Date: 5 August 2012
Venue: Hat Yai, Songkhla, Thailand
Distance: 10.5km (Garmin: 10.7km)
Timing: 51:47min (Garmin)
Pace: 4:50 min/km (Garmin)
Result: 2nd (AG)
Previous year’s recap here.
Back to the border town of Hat Yai for my second edition – can you guys believe that this is their 18th edition?!?!?! Although I had booked the tickets early (during one of Air Asia’s promotions), the bombing at Lee Gardens in May certainly put me in 2 minds about making the trip. And to think that Dannie had actually made reservations for us to stay in the hotel! Then again, it’s probably the safest place in town.
Right, back to the run. On offer was a 21km (Half Marathon) and 10.5km (Quarter Marathon or like they call it, “Mini Marathon”) and both were out-and-back course starting from the Science Center/Faculty of Prince of Songkhla University. The route took us through one of minor streets to the outskirts with a few rows of houses and plantations flanking you. The flag off for the former was at 5:50 am followed by the latter, 10 minutes after that. Due to the time difference (1 hour), it was starting to get bright and by the time you finish (unless you’re Speedy Gonzales which I’m not), the sun would be out.
I was a bit further back, maybe 8-10 rows back, which suited me well since I didn’t want to blow up and thought of taking it easy (tight calves have been bothering me for the past week). We exited through the back entrance onto the minor street – just a row of shops on the right and a school with a huge field on the left. First hydration station around km2.
Km3 was a long (1km?) climb – it’s gentle but hey, when you’re on your feet, gentle is brutal. At least it felt that way to me. The downhill couldn’t come sooner – and since this was an out-and-back, “massive” fear crept in about the second half. Yes, drama queen. I was on the lookout for the race leaders and it seemed to take forever. That got me worried because all I could think about was the turnaround and getting this thing done! Right, they finally appeared around km4.8 (I think).
Remember that nice slope that I rolled down…had to trudge up now and somehow it wasn’t too bad. I’m guessing the body and legs were awake and warmed up. Or I slowed down. More like the latter. There wasn’t much of a scenery – just trees and trees in plantations all around with the occasional house and street in between. There were a couple of guys in front/around me to pace off and one particular one, a Thai, urged me on and told me to follow him. Er er er er…I’m red heartlining it already! Somewhere along here, we had to cross the road to the other side of the road and I spotted the “18km” marker. Km8 was the downhill – absolutely loved flying down and the speed.
Back to town/street. You know what is brutal? Seeing the sign on the wall “Prince of Songkhla University” with the adjoining gate but that’s not the gate we were supposed to enter! It’s the other one – about 500-800m ahead! Then the next brutal thing: the upslope to the finish! A steep climb before rolling down to the finishing chute.
a) Fairly well organized and the volunteers and road marshals during the race registration, bib pick up, during and after the run were great – absolutely polite and very obliging.
b) Cheap registration fee (THB250 for the Mini and THB300 for the Half) and registrations are taken in up to Saturday. There’s also an online registration where you can pre-register (without paying) – saves time because all you need to do was provide your race confirmation when you’re there and voila – pay, collect the race bib and tee/vest.
c) Option of a race tee or vest. I’m not a fan of a colourful top but hey, it’s a Thai thing. Sizing is unisex, not that I wear any of my race vests.
d) Hydration stations at the start/finish and every 2km stocked with water. They also had a hydration station set up during the race expo stocked with water and Coke.
e) Love, love, love the race expo – lots of goodies at bargain prices. I got these Reebok shorts for THB100/each and Nike Running Tights for THB200/each. Tees were going for THB100, shoes for THB1000 etc. Definitely a shopping galore.
f) Shuttle pick up from Hat Yai town at 5am and this year, it was early/on time.
g) Post race grub – oh my, another buffet – porridge/congee, fried noodles, fried dough fritters, steamed soy/corn cake/kueh, soy milk, watermelons.
h) Post race massage.
i) Love the finisher’s medal.
a) No road closure (common in this part of the world) but the intersections were manned and Thai motorists were patient unlike their Malaysian counterparts.
b) Hydration stations only provided water which was fine by me but if you’re doing the half mary and are used to isotonics or gels, please BYO.
c) They could have provided more buses to bus runners to the start; 2 were clearly not enough. Many runners had to make their way on tuk-tuks (notwithstanding the cheap fare) and this was after cramming both buses to the brim. Kid. You. Not.
d) Distance markers – not sure if they were there – I wasn’t too observant but I only remembered the “18km” one. Anyone can ship in?
e) The lining up of the prize winners for the various AG weren’t as organized this year – last year, they had cleared marked out space with signs for the various categories. None this year.
f) Oh I wished they had kept the AG wins to 10 instead of downsizing it to 8. It would have been a great motivator for more people to sign up. I gathered this was to expand the “overall” winners category for the Half.
Photo log (photo credits to Dannie Choong and Lim Kian Huat):