Monday, 5 January 2015

Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2014 Race Report

Happy New Year! Sorry for the long silence, the team was having too much "off-season" that one of us forgot to update the blog as needed. Today's entry is by Deo for his Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon in 2014. Enjoy!

Oh, by the way, there will be an announcement for running clinic to be conducted  by the team with one of our collaborator soon. Do come back for the announcement soon ;-)

Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon 2014 Race Report
Somewhere along the dark stretch of road around Cyberjaya
[photo by Kahwai Low (RFF)]
It was the first edition of the marathon from the same organizer who organized the Cyberjaya Firefighter Half Marathon (CFF HM), I was told. Although it was end of the year when training normally would take a backseat, I was still excited to run this inaugural marathon, on a new route, despite part of the route was the same as the CFF HM and the stretch that went into Putrajaya was either I had ran the stretch before during my training runs or ran it during the BSN Marathon. I acknowledged that it was a first try for the organizer to organize a full marathon event but I also kept in mind that there were several hiccups on their side when they organized the CFF HM. What they did differently this time was to engage a panel of 'experienced' runners (although some of them with questionable level of experience), early when they started planning for the event. Taking this into mind, I expect the race would be organized with minimal, a very minimal, glitches especially if they have been advised well by the panel of 'experienced' runners.

Move forward closer to the race day, there was this irregularities in the race pack collection date. Never had I experienced before in any event in Malaysia that the RPC was done on Sunday and Monday, a week ahead of the race. It was not about it being held a week before the race but why was it held on Sunday and Monday, instead of Saturday, Sunday and Monday or Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What was their problem of not sparing that particular Saturday as an additional day of RPC? Only the organizer has the answer and maybe they had been advised such way by the panel of 'experienced' runners. Then after few participants voiced out their inability to collect the RPC on the said days, only then the organizer announced (not publicly, though, but just replying to comments and words got spread by mouth thereafter) that there'll be RPC on Saturday before race day at the race venue, which is fine for me. But instead of having a proper RPC facilities, race bib numbers and event t-shirt were just placed in boxes and on the floor/roadside (instead of proper tables). And the volunteers (they had been helpful) were scrambling to look for bib numbers from the piles in the boxes. Such a low standard of practice!

Race day arrived on Sunday. The venue at Persiaran Flora was a long stretch of road, maybe longer than the whole stretch of Dataran Merdeka. It was an appropriate venue to hold that size of an event with various tents (for goodies collection, sponsors' booth, refreshment, etc) were set-up at both sides of the road. Parking space was ample while many latecomers just parked their vehicles at the roadside of the deserted Cyberjaya. The start for the full marathon was nothing big, just a simple one, but delayed by few minutes after 4am. I tried not to be in the front of the pack but due to the low number of full marathon participants, I crossed the start line not long after the whistle was blown for the start. My target was simple - a sub 4:00-hours to make it 100% this year (6 out of 6). Anything above that is a defeat although I would still accept it gracefully. 

Not long before the delayed start of the race, with friends who opted to run this race while others were scattered around many other races happening on the same day.
[photo by Ezam Idola Izudin]

Right away, I was in the early 5:00-minute pace and settling well until I had to stop for a 'big break' at the second waterstation. By that time, I reckoned I was quite in the front pack, maybe in the top 30s overall. There were bunch of UPNM runners who ran not far in front of me who set quite a comfortable pace for me to follow and their jolliness kept me awake during the sleepy hours. The route was quite boring as it took us along the long stretch of Cyberjaya, making a rounds here and there then crossing the highway into the other side of Cyberjaya, before we got to the road in front of Limkokwing area before we had to deal with the dreaded uphill stretch of Shaftsbury Square (the same as in CFF HM).

