Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Roy Yeow : Penang Run 17KM Race Report

2ndSkin Athlete Roy and Annie recently competed in the Penang 17km Run that took place on Thaipusam Day. For the both of them, it is very much a fun outing and preparation for more races in 2013 season. We have reason to believe the real reason he and Annie was in Penang was actually for the FOOD. They won't admit it just because  they forgot to pack back some food. Enjoy Roy's report and Annie's achievement. Well done you two (and all that ran that morning). Both athletes wore Skechers Performance Shoes and Roy wrote a brief review of GoBionic in the report too.
Penang Run 2013 - 27 January 2013

After slaying the dragon a week ago at the Dragon Back Race in Meru, I went up north to tame the little hills of Bukit Jambul and Bukit Gambir in Penang. This run is in my plan primarily for one reason only - to gauge my fitness level compared to my pre-illness level.

I managed to get Frank Chong of Running Lab to travel with me to Penang for this run, which gave me a great opportunity to run and test myself against an experienced ultra runner. We took off from KL about 1030AM on Saturday and it took us about 5.5 hrs to reach Penang - one word, tiring!. We have to rush immediately to the bib collection center as it closed by 5PM and we do not want to end up wasting our LSD driving experience with a LSD in Penang instead of racing. 

Roy (2nd from left) in "Weather Forecast" Vaporskin with friends. Frank is on the leftmost. Photo courtesy of Wah Sing Tan
Another 2ndSkin team mate, Annie Yee, took the bus down to Penang with a group of experience runners from KL.
Annie (leftmost) in "Training Time" Vaporskin t-shirt with friends. Annie was wearing Skechers GoRunRide.  Photo courtesy of Tey.
We quickly get comfy with our backpacker inn near Little India area that was bustling with Thaipusam activities. By 4-ish AM, we started our pre-race preparation and heads off to the event starting point at 5AM. Being a Penangites and former USM student, in no time we managed to get ourselves into the stadium from the back entrance of USM. There was already many cars and motorbikes (Yeah, Penang and its famous kapchai everywhere). We make it to the running track and tried to spot anyone we know. Found Tey Eng Tiong that has taken the effort to come all the way down just to support this race, commando style. Then there was Tan Wah Sing, the ever popular barefoot guru runner. Before long, the emcee urged to queue up at the starting point and to my surprise, the race started about 5 minutes earlier from schedule.

Together with Frank we started slightly behind. As we passed USM gate, we started to increase our pace and move up a gear. Turning left and running along Jalan Bukit Gambir, the first 2km was pretty flat before turning right to take on Bukit Jambul, around 1.5KM of climb. The route then brought us towards Queensbay Mall and running along the same road as Penang Bridge Marathon. This is where I started feeling a pull on my right calf and decided to take it easy while Frank continued on. The turning into Jalan Tunku Kudin at around 12KM surprises me as I thought we would continue to run on the highway, instead of the small small incline behind Tesco. Water station was at the middle of this uphill and that broke my momentum as I stopped for a sip.

Going down this small uphill, I know what is between me and finishing is just Bukit Gambir. This would be another climb of around 2KM. With already 14KM behind you, this climb felt tough for many. With Frank still in sight in front of me, I thought that I could slowly close the gap and finish together with him. Passing many of the fast tiring runners, managed to get to the top of the hill with a good hill pace. As we ran up the hill, the sound of drums were getting louder and cheering for the runners not to give up on this hill. A surprise team of lion dance drummers were there to ensure every steps up the hill were supported by the roar of the drums. Another water station at the top of the hill greeted me and relief for the water/100 plus, I started to storm downhill for the final 1KM into USM. Catching up with Frank again as USM gate emerged, we increased our pace into the stadium for a nice photo finish.

"After this we go Sister Char Kuey Teow, again?", Roy asked Frank. We can see Roy is wearing the Skecher GoBionic for this run. Photo courtesy of Ng Bak Kiong.
My watch shows the distance as 17.97KM, almost 1KM over distance, but it is more likely it was over by around 500meters only. Glad to have made it in 1:40 as my initial target was just to be able to maintain 6 min pace. Overall position of 268 puts me in the top 25% of the finisher.

We decided to try our luck and wait for the lucky draw before leaving the site. And yes, I never learnt, I am never a lucky draw person, going back empty handed again to a wishful thinking of the top prizes to Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. A few more photo moments and we now go for the real real reason of us in Penang - the food. (Ed : SEE, i told you!)

Finishers. Nicely done. Photo courtesy of Wah Sing Tan.
The race was pretty well organise except for a few observation:
- volunteers seem aplenty but was not assigned task properly. There were junctions where there are more than 10 marshals? And First Aiders (more than 10 of them) all camping into one lorry just before the uphill of Bukit Gambir instead of spreading them around?
- the police decided to risk the runners safety by allowing car to move while stopping the runners momentum near Penang Bridge. Guess only if you are podium runners you get to have the route all the way for you.
- the lucky draw - VIP themselves have to manage the flow (this is where the assignment of the volunteers would have come in handy)
- Dragging the post-race entertainment and lucky draw so long!!

In all a good race with decent timing for me, no blister this time around, but may need to check on how the Skechers GoBionic handle water getting into the shoe. My shoe was pretty wet after the race and there seems to be water squirting sound on every step. Apart from that, GoBionic does let me have a good feedback of the surface.

As for my team mate, Annie did a great race and came in 5th place in her category with the timing of 1:28.

Training Time it was for Annie. 

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