Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What price great run?

This is a delayed report on the Ocean to Ocean Relay Run which I participated on November 1st. 2009. This was the 5th Ocean to Ocean Run in Thailand, and my second year joining 3 other teams of 24 runners from Pacesetters Malaysia. Previously, we ran from Songkla to Satun but this year, the race course has changed from Lang Suan to Ra Nong. This relay run covered an approximate distance of 120km of which the 8 runners from each team took turn to run 3 times, each time about 5-6km.
This year - apart from Malaysia, the Run drew participation from other countries eg. UK, Singapore and Korea. Perhaps this is something the Thais should be proud of.

Prelude to the Ocean to Ocean Run
The bus journey from KL to Hatyai took about 8 hours with pit stop in Ipoh for supper. We had breakfast in Hatyai while waiting for the respective vans to come and pick us to Lang Suan. We boarded the vans based on the teams we belong and travelled together to the starting line at Lang Suan for registration. The journey from Hatyai to Lang Suan took us another 5 hours. It was indeed a long and tiring trip.
Upon arrival at Lang Suan, our team leaders : Gary, Peter Lim and Phua registered the teams namely : Impossible Team 1, 2 amd 3. We were warmly welcomed and treated with dinner. Organizer Dr. Ou Chai then briefed participants on the race's rules and regulations and what to expect. Although many of us are familiar to this event, I soon learned that it still pays to just listen.
Soon after dinner, we checked into PN Resort nearby and discovered that there was another party happening. Some of our team members joined in, helping themselves with a second round of dinner and beer by the beach while enjoying the breeze from the Pacific Ocean. We had some light-hearted moments together until about ten before calling it a day.

Let the relay began...
We checked out from PN Resort at 5am to the starting line for breakfast, provided by the Organizers. In Thailand, we were usually served with porridge, 'yau char kwai' or crispy bun, soya bean and coffee for breakfast. Each team was then given an ice box loaded with ice and water bottles.
The race started at 6am sharp with the first runner of each team dipping their baton into the Pacific Ocean. My team members were : Francis, Felix, Tai, Kim, Richard, Peter Teo, Gary and Nancy who came as a supporter.
As expected, the weather was as sunny as can be. Throughout the entire race, we shared jokes and had lots of fun teasing and supporting one another while competing friendly at the same time. We made friends with other teams from Thailand as well. Besides food and snacks, we were blessed with friendly faces, lots of smiles and laughter along the way which certainly made running under the hot sun bearable.

A scene which touched me was when we arrived at a little shop (hut) during one of our pit-stops and Kim decided to have her lunch there. Lunch was packed and provided by the Organizer. Since she was eating the packed lunch at this little shop, she was obliged to order a cup of coffee. To our surprise, the shop owner offered her coffee for free. He even offered chairs for all of us to rest there. And a huge bucket of ice water was placed in front of the shop for runners passing by to wash our faces or simply to cool down. I had been to Thailand many times yet never cease to be amazed by their hospitality especially where running is concern. While running along the way, runners can stop by at any of their shops or houses and we were welcomed to use their 'hong nam' (toilet). Some even treated us their homemade delicacies.

All of us ran through different routes, each one taking his own course covering about 5-6km each time. The running route could be rather challenging and more often than not, we need to tackle an uphill, sometimes more. As the fourth runner, I was fortunate to take one with the least hills and covered the shortest distance amongst my team mates.

Last 1km...
At sunset, we soon reached the last check point where the baton was being passed to Gary our last runner. The rest of us were to meet him at the last 1km and together, all of us ran towards the finishing line - the Indian Ocean where the baton was dipped into the ocean signifying the end of the relay. We were the 8th team to arrive at 12hr 44mins in the Mixed Team Category. Our other teams : Impossible Team 1 was placed 6th with the time of 11hr 54mins, while Impossible Team 3 came in at 13hr 28mins taking the 9th position.
I guess everyone enjoyed the race as much as I did. Like me, I'm sure running is another outlet for them to get through life's challenges and celebrate life's victories. In this particular Ocean to Ocean Relay Run, it is also a celebration of friendship.
There were no prize money. However, all runners were awarded with a beautiful medal, a nice jacket, running vest, dinner, interesting stories to share and lovely memories to take home .

I would like to thank Gary Goh for organizing and arranging everything from transport, accomodation, meals to race registration, van rental and massage. He did a superb job! We also enjoyed our stay in B.C.Badin Resort and the hot spring at Ranong. Many thanks!
My appreciation also goes to Krishnan for sponsoring a set of quality Adidas vest and shorts to each runner.
To my travel/team mates : I have no idea if we can still do this together again in another lifetime...THANK YOU ALL for the care, camaraderie, teamwork and another good memory for me to treasure in this lifetime.

What price great run?
A friend once asked me why do I have to pay to travel all the way to Thailand and to 'suffer' under the hot sun and then travel all the way back knowing there's no prize money? The same question was being posed to Dr Tan & Ngae who travelled all the way to run The Sahara Desert...they paid to suffer, didn't they? It's quite difficult to explain the 'feelings' to a non-runner. What price great run? Only an athlete will understand.

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