Going Banana! – Penang Pisang Relay Run 2015

June 28, 2015 at 12:56 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Recently, Itchyfingers did our first overseas run in Penang, Malaysia. Having done quite a number of races locally, I have always wanted to join overseas running events for a change and for the experience. But a lot of them are quite expensive to join, especially after you add the price of air ticket and accommodation, it can be quite a big sum of money just to go for a run! Hahah…So I thought maybe joining a race in our immediate neighbouring country should be friendlier on the pocket…hahah…

After looking around, this sounds-so-funny relay run – the Penang Pisang Relay Run attracted my eyes. “Pisang” in Malay means “Banana”, so yes, it’s a Banana Relay Run, which requires a team of three to run 8km each to complete a total of 24km. Why is it called “Pisang Relay”? Cos the banana is supposed to be the baton that you would be passing around while running! How funny is that?! The registration fee was RM155 for super early bird, which was less than S$55, and that would be less than S$20 per person. Not so expensive, and doing a fun run overseas sounds less stressful than a more serious competitive one. But we would need another person to run with us. Luckily our friend, Butterfly, who recently returned from her overseas postings was available and keen to go. So Itchyfingers were set to go banana in Penang! 😀

Race pace collection was just one day prior to actual race day. So it would be perfect for us overseas participants since we would not need to arrive too early in Penang just for the collection. But we flew over two days earlier for our sightseeing anyway. The venue for collection was this MyTriathlonShop at Penang Plaza. Race pace collection was just outside the shop, pretty easy to find. But we only saw two or three people passed by us with the tee-shirts in their hands…Not a popular event maybe?

The race pack was pretty fuss-free – just the bib and running tee, unlike most runs in Singapore where we always get a so-called goodies bag which is supposed to have sponsored goodies inside but both the quality of the bag and its contents seem to have gone downhill these days. It’s a good thing to have none of those if they can keep registration fee low, cos sometimes the goodies are quite useless if they ever exist in the first place, as some runs only give you useless vouchers that you never use. Waste of papers and ended up with so many lousy bags. But I only realised later that there wasn’t a timing device inside….Well, maybe that’s why the registration fee was so low? :p

But there wasn’t even a race map inside! Even the website didn’t have it. When enquired, the lady just told us we were supposed to run around Straits Quay. Er, but where is that har? Oh, nevermind, we would just have to google it then…

The next day, after early breakfast, we drove to this Straits Quay place. Quite a nice place, something like our Robertson Quay or Clarke Quay. Oh, not a bad turnout actually! There would be a race-briefing at 6.45am but we were required to reach at 6am…So with too much time in hand, what was the best thing to do?

Take welfie! Our friend Butterfly will be the first runner, me will go second, while Tisu Boy will be in charge of making up for the time the two slowcoaches lost…wahahah!!!! I like it that they colour coded and numbered the tee…But as usual, there will always be people who dun wear the official shirts, which made it tougher for marshals to differentiate the three team members

More photos…going bananas! Maybe the organizers should have some people dressed as Minions…hahah

The atmosphere was fun. The only complaint was there weren’t any portable loos, and the toilets were too far…

6.30am, first runners in red queued up for their first bananas….

We just realised only the first runner’s bib had two bananas, a medal and fork and spoon icons…

For all three runners doing the first 4km loop, we were supposed to hold one banana while running. For the second loop, the first runner would have to collect a second banana and we would have to then run with two bananas in hand…how funny…At the end of the 24km, we had to make sure no bananas were “hurt”, that is, eaten lah! Otherwise, we would be disqualified…Hahaha….To make sure no one cheats, we were given rubber hairbands to put on our wrists once we passed a certain checkpoint. So each team must collect six rubber hairbands in total for the 6 x 4km loops to claim our finishing medals.

Soon, it was time for all first runners to assemble at the looked-so-humble starting line….This Straits Quay area seemed to be quite a up market residential precinct… 

7am – first runners, go!!!! 

