As part of our goal to run at least one 10km run every other weekend (when we are not running half-marathons, Farah and I tried to find a good 10km run to participate in March. Unfortunately, the Men’s Health Women’s Health (MHWH) Run which was scheduled on Saturday night of 21 March was full by the time we wanted to register… so we had to look for another.
So Farah and I signed up for Possible Run, which had the tagline “Everyone Can Run” – though ironically, it was open only to Malaysians.
Farah collected the race packs for us, so I am not able to comment on the race pack collection based on first hand experience; however Farah expressed disappointment over the race pack itself. When I took mine from her, I could understand why. Besides the standard T-shirt and bib number, it was almost empty save for one Perskindol cool gel sachet and a photocopy of the race information.
Still, at least we got a decent bag.
There were also problems with some of the participants’ registrations. In both Farah’s and my cases, ours showed up because we had registered via myraceonline.com. However when Farah tried to pick up race packs on behalf of her friends, their names were not on the list. Apparently they had not signed up at the race portal, but instead had submitted their entry manually via email and banked in the money directly. In the end they had to go in themselves to pick up the race packs. After much searching, the organisers finally found the information of one of them, but the other’s was nowhere to be found – even though she had paid. And in the end, she had to sit this one out.
RUN DAY 22 MARCH 2015
Possible Run had only one distance category: 10km, although that was broken further into gender and age categories. According to the online race information, they targeted a quota of 3,000 runners. However, this morning, it was obvious that this quota was not fulfilled. Padang Merbok looked a little scant; the number of runners looked little more than a thousand.
I also discovered as I pinned on the bib onto my bib belt that the bib number was devoid of any timing chips; meaning that the race would be untimed. Many runs usually provided timing devices for runs that were of at least 10km distance. My only previous exception was the Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon.
Perhaps sign-ups were poor because of the MHWH Run which was held the night before.
Flag-off was at 7:30am, which was really late; most runs I’ve been to flag-off latest by 6:30am for 10km distances.
Farah, Adiah and I sat at the side while waiting for flag-off, and we found runners moving to the Start Line as early as 7:05am. I was surprised to find that there were no warm-ups conducted; almost every run I had joined, including charity and college-organised runs, had a mass warm-up led by a gym instructor or even one of their own volunteers. I don’t join the warm-ups, but that wasn’t the point; warm-ups are usually a must to remind runners to loosen their joints and to prepare for the long distance ahead. This event just had an emcee who reminded runners to move to the Start Line.
We three finally strolled over to the Start Line at 10 minutes to flag-off. Farah normally liked to elbow her way to the front in a bid to clock better personal time (and I’d be right on her tail with the same intention), but this time, we stayed at the back. Perhaps the lack of a timing chip gave us no motivation to do our usual.
I know I sound petty but I didn’t have a positive start to the run. Because my number was on a bib belt, the number was pushed to my side. One of the volunteers saw it, and told me sharply to “put the number in the front”. Small matter, I know; but I felt that the message could have been conveyed more politely. No one likes being spoken to like a child in a rather rude tone of voice.
Other volunteers were walking around handing each runner a yellow ribbon, which is supposedly a marker. I suppose it was to indicate that we had started at the Start Line.
As we stood there, a horn suddenly sounded without warning to flag us off. Perhaps there was a countdown, but those of us at the back didn’t hear it.
Everyone started off with a slow jog, making it difficult to overtake if you are trying to run faster than the average walking pace. The route started off by taking us almost immediately into an awkward U-turn; I believe that this was to try to increase the distance so that the entire route would be close to 10km, otherwise it might fall a little too short, so I didn’t mind too much even though it was really awkward to make the sharp U-turn.
I was trying a new thing today. I didn’t wear my usual Nathan race pouch with the water bottles. Instead I zipped up my keys in the tiny compartment of my compression shorts and put my phone (with the pedometer app running) in a small race pouch that my friend Elisha gave me. I held my face towel and a small bottle filled with Red Bull in one hand. I was relying on the organisers to provide water, as all races do.
For the first 5km however, we had to run parched. The first water station was sighted at the 5km mark. I remember thinking, “OMG please do not tell me that they are so under-budget that they can’t provide any water stations!” I was already preparing a scathing blogpost in my head as i was running.
