I am not a fast runner. I have never really been a runner. I would never have dreamt of joining a relay race, simply because I knew I would be the one to slow the whole team down.
So when Andrew asked me if I wanted to join their team for the Pacemakers Anniversary Run, I was reluctant because I didn’t want to be the one to cause the team to lose… so to speak. But Andrew reassured me that we were not aiming to win, and it was just for fun. So I said okay.
To participate in the run, we needed a team of five people, and we were aiming to join the two relay races which Pacemakers were organising on 28 June and 12 July.
Luan and I were supposed to join Andrew and his friend Ken; and I was helping to find someone to make up our team until Andrew suddenly told us that we didn’t need to find the fifth member. Ken, in his excitement, had signed up on the Pacemakers website without waiting for the rest of us; Pacemakers allowed individuals to register to encourage sign-ups, and grouped them randomly to form relay teams.
Ken had been placed in the same group as another individual runner, Wendy Soo. We couldn’t change the team placements, so the three of us signed up to be in the same team as Ken. Our team name, because we were a “random team” so to speak, was predetermined by the organisers as Pacemakers Mercedes – very nice and fancy!
ABOUT THE RELAY
Both series would be held at Lake Garden. Each runner would need to run a complete planned loop of approximately 3km.
A trial run was organised one week before the race. I couldn’t make it for the run. Andrew did try the run, and warned the rest of us that there was a very steep flight of stairs that we would have to run up within our route!
RUN DAY 28 JUNE 2015
The race was due to start at 7:30am, and we were supposed to meet at 6:30am. I gave my teammates a bit of a scare because I arrived a little late – at about 7:10am! Parking was very limited, and I had trouble finding a spot. Fortunately though, there was a new parking block just outside of Lake Garden, which was still open and free to all.
The public washroom was normally 20sen per entry per person, but this morning there was no one manning the washroom. I am not sure if an agreement had been arranged between the organisers and the Lake Garden attendants to allow everyone access; but at least we didn’t have to carry money around while we were running.
According to the Pacemaker website, the sequence of runners of our team were as follows:
Which I didn’t really want to follow, because they put me as the final runner!
I believe that the final runner should always be the fastest runner… because it is very demotivating to see your last teammate running slowly towards the finish line!
Of course, we were free to rearrange the sequence of our runners, provided the first runner was a female.
So, we arranged our runners as follows:
The first runners of all teams were then gathered into the holding area, and released with the buzzer.
After that, it was just a matter of waiting for the runners to return to the start line to pass the baton to the next runner.
Each team was given a green baton, on which the timing chip was stuck. This would enable the organiser to provider the statistics for each team, so each runner would know his/her loop time.
There were quite a number of people who had signed up for the relay! Ages ranged from the very young to the seniors; some even made it a family affair, with children of primary school age running with the batons too! (Guided by their parents or siblings, of course.)
And even though it was fasting month, there were also quite a number of Muslims! As the emcee said, we really had to admire their determination. During this holy month, they were not allowed to drink or eat while the sun is up, yet they were willing to wake up early and run – a physical activity that can be quite exhausting. And mind you, many of them ran very fast – they didn’t stroll along.
The first runner was back in about 10 minutes, which was really fast!
Most runners completed the 3km loop in an average of 20 minutes. The emcee would announce the approaching runners’ bibs over the mic, so that the next runner was able to get ready in the waiting area for the baton hand-off.
A lot of people tended to get excited (ourselves included!) as they were watching the approaching runners and stand on the road, causing a bottleneck at the waiting area; the marshalls had to keep reminding the bystanders to get off the road and onto the sidewalk.
There was a lot of waiting, as we obviously could not observe the runners while they were on the loop. The only thing we could do was cheer the runners on as they approached and handed off the batons to the next runner – especially when we saw the little kids running!
Soon enough, after about an hour, it was my turn to run for my team.
Have I mentioned that I never trained for this relay?
Okay, I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken gramophone, and yes it sounds like I’m making excuses. But I thought I should mention this as an attempt to justify why I was not able to complete the round faster than my usual pace…
As many others, I started out with a lot of enthusiasm and determination. Which lasted all of … 100m. I was shocked at how poor my stamina was. I tried to keep running, but I had to keep slowing down for breath. And it was very demotivating to see all these young, fit, fast runners (especially the males) running by me, their long legs loping along easily overtaking me.
The steep 200m staircase was the worst part of the route… and it was almost at the end! I normally can take the stairs two at a time… but after running for more than 2km, there was no way my tired legs could do my usual run up. Like everyone else on the stairs, I climbed tiredly up all to the top, and then had to force myself to keep going to the end of the line.
I then handed the baton to Andrew who took off like the wind.
There were of course no water stations provided along the route (that would just slow us down), but there were plenty of refreshments provided at the start/end line. Those of us who finished our runs enjoyed the free refreshments which were aplenty – water, 100 Plus, bananas, watermelon, nasi lemak and tau fu fa. Luan and I quickly had replenished our expended energy before going back to the line to cheer Andrew as he crossed the finish!
The results were posted online on the same day itself. Electronic timing is really amazing!
As you can see, our team ranked in #83 overall. As you can also see… I was the slowest one in the whole team (I’m the 4th runner).
This was a really interesting experience, and I am glad to have been a part of it. The organisers have done a really great job with this event! Thanks to my wonderful teammates for allowing me to be a part of their team!