BACK in high school, I played some sports – I was on the basketball team and had a green belt in Taekwondo. But I suffered a back injury back in 2006 and have been pretty much out of commission since then. Recently, my mum decided to sign up most of the family for the Penang Bridge International Marathon, since my cousin was doing the full 42km. It was a first time for myself, mi and my bro. So up North to Penang Island we went over the weekend!
We joined the easiest, the 7km Fun Run, which was scheduled to flag off at the base of Penang Bridge 2 at 8am. Being a late riser, it was really hard to drag myself away from the comfy hotel bed lol.
We left the hotel about an hour and a half earlier, but the traffic was still jam packed all the way to the bridge, since other categories started earlier. The 42 km flagged off at 1.30am. ._. Right before us, at 7.30am, were the 10km runners. As we made our way to the place, the sun was just rising, tinging the surrounding islands and sea in a beautiful array of blue, pink and orange.
Approaching the Second Penang Bridge, which opened earlier this year. It is the longest bridge in South East Asia at 25km and links the mainland to Penang Island. We were part of making history as we were the first runners to use the Second Bridge, as the previous marathons were all held on the first bridge.
There was an excitement in the air as our batch prepared for flag off. There were lots of stalls selling souvenirs, drinks and other items at the open space near the bridge. I wished they had started earlier because it was quite sunny by 8am – and we all know how relentless Penang weather is.
We started off with a light jog as we made our way to the bridge and took in the scenic island views from the railing. Some, like us, were taking it slow and just walking + light jogging, while others sprinted ahead in full gungho-ness. The sun was directly in our faces, so we had to squint against it as we made our way uphill. A total of 60,000 runners showed up for the whole marathon in all categories, so it was a real sea of humans : at some parts we found it difficult to even move faster because there were so many people blocking the way.
Approaching the halfway point for our 7km. Other runners were already making their way back on the opposite side of the bridge. Ambulances were on site to help with any injured runners. The only qualms I had was that they didn’t provide any drinks along the route except at the end – and only small paper cups. I don’t know how it works in other marathons, but it’s probably coz they don’t want the runners to block traffic by having drink breaks.
As we made our way back, there was a pitstop for drinks, and the runners were all crowded around it. Paper cups and bottles were littered everywhere, and some weren’t even trying to look for bins – turning the bridge into a large rubbish bin. This girl even threw her empty water bottle over the side of the bridge , which I admonished loudly by saying that she was treating the place like her own garbage disposal at home. She either didn’t hear me or pretended to ignore me – but she wasn’t the only one. It was disheartening to see how a lot of people were just littering everywhere. This is why Malaysians can never be a first world country – because we are still stuck in third world mentality. And the cheek of some Malaysians to say that ‘foreigners’ are dirty and uncivilised! Some of us aren’t any better.
Enough grousing though. It was a great feeling when I finally stepped through the finish line – not because I won anything, but the fact that completing the run was a victory in itself. For a person who has never walked further than her neighbourhood garden and is not active in anything, being able to set my mind and to complete a 7km walk/run is an achievement. Now I know why so many people join the running movement! It’s a feeling like no other when you cross that finish line. Looking forward to joining more runs in the future – with proper training, of course.
Now to rest these tired legs.