Albert called me on Saturday morning asking what time we were planning to leave. He told me that Peter and Ms. Chee were both unable to make it at the last minute, so Leow was going to pick him up at 1pm. We decided to leave together and to meet at the Happy Garden junction at 1pm.
The car packing was quite a process since I decided to take a whole lot of things to keep Nick occupied, including his bicycle and toys. We were at the Happy Garden junction at 1.05pm, and a few minutes later Leow arrived with his carload, so off we went. The journey was smooth and traffic was clear, even thought it rained when we were reaching. We arrived at the Hillcity Hotel and Condo which Lim had booked around 3.30pm.
Lim was waiting for us at the lobby upon arrival and helped us cart all the stuff from the car to the apartment. I was surprised at how big the apartment was. It had four bedrooms, and Lim had arranged the rooming such that my family got the master bedroom. After putting all our stuff in the room a few of us hopped back into the car and headed into town to collect our running numbers.
After some searching, we finally found the collection area. There weren’t many people there when we arrived. Dr. Ron Hill and his wife were sitting on one end of the long hall, speaking to some of the runners. Lim quickly produced the receipts and our ‘goodie bags’ were handed to us.
Lim advised us to check the contents, especially the t-shirt. Lo and behold, my bag had an XS t-shirt instead of the XL which was marked on the label of the bag. I requested for a size change but for some stupid reason or other, they only had sizes M or smaller.
I was really disappointed with them at that time but nothing could really be done about it. I should have recognized this as the first bad sign that the entire event was going to be poorly managed.
We left the centre soon after and spend the rest of the day resting. After dinner most of us went to Ipoh Parade. I picked up some stuff for the next day’s breakfast from Tesco. We were back at the apartment by 10pm and I was sound asleep by 11pm.
I woke up at 5.50am, quickly ate two bananas with the snicker’s bar I had bought and had some 100plus as well. I saved some of the 100plus for just before the race, since I read that drinking a sports drink just minutes before the race starts would help. We were all ready by 6.30am and left for the starting point.
Leow, Ms. Lee (his girlfriend), Albert and I were in one car. When we arrived there, most car park lots had been taken up but we managed to get a spot some distance away from the starting point. We saw many of the runners warming up on the tar track around the field and joined them for a quick warm up lap before positioning ourselves somewhere at the front of the starting line.
The KRI president was giving announcements and he also introduced Dr. Ron Hill to the crowd. Some photos were taken while we waited for the Perak Menteri Besar to arrive. He has been invited to start the race. I couldn’t believe it when it suddenly started to rain just before the official arrived. This would be my second race in the rain, the first being the recent PJ Half.
A blurred 10k
We were allowed to start just after 7.30. By that time, the rain had gotten slightly heavier. Albert managed to maneuver his way through the crowd but I found myself being tripped by some runners so I slowed the pace to be safe. After the first 500m or so, I managed to find some clear space and started picking up to my race pace.
After running for 5 minutes, my spectacles were completely fogged up and I knew that I would be running the rest of the race with a forward vision of no more than 5 meters. I did not manage to see any of the KM markers that Albert told me about later. The only marker I thought I saw was the 3KM yellow painted marker on the road which could not be right because my watch showed 24m at that point.
At the u-turn, I almost missed taking the ‘ribbon’ and was prompted by the official. At the 6.5km mark, I did not see the drink station until I was right next to it, so I just decided to continue running. So that is exactly what I did that morning, just run and run blindly. I could not see the turnings, I could not see the end of each road and worst of all I thought I would not be able to know when we started approaching the finishing point.
Luckily for me, I managed to recognize the road when we passed the starting line and this meant that the finish was just up ahead. I quickened my pace to a half sprint and finally reached the finish line. I literally mean ‘Finish Line’ because I had to queue up for a few minutes before they registered my number as having finished.
