I had an interesting conversation with a friend shortly after the Borneo International Marathon last year. He was, and still is, a member of the organising committee. I meant to write something about that little conversation, but I eventually forgot to do so!
Then a chance remark a member of the Kota Kinabalu Running Club made when we were discussing about hydration station. I said the first station is about 5km from the start, and he responded that he didn't think that the first water station is a big deal. He added that at 3am in the morning, if you need water that badly after having run only 3km, you've got bigger problems to sort out!
I couldn't help but smile and shake my head when reading his comment, and I'm reminded once again of that conversation I had with my friend from the organising committee.
Now in most running events, there will be several categories to account for the different distances. Generally speaking, the main crowd puller will be the shorter races such as 5km or 10km. Those distances seem very, very doable even for people who hardly ever run in their lives. However, the shortest category in the BIM is the 10km, not the 5km.
Although the 10km is a race of its own, many people register for it not to race, but rather to simply finish the distance. It is to them just a "fun run". If necessary, they will just walk the whole distance and they might still finish it within the cutoff time of 2 hours. To walk a distance of 5km per hour doesn't seem like a very difficult thing to do and at least on paper almost anybody can do it! With that in mind, many people who enter the 10km race are not very serious in preparing for the day. As mentioned earlier, it is just a fun run to them. Maybe some people don't prepare at all!
But last year during the BIM, my friend received a distress call from one of the marshals stationed at the Perkasa Roundabout in KK. That is approximately 4km from the Likas Sports Complex where all the categories started. 2 of the runners were suffering severe leg cramps and could no longer continue with their race. They requested for an ambulance to be despatched as soon as possible.
One would imagine that perhaps it's reasonable if one of the full marathoners got into trouble at say Km30. Or maybe one of the half marathoners got a cramp at Km15. But in this case it's 2 runners running in the 10km category. They had severe cramps and couldn't continue after having run only 4km. I was like, "What were they thinking?"
This is not about me trying to belittle people who can't run 5km or 10km. No, the point I'm trying to make here is that it's too easy to underestimate the kind of stress we put our bodies to. That is one way how things can go horribly wrong in some of these events. It's not too bad if it's just a case of severe cramp, but people can just suddenly drop dead! Surely that is not a fun way to end a fun run?
So please do yourselves a big favour by training for whatever event you want to run, however short the distance. It may be a life and death matter.