I arrived in Kuching during the mid-morning last Saturday to run the inaugural Kuching Marathon yesterday (Sunday) morning. I went together with my niece, Ramona, but she ran the half marathon. After checking in to the Harbour View Hotel, we spent about 10 minutes to walk to Plaza Merdeka for brunch at the food court, and then proceeded to collect our race packs.
If there’s anything about the Kuching Marathon that stood out from the rest of the marathons that I’ve joined so far, it must be the unusually long time spent at the race pack collection1 hour 16 minutes, easily a new record for race pack collection. I dare say it would be extremely difficult for other marathons in this region to beat that record too, if ever!
Although I kept an open mind about the event, I have to admit that I didn’t find the long wait for my race pack very amusing. Obviously, there is room for improvement here. It quickly gave me a negative impression on the event. I’d like to believe that I am a reasonable participant, and I don’t expect every single thing to be perfect. Something is bound to go wrong at the very last minute due to unforeseen circumstances, and it is just impossible to anticipate everything that could go wrong. But still, 1 hour 16 minutes is just ridiculous; it seemed like an eternity as far as race pack collection is concerned.
I spent the afternoon watching a bit of tv and had about an hour’s nap. I’ve been lacking of sleep the whole week, so that nap was such a relief for me. Then I went back to Plaza Merdeka again in the evening for a lousy fish and chips dinner. The race was to start at 3am the next day, and I had intended to be in bed by 10pm, but I knew that my body clock would not cooperate. I finally fell asleep at about 11pm. I woke up again at about 1:30am. A strong cup of coffee, and then I changed into my running gear. Then the slow walk to the race venue, reaching there at about 2:30am.
I had expected a chaotic situation during the race, but I was pleasantly surprised that everything went smoothly. The flag off was on time, and the water stations along the way were appropriately set at regular intervals. They also distributed energy gels at 2 water stations. But I only took one, as I had my own supply of gels. I took the one just as a spare.
The weather was fine, and at numerous points during the race, there were very slight drizzles. But it was a humid morning which made running a little uncomfortable. As for the terrain, it wasn’t exactly flat. There were a good dose of gentle ups and downs and a couple of short sharp climbs, but it is not what one might describe as a “hilly” course. I fancy that the scenery would have been great if the race had started a little later in the day. But starting the race at 3am had resulted in at least 70% of the race run in the dark.
I ran a steady 5:35min/km pace, thinking that that should be slow enough to sustain. But I somehow felt tired beyond the halfway point. Accordingly, my pace eventually dropped, and the last few kilometers became quite a challenge after all. Running marathons “for the fun of it” isn’t very stressful to me these days, but racing marathons is a different story. I’ve been racing a number of events this year, and somehow I’m feeling tired and desperately in need of a break. In the end, I finished the 42km in about 4:09, which is a decent time, but not a spectacular performance. This is my last race for 2014; I’m taking a long break from races and will be focusing more on my swim and perhaps work on my cycling too. Oh! I’m so tired!
In the end, my verdict is that the Kuching Marathon was a well-organised event, especially for an event organized for the first time, and I must congratulate the organizer for a job well-done. I would certainly recommend this event to my runner friends. But it would be even better if they could do something about handling the race pack collection.
I hope to be able to come back again for another shot at running a faster marathon in Kuching. Hope to see an even bigger group from KK!