Quick: When you see bananas, what comes to mind? If you’re a runner, you know this fruit is loaded with potassium to keep your body firing on all cylinders. If you’re a race observer, a cold banana smoothie during the hot Malaysian summer makes an ideal refresher. But one group of event planners found a more ingenious use for the iconic yellow fruit—you’ll be seeing bananas everywhere if you decide to participate in the 2015 Pisang Relay Penang where standard relay batons are replaced by the tropical fruit!
Hand-offs can get messy if runners don’t keep that grip light enough to keep skins intact, but perhaps that’s where the most fun lies. Just don’t be surprised to spot competitors licking their fingers at the finish line!
Please don’t eat the batons!
At the Pisang Relay in Penang, things won’t be nearly as serious as other races held in this popular city because organisers are seeking a diverse universe of participants who might just make this event their first opportunity to undertake a community-wide event. But just because there will be plenty of laughs all around doesn’t mean this race is without its rules and regulations! For example, the banana carry isn’t required at every lap—just during the 1st to the 3rd, and once competitors undertake the 4th to 6th laps, teams are expected to pass two bananas. Are you confused? You won’t be if you show up and review all of the rules.
Peeling back event details
You can’t grab a banana baton and run as part of a team if you haven’t registered. Everyone with an interest in this fun run is encouraged to team up with friends, family, work colleagues or running club buddies. Three-member teams will queue up at 7:00 a.m. on the Straits Quay in Penang on Sunday, 7 June 2015. Banana-wielding participants will tackle two laps per person on the 4km-long track. There’s no cut off time, but seriously, do you want to show up after those bananas are handled so frequently that they’re bursting at the peel? Rehydrate during the relay with your own travel bottle—make it yellow, please—to promote the event’s “Go Green Environment” theme. The use of paper and plastic cups is discouraged, so plan to park your bottle, marked with your bib number, at a refuel station where hydration rules.
You needn’t go bananas to sign up…
…but if you don’t participate in the Pisang Relay, you will be sorry after you hear how much fun everyone attending the event had after the fact. This offbeat event is like a banana split: It’s yummy, a great treat and there’s plenty to go around, so camaraderie and team spirit are the order of the day. Be on hand to witness teams who are disqualified because their bananas go MIA (missing in action); they will need your moral support when you’re not out running your own race. Besides, this is your chance to observe baton carrying styles other teams invent. Steal their techniques for carrying bananas safely from one lap to another!
What a great way to introduce relay running to youngsters as young as age 13 by involving them in the Pisang Relay! Teens can get into the spirit of the occasion and discover that exercise doesn’t have to be boring or tedious—they may even develop a newfound respect for the lowly banana in the process. Of course, teams can be made up of three men, three women or mixed genders of varying ages (hence those family groups), and rules allow for substitutions in case one team member turns out to be a banana brain and fails to show up. No comment from race organisers about the aftermath of the race, but in all likelihood, you will want to smartly step around the track once runners collect medals, the crowd clears and the day ends leaving nothing but peels in the wake of a lively day.
There’s a banana with your name on it!
If reading about entering this fun, joyous outing has whet your appetite for all things banana, you owe it to yourself to visit the event website to see all of the treats in store for every competitor. Included are a bib number tag, finisher medal, signature yellow t-shirt, food and drinks. Stack up motivating reasons to join the fun: It’s a unique, not-terribly-serious occasion to show your support of Malaysia’s national physical fitness campaign and join friends and family eager to compete in the name of banana mania. End the day with friends and—assuming they’re old enough to drink—propose a toast with a banana daiquiri to everyone who competed. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking twice at every banana you encounter after the race ends!
Malaysian fitness buffs are known to go bananas over races that are imaginative and fun, tempering the more difficult marathons and ultras that find competitors grimacing rather than laughing out loud. We’d love to know how you feel about this intriguing question: Do unusual, quirky races like the Penang Pisang Relay ‘ap-peel’ to you? Sorry. We couldn’t resist the pun—and we really want to know your answer, so let us hear from you!