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It was a cool morning, the air was still and filled with anxiety. It's 4.30am and runners were already seen walking around the Youth Park, anxiously waiting for the event to start.
The second edition of Malakoff 26km Penang Run 2009 attracted not only serious athletes but also casual runners with the introduction of the 6km distance event.
One Day to D-Day
It was a hot morning, typical island weather but the participants, who came to collect their racing bib numbers, did a quick last-minute shopping at the Powerbar and Quick-sports booths and tried the anti-inflammatory cream, Counterpain.
The place was buzzing with excitement as the event organizer crew were busy installing barriers to guard the race site parameters and erecting tents for the VIPs, secretariat, and runners chatting away with friends, comparing notes and also commenting on their training routines.
While some busily packing the gifts like a bottle of multivitamins, finisher's medal, and food coupons for the finishers. Basically, it was like a mini kenduri kahwin, minus the bride and groom!
4.30am - We arrived at event ground. Everything is ready to go. Runners tied the timing chips to their shoes, with sweat from a short dash for warm-up while we were try to relax by posing for the camera. Ah, what better way to release the tension and not thinking too much of the run.
5 minutes countdown - We walked anxiously to the starting line. Runners were given pink ribbons to prove that they actually started at the Start line, not halfway along the route.
10 seconds to flag-off at 5.30am - Fingers prepped on their stopwatches, getting ready to time their racing duration. As soon as the horn was blown, the runners for the 26km event dashed to start the run. Beeping sounds followed as the runners crossed the timing mats at the Start.
The 6km runners were flagged off an hour later. And not long after that, 17 minutes after the flag-off, the first winner for 6km crossed the line!
A few minutes after that, the timekeepers took their places near the finishing line to record the time of the incoming runners. The first winner for the 26km run arrived at an unbelievable time of 1:25 minute! That's 12 minutes faster from last year!
One by one the runners came in through the finishing chute, their faces etched with smiles of satisfaction for completing the distance.
Whatever the distance is, challenges like these requires a strong mental ability to complete it despite the threatening muscle cramps, the bonking against each other due to insufficient food intake before the race, the psychology of someone chunkier or older or younger overtaking you during your run.
While queuing up for the delicious nasi lemak and cendol for breakfast, loud music could be heard from the open field near the food tent. The loud music was actually from the free-for-all aerobics session that is one of the weekend rituals at the Youth Park. This certainly showed that the people in Penang takes good care of their health by sweating it out in group activities like these.
Prizes were presented by State Youth, Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Lydia Ong Kok Fooi and Head of Corporate Affairs, En Yusop Rashid. Although the top prizes for the 26km Men Open category were dominated by Africans, it was refreshing to see our homegrown athletes, be it full-time or not, winning in the other categories – standing on the podium with their prizes.
Malakoff has once again delivered its commitment to Sports, which is one of the components of the Malakoff Community Partnerships (MCP). With the organizers of the Malakoff 26km Penang Run, Malakoff has achieved its objectives – to encourage sportsmanship and competitiveness in sports.
Congratulations to all finishers!