From there, we made our moves towards Putrajaya via the motorcycle lane and arrived around the area of PICC, running towards Putrajaya Challenge Park but made a u-turn before we arrived at the Precinct 5 cemetery area as we made our moves back to another round of sightseeing in dark around Cyberjaya area. I started to get really bored with the route halfway into the race as we moved back into the highway en route to Cyberjaya. It was like BSN Putrajaya Night Marathon all over again - BORING! Took a lengthy stop at KM24 to stretch my legs a bit and refill my water bottle. And it was all downhill (talking about my pace) after that. By then, I already knew how much I could slow down or walk but still finish under 4 hours, so I was taking it easily by mixing up the run-walk approach. 

We got into Cyberjaya and it was the CFF HM route all over again. And it was still ran in dark, the same way we did during the CFF HM. I guess the organizer never learned or didn't take it seriously. Or maybe the panel of 'experienced' runners overlooked this matter. Along the route, even while in Putrajaya, the distance markers were visible but they were not placed at the right positions. After a while, the distance markers were placed about 2km ahead of the distance showed on my watch. Poor some of my friends who weren't using GPS watch, they got tricked by the distance markers. My mind almost got tricked too as at first, the mind wanted me to slow down anticipating that the race would finish 2km earlier but my suspicion that there will be 'adjustments' to the distance markers closer to the finish line was correct. The last 2km of the race was the longest 2km in any race, it was 4km in actual.

Then, there was poor marshaling at the junction, especially the one near KM35 where half marathoners turned right while the full marathoners have to go straight up. There was no signage instead of the volunteers shouting "Half turns right, Full straight". I was lucky because at the time I reached the junction, I could hear the instruction properly but many had missed it and joined half marathoners turning right and got DQed in the end. I think this mistake was a rookie mistake, and should be avoided at all costs, especially when the organizer had sought after the advice from the panel of 'experienced' runners. And don't blame the runners for 'not studying the route' like one organizer of an ultra running event in Putrajaya did - blaming it on the runners.

At the end, in 3 hours and 54 minutes (Men's Open 14th place), I arrived back at the start line which was also the finish line. Happy I was to finish my 29th marathon, another sub 4-hour marathon but as soon as I got passed the finish arch, I had to stand in a very long queue, made up by mainly the fun run or half marathon finishers. I told myself that I didn't deserve to be in this long queue of half marathoners and fun runners after laboring myself to finish the full marathon. No one volunteer was seen around the area to pass water or medal or finisher t-shirt to the full marathon finishers and as I walked towards the tent area, then only I noticed that the long queue was actually for fried meehoon and some other refreshments. Luckily I didn't stand in the queue which I thought for the medal and finisher t-shirt collection. The finisher medal and t-shirt was at the next stand and again they were in boxes laying around on the floor/road (no proper tables). Such a shame! 

Oh the finishers also had to look for bottle of mineral water that were placed in boxes laying around the tent and at the roadside where the queue was. No isotonic or anything else. And talking about the finisher t-shirt, I just don't get it why they were done in the same color (orange) as the event t-shirt? To make the matter worse, some of the finishers received event t-shirt instead of finisher t-shirt. Wouldn't it be something that can be easily avoided if the two t-shirts are in different colors? And it was a facepalm moment when I heard a friend who finished the 12km category in 6th place but didn't receive her medal as they ran out of stock! So, how many medal did they actually prepared, five??? And if you look carefully at the lanyard of the medal, Cyberjaya was spelled "CYCBERJAYA" *sigh*. Above all, the marathon was under distance by some 500m to 700m, depending on which GPS watch you refer to. 

The only thing that the organizer did right was to invite Pretty Ugly to perform although I only stayed around for a couple of songs before leaving the area.
[photo by Ezam Idola Izudin]

There were so many rookie mistakes at the event, which I can say acceptable for an inaugural event. But, the fact that they had been engaging a panel of 'experienced' runners for advice, those rookie mistakes are simply unacceptable. I'm not sure whether the organizer didn't listen carefully to those 'experienced' runners' advice or the organizer had been poorly-advised by them. For me, nothing great or to shout about this event, it was just another organizer attempting to organize another running event in Malaysia. The only thing that I cherished was that it was a perfect 6 of sub 4-hour marathon finish for me this year. 

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.
For result of the Full Marathon Men's Open category, click here.

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