Respect the distance. Usually, this phrase is used to remind runners to never underestimate a run, especially a 42km one.
However, I came to realise that a basic distance of 10km also deserves the same form of respect, although it’s only about a quarter of a marathon.
The Annual Road Race by Kelab Roadrunners Ipoh (KRI) held late last year, served as a reminder to runners that even 10km can be very challenging when the route has several hills mixed in with flat roads. As advised by Chong Him Shoong, the President of KRI before the flagoff, “Fast runners, you have to pace yourselves to ensure you do not lose steam half-way through the run. For beginners, stick to a constant pace and negotiate the hills to finish the run in good time.”
As I heard those words, I thought that there was hope of achieving a PB (Personal Best), but it would not be a piece of cake getting there in this event. And I discovered, I will never look at a 10km race the same way again.
The race started from Tenby International School located in Bandar Meru Raya (a new township in Ipoh located between Jelapang and Chemor), with a total of 650 participants in the various categories. There were runners from the Brooks Running Club accompanied by their dedicated coach, Alvine Nathan and a big group of runners all the way from Penang.
It was also quite nice to see children participating in this event with their parents. Amanda Margaret, was the winner of the Women Open Category despite being only nine years old! When asked about her experience later, she said, “I enjoy running and it was funny other runners looked at my bib number. Probably, they tried to guess which category I belonged to.”
The good thing about running events is they start early before the sun rises. Well, on that day, the sun was nowhere to be felt due to the haze. But, runners being runners, the haze did not deter us from getting up early to reach the venue, stretch and do a warm up run while waiting for the race to start. Surprisingly, the weather was not as humid as I thought it would be.
The roads were free from traffic for the first 5km. We ran past government offices and shop houses, with a few hills in between. The roads were nicely tarred with no potholes, hence minimising the chance of spraining one’s ankle.
One unexpected challenge I faced was on the flat roads at the 6th km. There was nothing to focus on except for signboards, lamp posts and palm trees. This was very much like the Adidas King of the Road event, where I ran on the New Pantai Expressway (NPE) in Kuala Lumpur.
It got a little boring after a while and I had to distract myself by looking at my watch for the distance covered. I was so happy when we entered a residential area. Finally, I could divert my attention to the houses and cars. At one point, I even counted the number of speed bumps!
Although the hills were not as steep as those in Pangkor island, Perak (during the Coral Bay Run) or Tanjung Bungah, Penang (the Newton Challenge), nevertheless there was still something intimidating about them. The mother of all hills was at the 8th km mark, where I shamelessly walked up to the second check point.
Nothing could make me run up as my calves were in pain and I was hungry. Not a good combination, I must say.
After taking a sip of water from a kind-hearted volunteer (your deed will not be forgotten), I made my way down the hill. Yes, only 2 more kilometres to go…
When I saw the front entrance of the Tenby School again, I knew I had to tackle one last hill to reach the finish line. My painful calves advised me to walk up, but upon seeing so many people standing around the finish line, pride kept me running.
After I stepped on the red line, I never felt so satisfied at finishing 10km, a feeling I used to think only came from 21 or 42 km runs.
Even a relatively small run can indeed be beautiful in terms of a satisfying challenge.