Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report: APBIM 2014

Originally, I wasn’t planned to join this race. I registered last minutes after the route announced in August. I was thinking I should be able to avoid the congested route if I go fast enough (i.e. sub 4), and shit did happened. Felt regrets about my action now.

This was a touch and go marathon trip. I took the flight on 8pm from SZB and arrived PEN 9pm and Queensbay Mall by 10pm. Many runners thinking the same and some even changed in running attires from SZB. The free shuttle buses from Queensbay Mall to the race site were still aplenty during that time (fewer participants for FM compared to the rest of the categories). Grab some supply (supper and coffee) from AEON then took the bus to the race site. Arrived at the starting point around 11pm, I still got plenty of time to kill and took my time change into my race attires.

The men open category flag off at 1:30am. The starting pen was overcrowded and one water tanker from the MPPP decided to join the flag off... The first 2km was chaos! We was flagged off from a 3 lanes highway, and then funneled into a single lane up to the bridge. Best part was, some participants already started to walk! The incline was not stiff and we were hardly 1km into the race! This gave me a hard time to warm up my engine. The start-stop, acceleration & breaking really messed up my pace. The situation only eases up after we came down from the top of the bridge.

The rest of the route heading to main land was only me, other runners, the bridge, the sea, and the lamp poles. The endless lamp poles view posted a great challenge to the mental strength. And you will need to at least double that challenge because we will u-turn and heading back to the island later! The weather was beautiful and I slowly set into my running rhythms. I reached my target pace but the heart rate stayed on the high side (~165BPM compared to my usual racing HR of 155BPM). I knew something going to break in the later part of the race. 16km, left ITB felt very tight. 18km, right tight felt like going to cramp. Blister under my left sole, knees pain, and ankles pain, one hit after each other, even the bandage over my nipple washed away and it started to bleeding. 24km into the race, I took a longer break in the water station, decided this wasn’t my day hence reduce the plan to just running from water station to water station with slower pace. Think this was the result of less training since SCKLM.

Looking back from the main land to the island, the endless lamp poles view was magnificent, but torturing too. Repeated the strategy running from water station to water station, until 32km, where we met the half marathon-walkers. I was already behind my schedule hence I was expected to crush with them, but I forgot to take into account for the inexperience newbie runners/walkers – they don’t travel by consistence pace. Tentatively, they running very fast at the start, and very slow when exhausted. If the pace were consistence, they should be at least running (7-8.5 min/km pace), but now everyone were walking on the bridge (>10 min/km pace)! No one cared if you were still running cause they just took up the 2 whole lanes. I was demoralized and started to walk more. Later my life saver (Chua, men-open 4.5 hours pacer) came and I tried my best to tag along. Thank to his encouragement I finished the race with 4:27’01”.
Trusted GF910XT, returned just in time for APBIM
Finisher Medal, APBIM 2014
Overall, this is by far, the worst Marathon Event I ever attended. But nonetheless, still some good thing happened,
1. My registration was towards the end, the courier options ended earlier. But the organizer still entertained and I received my race kit 1 week before the race.
2. The experience running over the bridge was great. Even though the route is flat, but the boring and endless route view (yes, you almost can see the whole route from the top of the bridge), gave sufficient challenge to the runners endurance and mental strength.
3. Dedicated Full Marathon finished area was good, the sponsors booths also duplicated inside the finished area.

Things to improve,
1. Basic requirement for a race is not fulfilled. Poorly designed water stations (short and only using one side of the road), no or minimum distance markers, bottleneck/funneling of race route in varies location, insufficient of portable toilet, no notices boards to divert the human traffic at varies points.
2. Flag off or starting time design. May be the organizer thought of women ran slower that man, hence in FM & HM, men open flag off first. But how come later 10k women got flag off first? Should copy how other major event perform, flag off by target finish time. Don’t bother if the runners are honest enough to declare their timing correctly, but at least the human traffic jam will be reduced.
3. Starting pen got a water tanker inside! Come on!
4. Finish area were too dark, put up some more light please.
5. Route design for varies categories. The delayed starting time for 10k participants is good for the HM and FM, but too bad the 10k participants have to run under the hot sun. May be can separate the 10k and HM from FM (Saturday and Sunday).
At the last turn into finish line, elbowed too many people until no eye see :P 
The list goes on, but I recalled that the organizer seems to be hardheaded and never listened / learned from runners’ complaint, hence no point for me to continue to complaint here. My recommendation, if you are serious runners, there are many more others races in this country or region for a better running experience. Don’t waste your time and money on this event.

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