I collected my race kit from Suria Sabah Mall on Saturday, 5th May without any hitches whatsoever. The mall was very nearby our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, and there were sufficient signs to point me to the right place. The people manning the counters were nice and friendly and I collected my kit in a mere few minutes.
Having rented a car, I also made it a point to drive over to Likas Stadium that evening to check out the route and our Start & Finish points.
But knowing the route a day before proved to be pointless on event day cos as expected, the main roads leading to the stadium were closed and re-routed elsewhere. Yup, I woke up at 4.30am on Sunday, got prepared and drove out of the hotel around 5.10am. Then I got stopped and asked to turn back every time I tried getting to the coastal road. (I know, I know, they gave away pamphlets with the info, but I was just trying my luck!)
Stopped at one roundabout, I asked a cop for direction. "Saya bukan orang KK, tak tahu shortcut Encik," I said. He then asked me to take the Bukit Bendera route and pointed me to the road leading to it. At this point, I genuinely thought that I might miss the whole thing altogether just because I didn't know the directions!
I then saw a turning going uphill but with the word "Istana" written on the signboard, I didn't think it would be the right place. I drove further ahead and stumbled upon the red light district (!). And yes, I was THIS close to asking some transvestites for directions but they seemed, er, busy. But I did get help from a kind (24-hour) KFC staff. Turned out, yes, I was SUPPOSED to go uphill and take a left to the stadium.
And so, in a matter of minutes, the stadium was in view and I patted myself on the back. I get to run the damn thing after all! I parked the car and walked to the 10km starting line. At this point, I had two complaints. 1. There were no mobile toilets, so I had to do my thing at the back of some lorries. 2. There was no motivational music played. It was too quiet. Come on lah, play some shuffling songs or something.
Anyway, I then joined the entourage from Media Prima (and ex-Media Prima), who all looked chirpy and ready. We stretched and camwhored for a bit, and then it was time to run!
As usual, I started a bit at the back, but it didn't take long to get past the gantry.
But really, I should change this "strategy" of starting at the back and once in a while try to work my way to the front of the pack. Otherwise, my "gun time" will always be poor, but even more frustrating, starting at the back would mean you have to get past the power-walkers, the "jalan bersaing" bunch and yes, boyfriends and girlfriends who walk holding hands and continuously smile at each other like it's bloody Valentine's Day.
OK, coming back to my own run, I must say that the weather was just absolutely beautiful. It was cool, and the sun was out later than usual (I was told). And as we turned into the coastal road, the sea breeze made it even more wonderful. Check out the views:
The first water station came after 4km. And I must stress that apart from the above complaints, everything else about the event was perfectly organised. Syabas!
We then got into the city centre area and for the first time too, my family was waiting to cheer me on and snap some pics! What a feeling it was to see their "muka-tak-mandi" waiting for me. Hehe.
We then made a u-turn and went back to the stadium on the same route. Unlike Brunei where we got fried, we were lucky enough to be shielded from the sun by shop houses and lorries conveniently parked along the coastal road!
Then we got into the stadium for the final 200m stretch. I actually felt good the whole way really, but my time fell a bit below expectation. No matter. I then joined the rest who had finished and waited and cheered on for the rest of the posse.
Post-run grub was in the form of cereal and the milo queue wasn't that long as well. Everyone was in good spirits, and that was the most important thing.
And oh yeah, I would like you to meet 62-year-old Dr. Majid. He told me that I inspired him to take up running and lose weight. He saw me on MHI, and in the past few months, he's lost 16kgs! And that morning, he actually ran the Half Marathon. You inspire me now, sir!
There were no goodie bags though, but we did leave with a nice medal and happy memories. Borneo International Marathon, bagus bah!