Sunday, 3 May 2015 witnessed the 8th edition of Sabah’s most anticipating annual race of the year, Borneo International Marathon (BIM). This is one of the highlight races on Sabah race calendar and it is usually held in every first week of May on each year. The participation of runners has increased radically between these 8 years of its organisation. This year, it was recorded that 7,800 runners hit the pavement on that very day, of which, 10km runners dominated more than half of the participants.
This is my first time running the event as the last time I registered myself was the 2013 edition and I failed to join due to my working schedule. Earlier this year, I initially decided on skipping this race as I missed the early bird registration (RM120 for half marathon normal price, is too expensive for me) but thanks to my new Malacca friend, Siew Choo I managed to get myself in with an early bird price during normal price period (feeling like the luckiest person in the world) since she upgraded from Half to Full Marathon (she’s one strong runner!). All set and done with bib transferring and I’m ready to rock!
The Journey/ Pre-Race
So I booked my flight on May 2nd, and start a 45 minute flight from my Hometown Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu (KK). The road trip would have been so much enjoyable with all the mountain views but it is time-consuming. As I reached KK, I headed to the race pack collection at Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, 6th Floor. It was very easy to locate the race pack collection with the banners and lots of people holding on the Brooks bags. I got myself queued and collected my race pack containing a race tee, vouchers and the BIM race itinerary. Spent some time venturing through the race expo, where booths selling equipment, nutrition and even organiser for next races in Sabah were there. It was a good and well-organised race pack collection by the crews and thumbs up for making the collection in a public location where runners could easily find since there were quite a numbers of runners who came from outside Sabah.
BIM routes for each category (10KM, 21KM & 42KM) have never changed for the past years, but this year on the 8th edition, the organiser Kota Kinabalu Running Club (KKRC) decided to change its 10KM route for better control and coordination of the race. There was hear-say that the change will impact the distance since there were previous races on the new route as well and the distance tracked was not exactly 10KM. The route for the 21KM category I registered remain unchanged for the 8th edition, and that’s fine with me.
Running the Race
So a day before the race, I adopted an injury when I suddenly stumbled upon a pavement at Imago Shopping Mall and injured my right feet together with scratches along knees and elbow. That’s really not a situation every runner wants a day before the race day but runners got to run!
Woke up on 3:00 a.m. the next day feeling sleepy and with mild pain under my right foot. I knew this wouldn’t be good for me but I stepped into my running suit and changed my goal from PR target to finishing the race only. One thing that I forgot on getting to the flag off point is how congested the traffic since roads were closed making way for full marathon runners. So, I walked and jogged myself from outside the Tanjung Lipat Coastal Highway since cars were unable to pass (roughly 1.3km to the venue), headed on to the toilet and queued myself just in time before the gun shoots at 5:00 a.m.
Right at 5:00 a.m, the gun fired and runners rushed passing through the Starting Gate to kick off the bib time. As runners passed the first kilometre, there were marching bands greeting runners, the familiar scenario you always watch at overseas race reviews. Point up to the organiser for bringing such energetic volunteers to play music for runners. Runners then moved forward along the highway through the darkness of dawn while enjoying the fresh sea breeze along the Tanjung Lipas coast.
Water stations were based 2km apart during the first 10km, but I only have my water pit stop at the 4th water station (9km mark) as runners entered Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) for hill challenges. The hill elevation is somewhere around 60-70m but it certainly gave runners a hard time since they were half exhausted after running 10km in humid weather. After the first hill ascend and descend, runners were greeted with the energy station somewhere on the 11km mark, near the UMS March Field. Part of my initial plan was to take a venture there for a banana but I forgot and passed through the station, only realising later when I saw other runners with bananas in their hands.
So I climbed another hill while consuming my gel and turning on my playlist before saying goodbye to UMS with a descend through their gate. It was this time that the injury took the best of me and I failed to run with throbbing pain under my right toe. The sun was already burning on my way back through Tanjung Lipas and there was no water station along the way passed the Yayasan Bridge, not until the 16km mark. There, a fire truck parked near the Bandaraya mosque, shooting water up in the sky creating cold water mist as the runners passed through. The cold water really helps to cool down the temperature and I managed to grab a sponge to keep me accompany on my way back to the stadium. Again the marching band greets the runners as runners entering the Likas Stadium road after the roundabout with one of the members shouting “One KM more!” to motivate exhausted runners. The “mind over body” mantra is what kept me focused as I entered the stadium, seeing thousand runners were at the field near the Finish Line. With one last push I passed the finishing line, pressing off my tracker at watch and collecting my well-deserved medal. I finished with an injury and successfully shaved off my previous time. Hell Yeah!
There were not many activities after the race. As runners passed the finished line, finisher medals were given and many of the runners enjoyed their time capturing memories in front of the finish line. Prize presentation announcements echoed at the finish line during my arrival. Runners have the choice to enjoy drinks and foods that were sponsored for the day. Inside the stadium were 100 Plus, outside were Nestle Fitness Cereal and Milo. I spent most of my time after race stretching my feet injury while waiting to be fetched. Maybe the organiser needs to focus more on the after race-programs in the next edition next year. There were also runners commenting that there were no announcement on the waiting point of the chartered bus service that day. Hopefully the organiser will take note on logistics on the next edition so that runners pick up and drop off will run smoothly.
Overall, the 8th edition of BIM was definitely well-organised by KKRC. This is expected as the team has a lot of experience organising such events, be it BIM editions or others. The race directors and crew are all deserve a big round of applause for putting such a great event this year. On the other hand, there is no perfection in everything. Still, extra care needs to be taken on matters such as logistics, after-race programs, water allocation and official results announcement (read some comments on Facebook from runners) to ensure that the next edition BIM will be bigger and better next year! I certainly will be entering this race again on 1 May 2016 for a Full Marathon!
- Fun statistics taken from Borneo International Marathon page : Total 7,800 runners, 500 volunteers, 200 support crew and Brigadier Boys and Girls, 120 policemen, medic and marshals, 9,400 litres of water, 200 bottles of sprays, 400kg bananas, 2 fire trucks spraying water.
- The route let runners enjoy the scenic view of Kota Kinabalu through Tanjung Lipat Coast. As runners proceeded through the route, they passed Iconic Yayasan Sabah Building, Putrajaya Administration Building, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Bandaraya Mosque.
- Most runners suffered from the weather temperature which ranged 26 – 34 Celsius that day. Runners from outside Sabah will definitely have to adapt to the humidity at Kota Kinabalu.
- Runners from outside Sabah are shocked with the early sunrise in Kota Kinabalu.
- This year’s finisher medals have different sizes according to the category. The longer the distances you finish, the bigger the medal size you get.