My first race since turning 58 and I couldn’t have chosen a harder one. If I had any doubts about how difficult that I would find the conditions, these were removed on Saturday 13th June, as I queued in the sweltering heat, outside of Central World shopping mall, to collect my race pack. Some local runners asked me if I was o.k., as I was sweating profusely just standing in the heat, which was around 35c but officially felt like 45c, it would be much cooler the next morning, they assured me, only 31c, feeling like 31c! I wished the local runners and a guy from Vietnam well and grabbed a motor bike taxi back to my hotel. Given that the race start time was 5am, I had a quiet night and went to bed early.
I was expecting to be awoken by a repeat of the thunderstorms that had interrupted my sleep on Friday but, thankfully, this was not the case. 3am being a bit too early for breakfast in the hotel, I had purchased some pineapple slices and a snicker bar for my pre run food and jumped in a taxi about 4:15 to the race, even at this time the road was jam packed with traffic and I got out early and made my own way to the Start. I joined in with the masses and listened to the pre race announcements, delivered in both Thai ad English, which amongst other things informed us that, with 9500 participants, this would be Thailand’s second biggest race.s again I started to sweat in the heat. There was a lot of thunder and lightning but, unfortunately, no rain to cool me down. At 5:00am we set off and at about 5:04 we ground to a halt as the route took us onto the traffic jammed main road, nighmare!
Some runners leapfrogged the barriers onto the pavement, whilst others ran down the narrow gaps between the cars. Not a great start! It was to continue like this for maybe a kilometre, before we turned left, into a quieter road. This was much better and I settled into a steady pace, overtaking loads of runners, who had started in front of me, although I did wonder if their pace was more in tune with the conditions than mine. My strategy was to run all of the race but to stop and take on fluid at every drinks station, the only problem being that I didn’t know what the route was and where the drinks stations were located along the ten miles. The first one appeared at around 1.5 miles and I stuck to my plan, stopping to enjoy an ice cold cup of water before restarting my run. I was feeling good, still working my way up through the field but I thought that I was hallucinating, when, after two miles, I could hear someone shouting my name. I looked around and was relieved to see that it was my new friend from Vietnam. The race finally settled down after about two and a half miles and I was hopeful, that if all went to plan, I could reach my target time of 90 minutes. At various points on the route, we, 10 mile runners, were joined by our 5 mile counterparts, which didn’t help later in the race, when I was tiring and many of them were walking. The course seemed to double back on itself a couple of times and I’m not sure that the drinks stations were equally spaced but I stuck to my strategy of stopping for a drink at each one. I crossed the 10k point at under 54 minutes and reckoned that I was still on target. However the race got tougher as I tired and having to negotiate with the traffic at various points didn’t help. I had less than 4 miles to go and there would be at least one other drinks station to provide a chance to rest a little and get some rehydration. It came with 2.5 miles to go, my pace was slipping but I convinced myself that I could run for another 13 minutes, or so. That said, I was now struggling physically and mentally. “Have, a walk, have a walk” my body said but I ignored it, knowing that my plan B, wasn’t about finishing in a specific time but to have run all the race, apart from the drink stations. It doesn’t matter how slow your pace is Ian, I told myself, just don’t walk! With about a mile to go I was relieved to see a final drinks station and although the water was now warm, it did the job and I set off reinvigorated for the final section.
The 5 mile runner/walkers had rejoined us and it was difficult to see the route ahead but I knew that I was getting closer to the Finish. It seemed to take forever but eventually I could hear the crowd cheering and knew I was approaching the final strait. I increased the pace and ran around the corner, everyone was running down the right-hand lane but I noticed that the left-hand one said 10 mile race. There was no hiding, from the cheering crowd, as I ran down the final few hundred metres alone, crossing the line in a time of 86:33, well inside my 90 minute target. I was overjoyed but truly shattered and dehydrated. I collected my, hard earned, medal, and, my much needed, water and isotonic drinks, before finding a step to sit on and recover from my exertions. I soaked up the atmosphere for a while before pouring myself into a taxi back to the hotel for a shower and sleep before breakfast. I later learned that I had placed 236th out of 3915 finishers in the ten mile race, not too bad at all, given the conditions.
Thanks to everyone for their support, it was much needed, especially in the latter part of the race.