We were supposed to wait at this side and not cross over to the opposite side under the trees so that we could spot our first runners coming back via the road outside.

About less than 15 mins later, the first two runners came running back! That was fast! Many other first runners soon also passed their bananas to their second runners. Couldn’t really take photos cos it was quite chaotic with many second runners crowding around waiting eagerly for their team members to come back…Then finally, I spotted Butterfly!

Wow! My turn to go forward at the starting line to wait for my banana…hahah….so exciting! 😀

And there! I got the banana! Aiya, Miss Blue Cap why you blocked Tisu Boy’s view….

So off I ran! Didn’t dash passed the spectators like most runners who just began their run. I just kept to my normal usual pace cos I didn’t wanna go too fast for the first loop and lose steam for the second. It had been very hot the past few days while we were in Penang and this morning it was getting warmer as the time passed. The route wasn’t anything exciting cos we were just running on the road passing some landed properties. There was no partial road closure so we still had to look out for traffic while crossing or making a turn. Luckily it was Sunday and the area seemed to be quite quiet at that time. But at some parts the air lingered with garbage smell…too early for workers to clear the wheeler bins? It was so hot my throat felt like sandpaper rubbing on it, and that made me cough quite a bit…No water points, and I didn’t run with my bottle since I thought I had the banana on one hand and would be taking photos using my mobile with the other. But no photos taken since the route wasn’t that exciting…

Not that many markings along the way but since I was not the first runner, there were always someone in front of me. Only remembered seeing the distance marker for the last 1.5km, which felt much longer probably cos of the heat…Then the blur me took the wrong turn when I was finally reaching Straits Quay! I hastened my pace and passed the runners in front of me but instead of running onto the pavement back to the starting line, I headed back to the road! Hahah…the marshall did shout to me, but as it was in Malay, I couldn’t understand! Only realised my mistake after about 20meters or so…hahah…

Tisu Boy must be shaking his head…hahah! Now you go and make up for lost time! 😀

Took a look at my watch and was surprised I was slightly faster than my usual 4km speed…But second loop gonna be tougher cos the weather was getting hotter…

While Butterfly was doing her second loop with two bananas, the first team completed their race!

There! First to finish their 24km relay banana run! The finishing line was the same as the starting line, just closer to the trees…First and second runners had to wait at a spot when their third runner was approaching. It was still okay for now but later as more teams finished together, it would be very chaotic…not a good idea…All this while, the organiser was appealing to runners not to block the official digital timer so they could record the winning teams’ time! Wow so primitive need to record manually? The timer was placed low at eye level just behind where runners were standing and waiting for their members to return. A simple solution would be just raise it higher so everyone far and near could see it, right?

My second loop was initially smooth until I felt my tummy growling, probably from too much water? Or could it be the Milo I drank in the morning? It was so loud and uncomfortable that even when my legs and heart felt okay, I didn’t dare to run any faster cos I feared I might get stitches on the side. That would be more painful and slow me down…So for the next 3km or so, I ran with a noisy stomach…hopefully those running besides me would not hear it…so embarrassing…

This time I didn’t take wrong turn. Was glad to finish my run with bananas intact! Hahaha….

No, we didn’t come in top three…hahah…the organizers held up the banner for most of the teams to take their finishing photos…

Was pleasantly surprised to get packs of fried noodles after our run…It was more like a fun run for us to experience an overseas event but I think we didn’t do that bad actually…about slightly more than 2.5hours for 24km…hahah….But besides the top finishers, there wasn’t any official timing for the rest of us. So we won’t know how well we did compared to the rest of the teams…Hopefully there will be more chance for more overseas runs in the future! No frills is fine, as long as it is well-organised, and low registration fee please! 😀

Our medals with different colored shoes on the bananas…hahah…the design failed cos cannot join up properly! Hahahah….But still a cute medal lah! 😀

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