A glimpse from a Pacer’s point of view:
We had a jillion things to do before the big day! This included the hype that was created on various social media platforms. You would have noticed if you were involved in ‘liking’ our photos. Thank you! I think you could sense our excitement!
In light of the upcoming event, we tailored our workouts for our Puma Night Running Club members in hopes of helping them to either complete the run comfortably or finish with a new PB. We did a mixture of intervals, hill sprints, tempo runs and negative splits. Even with the haze, many of our members found alternatives to keep their fitness levels up.
The BIG day:
The pacers were there by 5pm for a mini briefing session. We were ready. We had planned our paces and pace groups, made sure the printing on the balloons were correct and tested the route to make sure the distance was accurate.
We grabbed a light bite before heading backstage with our balloons.
Everything went downhill from there.
Dark clouds began to creep in. Just as we were about to be flagged off, we felt the first drops of rain. The MC announced the delay and we went to look for cover.
10 minutes in and the rain subsided to a very light drizzle. At around 7.50pm, we were all ushered back to the starting line. I thought the starting was a bit haphazard. Many of the runners were not aware of the ‘sudden’ flag off. Those who went to the mall/convention centre to seek cover would not have made it in time to the starting line. I had to squeeze my way through the crowd to get to the front.
Shortly after, the count down was on and we were off! By then, the light drizzle was no longer a light drizzle, the drops were heavy and the wind was strong.
By km 2, it was a full blown thunder storm. Running with the balloon tied to your wrist with the wind blowing against you is NO EASY FEAT! It was a tough battle. But I must say, the wind did force me to run at my designated pace (5:50-6:00 mins/km).
Thankfully, Zi Shen’s balloon flew away with the wind. Without hesitating, I handed him my balloon. Even without the balloon, my petite figure was not built for such harsh weather conditions.
With the resistance from the wind, the weight of our soaked gear and with the rain blurring our vision, every step felt like a burden. I wanted to give up. But when I looked around at the runners who were struggling along, I felt motivated!
I thought they were crazy. Runners are CRAZY people! If I did not have pacer duties to fulfil, I would have stopped. With the positive atmosphere from the crowd, I decided to have a little fun. After all, it is not every day that you get to run under the thunderstorm with 8 thousand people.
We continued to cheer for the runners and notified them of their current pace. The volunteers at the water stations were also happily handing out cups of water…… as if we didn’t already have enough of it (haha!).
At about km 8.5, we saw the 7, 8 and 9 min/km pacers along the side of the road saying that they were not allowed to continue. I was confused for a moment but decided to continue running. As we approached the 9 km marker, I shouted to everyone who wanted to do a sub 1 hour 10KM to follow me, with no knowledge of the non-existent finishing line (and cancellation). Everyone pushed, HARD!
But instead of turning into the finishing area, we were directed towards the convention centre! I thought they had shifted the finishing line, so we continued running, threading through the sea of people……until we were greeted with a metal gate that stopped us in our tracks. It was a nightmare!
We climb through the gate and made our way to the finishing area. We met up with the other runners and only then did we find out that the race was cancelled! I couldn’t believe my ears.
Everything was a mess. From the race to the finisher entitlements to the baggage collection. But only under such conditions, that the true colours of people are revealed(both good and bad). The Puma team, the pacers and some of the runners joined forces to help the technical team/organisers. I was happy to see everyone pulling in to minimise the damage.
I am not writing this post to defend or fight against anybody. I may be a Puma ambassador, but I am also a RUNNER. I KNOW how YOU feel. Believe me, I was just as disappointed! We were not informed by the technical team that the race was cancelled. I ran the whole course, I was wet, cold and shivering, I had a headache, my stomach was not feeling too good (women problems) and I had a race to run the next day!
I was under a lot of stress that day and I could go on complaining. But let’s look on the brighter side of things. Now you can all say that you ran in the storm with strong winds and flashes of lightning with 8 thousand other runners! Definitely an experience that I will remember for life. I also read that many of the runners managed a PB. Say what?!
Jokes aside, there is no excuse for the fact that there was no proper crisis management by the technical team. I totally agree that things could have been handled differently. But before you open your mouth or move your fingers to criticise Puma/the organisers/technical team, please make sure that you are making sense. I am seeing the silliest of comments on social media (honestly, it is quite entertaining. You can head on over to our FB page to check it out!), from phones to parking lots to smashed car windows……
Perfect weather on race day is never guaranteed. Even if the organisers made a wrong decision to flag the runners off in the rain, the ultimate decision is still IN YOUR HANDS. Elite runner Nik Fakaruddin, who would have easily placed top 3 that night, decided to watch the rest of us run from the comfort of his vehicle which was parked right next to the starting line. He made a WISE decision to NOT run even though the organisers carried on with the race.
What am I trying to say?
Take RESPONSIBILITY for YOUR own decisions. And LIVE with the CONSEQUENCES of those decisions. There are risks involved. Making a decision would mean that you would have considered ALL the risks. I think we should all stop pointing fingers unnecessarily and move on with our lives.
All I can say is that we, the pacers, did whatever we could to the best of our abilities. Special thanks to PUMA MALAYSIA for all the love, support and this awesome experience! WE LOVE YOU GUYS TOO!
We showed up. We ran. We conquered. We were HAPPY!
I hope you guys are having a good day!