GPS

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013 (PBIM 2013)

One of the most anticipated event of the year has arrived. Friends and colleagues who have been training for this event are all prepared and many are using this event as a benchmark of their progress and decide if they should progress to the next level. For me, who just want to run for fun went into the event with little to no preparation, except for trying to get a good night sleep just before the event. As in all races, the event started with the race pack collection. We collected our race pack on the first collection day, which is a week before the event. The collection tent was operated by school children’s, who was energetic and eager to get rid of the 40k bibs at their tent. We arrived just 10 minutes before closing on the first day and got our bib easy without any queue or fuss. The race pack came with a small bag, race bib with timing strip, a sleeveless race jersey and sponsored items. I later found out that those collected the race pack later got more sponsored items. Next year, remind me to collect at the day before the race.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

The race starts at 2am with the Full Marathon, then 3am for half and 6am for 10km. I was wondering why do they have such a huge gap between half and 10km. Not that I am grumbling about the heat, there is no heat running at 6am, but the fact that I have to wake up at 2, send my sister inlaw who is running the half, and come back rest and later go again for my 10km was a little pain the rear end for me. Later when I ran the race, I realize why they have to do this. There was just too many runners, for the 10k run, there were 14k participants. And many like me, half walk and run, and we clog up the road. We all end at the same finishing line, and I bet the half and full marathon runners who comes back at 7am onwards must be cursing at the 10k or fun run participants who clog up the road at narrow points. For me, I was running the last KM and I had to squeeze through people. Its just too many runners for and I heard the organizers are shooting for even larger crowd next year.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Walking shoulder to shoulder like penguin

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Goku

I got to the event site just in time and went to the blue arch ordered by the MC. I was trying to get to the front of the line, but it was jam pack, so I just went as far up I could get. When I saw Goku, I knew I have gone far enough as he would blast a path infront. On the contrary, the gun off unleash 14k runners onto the road and Goku was no where to be seen after that. We all practically walked like penguin till the a few meters after the timing recorder. It was a quiet gun off, everyone was in the zone. When we started running, all we could hear was the sound of shoes hitting the road. Some shoes does make much more noise that others. There was one guy whose shoe was like leaking air at every step and it whistle a little.  I am not sure if it was design this way, it sure was annoying. Just after 1km, the other side of the road was the final water station, there were many participants running over to get water. It was just over 1km and some are already thirsty for water? Anyway, I just kept on going pushing forward.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Old man putting me to shame

At the 2km mark, I saw this old man running at a steady pace. I saw this old man almost through out the run, putting me to shame. At times, I can’t keep up with his pace. Eventually, 3km before the finishing line, I redeem my pride by pushing harder on and complete the race with the old man behind me. One of the problem with huge crowd marathon is narrow roads. The bridge ramp going up was about 3 cars wide, and with 14k people squeezing though this tiny space, it was really hard to keep on running without having to push people of the path. Eventually at roughly the 3 km mark I stop running and walk up the bridge ram while taking photos front and back. At this point, I was really amaze by the number of runners on the bridge. As far as I could see, the entire bridge in front of me was painted with yellow. I turn back, and it was all yellow as well. Its like the entire bridge was filled with Minions running for Bananas. From this point onwards I was doing a sprint and walk routine. Sprint as fast and far that I could, then walk to recover and then sprint again.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

To the front, bridge filled with yellow minions

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

To the rear, more minions

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Good minions go on the left, came back as bad minions on the right.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Taking a leak at the middle of the bridge, I wonder if the other end of the door sees the Sea?

Coming to the midpoint, the crowd was getting less. Still, it is hard to maintain a certain pace without having to bump into someone. My sprint and walk strategy does not seams to pay off as I keep seeing the few same people. I overtook them when I sprint, and when I walk, they overtook me. After the turn at midpoint, we were greeted by a strong and steady wind. It was cold and refreshing and made the bridge a very nice and beautiful place to run. The sun was up and it was hiding in the clouds behind us, so it was not warming the place up and I could hear chatter of complaints about the chill. At this point, I started to look at the time and worried that I would not be able to complete ahead of the Hard Rock Run time. I pushes on.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

I hope none of the bottles and cups fell into the sea

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Eh, weren’t you behind me Uncle? Putting me to shame again…

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Full Marathon 6hr Pacer

Coming down the ramp, with not much time left, I kept on going. The 6hrs pacer zoom past me and I had a difficult time to catch up. At this junction, there were 10k runners, Half Marathon and Full Marathon runners. It was a 4-5 lane road and it was filled with runners. Looking at the photo above, you can see the entire road is filled with yellow minions all heading to the same direction. For some (FM), there were bananas at the end. After the 6hrs pace past me, came a guy running the full marathon pushing a wheelchair. I heard the St.John ambulance guys chatter on the side saying the guy was pushing is father. He got full cheer from everyone as he goes by and at the finishing line. I gave it the most I could and finish the run a few minutes short of the Hard Rock Run. Not entirely satisfied with this performance, but I did enjoyed it and had many nice photos along the way as a trade off. I hope to do a longer distance marathon in the next event. Till then, I have a lot of training to do.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Jam pack finishing line

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Jam pack after the finishing line

CFAL 5th Edition 2013

This is the 5ft time G-Club is organising CFAL and its my 3rd time participating in it. Last year, I finish the entire course in 4hrs 19m with the Fixie. While it is tempting to repeat it, I decided to take the Road Bike instead. I wanted to find out how fast I can finish the course and also look to improve the timing. All the excitement kept me up almost all night and as a result, I only manage to catch snippets of sleep. The adrenalin kicks in and by 6.10am, I was already at the starting line waiting for my friends.

