Tuesday, July 03, 2007
My first Ipoh International Run
Did you ever have a nudging urge that you have to be at that race otherwise the thought just gnaws at you? I bet that at one point or another, every one of us would have experienced that at least once in our lives.
This slow-mo effect brought me to a furious brouhaha on Friday evening. The decision was to go and after organizing the eleventh hour logistics, I could finally heave a relief sigh. Rashid was going to drive to Ipoh anyway so I hitched a ride from him. Thanks to Mr Lai FS and Grace for your help to collect the bibs and to book the rooms.
Anyhow, let the nightmarish tale of speeding way up to Ipoh begin. Mr Lai gave a stern sms that we should collect the bibs from him before 11pm, his lullaby time. Guess what, we reached his hotel a little past 11pm. Happiness turned to impatience. There we were, stuck at the roundabout due to some inconsiderate VIP being led by a convoy of outriders during this light traffic situation. So close yet so far. I was hoping Lai did not bring his cane (rotan) down. He was very kind. No smacking for me.
As this is my first time in Ipoh, I was cautioned to be early at the Dataran Ipoh as it would be time-consuming to look for the reporting place in the chaos and to get the all-important wrist band. I was easily led to the grounds by the resounding echoes of the announcements. The lady announcer was hurrying the 21k and 10k runners and at some time threatening to close the gates. The 5k and 7k runners were housed at a different area. If I hadn’t followed the Eng sisters whom I happened to meet on the way, I’d probably be shut out.
After getting the unsightly supermarket plastic black ziplock as our wrist band, I did a quick warm-up. In no time at all, the enclosure of the 10k and 21k runners were whisked out like little lambs (to the slaughter). At this juncture, I thought the men were to start off. Alas! It was not to be. They are going to gun off both categories. Oh my god! Given the late starting time of 6.45am for the 21k, I wonder why there was such a great hurry to get the 10k to start so early (not enough gunpowder or air in the pistol?).
This is the first time that a race of this stature (so called international run) has given a big slap on her face. More like a kampong run where anyone for any distance are welcome to be at the starting line. In fact, this was the genesis of what was forthcoming.
I was certainly caught thick behind the starting line as there was too much masculine power at the first 15 rows. I’d probably raise brows if I had to muscle my way through. So forget it. I was not there to do a PB. I spent at least 5 minutes to overtake the many runners, many of whom are in the 10k.
The solitary advantage of this route is permanent kilometre markers inked on the road. Just follow the red arrows.
Still carrying the mental exhaustion after doing the full marathon one Sunday before, I was in doubt of my ability to run fast. It did not help when the weather was once again humid though the morning sun was mercifully light. The water stations were inadequate in light of the twig-dry weather. One watering hole at every 4km would have been wonderful.
It was a flat route going into different estates and passing by the hills. I always enjoy running such routes like the one in Seremban. Guess opposite always attract since I’m a city person and also a little more to the nostalgic side. As I mentioned before in my PBM report that the best part of a race is to not expect any landmark as your km marker. For me, I love to chance upon some odd houses or giving that biggest smile to an old lady who was just about to start her day by riding out of her dilapidated house to look for some scrap materials for her daily expenses. If my eyes were able to capture in print of what I had seen, they would remain provide a very educational fodder for the kids.
On a positive note, traffic control at major roads was well managed. Kudos to the men in green (are they RELA?) and from the other departments. Sorry, my uniformed men exposure is rather limited, other than blue for police and white for traffic police.
Whilst the markers provided serious runners to record their split times, it was rather dreadful that I had to mentally mark kilometre by kilometre to the finishing line. At km 19 or so, we were made to do a U-ee. Why do organizers like U-turns? It was torturous in Penang to do 3 of these.
The dialogue goes:
Worker A: “Boss, still short of one km of road, how ah?”
Boss: “ Aiyah, just belakang pusing in front lah! Problem sudah solved.”
Once again, hearing noises from the Dataran was welcoming. Very near now. Saw a familiar young Thai girl 50 metres ahead. Think I could and think I could not.
At the finishing line, I was given a position tag and quickly took a peek. There it was ….. number 15. I was actually happier with my time as I managed to shave 3 minutes off.
Happiness slowly turned to annoyance…. The 100plus drink tent was a magnet for runners. Chaos, where is the line? Picture this, the square tent was right in the middle and you would see 3 men guarding the 1.5litre pet bottles with hands spread out. No one was supposed to touch them even though I gave a ‘hush puppy’ look. I was tired and annoyed. I did a quick walk to see if another oasis existed.
A-ha, farther down were the Milo tents. Wonderful. There were 3 long lines or maybe 4…. You know, there are always imaginary lines and they quietly ingratiate themselves into the official lines. While I was stretching my limbs, some rude boys cut through line I was in and ‘oi’ me.
Didn’t their mama or the education system teach them to “excuse me”? Whilst on this subject, the eager beaver in me congratulated one African woman runner at the technical tent. She was, I think, the 2nd runner-up. The felicitation was acknowledged with a condescending grunt. No smile whatsoever. I recalled vividly the same when I congratulated another local top runner, woman of course.
Two sweet under-15 Main Convent girls queuing behind made my day as we chatted a little. After getting my long awaited Milo drinks, I went off to my room-sweet-room. Their spoken English was good, pleasing to the ears.
It took me another 15 minutes longer to move out of the square as I spoke to Mr Nit (hope this is what I heard) who was there manning the Siemen’s Run counter. Interesting feedback exchanges we had.
Rashid apparently missed the run as he had woken up late. My sympathies. So I was picked up earlier than scheduled and I returned to the square to claim my prize before heading back to KL.
Despite of the shortcomings of this event, I did enjoy my brief stay in Ipoh. At least the budget hotel was unexpectedly more comfortable than the one I had in Penang.