If my memory have any measure of accuracy the last time I ran the Hatyai Nature Run was 8 years ago, in 2002. This year - I was looking forward.
Having refrained from running and competitions for an entire 7 months, I was looking forward.
Although my training was conservative; covering merely two 8kms and two 10kms on the Sundays in July, I was looking forward.
I was looking forward until 4 days before the race, I stepped onto a cracked plastic stool while doing some household chores, broke the stool and got cut on my left leg. It took me quite awhile to retrieve that darn leg out of the stool and when I finally succeeded, blood just oozed out as if it was ready to make a donation!
The cut wasn't that serious but it was rather a long, deep and painful one. Anyway, I am a sucker for pain and freak accidents like these happened to me every now and then. So it's no big deal.
John commented that depending on how fast the wound can heal, I may not be able to race. At that point, a brief wave of disappointment washed over me and my spirit was kinda dampened, yet I was still looking forward.
Whether I'm able to run or not, we made it to Hatyai - an 'entourage' of almost 45 of us travelling in a bus and 4 cars. The first day our time were occupied with race registration, shopping, eating and massages. The second day was pretty much the same...running, more shopping, more eating, more massages and at night, it was all about drinking, dancing and singing. In between, we had barrels of fun just by talking and laughing and then, laughing again and talking again!!!
Indeed, this is one of my merriest trips so far.
14th. Hatyai Nature Run
Upon arrival at the Prince Of Songkla University, we met many fellow Malaysian friends: Uncle Sonny and gang, Derrick Yau and friends, Tan Wah Sing and others. At the same time, we found new friends in Dr Au Yong Pui San, Carrie, Dannie and Yum Kin Kok.
That morning, a light drizzle greeted us and we were thankful that it went away as swiftly as it came. While waiting, we were joking and laughing again, being so amused by this Doctor-In-Distress Andrew Tye who is new to our group. All of us were so thoroughly absorbed with the topic of finding him 'his ideal wife' that we've almost forgotten all about time and race.
When we discovered that we were just minutes away to start, we hurriedly rushed to the start line. Then we discovered that we have not registered ourselves and hurriedly ran right to the back to register and then manoeuvred our way back to the pack somewhere in the middle...phew! How chaotic!
As soon as the race started, I was surprised and glad that my pair of legs although half-abused, had miraculously found their rhythm right away. Perhaps like me - they were also looking forward.
It's August now and it's also my first competition of the year, so I should just go easy and enjoy the run. My race distance is 10.5km and I would be happy if I could make it back within an hour but John predicted 55mins for me. Anyhow, I started at a comfortable pace, enjoying the cool breeze that the early morning drizzle had left behind.
At about 3km, I sighted Agnes Tee not far and was instantly motivated. I ran together with Agnes sharing the light-hearted moments which she missed out before the start of the race. We laughed again. When we reached the U-Turn (about 5.2km), Agnes alerted me that our timing was 28mins. It was good enough for me but knowing Agnes' potential, I suggested that she should speed up to catch some runners in front of us. She finally broke away from me at 7km. My pace was rather consistent and I kept at it all the way to the finishing line where I clocked in at 56mins. John's calculation was rather accurate after all. I took 8th placing in the Women's 40 above category and was pleased with it.
Later I managed to witness John sprinting triumphantly to the finishing line to obtain 10th placing in the Men's 40 above category. He ran 21.1km and did great in 1hr 41mins with 9 Thai fellas ahead of him!
The rest did very well too. Amongst the other winners from our group were Agnes Tee & Teresa Goh (both 10.5km), Lian Bee Hoon, Chooi Lin, Carol Low, Tammy, Shirley, Linda and Uncle Hooi (all 21.1km).
True to the very Thai tradition, people are very hospitable, so before and after every race, the food was abundant and everyone had a feast! Free flow of coffee, isotonic and water. Generous supply of porridge with yau char kway (deep fried buns), watermelons, meehoon and kway teow.
This is certainly one of the friendliest and most enjoyable runs!
I would like to accord my gratitude and thanks to the following:
- NEW BALANCE & GIORDANO : for sponsoring us the T-Shirt, Travelling Bag & other gifts.
- GARY GOH : his tireless effort in arranging for our transport, accomodation and meals.
- RICHARD TAN : our coach captain cum comedian who never ceases to entertain us with his endless supply of jokes and old grandfather's stories. There's never a dull moment with him around!
- DR ANDREW & PEK MOI : the temporary couple in Hatyai who added so much live and colour to this trip. Thank you for being extremely sporting and for giving us so much laughter and fun.
- AGNES TEE : my shopping and running companion in Hatyai.
- SOOK YING & LYNE TOH : my 2 training partners prior to the race.
- WENDY SOO : for her contagious laughter.
- TAI,GARY & LIM CHIN GUAN : for taking our photographs.
- MRS. HOOI & MRS. LIM - for looking after our bags.
- UNCLE HOOI : for inspiring us all to keep running and stay young.
- JOHN : for sponsoring all my shopping in Hatyai.
- EVERYONE : for spreading their joy, sharing their jokes, telling their stories and imparting us with good memories to cherish.
An enjoyable run, a memorable trip and the journey ended on a happy note...But out there in the elements, the fundamental truth had emerged. Some of the most important things in life really are friends, beauty, love and the journey does matter more than the destination - lessons human beings can evidently learn over and over and never tire.