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26km Round Island

21 August 2008

If you think cyclists get up early for their biking, think again. Runners get up earlier and are already on the road by 5.30 am for their running. Runners arrived in the throngs, looking fresh and alert, gathered in the dewy cool morning at the starting line for the inaugural Malakoff 26km Penang run on August 10th, 2008.

The run started from Taman Perbandaran Penang, and managed to fool the runners in the first 1.5km with a smooth flattish route. And then, from then on the climb started, 4.5km of pure hill climb that separated the men from the boys. If you are used to training in these conditions, which luckily most Penang runners who were there on Sunday normally ran in the park for their daily or weekly trainings, they would have nothing to worry about. Most of them were happy that this route was chosen because during their trainings, motorized vehicles were always the problem and they always had to be on the lookout for incoming cars during their runs but on race day, the police and marshals were there to control the vehicles from knocking down any runners on the route.

Malakoff 7.7km run participants

After the first drink station at the 5th kilometer, the route was mainly flat and brought the runners along Tanjong Bungah and Gurney Drive for a scenic run around the island. The historical buildings that lined the streets managed to divert the tired runners’ attention from their aching and cramping legs.

That’s the bane of long distance running. It’s about endurance more than anything else. How long can you endure and how far can you go before the first signs of fatigue sets in. Maybe 26km is not as taxing as running the 42km marathon but there is no way to run without conditioning the body properly to adapt it for longer duration of running.

The general feedback received from this run was good and runners were happy with this well-managed run by Pacesetters. Pacesetters, being a running club, obviously are aware of runners' needs before, during and after the run and they try their best to minimize the runners discomforts. As in many Pacesetters-organized races, runners who passed the finishing line can expect to be greeted with food immediately after they finished their race. Each runner received a food coupon in their goody bag, that they can use to claim a free breakfast that was prepared by the organizers.

The importance of this is runners or athletes in general, need to replenish the energy (in form of glycogen**) used up during the race. It is best to replenish the body’s glycogen stores in the muscles and liver as soon as possible because the body’s opportunity to recover properly is at its height if food is consumed within 60-75 minutes after race. This is the moment to load up on fruit, fruit juice/shakes, yogurts and even more refined carbohydrates like crackers, rice, white bread and cereals.

That’s sports science for you.

Back to the race.

Many runners acknowledged that the police did a good job of marshaling the route. Previously the police would stop the runners to give way to the traffic. But this time, the police stopped the moving vehicles to make way for the runners instead. Well, that’s the way it should be because this is a road race** and not a car race!

One incident happened to runner as he was passing Padang Polo. As he was plodding along the route, concentrating on the sounds of his feet on the tarmac and oblivious to his surroundings, a police car passed by and brushed his hand. As a result, his hand became swollen from the encounter with the car. The police who drove the car stopped to apologize and make sure that the man was alright. She gave him her name and phone number to contact just in case his condition got worse or if he needed to make a police report of the incident.

When he finished the race, he informed the organizers and was taken to the medical tent to treat his swollen hand with some ice. En. Munning, the Pacesetters President personally offered to follow-up with the runner after the event to make sure his condition is OK.

En Ahmad Jauhari having a light moment with the 7.7km runners(probably relating to them his countless road-racing experience)

As 26km of running might be a little daunting for some people, Malakoff had decided to do a separate race only open for its staff. This is to encourage more staff to take part in the event and to have a taste of what a road race is all about. 20 people from Lumut and Prai power stations took part in the race, which was won by Azrul from Prai with a time of 43 minutes and 40 seconds. Good job, Azrul!

I guess if it wasn’t for the recent oil price hike, we might be seeing more staff from HQ and Tg Bin participating. Well, there’s still the Johor run towards the end of this year and probably we’ll be seeing many Johor staff participating

Congratulations and many thanks to Penang Council, the police, Pacesetters and Quick Release who made the race memorable for many runners that day.

And WELL DONE to the runners who decided to set their alarm clocks extra early on a Sunday morning and opted against sleeping in on a cold morning to put on their shoes and run the race. It didn’t matter what distance you did that morning. What mattered most is that you took the first steps towards a healthy lifestyle.

You deserve a pat on the back for this courageous effort!

*Glycogen = Glycogen is the storage form of glucose in animals and humans which is analogous to the starch in plants. Glycogen is synthesized and stored mainly in the liver and the muscles.

**Road race = running race

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