Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Penang International 12-Hour Walk 2014

Date: 3-4 May 2014
Venue: Padang Kota Lama/Esplanade, Penang, Malaysia
Distance: 46 laps or 49.6km
Timing: 79:55:48 (Chip)
Result: 89th (overall); 26th (Women); 5th (AG) (results here)
Website: here

Seventh edition of the event – unfortunately due to finances (or lack thereof), they were not able to put something up last year (or maybe in the last few years). Anyway, there were 2 events held concurrently – the 12-hour Walk and 12-hour Zumba. Both events were to have been flagged off at 8pm on 3 May 2014 but due to the {super duper} heavy downpour (even resulted in minor flooding at City Hall), the start was delayed by an hour.

Just look at that!
(Photo credits: Lim Chiau Wu; Tan Hong Lan)

Similar setup to the Putrajaya 12-Hour Walk – walk as many laps of the 1.1km surrounding Esplanade in 12 hours or 11 hours this year. The checkpoint/start/finish was in front of the grand and I would say majestic City Hall building (I do love its architecture). This was a small local event although they did managed to attract quite a number of HK walkers (and those guys and ladies are fast and seem pretty pro!) probably coz
  • -       Overshadowed by the Borneo Marathon and a few events in KL
  • -       The walking community is pretty small
  • -       Not much of prize money on offer (the pros and African athletes tend to shun these but hey for most of us, running/walking is a hobby and something we enjoy rather than work)

To be entitled for the finisher’s medal, each participant need to complete at least 10 laps or 10km; ok, ignore that 0.1km extra…it’s just easier to think of 1 lap = 1km though after a while that extra 0.1km adds up.

The Zumba event was slotted in a bit later after the registration for the walk opened. Same venue – in front of City Hall. The leads were on one side of the road while the participants on the opposite so you have them lining up the road leading to the arch/checkpoint which was really nice and motivating for the walkers when they crossed the checkpoint.

This was a last minute sing up for me although I did it within the early bird period – I was dithering and tottering about putting myself or rather lower limbs though the torture. Memories of the Putrajaya Walk still lingers!  But the flight and hotel were going for a song and it’ll be nice put some time on the feet – naturally this would come back to bite me because I could hardly walk or squat or bend on Sunday and only marginally recovered use of my legs on Monday. BTW, head to the Chinese physician for a massage on Sunday evening to sort those legs out (after taking a much needed nap) – trust me, you’ll thank me.

Started near the back of the pack on Saturday night (hey, you’ve all night, so no need to rush to the front) with the LYN runners. It was still drizzling at this point and I kept the poncho on for the next couple of rounds. So basically it was walk, walk, walk around Esplanade. Start at City Hall, left turn about 200m onto the road facing Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (I think!) and court house (I think again!) towards the roundabout at the income tax building; left turn heading towards the Esplanade seaview; left turn by the coastal road with the cannons on the left; left turn and back at the checkpoint/City Hall building.

As with previous event, the body started breaking down after a couple of hours though I managed to hold it off till 5-6 hours into the event. Both hips were in massive pain, especially the left. So at 30 laps, took a 10 minute break and joined Kelvin in City Hall where I stretched, stretched and stretched but no gives. Asked Kelvin to chase me out after 5 minutes and managed another 2-3 laps (by this point, you’re probably delusional and counting is impossible). Decided not to kill myself and opted for modus operandi – napped for 2-3 hours and decide if I wanted a morning walk when I woke up…you know…like my usual Sunday walk.

Woke up intermittently due to massive cramps and spasm on the left hip – I kid you not – it was massive and painful that amputation crossed my mind! Managed to snag some shut eye and by 5:20am decided to try to finish the event. When I say “try” it meant some sorry state attempt at walking – the first lap was painful and I was shuffling; the hips and back of knees were screaming blue murder. Remember those Zumba-ners? They were definitely energetic and motivating and somehow I managed to feed off their energy and continued onto the second lap. By this time, the stiffness were gone. So back to walk, walk, walk. Daylight broke an hour later and it was nice to see runners along the road and coastal road and soon after a group of cyclists lead by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Also Unc Oliver, Chiau Wu and the LYN runners at the checkpoint keep cheering and you just kept going. So happy to see so many of them; final lap done 10 minutes before the 11-hour mark.

