Penang Run 2013/2014 Second Series

Making a race interesting the second time round is much like Despicable Me 2 outdoing it's debut movie. It's harder. On top of that, with so many other races to contend with, it's not an enviable job for local organizer Andrew Loh. And there are still 2 more series to come to round up the quartet.

You've got to have a niche. Needless to say, all angles must be covered. But with a strong support from the Penang government and an experienced organizing committee, the show just gets better and better. 

So, if you are looking for a quick in-and-out, this is the perfect weekend race for you. 

Coincidentally, it's also my wife's birthday. I wouldn't be able to get by with a clear conscience if I were to wander off somewhere else and indulge in my weekend passion. Just ain't right. So, this is the perfect plan. With this race, I could complete the run before she even wakes up and still be able to get back home in time to join her for breakfast. Like they say, it's all in the details....

The second series was a bit more challenging compared to the first. Here's the elevation chart. 

IF you could tough out the initial 5km, the rest of the route seemed pretty flat. That is, IF you have enough reserve left after the 139m elevation gain. Well, in theory, I guess most runners had the same strategy in mind. How well that is executed, is of course another matter altogether....

Eddy, Robert and I decided to beat the early bus (which departs at 4am from the finish line at SK Sungai Pinang) and slept in a little. So, our convoy of cars started off from Tanjung Bungah at a reasonable 4:15am and made our way up the tortuous road of Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang to make it to Balik Pulau. We hadn't anticipated the issue of parking and thus ended up wasting some valuable time there in Sg. Pinang. However, we managed to make it in the nick of time at 5:20am just before the gun off.

Gun off: 5:30am. Runners in the front sped off in a mad dash. In Penang, where everyone knows everyone, ranks were established in no time. The elite group soon disappeared into the darkness. Mine belonged to more or less the 'left over' of that group. So the lesser elite-wannabe throttle on, by any means, hanging on to the hope of maintaining a reasonable pace. And not falling too far behind.... 

As anticipated, the first 5km was challenging. I had the recurring nightmare of running the Comrades' Big Five in mind. And somehow, you don't just 'get over' something like that. But I kept reminding myself that the promised land is beyond those hills where milk and honey awaits...

But there was no milk nor honey. It was a brief down hill where gravity does it's work. At this point, two young guns Lai Weai Boon and Wong Jin Ji shot pass me with a commanding pace. There was no way I was going to chase after them and risk crashing near the end. I would still hope to catch up if I had enough reserve in the end. I am glad I didn't. Clearly those two were too fast for me. 

Maintaining pace on the remaining flat route called for a bit of perseverance. But I felt comfortable at 4:22 pace. Just didn't feel the urge nor desire to push hard. But at the same time, it would not make too much sense to go too slow. I still need to work on my pace. You know, fast enough but not the break neck, heaving/collapsing pace. I think at some point between 12-18km, it was just very comfortable. I felt that I was just starting to get into the zone. So, with 3 more km to go, I decided to catch up with the two young guns. But clearly, they were already well ahead. Not even a trace of dust or smoke remained. I had to content with 1:36 on that day.

Photo courtesy of Toh Bin

It was a 'small' friendly weekend race for me. Overall, I had a good run despite not 'feeling my form' yet at this stage of my training. Am tempted to feel old and worn when I compared myself to younger blood. But I suppose as Chuah Soon Haw would say: "You have to love what you do. After all, running is for our own health. And we can run til whatever age we want." I would agree totally with that. 

Speed, we will eventually lose over time as we age. But the main thing is loving what you do. And in my case, running still tops the list. 

So until we meet again in the 3rd series 13th Oct. The challenge will be rolled out in the form of the next chart....


  1. I totally forgot that this race was on. Great job, Francis. Yes, I agree, loving what you do is always important and just like you I'm glad running still tops my list too.


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