I had my bottle of Red Bull with me, but that was more of an energy-booster than a thirst-quencher, so the sugar only served to increase my thirst. Most participants didn’t carry any bottle with them, and I’m sure many of them were already dying of thirst by the 3km mark (which is where water stations would usually be placed).
In total there were three water stations (distributing only water, no isotonic drinks) but they were all in the last half of the route. We don’t really need water at the 9km mark; we would already be hurrying towards the finish line!
Somewhere between the 6 and 7km mark, three white-clad volunteers distributed another ribbon – red this time. I think this was their poor-man’s version of a checkpoint, since they didn’t have any company providing timing devices onboard.
The route in itself had several uphill slopes, but this was usual in KL runs, since many areas would be hilly. The roads we ran on were not the major roads; we ran along the narrow two-lane carriageways, of which we hogged one. Perhaps it felt narrower than usual because the run was more congested than usual. What I mean by this is that throughout my entire run, I was constantly surrounded by a significant number of runners, as if I was running through a crowd. I am not a fast runner, in fact my time is about the average; so I tended to fall into the middle of the entire batch. In all the previous runs (whichever the distance), I would start off with the large crowd; then as we progressed, the fast runners would leave the rest of us behind, and I would overtake the runners who chose to take it slow. From the 2km mark onwards, I would usually be surrounded with only a few runners, who would either be running past me, or of whom I’d be running past.
It seemed as if the people who signed up for the run were not serious runners, and/or had no motivation to run fast due to the lack of timing devices, which truthfully should not be the case as there were other runs that didn’t have timing devices yet had people who would run really quickly. But then this is merely a subjective view and it might not be true at all.
There were no portable toilets at all on the route. It was fortunate that I didn’t need to use one, but still it was the first time I saw none being provided. All other runs I’ve been to always have a few placed near the water stations. The start/finish venue itself did have washrooms, but what about those who need to visit one during the run?
One good thing: medals were distributed at the finish line itself, which was really convenient for the runners. The same lady who told me off earlier said the same thing to me again as I approached for my medal. No certificates were provided though.
I really wanted to try to improve (or at least match) my personal best, but I only finished at 1h26m (based on my own Polar watch). Well, considering I haven’t trained at all… time to start, eh?
There were two drinks vans at the venue: Milo, which as usual had a really long queue; and the 100 Plus van which distributed water and 100 Plus. There was a Perskindol stall, but it was selling, not providing free distribution.
Truth be told, I felt a little sympathy for the organisers, as I know that it is never easy to organise a public event, especially a crowd that is used to similar events and can get very judgmental (like yours truly). I am not sure what went wrong, but perhaps the lack of signups forced the organisers to cut back on a lot of things, including sponsorship.
While I feel sorry, at the same time, it is not a reason for me to join another run organised by the same organiser again. After all, I had to pay quite a bit, and the same fee paid to other organisers give me so much more.
I do have to say though the medal is quite attractive.
It was a few days later that I saw someone share a post on Facebook about the certificate. Apparently the e-certificate was available for download… which to me, made absolutely no sense. Because the run was not timed and no names were recorded for the run, that means the e-certificate was not personalised. Most runs that provide e-certificates are timed, so each runner gets an automatically generated personalised certificate with our name and our completed time which we can save a softcopy of, and print on our own if we wanted to. However for this run, what was apparently available for download was a blank certificate which you have to fill your own name in. Quite frankly, what was the point?? Anyone could download it – even if they didn’t go for the event – and fill in their own name! Other runs I have been to have also given blank certificates, but the difference was that they gave out hardcopy certificates at the finish line; you would have to physically be present to collect the certificates.
The certificates don’t matter to me because I don’t see the point in having plenty of run certificates. Who would I be showing them off to?? However I just thought that putting a blank e-certificate online was quite a silly idea. I suppose that because certificates were promised, and in order to save on printing costs, the organisers decided to make them virtual instead.
However, when I checked, the certificate was not available on the website stated. Perhaps they were already taken down before I had a chance to check them out.
Anyway, this was not the original post that I saw on Facebook, but I am unable to find the post. In fact, I couldn’t find any posts on Facebook about Possible Run, except for a random few events that were created by various people. This was the only information I could find about the e-certificate, which has apparently been posted long before the event even started (note the post date of February). I suppose it didn’t raise any red flags because prior to the event, none of us knew that it wasn’t going to be timed.
I hope for their sake, the organisers will do a much better job in the future.