Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hat Yai Nature Run 2011

Date: 7 August 2011

Venue: Hat Yai, Thailand

Distance: 10.5km (Garmin: 10.77km)

Garmin Timing: 51:32 for 4:47 min/km

Result: 1st placing (Age Group)

This was a small local race put up by Prince of Songkla University which has over the years garnered increasing support from Malaysia (lots of northerners there – Penang, Nibong Tebal, Bukit Mertajam, Kedah etc). This was my first time in Hat Yai (skipped the previous editions since I wasn’t about to put myself through an 8-hour bus ride) and I gathered that this year’s run is the biggest to date (in terms of numbers). I guess this is due to the dearth of runs/events during the fasting month.

It was an out-and-back course starting from the Computer Department at the university, taking us through the fringes of the town towards the back roads of Hat Yai (a bit like the trunk road from Ipoh to Bidor/Kuala Kangsar/Taiping). Apart from some rows of shops lots in town and some houses at the back roads, the sight of the rest of the journey = rubber trees and rubber trees and more rubber trees. There were some elevations here and there but no killer hills (e.g. Kenny’s Taman Desa/Seputeh or Bukit Tunku), at least for the 10k although I gathered from the rest that there’s a hill for the half-mary a bit further up after the u-turn for the 10k.

It's a bit bright here since this was taken during the race expo on Saturday...and the route map...kinda small...sorry!


The mini marathon (Thai’s term for 10k) flagged off at 6 am (local), 10 minutes after the half-mary. I stationed myself about 3-4 rows back, heck, the field was small…so I was probably towards the back anyway. I would rather start here so as to not get caught up with the speedy front pack and reel my way towards the front. It was a downhill start (which means the finishing would be a killer). I ran next to Wai Mun and asked what her pace was, hoping to taga long with her but she told me to go ahead since she’ll probably slow me down. We turn right at the university gate and it was straight all the way to the u-turn – there was absolutely no way anyone can get lost. Definitely a plus point after Marina 21k. We ran past a few rows of shophouses and a school (I think. Lot of students in uniforms) on the way out of town. Soon the first hydration station appeared.


I was surprised to run past Eunice and her hubs around km4 because I didn’t think I was that speedy. I found out later that they started late because Eunice had fallen during her warm up and had her scratches attended to when the air horn went off. It was also here I saw the front runners making their way back – absolutely speedy bunch of guys, mostly Thai I think.


It was the longest journey as I kept hoping for the turnaround to come – it’s a bit of a downer when you see more runners on the other side of the road. Oh finally! The turnaround for the mini marathon and they handed us a rubber band (no, not those tiny ones seen at the Jog for Hope but thick and broad ones). I saw Geannie as she made her way to the u-turn – I needed some distraction or sort since there was nothing but rubber trees all around me and very few runners on my side of the road. Another absolutely longest journey back into town!


As we closed in on Hat Yai, I saw a girl running upfront – odd…since I don’t remember seeing her on the turnaround. Oh well, since she was ahead and obviously faster than me, perhaps I could pace off her. I must have speeded up or she, the reverse because soon, I was running with her. Said “hi” and told her to keep along and we ran for about 500 meters. Soon it was just me running on the road shoulders of Hat Yai and I kept wanting the run to be over – I was starting to hurt and to my disappointment, we had to continue plodding to the next gate of the university. Darn it for the smoke screen – the first gate I saw with the nice big words “Prince of Songkla University”. Then again. I was probably hallucinating because after passing this gate, I saw chalk markers on the road indicating “1km/20km” – yes! I was going to be done. Naturally, since we had it “easy” with a downhill start, the finishing slope put some brakes on some of us. It was not a steep incline, nothing of the sort found in Kenny’s neighbourhood or Bukit Tunku; come to think of it, those long trainings on these places helped me powered through. Sure, there was a slowdown but I felt good. In fact, I felt good throughout the run; there was none of the “killing myself” feeling and I even thought I had some spare in the tank. After all, this was a “take it as it comes” run rather than going for a PR.

Which incidentally I did since the average pace was 4:47 min/km.


a) Well organized event.

b) Plenty of volunteers at the race registration, hydration stations, start/end points, marshals on bikes patrolling the route, information booth, prize presentation event etc.

c) Hydration station at the start/end points and every 2 km. I’m not sure about those after the turnaround for the 10k but all stations only served water on the 10k route. Don’t think there were any isotonics at the end either?

d) Buffet line at the end point – porridge, fried noodles, fried dough fritters, watermelons, soy milk, soft drinks (?).

e) Distance markers every km until we reached the town – were we meant to look at the chalk marks after that? Coz I saw the “1km/20km” one.

f) Race registration was easy peasy – you can pre-register and pay when you get there on Saturday or you can still register on Saturday itself. Race fees was el-cheapo (THB250/RM25 for the 10k and THB350/RM35 for the half mary) and you get a race vest (or race tee if you prefer) and the above goodies.

g) Trophies for the top 10 winners in each age group. How awesome is that?! Practically everyone goes home a winner, especially the ladies.

h) Super cheap stuff at the race expo; don’t let the pasar malam setting fool you because I got these amazing shorts for THB150-200 (RM15-20) and 3 socks for THB100/RM10. Too many pickings!!!



a) No (absolutely no) road closure although there was a traffic policeman station at the intersection of town at the beginning and a marshal on a bike at the outskirts portion of the route. You’ll have to fend for yourself – I was practically running next to running cars and bikes. Though to be fair, Thai motorists seem to be a tad better than the Malaysian ones – I heard nary a sound of the honk and most were patient to wait for runners to run through.

b) We got the race registration around 3pm on Saturday and there were very limited sizes of running vests remaining. Thai race vests tend to be uber colourful to say the least, so I can’t imagine wearing this anytime soon. If anyone wants a size “S” vest, give me a holler.

c) No isotonic drinks at the end point (can’t comment if any available on the half-mary route). I’m OK with this since I don’t normally take any except for distances above 10k.

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