Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Songkhla International Glorify Marathon 2012 – 10.5km

Date: 26 August 2012
Venue: Songkhla, Thailand
Distance: 10.5km (Garmin: 10.43km)
Timing: 51:27 (Gun); 51:18 (Chip); 51:18 (Garmin)
Pace: 4:55 min/km (Garmin)
Result: 3rd (Asian - Age Group) 222th (Overall) (results here) (all results here)
Website: no official website but see here for info put up by TrackZone which organized packages for the run+ accommodation +transport

New event for me but this is the 12th year running. Songkhla is about 45 minutes outside Hat Yai; “sleepy” small town with the beach, Mermaid statue, birthplace of the 16th Thai Prime Minister for attraction. The race featured 3 categories: 42km, 21km and 10.5km while sides of a 5km Fun Run and a school children walking event. All 3 categories were out-and-back courses from Samila beach which was also the venue of the race registration and expo (the Saturday before the event). Due to the heat and humidity of the equator, race starts were early – 4am; 6am and 6:30am.



Km1-2
Was about 10-12 rows back and it was extremely crowded just standing waiting for the flag off. This never let up for the next 700-800m and for the first time (at least for me), there was jostling and pushing after the gun off. I was surprised at this since most runners I know are helpful, polite and patient and these weren’t school kids you normally see doing this at running events. It was so bad that someone stepped on my Seeya and I had to pull over to the side to put it back on…1m after crossing the line. Look, unless you’re gunning for podium, it doesn’t matter where you start since this is a chipped event and if in fact, you’re a potential winner, you would have placed yourself on rows 1 and 2 and not rows 15, 18, 20, 25 etc!

So nearly 1km of congestion as we headed out from the field near Samila beach; right turn and a then a diagonal onto a major road. Heard music blaring from the support van at the traffic lights – great pick-me-up. Left turn into one of the minor roads – unlit! God darn it! It was still early and DARK but thankfully, it was short and the road was smooth.

Km2-5.5 (turnaround)
We headed onto the road fronting/parallel to the beach and the first hydration station and then a second one. Running by the beach, sand, sea on your left as the morning is turning is absolutely wonderful and spirit and soul lifting. Unfortunately, I’ve a short focus point and this turned into “Where is the darn turnaround?!?!?!? This is a bloody long road; I’m bored” – you get the idea. I saw the race leaders (3 African descent runners) on the opposite side of the road just as I passed km4 – oh man, they’re fast! Repeat the comments in the inverted commas here.

Whee…spotted the km5 distance marker and then the “u-turn” marker. Er but it was still some way to go or at least it felt that way.

Running along the beach front (pic taken the day before while on our way to the race expo)




Km5.5-8
Repeat the previous section here minus the race leaders and add in an “unofficial” hydration station – great support from one of the locals who has a stall fronting the beach. It’s scenes like this where the locals come out to support an event (cheers, hydration, food/light bites, hose spraying) that really makes an event memorable.

The out-and-back of the beach front was PANCAKE FLAT – something I definitely don’t do well on since my muscles tire easily from repeated use. Undulating routes though tough on the climbs allow the climbing muscles to recover on the downhills and I get to use the full range of muscles. Yup, the muscles were working overtime and it was difficult to keep at it. BTW, my hips were extremely sore for most of the day and again, the next. In fact, this weekend was all about sore hips – something odd – the hips were sore on Saturday after my short, slow shake out run in the morning and I considered dropping down to the 5km or make the trip a supporting/crewing for friends. Yup, it was that bad. Not making excuses for my so-not-awesome finishing timing here.

Km8-Finish
Managed to pick up the pace on the finishing km of the beach front and on this section, just not the entire km – bits and pieces of 200-500-800m. Nope, not Tay Poh Chye’s fartlek style! Just minor increases and no massive slowdowns. I did use one of the girls in purple as my carrot but I passed her after the turn into km9. Next victim – whoever was in front of me.

Pros:

a) Pretty well organized.

b) Time chipped for the first time and the results were out within 24 hours.

c) Low registration fees and they allow registration up to the day prior to the event.

d) AG cash prizes and trophies and they always, always wait for the entire batch of AG before the formal presentation of the trophy for your AG. Even the handing out of the prize monies were organized into separate queues for the different categories and AG.

Trophy



e) Separate category for “International” (read: speedy Gonzales African runners) and Asians – so everyone had a “fairer” chance though I should have registered for the former instead of the latter!!!

f) Post race grub – porridge, dough fritters, some Nyonya-like pulut rice kueh with coconut jam/desiccated coconut, soy milk, fruits.

g) Fantastic expo (read: cheap sports stuff!)







h) Fireworks before gun off for each category – a new and unique thing for this part of the world although it’s pretty common in the US and Europe.

i) Plentiful of hydration stations at the start/finish and along the route.

Cons:

a) Unlit portions of the road.

b) No distance markers except for the one at km5 – this could be a problem for those without GPS-enabled watches although they could use the hydration stations as a rough guide (every 2-2.5km).

c) Partial road closures as is common in this part of town but the intersections were well manned and generally Thai motorists are and have been extremely patient. Plus point – early Sunday morning = zero traffic.

d) No isotonics and gels (common for Thai races I gathered) – BYO.

Photo log:

Race Expo/Bib Collection







Swag and finisher's medal





With friends after the run (photo credits to Kenny Wong)

1 comment:

skinnyrunner said...

the course looks beautiful!