Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Turkeys, as we all know, are experiencing a lot of stress at this time of the year. They probably haven't had a good night sleep over the last couple of weeks. If only animals could plan ahead, they would have gone on a strict diet since at least 6 weeks ago. But alas, if animals could plan, this world would be a very different place. Heck, it seems to me that many humans have no clue whatsoever about the concept of planning for the future anyway!

I was at a shopping mall around noon today for a last minute bold adventure to buy presents for Mia and JJ, and I had quite a revelation. Over the past few months, too many people have been complaining that prices of goods are escalating fairly quickly. Each day, one can see many, many people grumbling, typically through facebook, about the present government. If there is anything in the least that is bad, it must be because of the present government. Even if it rains heavily and some places become flooded, that too must have been because of the government!

The people are suffering the high cost of living; they are barely making ends meet. And soon, GST will come into force. Which means even more expenditure. Banks are tightening up, and it will be harder to borrow money. Hard times are coming.

But today at the mall I can testify that there was no sign of poverty and suffering. Everybody seemed to have plenty of money to spend! Major shopping centres are offering huge discounts for the festive season. By the way, "huge discounts" actually means prices of goods have come down from "exorbitant" to "expensive". Surely you did not expect it to reach the "cheap" level, did you? When the price of an ordinary office shirt is over RM100 after a 50% discount, you know that things are not looking very bright for the near future.

So here we are, at the final week of 2014. It's amazing how fast all those months have zoomed past, and we are once again all excited to cross over to a new year. I bet many of you have come up with the New Year's Resolutions; others might be in the midst of composing one right now. Well, I don't have any new year's resolutions—if I want to get something done, I just embark on it and try to get it over with as soon as possible. There is really no need to wait till a new year for things to happen. After all, in the vast majority of cases, resolutions such as "wanting to lose 20lbs"; or wanting to "exercise 4 days a week"; or "wanting to quit smoking", to name a few, are just for the first few weeks of the year. I shall not have any of those!

Anyway, to my loyal readers, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As I said earlier, things are not looking very good for 2015, but please don't get all stressed out like the turkeys. What's life without challenges, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Prostitution of Running Medals

I have conquered a number of marathons and ultra marathons; as well as other endurance races such as duathlons and triathlons, up to the Ironman distance. But I have not attempted the Climbathon. Many people have found that a little strange, since the Climbathon is a famous annual event in Sabah. The simple reason is that I have no doubt that I can also conquer the Climbathon, but I'd rather do it later, perhaps when I'm no longer able to do very long races. For now, I would focus on conquering other races within the region.

I'm not in a hurry to attempt the Climbathon, because almost anybody can get the finisher medal, as long as he crosses the finish line. The event is organised in such a way that, although there is a cut off time, one can get the finisher medal even if the time taken is beyond the cut off time. One of these days, when I'm old and weak to run fast enough to meet the cut off time, I can always do the Climbathon and still end up with the finisher medal. That kind of medal is perhaps nice to have in my collection, but not of much value to me. It's just a piece of souvenir for keepsake. The Climbathon, when and if I were to do it, will NOT likely be a race for me. As I said, I'm not in a hurry to attempt the Climbathon.

Some other races also adopt the same policy, i.e. finisher medals are awarded even if the athletes completed the race beyond the cut off times. One example is our very own Borneo International Marathon (BIM). Medals will be given out even if the finisher takes a few hours beyond the cut off time. 

I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, because after all, a finish is a finish. There is nothing on the medal that actually specifies that the runner had finished within the cut off time. I do participate in the BIM, because on the one hand, I'd like to support the event; and on the other hand, I would probably be running my LSD anyway on a weekend along the same route, although admittedly I don't run 42km every weekend.

However, I find it interesting that in the case of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), the full marathon (42.2km) finisher medals were awarded even though the organiser was fully aware that the runners did not finish that distance. Far from finishing 42.2km, they ran just 25km and was awarded the 42.2km finisher medals and finisher T-shirts. Here is the organiser's announcement on the issue. I'm  not sure if this was because the organiser was trying to be popular among the slower runners, so that in the coming years they could attract an even bigger crowd. 

I see this as the prostitution of the marathon medals—if these medals were meant to be that cheap, then the event should be promoted as such. Don't bother to have rules and regulations, because obviously those mean nothing. I have said that fairness is a two-way street—while the organiser is trying to be popular among the slower runners, it should not downgrade the value of the marathon medal to that of a mediocre souvenir. 

A race is a race, and this one has given a lot of time to finish the race too. If one is unable to finish the race within that generous amount of time, then maybe that means he or she should train a little harder—and longer—for the 42.2km. It's  not like there are no shorter categories in the event. We admire and applaud them for trying, but I'm afraid 25km is still 25km; it is not 42km.

If the organiser feels compelled to please the slower runners, then it should prepare a good amount of 25km medals. It can then award those to the runners who just finished that distance. Be fair to those who did finish the 42.2km. They trained and raced hard to run that distance, only to see others running 25km getting the same recognition as them. Where is justice?

I have joined the SCMS twice before and found it too crowded. Because there are other choices for marathon races in the region, I haven't been back to the SCMS for some years now. This latest episode is one more reason for me not to go back for the event.