This was an inaugural run of sorts for many – the first time Pacesetters organized a run in Penang and the first run in Penang at a distance of 26km.
The usual running kakis were all abuzz deciding on whether or not run and at what pace to run and of course all were discussing the running route. This was because between the 3rd km and the 6th km would be a series of rolling hills as the route meandered up Mount Erskine Road passing a huge Chinese cemetery (which I heard had worried quite a few due to the race being in the wee hours of the morning and being held at a certain month of the year of the Chinese calendar), Fettes Park Road and finally up the Vale of Tempe!
For the uninitiated, the Pihak Berkuasa Air (Water Authorities) does not build a dam up in the Vale of Tempe if it was not high ground. Several street names have been omitted so that readers do not get an impression that this article is written to promote the street names of Penang.
Photos courtesy of WongSC
There were jittery and nervous vibes before the race for many runners but as one runner quoted “unless it rained (heavily) or there was terrible haze or (to quote Paula Radcliffe) our leg(s) is broken”, we shall be at the starting line”. And so it was that over 500 runners stood at the starting point on Sunday 10 August 2008 at 5.30am in the morning at Youth Park (or Taman Perbandaran) excitedly waiting for the starting horn but a little frazzled why there was no magnetic carpet/equipment to record the starting chip time. Adding to the confusion was the running out of the starting ribbon. Huh … Why do we require ribbons when we have the chip timing system? One runner quipped: good question but too late to ask the organizers at that point.
As expected, the initial part of the route was hard. The weather was warm even though it was in the early hours of the morning due to the haze and there were these rolling hills to conquer but then again if the Olympians in Beijing could do it so could we – Penang Boleh! Later it was revealed that Munning Jamaluddin, Pacesetters Club Past President, did pick up several runners in his van who were in return “conquered” by the rolling hills. After the final hill towards the Penang Swimming Club, the route turned flat as a pancake through Tanjong Tokong Road and down to the famous Gurney Drive (14th to 15th km mark) where the runners attracted the curious looks of the usual morning walkers.
One could have been tempted to stop at the many kopitiams dotted along Gurney Drive that served breakfast as familiar smells of Penang hawker food rose in the air. But press on the runners did as they consumed their power gels and power gel drinks over bak kut teh and roti chanai!
A quick stop at the water station at the 15th km mark which were all excellently manned by the volunteers and the runners were off to old Georgetown which was recently declared a heritage city along with Melaka city. The runners ran past the E & O hotel, the Convent Light Street, Padang Kota, the recently restored High & Lower Courts and St George’s Anglican Church amongst many other heritage buildings of this charming city.
All too soon (but not for many who were by now very tired and some suffering from cramps or injuries) the runners would run pass the 20km mark and to the bonus water station at Macalister Road (YMCA – 22.5km) and then dash through Sepoy Lines and back to Taman Perbandaran but not before conquering one final hill at the finishing line.
The atmosphere at the end line was friendly and warm as friends greeted and congratulated friends. Smaller runs such as this run have such a charm about it as one is not “lost” after a run and just being ushered from place to another place and of which many sections are cordoned off. Finding a place to park one’s car is easy to find before and after a run and Taman Perbandaran is surrounded by lovely rain trees and plenty of shade.
Food and drinks were served at the finishing line (although it may not have suited the palates of some as nasi lemak, bee hoon and chendol was served) but it was nonetheless a privilege and bonus to have fruit, food and drinks served at the end of a run. The pacesetters office bearers turned up in full force to support the race and the volunteers deserve a big thank you for a job well done! Overall, a great run through a challenging but yet interesting route in Penang.
Final note: Thankfully for all the runners who had laced up their timing chips to their shoes, there was light at the end of the tunnel as there was a finishing line magnetic carpet/equipment to record each runner’s finishing times.
Written by Siew Ling
Note by KC: Thanks for writing this entertaining report. I like the part where “not all street names were mentioned”; otherwise, it sounds like a travel report and not a running report... :-)