I almost forgot to stop my watch when I had finished, and when I finally did it showed a timing of 52m47s. This meant a 9 minute PR for me. However after queuing for a few minutes, I was given a small piece of paper which showed that they had recorded my timing as 55m55s. I did not think twice about it at that time but only later realized that this incorrect timing (due to their poor race planning and management at the finish line) was going to be put on my cert.
Lucky draws and race winners
After some searching and waiting, I managed to see Leow and Ms. Lee at the open area in front of the stage. A little while later I saw Albert. I did not believe him at first when he told me I was faster than him as I did not remember overtaking him, not that I was able to recognize anybody during the run with the condition I was in. He said he had completed in 53mXXs but the officials had recorded is time as 57mXXs after all the queuing.
Later I met Ronnie See for the first time and said hello to both him and his wife Rachel. We spend the rest of the morning eating, taking pictures and listening to the names being called out for the lucky draws. Lim, his nephew, Chak and his wife later joined us in some of the photo shots shown below.
While Leow who had run with a timing of just over 41m was waiting for his winner’s trophy, we were really pleasantly surprised when his girlfriend’s name was called as a winner for her category. This was her first ever race and she managed to get a winners position with her timing of 54mXXs in the women’s age category 30-39. The best part is that she did not come to Ipoh to run, but decided to register on Saturday just for fun! I joked with Leow that he now needs to have a serious talk to encourage her to train for more races.
The only person in our group who got a lucky draw was yours truly. It is a nice dark blue Brooks collar t-shirt. Luckily the size is XL and it’s something I can use. Does this make up for their earlier mistake with the race t-shirt??...well let me think about it since I am still very upset about the wrongly registered finish timing. Btw, later I found out from Lim that those runners who came in much later were caught in a longer queue and some had up to 7 minutes added to their actual finish time!!
By the time Leow got his trophy, it was past 12pm. We made a quick dash to the international school where we were told to collect our certs. The only valuable information I got from the cert was my category position which is 22/76. The overall position was incorrect since many ladies who came in after the men runners were registered with much quicker times, resulting in better overall positioning for them.
Since it was already late and we had to check-out from the apartment by 1.30pm, we rushed back. I had my shower, packed the bags into the car, had a quick bite, bid farewell to everyone, picked up a couple of pomelo fruits from the stalls opposite the apartment and headed home. The traffic was smooth and we were back home by 4.30pm.
Post race analysis
1. I am very happy with my timing of 52m47s. This is about a 9min PR for me since my last race which was the Shah Alam 10k, run in over 61mins. Since this is a flat course, I am going to train harder to maintain or improve this timing even on the difficult courses.
2. I am overall disappointed with the organizing and management of the race. Collective bad experiences from our group include…
- Incorrect race t-shirt sizes
- Extremely wrong finish timing and positioning registered for male runners
- Inaccurate kilometer markers
- Insufficient supply at the water station for slower runners
I will have to think twice about taking part in this event in the future, since it is not a very cheap occasion considering all the traveling costs, accommodation and even the expensive participation fees. Overall I cannot agree with the many who have rated this event as one of the top events in the country.
Lastly, on a positive note… Chiew Chin and Nicholas had a relaxing and enjoyable time. I am also happy that my wife has gotten to know and spend time talking with more of my new friends. She was also encouraged to perhaps find time for some regular walking or slow jogging which I hope she will. I must thank Lim who organized the logistics of our group’s travel etc. very well.
Group picture of all the runner's in our group. From left Ms. Lee, Leow, Albert, Chak, Chak's wife, Lim, Lim's nephew and me.
Lim, quite happy to have participated in yet another KRI event
Trainee with her coach... no one knew Leow was secretly training his girlfriend to a podium finish!
Yours truly feeling quite satisfied with today's performance
A great husband and wife team. They even participated in the Genting 24 hour walk together
Is that a bored look I see on this veteran runner's face? I have great respect for this runner, he has taught me a lot!
An overjoyed first time winner!
The deserving winning couple
Leow with Ronnie See on the winners' platform
My faithful NB680 pair finally got their well deserved wash