Date: 17 June 2012
Venue: The Spring, Kuching, Malaysia
Distance: 10km (Garmin: 10.4km)
Timing: 51:54 (Gun); 51:46 (Garmin)
Pace: 4:58 min/km (Garmin)
Result: 2nd (Women Open) (results here) [edited to include link to the results]
Gathered from Tomatoman that this is the first time in 6(?) years that a longer distance i.e. 21km was being held in the Cat City (Malay name for cat is you guessed it!). The event featured 3 categories (21km, 10km and 5km) put out by The Spring, a relatively new mall in one of the newer suburbs of Kuching. All categories were a loop starting from the mall with the first flagoff at 6am and intervals of an hour and 30 minutes.
I flew into Kuching on Saturday with EXTREMELY sore quads, glutes and hammies courtesy of Friday’s session and almost (so close!) wanted to downgrade to the 5km. DOMS hit me on Friday morning and didn’t let up even after my nap on Saturday; you can guessed how worried I was on Saturday night.
First Half – the calm before the storm
Km1: narrow start pen leading out to the main road and the usual newbies and kids sprinting for the first 200m before petering out. Was hoping we weren’t going up the ramp on the right – hey, it was a high and long ramp!
Km2: climbing up with the first hydration station at km2.5.
Km3-4: long straight and appears to be a never-ending road/highway feel.
Km5: making our way into Chinatown(?) – there was an arch leading to the shophouses; more picturesque than the previous section. Passed some pretty/nicely decorated/colourful buildings e.g. Khatulistiwa, hotel(?), mini malls(?). Second hydration point.
Second Half – reminiscent of StanChart Brunei i.e. hills/upslopes EVERY KM
Km6: aarrgghhh…cobbled/brick-tiled path. If I thought this was bad, the next section was a nightmare (of the highest proportion!). Reminded me of Sundown and Kallang Park.
Km7: went “OMFG!” upon seeing the hill (and it’s a hill for sure!). Let me put it this way: it’s the first of DH transplanted in Kuching and it wasn’t only 1 DH. You mount one thinking you’re clear only to see that once there, the next one starts. Views are deceiving when you’re at the bottom. Add to that the distance market was off. Like way off. It showed “km6” and my Garmin was “km7.5”. Ever realized how dreadful and how much your heart sinks when you think “OMFG…if they’re following this distance…you need to tack on an additional km…on this MOTHER of a hill”?!?!?!?!? Believe there was also one hydration station in this section.
Km8: you turn the bend…after mounting another of the “OMFG” hill thinking cruise control downhill. You thought wrong. Another long climb. And you go “OMG…are you kidding me????”. Add to that…crossing a major road…with no to little traffic control. This was on the road with the Inland Revenue Board branch.
Km9: another major road with heavy traffic before a right turn into the road back to The Spring.
Km10-Finishing: another climb on the road back to the mall – the entire 1km++++ was a climb. Now can someone please teach me how do you finish fast and strong after expending your energies in the last 4km???? Draconian to say the least. [BTW, someone counted at least 3 climbs in the last section and a lot of runners I talked to after the event said they were walking those hills.]
a) For a first time organizer, it was a averaged organized event and some room for improvements. I say this in a positive way because I think the guys really went out of their way to set this out – you can definitely feel the effort put in rather than some of the more half baked events I’ve attended.
b) Helpful staff and my emails and calls to the staff were answered promptly. They even called to remind me that I was to pick up my race bib on Saturday/day before event (race bib collection was a week prior for locals).
c) Cheerful emcee and side events organized eg Kids Dash, creating a family-feel atmosphere. Here are the cars decorated with the radio sponsor logos.
d) Plentiful parking for locals.
e) Hydration station every 2.5km (=/-); free flow of water and 100Plus at the end (chilled water in bottles and 100Plus in cans; now don’t be greedy just because it is free flow!).
f) Distance markers at every km although they were screwy at km6-9.
g) Clean and functioning toilets since we were to use the mall’s facilities.
h) Time chipped event for all categories although the timings are gun-timed.
Perhaps they’ll include a chip time next year? [editted: the chip times were included in the final results; it wasn't available on the race day]
a) Road closure and poor traffic control. Oh wow, this must been one of the worst of the lot! It was every man (or runner!) for themselves. Literally. Almost non-existent traffic cones to mark out even a single lane and there were definitely not enough traffic police and volunteers out there during the event.
b) Last minute cancellation of veteran categories for the 21km, hence more “matured” runners were competing against the African descent and younger runners. This was after most of them have registered.
c) Narrow start – lots of crowding and if there was a surge, a stampede was a possibility.
d) No water at the start or at least they told me I would only get some when I finish.
e) Disorganized (at least to me) way of distributing the finisher’s medal and finisher’s tee (first 50 in each category was promised on website). At the finishing point, the volunteers were just handing out the medals and tees without checking for the runners’ category nor marking off their bibs. I’m guessing even if you’re in the top 50 of your category, the latecomers didn’t get theirs since the short distance runners would have finished ahead. Though I must say the finisher’s tee is nice – design and feel (soft and shiny).
f) Prize presentation could have been held earlier (it started roundabouts 9:45 am) and the stage area could have been positioned away from the glare and heat of the sun. Minor point I guess.
On balance, I enjoyed this event, despite the OMFG hills drama. I always believe shortcomings can be rectified if the organizers are serious and passionate about the event and my interactions with them have been positive.
Race Day with festivities abound and the presentation of a cheque for charity
Link to The Borneo Post