; we finished earlier than them; yet they're the ones who got the medals! Now you tell me, where's justice?
Well, it was a great workout; it was fun. But I was fairly disappointed that it was poorly organised, even by a first-timer organiser. I think DBKK should provide at least one water station at the midway point, because although it did not really trouble me that much, I suspect many, many runners had to struggle with thirst. DBKK should also prepare ambulances with paramedics to account for possible emergencies.
I think this could be an attractive annual event by DBKK. But they must get their acts right. There will be supporters—I'm confident—from the members of Kinabalu Running Club.
Hell! I'm so glad that I don't have to run this race again for the third time within the same day!