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It’s been ages since the last time I’ve been a spectator of this event. And certainly the magic is still there.
You’d think that having seen it once is enough and that a repetition of the event would mean the repeat of the same thing - racers fainting at the finish line, racers puking on the running course, their faces contorting to show their moods while cycling uphill at Jambatan Permaisuri Bainun.. that sort of thing.
Having been delegated the job of Honorary Photographer, I made sure I took enough photos of the Malakoff gang that day. A tough task especially when not all of them are doing the same categories. The sprint racers finished between 2 hours to 3 hours, the full distance racers can finish up to the cut-off time of 5 hours or even more.
On the first run, I bumped into a photographer from Sin Chew Daily who happened to be a friend of mine. He imparted me with tips on taking sports photos which helped me a lot and I managed to get nice photos of the athletes in action.
I repaid his kindness with a motorcycle ride to the highest bridge on the bike course, courtesy of the organizers. So we hopped on separate motorcycles and rode pillion to the bridge where we got pretty nice views of athletes suffering on the bike course.
I can always tell the kaki’s (the hardcores) from the casual athletes. The hardcores are normally geeky about their bikes and attires, while the casual athletes are rather laid back, wearing anything comfortable to them, normally not as colour-co-ordinated as the hardcores. It’s not always the case that the hardcores can finish faster than the casuals - this is not a beauty pageant. It’s a display of courage, hard-headedness, perseverance and physical ability all bundled into one.
That’s the beauty of this sports, it’s not restricted to runners, not restricted to cyclists. As long as you are fit enough not to faint on the course, and you can cycle (you also need not own a bicycle - a loaned bike would suffice), you can be a part of this sports called duathlon. Even for triathlon, it is important to know how to swim (doesn’t matter whatever your style is) and that’s the barrier that keeps casual athletes from getting into triathlons.
In my current injured state (I’m suffering from knee pain at the moment) where I’m advised to refrain from running and just to cycle on flat road for the time being, I contemplated on joining the sprint distance because I could always walk-bike-walk, but no, it would take me ages to complete the course. Thus I decided to save it for another year. Oh, the temptation of participating in this 'suffer-fest' was too much but I had to be logical and listen to my body.
It was fascinating to see people from all walks of life participating in Powerman and I guess that’s the magic behind this sports - from school children to middle-aged men/women to mother-of-two (national duathlete, Mariana Mohammad has 2 children of her own and she’s in the top 5 placing in the Women Elite category) - all are able to do it.
Some racers even expressed their gratitude to Malakoff for organizing such event. For them, where triathlon is a little far-fetched due to their limited swimming abilities and where the distance for running and cycling races respectively sometimes can be a little daunting, duathlon is able to provide them with the extra ’suffering’ that always managed to give them the extra endorphin ‘kicks’.
The professionals at Powerman
And they hope that in the future, Malakoff will continue to sponsor such events, big or small, as a part of its corporate social responsibility to encourage more Malaysians to exercise and lead a healthier lifestyle.
To all finishers, Congratulations! You are a Powerman!