I am nothing near to an Elite Runner. I get out of breath very fast, ever since young. During sports day, I will only compete for 100M sprint run but not 200M. When I grow up, I never liked jogging or marathons. It was my ex-colleague who actually encouraged me to join PBIM 2013 Fun Run (10km), which I finally decided to give it a go after much persuasion. I realized that a person like me can also complete the 10km even though I finished it slow. I quite like the feeling of accomplishment when I finally see and reached the finishing line. This was where and when my running journey started.
My running journey
My 1st official competitive run was Newton Run 2014, 7km. My 1st ever medal. Unforgettable. I challenged myself to the next level, 10km competitive run. Subsequently, I did a lot of 10km. I normally timed at 1 hour 40 minutes. After cut off but never failed to get my medal. I pushed myself even further, 15km. My 1st 15km was Energizer Run 2014. Completed around 2.5 hours.
For every runs I did, whenever I see the finishing line, I will feel very accomplished. I love how strangers encourage each other during the run. These shout outs kept me going…
“Keep it up girl!”
“You can do it! Just a few more km left!”
And it goes on along the run. There will be many people showing thumbs up too. The beauty of marathons. Not only it pushes one to go beyond their limits but it is also when skin color and age are not a criteria.
In year 2015, I go even further by participating marathons in overseas. Did the 15km trail run in Khao Yai, Thailand organized by North Face. Only 1 word for me, TOUGH. It has elevation of 500M, which I never liked going uphill. I completed it though…. Timed around 3 hours. Another great achievement for myself. I participated also other overseas run and one of it was 10km Nike We Run Taipei. I envied my friends who participated in 21km Nike We Run TPE, where they got an additional finisher T on top of a pendant that is also given to 10km.
I do not have the courage to do a 21km in overseas. So I told myself to try out 21km locally 1st. Another challenge and milestone for me to achieve. So I signed myself up for a 21km run recently, which I had a mixture feeling of accomplishment yet disappointment with the organizer.
Medals I collected in 2014
My 1st marathon leap
The happy moments after every runs.
My bad experience with the recent marathon for my 1st 21km
My friends and i came from different locations (Penang/Kedah/Selangor) for this run (we drove about 3 hours to reach here and paid 1 night hotel money for this run). We did not want to put our effort to waste. Despite the rain, we proceed to venue hoping the rain will stop but it did not. Flag off time got delayed but organizer still kick off the run with small showers.
I was anxious. My 1st 21km after all. No turning back I told myself. First few km, rain got quite heavy. We were all wet from head to toe. My shoes got soggy. It was very dark. Lack of marshals. I was pretty tired by the time I reached probably the 7th or 8th km. I reached a junction where I need to decide to go left (route for 10km) or right (route for 21km). I ended up choosing right turn even it was still raining at that time. Along the route, I saw many giving up by just crossing the road, making a u-turn back to finishing line. I persisted, though I was getting very tired and not feeling comfortable running in soggy shoes. I finally reached the last check point (almost 15km) where it was also the last point for making a u-turn back to finishing. A car drove by. Winded down the window. Thumbs up to me all the way. I was touched.
My leg started to cramp. But it did not stop me from continuing my journey back to finishing. I stopped, squat, took off my shoes, stretched and etc to ease my leg a little. I continued to run and walk most of the journey. I was the last 10 I supposed. I can see a guy ahead of me. Dragging himself to the finishing as well. I finally overtook him, kept telling myself to not give up. I can do it. I want to earn a finisher T with my own ability and at my best. Suddenly, I saw a sweeper car passed by me, with the guy whom I over took. He was enjoying his banana on the car. The sweeper car stopped some metres away from me. It was my last 1km. I so wish to join the guy, enjoying eating banana. But I persisted with numb legs. Running and walking on, telling myself the sweeper car is invincible.
I finally see the finishing line. I ran slowly with my soggy shoes to the finishing. The crews and volunteers were there, cheering for me when I arrived. They congratulated me and gave me my medal. I asked them where I can get my finisher T as this was the only reason I hung onto until finishing, that is to earn my 1st 21km finisher T without short cuts/sweeper car/cheats. I can see the arch… The start/finishing arch….
I was told that I ran beyond cut off time of 3.5 hours. I was not entitled for the T. I timed at about 4 hours actually. My heart collapsed. My hope of earning a 21km finisher T were blown away just like that. My every ounce of energy and sweat, put to waste just like that. A guy took pity on me. He gave me his finisher T. He was already wearing it actually. He said if I don’t mind, I can have his T with the sweat. I took his without thinking much because I was already very emotional and about to cry. I thank him and left.
I do understand there is cut off time that we need to follow. However, this organizer gave out the finisher T to people who did not have the red ribbon (did not complete full 21km route). People who did not want to proceed with the run due to the rain got their T as well and went back to sleep. I was thinking, might as well I took the T in the morning, then only I take my own sweet time to run. It was very obvious that the organizer screwed up. They did not have enough finisher T to distribute, so they used an excuse to tell me that I was not entitled because of my finishing time. It is not fair to penalize people who completed the run but slow, and those who did not have ribbon and did not run easily got their T.
I was lucky, a random guy gave me his T. Other slow runners weren’t that lucky though. A guy, put up his disappointment in this event’s FB page. A lady runner who manage to complete her run within cut off, replied to this unlucky guy to refer to point 5 (where finisher medal and tee are only given to runners who finish within the cut off time). It also means that we need to adhere to rules and regulations set by organizers. I started questioning and debate on it as I do not agree with how this lady responded. If we are to adhere to this point 5, organizer should also adhere and comply to their own set of rules but they did not. They distributed the medals and T as they wished to those without red ribbon and those who did not run. The lady could no longer debate, asked her guy friend for help. This was the time when this guy told me some nonsense, which made me felt as if slow runners were looked down upon and we should not participate if we cant cope within cut off.
My message to organizers and elite runner.
For some, no matter how hard we trained, we can never be an elite runner. For some, it is also very difficult to complete within cut off no matter how hard one train, due to many personal reasons, physical (I don’t mean OKU, more like obese)/health constraints. Please do not penalize us. We still took the courage to try. If we manage to complete the run even slow, at least we gave our best. It needs a very strong will power to be persistent.
People who used short cuts and finished beyond cut off, please honor us with the medal and finisher T. The fee we paid is inclusive of all these. For those who used short cuts, it is their choice to give up. It is a challenge within them and not for you to judge and penalize anyone by holding back what they have paid for.
Should you need to strictly apply your rules of “Finisher T and medals are only for those who completed within cut off”, please make sure that you as organizer follow your own rules and do not simply distribute until you go out of stock, only to penalize those who arrive late.
If you need to open up road closures for cars, make sure you sweep up all the slow runner off the road but please, give them what they have paid for (the finisher T and medal). At least they tried and remain on road to the last minute. What you are organizing is not SUKMA/SEA/OLYMPIC games. For you to hold back the T and medal, it seems like you are trying to reap some money from slow runners. We paid a fee which includes finisher T + medal + operation cost + your profit (no profit, I doubt you will organize unless it is 100% sponsored).
After all, we all run for health. Run for happiness.
To Elite/fast runners,
Especially the person who quoted below when I disagree that slow runners are not entitled for finisher T after cut off time:
“Do train harder!3.5 hours is more than enough even if you run few times in a month. Run 10km 1st if you cant handle”.
You can never understand the struggle we slow runner need to go through to be able to complete a 21km. Sometimes, it could be due to physical (I don’t mean OKU, more like obese)/health constraints. At least we bring up the courage and guts to start our 1st 21km.