LYN Runners - happy to have them cheer me on at the checkpoint
(Photo credits: Lim Chiau Wu)

a)    Fairly decent organization.
b)    Ongoing communication by the organizers – they sent an email earlier in the week to advise the participants of a possible rain at 2am (unfortunately the Metrological Dept got this wrong coz the downpour came at 6pm!) and just before the intended flag off at 8pm to advise everyone of the delay in the start and it’ll depend on the weather conditions then.
c)     The Zumba session was a blast – you could just feed off the energy from the participants. Don’t think I could have managed to push it through if not for them.
d)    Hydration and fueling station stocked with water (volunteers even punched the straw through the 230ml packet), Revive isotonic (although they did run out at some point but it was restocked, coffee and tea, buns, curry puffs, dates, watermelons, nasi lemak (for brekkie).
e)    The volunteers at the race pack collection and the hydration station. Also shout out to the medics at the roundabout who cheered us on at the God-forsaken hour of 5ish am.
f)     Race pack collection on the event day and up to the final few hours.

a)    It was a decent effort but a lot of things could be improved. For example, the checkpoint – there was only 1 at the start/finish unlike Putrajaya which had one at each turning. It could have been so easy for someone to dash across the field – that’s if they intended to cheat. I understand that cost maybe a factor but perhaps it should be something to look into. Also noticed that there were no manual checking – this is especially important for the potential podium winners and if the timing chip (God forbid) fails. I know Suresh had a problem coz he told me that his chip apparently malfunction. Poor guy.
b)    Poorly lit areas – this was at the stretch after the roundabout and the narrow entry point to that stretch made things worse.
c)     Uneven road surface and road cambering – not sure if there’s anything that the organizers can do about it since it’s mainly a local government responsibility. Plenty of opportunities to trip and fall over – several close calls for me. I think the road cambering probably had a {huge} hand in my left hip ache. I would think that if this event was supported by the local government, both items (b) and (c) would be easily solved. It’s a matter of will (me thinks).
d)    Separate hydration stations for the walkers and Zumba-ners would ease congestion during the Zumba breaks. I’m not downplaying the latter but since the walk is a competitive event, having to wade thru and elbow your way to get your fuel and nutrition in is just frustrating.
e)    Porta potties – a measly 2 for the ladies for an event this size????!!!! Are you kidding me???? And a sectioned off path to the indoor loo at City Hall while we were sheltering from the rain meant a lot of holding-you-pee exercise. Of all things, this would be my number 1 peeve. No one, no one could direct me to a usable loo before the start (since that was sectioned off for the “comfort” of the holding area for the VIPs); they could only ask me to head outside (in the pouring rain, mind you!) to use the porta potties. Guess what? That one didn’t open for use until after the flag off! And then there was a queue when another walker and I wanted to use them and our pleading with the Zumba-ners to skip the queue fell on deaf ears. Ok, maybe they do deserve to use the porta potties as much as us…but my main gripe is having sufficient facilities for both groups.
f)     Did anyone find the guest of honour’s speech out of topic? I mean what has press freedom have an iota with the walk that’s not even in aid of or in celebration of press freedom???? And really most us just wanted to get on with the event; standing around in the drizzle is no fun.

Photo log:
Finisher’s medal

Event tee

Hoping to get the trophy from Andrew next month - didn't realise I placed in my AG and left soon after I finish. Yeah it was a super slow shuffle back to the hotel.


Chiau Wu Lim said...

Nice write up, awesome job. Hope there will be more walking events besides those charity one.

Chiau Wu Lim said...

Awesome job done and nice write up.

Hope there will be more walking events besides those charity one.

Not easy to get sponsorship and need manpower too.

Hope to see you soon.