Thursday, August 29, 2013

Borneo International Marathon 2013—Take 2

The Borneo International Marathon 2013 (BIM) was supposed to have been held on 05 May, but it was postponed to 25 August. A few months ago, I signed up for the Sundown Ultra Marathon in Singapore, and all along I've been preparing for that race. Since I've achieved my PB for a full marathon in Hong Kong earlier this year, I decided to use BIM as my LSD training run, and not for PB hunting. My running buddy, Dr Peter, who'll also be running the Sundown Ultra in mid September, agreed that we shouldn't race BIM. Instead, we would try to stretch the run as much as we can to reach a target workout time of 5 hours. Accordingly, I made the announcement of 5 hours marathon in our Kota Kinabalu Running Club, and invited some of our members to tag along on the race day.

A number of our members were running the full marathon for the first time this year, so you can imagine the excitement in the days prior to the event. Some of them were trying to achieve a sub-5hrs marathon, so they had planned to run with us. There were discussions on racing strategy, pacing, race attire etc.

Mia was also trying to achieve a PB. Her PB for a full marathon in several races so far was 5:50. It made no sense to me as her PB for half marathon stands at 2:30. On paper, she should be able to achieve 5:20-5:30. Her main problem has always been starting out too fast as most people do. For this race, however, because I was not in time to buy her a Garmin running watch, she had to rely on her Fenix, which isn't really a road running watch. But at least it could help to check her pace.

Anyway, we found ourselves at the Likas Stadium at about 2am last Sunday morning, and mingled around till the flag off a few minutes before 3am. As we passed the starting arch, I turned to Peter, saying that we've been flagged off about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Peter replied thoughtfully, reminding me that actually we've been flagged off over three months late!

We duly made our way out to the road outside the stadium and then head for Tanjung Lipat. We started at a pace of 7:30mins, and then gradually eased to about 6:50mins when we hit the highway. A bunch of those who said that they'd tag along had already gone ahead as expected. As I've always been saying, running too fast at the beginning is almost everybody's weakness in a marathon.

It was a warm and humid morning, and I was rather concerned that the first water station was about 5km from the start. I'd imagine that some of the new runners in the 10km category would suffer a bit of thirst to reach that water station. Peter and I weren't really thirsty at that first water station, but we had a sip anyway. While we were at it, Boyd came passing by.

We started climbing up to Bulatan Nenas and then down to Jalan Tuaran. Shortly after we passed Sunny Garden, we caught up with Mohan. At that stage of the race, running at 6:53 average pace, it felt like we could run forever! Soon after that we were already approaching the Likas stadium once again, and making our way to the highway for the second time. However, this time we turned north, passing the bridge and then heading to the direction of UMS. 

I was fairly surprised to see Christy Kong, my team mate in treasure hunt, running ahead. She had started her race too fast, but at that point she seemed to be holding a steady pace. At the drink station in front of the Government offices, I took an energy gel in anticipation of the coming "hill challenge". About 10 mins later, we arrived at the famous UMS hill. The climb was perhaps 700m or 800m only, but we saw many people reduced to a walk. That was about 20km into the race, and we finally caught up with Lim Young Peing, Dr Din, Douglas, Theo and some others. One of these days, I'm sure they will learn not to start their race too fast.

It was then that I caught a glimpse of Jiki running from the other side, and Judy hot on her heels. But I told Peter that Jiki will beat Judy this year. Shortly later a long pleasant downhill slope on the other side. I was happy to arrive at the midway point in almost 2:30. We were still on target for a sub-5hour finish, but I didn't know how much longer I could keep my cool running that slow! Volunteers were distributing bananas and after I took one, we had to climb the hill again. Slow and steady up and up and up, and then all the way down again to the main road.

