Like Snoopy writes… it was a dark and stormy night.
It seems that the weather has been very unfavourable to runners of late. First we had the onset of haze for a good three months from August to October, forcing many run events to be cancelled or postponed. Then suddenly after the weekend of BSNPNM (which was also cancelled), we were hit by daily thunderstorms.
When the rain first came, we welcomed it with open arms. “Get rid of the haze!” we begged.
And it did!
But… like the haze, the rain then refused to go. It rained every day; nay, it stormed every day. It was as if the haze had held it back for so long, the rain came with a vengeance. And it always rained in the later part of the day.
So when Saturday night rolled around, true to schedule, it rained cats and dogs.
SIGNING UP FOR THE PUMA
I was actually hesitant about signing up for the PUMA Night Run, because I had signed up for the 2XU Compression Run which was scheduled for the morning of 1 November 2015. The 10km PUMA Night Run was scheduled for the night before, on Hallow’s Eve on 31 October 2015. A back-to-back run? That was just crazy!
Well… yes, we were crazy. Farah really wanted to go for both runs, and she managed to convince me to join her in the insanity.
By the time I wanted to sign up however, the slots were almost gone. Because it was such a major event organised by an established company, the run was very popular. The PUMA Night Run only offered one distance (10km) but it was broken into two categories for each gender: 10km Competitive (targeted <1:00 hour finish) and 10km Recreational (>1:00 hour finish). There was no way I could finish 10km in less than one hour and I wanted to sign up for 10km Recreational… BUT IT WAS FULL! Only the 10km Competitive was still available.
I pondered, and I decided to take a chance. I don’t think that they would withhold a medal if I don’t complete within 1 hour. Like SCKLM, I was sure that the reason for the separation was merely for crowd control, to prevent thousands of runners from taking off on the road at the same time. The 10km Recreational would only be flagged off 20 minutes after 10km Competitive.
So I signed up for the 10km Competitive.
RUN DAY 31 OCTOBER 2015
It was already raining when I was driving towards the venue, which was the Setia Oval Park, just outside Setia City Mall. The highway was rather jammed when I was heading there; perhaps there were many Halloween parties that I was not aware of!
The rain, which was not very heavy (yet) came to a stop as I parked my car by the side of the road, together with many other runners. But as I walked towards the convention centre, the rain picked up again.
I met up with Farah who passed me my bib (she had picked up my race pack for me) and we attempted to make our way to the Start Line. However because it was still raining, the flag-off had to be postponed. Runners were seeking shelter under the roofs of the walkway and the mall, waiting for the rain to subside, and hoping that it would be soon so that we could start the run!
The 10km Competitive category for both men and women were supposed to be flagged off at 7:30pm, and the 10km Recreational at 7:50pm.
Just before 7:30pm, the rain started to let up a little bit, so the emcee called the runners to make their way over to the Start Line for the flag-off.
Farah was in the Recreational, but she didn’t want to wait until 7:50pm (given the horrible weather condition), and decided to take a chance and flag off with me.
We flagged off about 7:35pm on the very wet and dark road.
10 minutes in, the rain started again.
RUNNING IN THE RAIN
I had run in the rain once before, and that was also a night run. That was last year in Larian Gegar Neon at Universiti Malaya, which in itself was quite challenging because the route was hilly. At that time, the rain only kicked in when I was halfway through the 10km route.
This time, the rain started almost at the same time as we did. It was extremely challenging for me to run in the rain, especially when we were running against it; the rain kept going into my eyes, forcing me to look down instead of up, so I could not run as fast as I would be able to.
In addition, everything on me was now soggy – my clothes, my hair, my face towel, my shoes – and the extra weight of the water made it harder to move!
I had actually planned to use a cheaper run pouch for this run, as I wanted to keep my Nathan run pouch for the 2XU Compression Run the next morning. But fortunately, because of the threat of rain, I decided to bring my Nathan run pouch for this run, because I knew it was waterproof. And thank goodness I did!
