Date: 10 June 2012
Venue: Laguna Phuket, Phuket, Thailand
Distance: 10.5km (Garmin: 10.34km)
Timing: 50:29 (Gun); 50:21 (Chip); 50:20 (Garmin)
Pace: 4:51 min/km (Garmin)
Result: 74th (Overall); 7th (Women Open); 2nd (Age Group) (results here) (all results here and here and here)
Another repeat race but which I enjoyed – hence the repeat! Flew into Phuket on Saturday morning and was out on Sunday evening – makes it sound like a fly-by-night or Touch N’Go, huh? No, not that I don’t like the place but would like to save up some day offs and $ for other weekend getaways. How can you not like a place with views like this???
The route was the same as the previous years i.e. a loop from Y Junction at Laguna Beach Resort, taking in a bit of the outskirts and winding up the Laguna compound. Hey, great way to sell properties, right? Same set up as the Setia Alam and Desa Park City events?!?! LOL! Met a different group of friends this year though. The full kicked off at 4:30 with the HM at 6 and the QM, 30 minutes later. Darn! If I knew I was back so sooner, I would have signed up for the 5k Fun Run! No. Kidding.
This is probably the first year (that I ran) when it wasn’t blazing hot – in fact, it rained the whole of Friday, some of Saturday afternoon, around 9-ish am on Sunday and Sunday afternoon. After all, it’s the rainy season in Phuket around this time of the year.
Sylvia and I started about 3 rows back and while waiting, I pointed out last year’s winner (Gemma Keough-Peters – hey, she had a tri top with her name at the back!). I told Sylvia to go ahead since she typically sets a faster pace going into a race and I didn’t want to blow up. This course has some pretty “nasty” memories for me – half asphalt, half kampong/untarred roads, half trail-ish – I was sore for at least 2 days after the previous runs. Hence I really needed to take it slow and easy at the start; pushing it through the final km on those surfaces is no fun! The usual 200-300m congestion since it was narrow getting out of Y Junction. Passed Sylvia around km1.5 and then it was slowly easing into a “comfortable” pace and reeling in the crowd. I was a bit afraid when I overtook Gemma at km2.5 and thought I would most likely blow up the run. This portion of the run took us out of the Laguna compound and skirted the nearby roads/shops/village.
The next 2 stretches were more “boring” – basically just the road in front of you with fields and trees on both sides. The route is mainly pancake flat with minor inclinations peppered in; the only and probably “more significant” slope was towards km5-6 and it was a short one. As with any upslopes, it can take the wind out of you and I did feel myself going oh-so-slowly. Passed some girls here too.
The “kampong” road + pebbled + pothole-ridden portion and it didn’t help that it rained overnight. Lots of side tracking and jumping and skirting around to avoid the puddles of water and mud but it was just easier to head long into it. This stretch? About 1.5km or so. The HM male leader passed us just as I got into km6 – yes, he’s that fast (relative to me naturally). Uber glad to get out of the rat hole and back to “civilization”. The next odd thing? I passed a girl just before the turn off to this stretch and thought…holy crap…just how many girls are there in front??? Am I really that slow???
Asphalt!!! And I saw the Laguna Holiday Club complex (I stayed here again this year)…so I know we must be really close. We were then directed into the Canal Village before heading out onto the road parallel to the Elephant Trail (we ran on this “trail” in the previous years but I guess the overnight rains had the organizer executing contingency plans).
Running into the finishing chute when the emcee holler out your name and home country – always the best feeling ever.
a) Well organized event by Go Adventure although I notice that the standards have been dropping marginally over the years. E.g. in 2009, we had both the pasta and finishing parties which was reduced to just the former last and this year (can’t comment for 2010 since I didn’t participate), no handing out of age group prizes this year, messy pasta party this year (read on).
b) Spaced out start times and routes (except towards the final miles) to minimize congestion.
c) Distance markers at every km for every category and towards the final km, a 1000m, 500m and 200m countdown.
d) Hydration station at the start/finish and every 2.5-3km. 100Plus was the sponsor again and no shortage of these. In fact, the podium winners got a carton of them – not sure how they can bring it home without checking in their bags (not a problem if you’re flying premium, more problematic for those flying low cost and did not buy check-in baggage). LOL!
e) Planks/rubberized platform at certain sections of the event site because it rained overnight. There were some splattering of mud but nothing of feet/shoes sinking into mud pools.
f) Post race grub of fried rice and noodles, congee with condiments (as usual, non vegan) and fruits (bananas and rambutans).
g) Calling out your name as you come through – you’ll feel like a million bucks!
h) Prelim race results posted within 24 hours.
a) Pasta party was a disappointment this year – they held it in a marquee opposite Canal Village (previous years: Laguna Beach Resort): the queue for the made-on-the-spot-fresh-pasta was 45 minutes, the queue for the buffet line was shorter but no less daunting, the buffet line was not refilled fast enough and towards the end, not refilled at all (according to Mrs Moey, they didn’t have much to eat and it was only 6:30-7pm). I’m not sure if the problem was because the marquee was a bit out of the way of the central kitchens at the hotel or the organizer did not anticipate the crowd (which is unlikely since they do know this is mainly a pre-registered event and only for foreign participants).
b) No prize presentation for age groupers. I’m not fussed about this but the way the awards and prizes were handed out was a complete mess. Complete. Mess. It seemed to be an impromptu thing with a few volunteers behind the counter looking for the trophy for your age group and then heading over to the side table to get the Timex watch (part of the prize). They probably had planned for giving them out on the stage as the trophies and bags were neatly arranged and then decided to scrap this at th end? due to time constraints?
c) Not much of a crowd support this year – I remembered some cheering and singing and dancing close to the hydration stations in the previous years. Zilch this year.
d) Pricey registration fees for foreigners.