Brooks Half Marathon Kuantan Panoramic Pahang – May 11, 2014

Raced the inaugural Brooks Half Marathon Kuantan Panoramic Pahang today. Finished the 21km, 100m short of being a real Half Marathon, in estimated 1h:33min:30sec, leading to a pace of 4min:27sec. The route is with 58m elevation practically flat for Malaysian standards.

Kuantan HM 2014 FB

I ran in the Men International HM category. This had the advantage that I ran against only a few competitors, i.e. non-Malaysians that found their way to Kuantan but came with the disadvantage of running in an open field with mostly younger (and fitter looking) runners. Pleased to have made it on the podium eventually coming in as 2nd runner up.

I wasn’t sure about my fitness today. Suffered from over training that made me slow down with exercising two weeks ago. Was on a good way to recover until last Sunday. Last week however went really bad in terms of running. Leaving home early and coming back late every day left no room for running, did only easy 10km on Friday late night. With that everything but good omen I went into this run.

Still and as usual I put my target for this race on the higher side, wanted to pursue a pace of 4:20 at least. After a slightly delayed start the first km went quite well. I felt OK. Set myself intermediate targets from water station to water station. However, the first water station just wouldn’t appear, not after 3km, not after 4km, not after 5km. I was a bit irritated now. Only at 5.5km runners got the first chance to hydrate. Not a good plan by the organizers, as they did not provide water at the start and arriving 1 hour before start meant that most runners now didn’t drink for 1.5h!

I was still in good spirit and shape. Took over some runners that sprinted ahead earlier and managed to stay close to Ronnie See, which was a nice surprise to me at this point. After 7km I left the only slope of the route, a bridge, behind me. Now water stations came at a closer interval, like at least every 3km.

At around km 11 I lost energy drastically. I had to slow down and let Ronnie go off (as usual). I hoped to recover after a few km of slower pace but that didn’t happen. I was taken over by 4 runners during my slow completion of the remaining 10km. One of them the Singaporean runner who finished 2nd in the Men International category. Didn’t know I was at 2nd place until that time. Quite a pity, as it only had required 20 to 30 training km the last week to bring my initial position over the finish line.

My result today showed me again how important it is to train consistent. Every session counts. I hope to have reasonable time to pursue a proper training soon again.

The organization of the entire event suffered from many teething problems. Beginning from couriering the race entry pack. The pack was sent only 2 weeks before the event, leaving some people uncertain if they receive their pack in time. Mine arrived in time but the bib and timing chip was missing. From Facebook I learnt that I had to collect those personally in Kuantan. Well, what is the point of offering to send the pack to my home when I still have to go to the race pack collection to get missing items. Well I understood something went wrong with the timing chips and they were not delivered in time, so maybe not the organizers fault but the problem is the communication that didn’t take place, leading to a lot (justified) irritation among runners.

Road safety needs to be improved. There was no proper signage showing other traffic participants that there is a run. Cones are needed to create a designated corridor for runners. Most crossroads were well guarded by police and RELA but there were some areas that needed a marshall to secure but there was none.

Water stations. As mentioned the first water station must not be 5.5km into the race, not in a hot climate. I was running within the top 20 group and enjoyed sufficient water but heard that runners towards the end did not get water anymore. This must not happen as well. The volunteers need to be briefed not to waste water, e.g. when I passed water stations the cups (0.2l size) were full. Way too much, as you only need a few sips to survive the next 3km.

No distance markers. Surely not an essential part of a race but helpful to keep onself motivated. The only sign boards were held by two people. First one indicated “2km to finish”. Good idea but at that point still 4km had to be run. The second guy holding the sign that only one km is left was placed correctly.

At the finish there was no communication to me that I am actually 3rd. None of the podium finishers got this information. In my opinion this is standard and a must. Podium postions are special and hey I want to enjoy the feeling of knowing and not wonder if I made it or not. Simple thing to prepare a few laminated cards!

No water at the finish! I will never understand how there can be no water at the finish. I depend on it so much, just like others. Asking for water I got the reply from a volunteer that there is water at the water stations – wow, what an answer! So I had to turn to 100Plus but those guys were not ready and didn’t prepare a single cup at this point in time. It is the organizers themselves that emphasize hydration but obviously for most that is only a lip service.

Going through these shortcoming I got quite concerned that next years ambition is to increase the number of participating runners from 2,000 to 5,000. Scary if the organizers don’t buckle up! I will come back next year under the condition that the organization becomes more solid and the start/finish area is changed, as the place today can’t cater for 5,000 runners.

The weekend itself in Kuantan was great. Nice place and good to get out of KL for a short while.


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