To be honest, I have never really fully tested the full “waterproofness” of the run pouch… I knew it was waterproof because after the first time I used it, I rinsed out the pouch to remove the sweat from the belt. At the time I thought, let’s just test the pouch to see if it was waterproof, so I ran water all over it… and found that the pouch section was indeed waterproof! But during last year’s Larian Gegar, I didn’t want to take a chance and I switched off my phone when the rain started. This time, I decided to keep my phone on, but left it in the pouch throughout my run. And the pouch kept my phone well-protected and water-free!
I will probably write a product review of the pouch later… this run pouch is indeed an excellent buy!
Side note… this is more of an amusing occurrence. As we were running, about 200m from the Start Line, suddenly a number of guys went to the side of the road where the drain was, all of them standing in a line. No prizes to guess what they were doing. I think I was a little surprised because it was not 1 or 2 guys… but about 5 or 6 guys! All at the same time! In public!!! And so near the start!!!
The rain very quickly turned into a torrential downpour. There was even lightning and thunder. To be honest… I was actually quite scared. I didn’t want to get struck by lightning, which was a possibility – people have been struck by lightning while doing outdoor activities. I was tempted to stop, but I figured that since I had started, well, let’s just keep going!
Many people did stop though; I saw many runners take shelter under various roofs including shops, bus stops, and even guardhouses at condominiums.
Farah of course was so fast that she had left me behind a long time ago; Andrew who had signed up for 10km Recreational easily caught up with me, and then left me standing in the rhetorical dust.
There were water stations provided, but no cover. So runners had to drink water mixed with rainy water. I guess we can’t really blame the organisers for this, because they were not prepared for the rain.
A VERY AWKWARD FINISH
There were distance signages along the way, indicating the distance that we had covered so far in the run. So it was easy to see when they suddenly cut the distance short. The 7km marker was followed suddenly by the 9km marker. There was supposed to be a road which we would run into and make a U-turn that rejoined the earlier road, and this was where they cut the distance short. I think it was because of the torrential rain that they decided to cut the distance short, and I don’t blame them for this.
However, at the end, instead of leading us to the Finish line, we were led very awkwardly through the carpark where we had to weave our way through the parked cars, onto the narrow footpath across ditches and were led smack into a mess of tables where water and medals were distributed. There were also bananas, but those were left in unmanned boxes. It took some searching for me to find a banana to eat, and I heard that some runners very inconsiderately took a whole bunch, leaving almost nothing for the other runners.
I was extremely disappointed to have been led into a mess like this. We were not even led across the timing mat for our timing chip to finish recording our time. I was also hoping to take a photo next to the giant PUMA sign, which I could not take a photo of earlier because of the crowd at the Start Line. I was bitterly disappointed to find that the PUMA sign was no longer there.
But at that time, I didn’t know what had happened.
Ironically, it stopped raining after we finished the run…
The medals were not the usual medals. Similar to the Score FitMob Body Combat medals, these were pin-on medals made to look like the military decorations given to soldiers. In a way it was very fitting, seeing how hard we had to work to earn these medals!
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS
I found out later that the run had been CANCELLED because of the rain!
I was quite upset when I found out. During the run, no one had informed me about the cancellation. If the run was really cancelled, you’d have thought that the marshalls would have informed the runners who were already on the road… but no. There were still many marshalls at various checkpoints, and not a single one told me that the run was off. Many of us didn’t know of the cancellation, and had simply soldiered on to the finish because we thought we would need to cross the line to get the medal.
Instead, the event was cancelled midway through the run, and everyone was entitled to the medal, even if they didn’t show up for the run in the first place!
I felt that they should have informed everyone that the run was cancelled. And if the runners choose to continue, then that would be our choice. I was not aware I even had a choice! In fact, I only found out about the cancellation the next day!
As for the PUMA sign… well, the strong wind had blown it down, and it injured someone! That was why it was no longer there when we went up to the Finish.
Fortunately, there was no permanent serious injury on the person.
All in all, for a major event by an established company… this could certainly have been handled a lot better.
Having said that though, I would still like to thank the organisers, the marshalls and the volunteers for braving the horrible weather to still be at the run; to direct the runners, stand at checkpoints, man the water stations, and to help distribute the finisher items. Thank you PUMA for organising the night run anyway. Hopefully things will go a lot smoother next year!
By the way, this wasn’t the end of the weekend for me. I had less than 8 hours before my next run which was the 2XU Compression Run Malaysia…