Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Seasoned Marathoners at BIM

I've lost count of the number of marathons I've run even though I haven't run that many. I'm not even sure if I've done 15 road marathons so far. But I've done many other races ranging from 10km, half marathons, triathlons, even up to the recent Ironman triathlon. Not forgetting several ultra trail and road marathons up to 100km. Although I don't consider myself in the least an elite runner, I'd like to believe that I know quite a bit about running. I've been to a fair number of races in the region, and except for a few of them, I almost always try to achieve a personal best (PB). 

Well, last Sunday (4 May), I ran the Borneo International Marathon (BIM). In fact, I ran the BIM since 2008 except for 2012 because I was helping some friends to organise the event for that year. My best performance in the BIM was 4:29, I believe set in 2011. After that, I tried to achieve something better in the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, but I was only able to achieve 4:09 in 2012.

Going into the race last Sunday, I was determined to run a sub-4 hours full marathon. I have of course achieved that feat, but that was in Hong Kong where the temperature was much colder. I reckoned that it's doable in KK too. But oh boy; I was in for a tough race!

Well, to cut the long story short, I finished the race 7 minutes adrift in about 4:07. I stopped trying at about 5km to the finish line, because having made a bit of mental calculation, it was obvious to me that I had very little left in my legs for the required pace to achieve the target. It was one of the hottest marathons I've joined, if not the hottest of them all.

You know what, I could blame the ruthless weather that day; I could grumble about the hydration stations that ran out of isotonic drinks and cups; I could grumble about the insufficient sponge stations which came rather too late at the tail end of the race anyway; I could grumble that the drinks at the stations were not iced. I can never run out of things to blame for my failure to achieve my target time. Perhaps I should grumble like how a seasoned marathoner would. It's much more agreeable to my ego! After all, in most cases, only the seasoned marathoners would complain in such a manner. But when seeing the newbies, they were profuse in compliments; they praised the organiser and volunteers for a job well done and pledged to come back again next year!

If I'm fit to run next year, god willing, I will participate again. I take the race as it is, for what it is, for better or worse, and try my best to achieve what I can. For I don't expect everything to be perfect. I go for these things for the challenge—may it be the heat, the slip-ups at the hydration or sponge stations, or lack of paper cups. The only way the race can be perfect according to my liking, is for me to arrange everything myself exactly how I like it to be. I'm not saying that I won't appreciate a perfectly-organised race though.

I run these races knowing very well that it won't be perfect. I view them much the same way I face life on a daily basis. Too many people expect everything to be perfect. But sometimes in life, it's all those little imperfections that make it worthwhile pursuing. 

May I appeal to the many so-called seasoned marathoners out there for their understanding and kindness to give the organiser a bit of leeway and breathing space. Trust me, they are trying their best, even if their best is not good enough for you. Your valuable feedback will be greatly appreciated, of course, and that will be brought back to the drawing board to be discussed and deliberated for future BIMs. 

I am therefore inclined to join the non-seasoned marathoners in pledging my return yet again to the Borneo International Marathon 2015, perfectly-organised or otherwise. Bring it on!


Eric said...

Well said! I really enjoyed the race, as much as one COULD enjoy those conditions. The volunteers were top-notch, and while the drinks weren't cold, I never ran out. (By the time I got there, they had even run out of cups, so I just grabbed a 1.5-litre bottle and kept going!)

This was my 5th marathon and probably one of the best-run. Kudos to the organizing committee.

I wonder if in the future they might introduce pace groups?

Fan Teck Tsen said...

hi Cornelius;

I must agreed with you that the weather last Sunday was extremely hot, as my shoes were soaking wet after the race, i actually ran past you at the last 5km mark just before the Yayasan Sabah bridge, although i was only doing my 2nd HM, but i believe your 4hrs07mins finishing time was your PB in Malaysia's weather right? so it's ain't too bad and congrat to you... :D

Jace K said...

This year's BIM was surely the best run i have joined...the organisers did their very best and i am sure they will even do better next year. The UMs hill was a killer for me and the main cause for me missing sub 2 by just 4 minutes but that bloody hill is also what makes BIM such a worthwhile marathon to run...am going a notch up next year surely

Cornelius said...

Thank you, folks, for your generous compliments for the organiser. A friend talked to me about this post, and I'd like to explain myself.

I'm not against feedback. As I said in the post, feedback from the participants are greatly appreciated, because obviously the organiser would like to improve themselves.

However, it's a little heart-breaking to see harsh comments like "the organiser only wants to make money", or "I've lost confidence in the organiser, and this will be my last BIM", because I happen to know first hand that the people behind the scene are trying very hard to deliver the best. They have sleepless nights in the weeks and days leading up to the race. To get such harsh comments will be hard to stomach. I feel that those kind of comments are uncalled for. That's why my heart goes out to them.

As you all know, this is the biggest yet participation for the BIM. They have of course estimated the amount of drinks. But it's hard to predict the kind of weather last Sunday. When it's hotter, people tend to drink more. But even if that is accounted for, there is a lot of wastage because many runners not only drink more, but also use the drinking water (and cups) to pour on their heads and bodies. But this is just a lesson to be learned. Perhaps next BIM, much more water/isotonic will be allocated.

Cornelius said...

Oh! by the way, Fan Teck Tsen, yes, 4:07 is my PB for this ridiculously hot climate! And because I've failed to achieve my target, I have registered for the Kuching Marathon this morning. Hopefully it will be better running condition in August!