Monday, July 1, 2013

30 June 2013—Ideal For Marathon In Kuala Lumpur

A few days before the Borneo International Marathon (BIM) last month, as all the participants were getting excited about the race, it was suddenly announced that the event had to be postponed on advice from the police on grounds of safety of the participants. It was a difficult decision by the organiser, but it was the right call. What followed next was something akin to a tsunami of negative comments from many participants who felt that the announcement should have been made much earlier, although admittedly there were also many who agreed with the postponement.

Despite the postponement of the event, however, a sizable number of participants ran their respective race categories anyway on the day the marathon was supposed to have taken place. In the end, no security issues arose during the run, and later it was mentioned that the race should not have been postponed!

A few weeks later, the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) suffered an almost similar fate—the haze situation began to worsen in KL beginning from about 2 weeks before the event, and it reached an unhealthy level. The organiser kept everybody in suspense while they waited for things to improve, but it did not seem to get any better. By Wednesday, just a few days before the race, the organiser had to reluctantly announce that the race had been postponed to 29 September. Again there was an avalanche of negative comments from many participants who felt cheated, having trained for months, and having paid for flights and hotel rooms.

The funny thing was that almost as soon as the postponement announcement was made, perhaps with the help of rains and change of wind direction, the haze situation very quickly improved in KL; so much so that by Saturday the city was enjoying a bright blue sky, with practically no trace of the haze!

Then came a second wave of grumbling from the participants, saying that the organiser should have delayed their announcement until much later; at least till Friday or even Saturday

And today, the supposed day of the race, a bunch of hardcore runners ran the marathon course; and it's kinda annoying to hear comments like the weather condition this morning was "ideal to achieve a personal best"!

Observing these people and their antics from the sideline, I can't help but smile to myself. You see, when something like this happens, almost anything the organiser decides to do would never be satisfactory—making the announcement early or late—either way, they are screwed! 

Hindsight is twenty-twenty

When seeing something as an accomplished event, it is very easy to say something like "the organiser should have known that the haze was clearing up; that it was obvious that the weather on the race day would be perfect for the race". 

Unfortunately, the reality is that the organiser, while deliberating the postponement at the time when the haze situation seemed hopeless, did not have a crystal ball which can confirm with 100% certainty a perfect weather for a race. The only thing that's certain at that point of time was that if it were to proceed with the race, and then the haze situation did not improve, resulting in the participants becoming ill, it would get into big-time trouble! So many things could go wrong, such as people suffering respiratory complications and a host of other health issues; even deaths.

Too many of the participants have no idea whatsoever of the kind of responsibility shouldered by the organiser as far as the well-being of the 33,000 participants is concerned. It's decision, whatever that may be, can have far-reaching consequences upon the participants. Whenever in doubt, the only possible decision is to err on the side of caution—there should be absolutely no compromise for the safety of the participants.

I was supposed to run the full marathon this morning in KL. I've been preparing for the race for some weeks now. Because of the postponement, I decided there's not much point to go to KL if it's just for a matter of a "fun run". In the end, I had to forgo flight and hotel expenses which are non-refundable. It's not amusing—that! I can't say that I'm not disappointed. But I have faith in the organiser; I'm confident that whatever decision it arrived at, it must have been made in the best interest of the participants.

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