CFAL 5 2013

Sharp at 7am, the Chief Minister flag off the three thousand riders and we started at a steady pace. The pace continue till we hit the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway where I signal my friends to speed up to 30kmph. I was leading the pack and by the time we come to the Penang Bridge, I took a photo of my rear and to my surprise, they were not there. They were having a hard time to keep up due to their mountain bike smaller wheel set.  I slowed down a little and told them that I am going to push on to shoot for a record time and continue with the journey.

CFAL 5 2013

Coming into Queensbay, dark clouds was visible at the southern part of the island and I made a brief stop to pack all my electronics into plastic. Soon enough, when I arrived at Automotive Lighting, it started to rain. The rest of the journey were laced with spots of rain which felt refreshing and at one point, which is at the Teluk Bahang Dam area, where the rain is the heaviest, one start to challenge nature on weather this is the best It got.

CFAL 5 2013

At the hour mark, I arrived at Kampung Sungai Batu, which was ~26km from the starting point. This was just a couple of km before the first water point. I manage to grab the Red Bull and a couple of bananas from the first water station and pushes on. As I brought my own 100plus and water, I did not take more water from this station. This water station also mark the beginning of the Bukit Genting climb. From the water station, it was a slow ascend, about 1km on, the road bend right and the category 4 climb appears. The climb was only about 3km long, but the gradient is so steep that I had to stop and push the bike many rides previously. This time I stayed on the bike and paddle on with a steady pace of 9-10kph. I keep telling myself that the climb will be over soon, it felt like forever and as the road bend left and then right again, I could see the peak ahead, it was just another short 300m to go and I pushes on. Many stop at the peak taking a break or cigarette break, I just continue on and enjoy the fast and winding descend. I was reaching the speed of 52kph and I started to slow down as the road becomes narrower. We had to turn a hard left right at the bottom to go to Pulau Betong. This is the flattest and most straight stretch of the entire route. This is also where all the road bikes overtaking the mountain bikes with lower wheel size.

I was relaxing a little here and enjoyed the village and paddy field view. Before I know it, I arrived at the second water station. Here I took one can o f 100Plus, down it, got the can into the trash and moved on. At this point, there were some sun and the heat start to get to me. The cold 100Plus was refreshing. I arrived at Kampung Sg. Pinang 5 minutes ahead of my target time of 2hrs. This is the start of the second daunting climb, the Teluk Bahang Climb, which is 6km long. Last year when I arrived at this point, there was a guy holding a sign saying 6km climb ahead, my heart sank at that time. I knew what I was getting into this time round and was better prepared. Know what to expect, the climb still felt endlessly long. Similar to Bukit Genting climb, the pain is rewarded with beautiful scenery. As I was pushing for time, I only enjoyed the micro glimpse of the view. After the climb, the long descend was rewarding and equally dangerous. The road was slippery and many slip and fell.  At one point one support truck stopped in the middle of the road helping a cyclist who fell to load the bike into the truck. Me and a few cyclist lock our brakes and my rear tyre skidded right. Fortunately, I was in control and nothing happen. I had a fright of my life as I thought I would fall. I guess I need to learn to skid more.

Coming down to the Teluk Bahang Dam, the rain was the heaviest. By the time I reach Ferringhi, I was quite spent. I remembered I had some sultanas which I had prepared for the ride and I took them. It only manage to give me small burst of energy and I had to keep consuming it. It was awfully sweet, so taking a whole bunch of them was difficult. Nevertheless, the pack of sultanas took me to the finishing line. I finally clock 3.5hrs for the entire ride beating last year’s time. I was glad to see my wife waiting for me at the finishing line with the camera.

CFAL 5 2013

I collected my medal and look for a place to sit and rest. My friends later came in after the 4hr mark and the clouds was gone and the heat start to set in. The lucky draw started and the organisers had to make a last minute change where they call the names instead of numbers as many riders number flew off their bikes after the rain wet the paper stickers and made it soft. Through out the Southern part of the island, the road was filled with lucky draw numbers. I walk away empty handed this year. It was ok, as I had achieved my goals and enjoyed the entire ride. Kudos to G-Club for this event, I hope there will be another CFAL 6 next year.

CFAL 5 2013