Borneo International Marathon 2012

Fresh from Boston (merely 3 weeks ago), and with my sun scorched tan, reminiscence of the hottest Boston Marathon in history, I headed East towards another hot spot: Borneo. Poised for another session of "self discovery" in the 5th Borneo International Marathon.

Arrived in KK on 5th May from Penang. Met up with fellow Seremban runners as I checked in to Likas Square Condotel. This was to be my third BIM. Having participated in 2009 and 2010, I held fairly fond memories of the experiences. Besides, the Seremban crowd had decided on mass registration, I didn't want to be left out.

Perhaps it was intentional, BIM has always been a small scaled local event. It may not be as glamorous as SCKLM or SCMS, yet it was certainly not inferior to them. In fact, among the local marathoners, it is still one of the favourites. The BIM organizer must be doing something right.

We had an early night but to alter a sleeping pattern at will would be asking too much. Most of us afforded only 3-4 hours of snooze before we "woke up" at 2am to ready ourselves for the 3 am gun off. The reason for this unsociable hour is undoubtedly due to previous comments about the heat issue in Sabah. Over there, the sun rises at 6am. And by 9am, it certainly felt more like noon. So, in order to avoid frying the participants, (especially the back packers), starting at 3 am seemed the logical thing to do. Otherwise, the prospect of sunbathing would certainly be a deterrent to the less enthusiastic. But to the seasoned hardcore, a mere shrug was all you could elicit from such suggestion. What's a little sun?....

Teh, TC, Heng, Foo, Lim, Steve, myself and Teng. The Seremban runners.
We made our way to Likas Stadium which was only minutes away by foot. It was only then that I discovered, to my dismay, that my GPS had malfunctioned. Amidst frantic-fidgeting to get it to work and intermittent photo snaps, the announcement came. We were about to start. I scurried to the front and tried to position myself near the start. It was not hard. There were only 345 FM participants.

I had to content with chrono. I was a bit distracted. The price to pay for over reliance on GPS. Well, perhaps it was time to learn to do without it. Still, I had hoped that the mileage markers would help indicate my pace. But it turned out that the markers were scarce as the journey unfolded. I counted only 3 that I could visibly register.

Anyway, at gun off, I ran ahead at what some would term effort-based pace. I didn't know how fast I was going until I saw Moey at about 5km, then I knew I was going a tat too fast. But I wasn't sure if he was taking it easy at the start, aiming perhaps at a negative split. So, I overtook him instead of keeping pace with him. I think that was probably a mistake.

But I felt alright with that pace and by 10km, I was registering 44 minutes on my watch. After a few U-turns, by the time I reached 28km, I was just a little over 2 hours. But that was when I realized that my pace was not sustainable. The classic mistake of going out too fast. But I never learn. In cooler climate, you can perhaps get away with it but in warmer and humid places, it is a "death" wish.

So, I pushed a little harder and gave my muscles more that they had bargained for. By 32km, Moey caught up and sped forward towards an excellent finish. Well executed plan and terrific strategy. I was thinking: That is the way a pro does it. So, I learned something new that morning.

What was I to do but plod on? So I did with a little more quicken pace when I saw the stadium from a distance. I finished in 3:22:06. Not exactly ecstatic about the result, but I was just happy to race alongside Moey. And learn some valuable lesson that I would hopefully remember to apply some day.

I was positioned as the first runner up for Men's Veteran category. But overall, I must be about 7th or 8th place. To get a trophy and monetary prize was certainly a bonus. It sounded great but let's get back down to earth from cloud 9 because it was in fact a small field. Suffice to say, the only important thing at the end of the day is your finish. And on that, I knew I made a poor judgement call.

Ng (4th), Gavin Bong (3rd), Moey (Champion), myself, Alex Tiong (5th, from S'pore)
Well, I am nonetheless grateful for the experience. Strategic planning is just as important (if not MORE) as powering through a race with brute force. Learning to conserve and being patient is a mark of a wiser and seasoned runner. It certainly will make the difference between achieving that better time or crashing out early.

Learn and never stop learning. I think that is my take home message.


  1. Congrats and excellent work! I'm taking a cue from you, especially when you said 'Strategic planning is just as important (if not MORE) as powering through a race with brute force. Learning to conserve and being patient is a mark of a wiser and seasoned runner.' That's gonna be my game plan for the SCKLM.

    Happy Feet

    1. Yes, Nick. I am learning this the hard way.

  2. Well done Francis! It was still a great run and now I learn that even at your level, the learning process still continue :)

    1. Yes. Deo. Most definitely. The learning never ends...
      Deo, you have progressed tremendously well in just a very short time. Keep it up! Do the homework and you will soon be cracking that sub 4 and beyond!


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