It wasn't long after we were back on the highway that we caught up with Bryan. He had said that he wanted to achieve a sub-5hour marathon, and I had told him to run with us. But somehow during the race, as usual all the pre-race plans would disappear; he started fast, and obviously he's gonna finish slow. We overtook him and then proceeded with our consistent pace towards the turning point near Indah Permai. Along the way, we saw Kevin, Ahmadul, Erwan. Then a little later, we saw Jiki. I had expected Judy to be close behind Jiki, but she was quite far behind. I knew then she was in trouble.

It was just about daylight when we reached the turning point, and on our way back, we met some of the familiar faces once again. I thought it was still possible for some of them to make the sub-5 target, but by then it was quite an uphill task. 

Here's Douglas on his way back from the final turning point.

I find it rather amusing to see his running style with both his hands dangling all the way down like that. It's an interesting style indeed!

Boyd was becoming slower, but was still able to offer a brave smile.

Jennifer did not want to waste the opportunity for a fantastic pose. So this was what she did upon seeing Tey approaching.

Jumat ran a cautious race, staying true to his game plan. But I don't think that's how he's supposed to carry that water bottle. I think he got that (wrong) idea from Audrey.

When we reached the traffic lights at UMS, we merged with the half marathon runners, although it was still not too crowded. We were approaching the Kingfisher roundabout when I realised that we were a bit too much ahead target. Accordingly, I told Peter that we might as well walk a little to waste a bit of time. So we walked, and then we ran, and when we reached the bridge we walked some more.

After crossing the bridge, we had a little over half an hour left for our 5-hour target. I said to Peter we should be able to make a sub-5 finish very comfortably, but just to be sure, why not we run a bit faster? So we ran an approximate 6 mins pace until we reach around Taman Awam. About 2.5km to go, and we had about 20 minutes left. We walked again to waste some time. Until Peter reminded me that none of our friends were following us anyway, so it's OK to finish a little faster. Well, we made our way back to the stadium and eventually finish in 4:52. I suppose that's close enough to our target. Of all the marathons I've run so far, this one is easily the most relaxed one of them all. Such a pleasant morning run!

A few minutes later, Jumat arrived at the finish line, obviously very happy to achieve 4:55 in his debut full marathon. But I'm still unimpressed with the way he carried his water bottle.

Unfortunately, the rest of them who had wanted to do the sub-5 failed by just a few minutes. Dr Izzuddin missed the 5-hour target by a mere minute or two, but it was still a PB for him.

Theo fought hard to the finish line, but missed the 5-hour mark by about 5 minutes.

One by one the rest arrived at the finish line, all too painfully close to the 5-hour mark! Georgina had time to arrange her hair, of course, for the photographers. If all else fail, the hair must be dealt with!
Bryan finished strong, but missed the 5-hour target by about 8 minutes.

Boyd finished in 5:10. It's so close to his sub-5 target.

I guess he will have to go back to the drawing board, because obviously his game plan didn't quite work out as he had hoped. See for yourself! (Click on photo to get a clearer view)

 Jennifer did it in a decent 5:14. By the way, I'm impressed with the fact that Jen and Georgina actually ran in uniforms!

Tony did it in 5:19, obviously in a lot of pain.

And then the biggest surprise of all. Mia arrived at the finish line in about 5:23, an improvement of almost half an hour from her previous PB; no cramps. So remember, folks, don't go all out at the start of your marathon!

Douglas arrived shortly after in 5:25, still with his hands dangling down.

In all this, I'm not forgetting my friend, Teo Chen Lung, who decided not to push himself in this race, opting instead to run the half marathon in style, accompanied by sexy legs, Claire. He put on an intimidating outfit as if he were in a modelling job, and then finished with a subdued smile. 

This was of course a complete U-turn of his trademark killer face which he demonstrated when he achieved his half marathon PB in Hong Kong earlier this year.

To me, the Borneo International Marathon had raised the bar a notch higher. A lot of improvements, and I like the new routes much more than the previous years. I'm confident that it can only get even better in the years to come!

* Photos courtesy of Tey Eng Tiong & Deo Runner

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