May 11, 2016 by Soo Ee
Race: Borneo International Marathon
I saw rows of toilets out in front of the stadium when I arrived on race morning. I thought they were not usable because from a distance, I saw people queuing up for the toilets in the stadium. The toilets outside were usable.
Transport and Location
The bus that was scheduled to bring us to the race venue arrived at 3.00 am. 3.00 am was a little too early to take a bus to a venue that was less than 15 minutes away, for a 5.00 am start. I should have checked the arrival timing of the bus and the distance between the venue and my hotel. The distance between the run venue and hotel was only about 2.2 km. Though it was convenient to have a bus come pick me up and drop me back at the hotel, waking up at 2.40 am was a little mad. We did not have to wait long for the bus, for it arrived on time and moved off for the venue at 3.30 am.
Cooling and hydration
Hydration points were substantial (at least one every 4-5 km) but mostly crowded. There was a good mix of isotonic drinks and mineral water. I was a little disappointed that the drinks weren’t cold.
Towards the end of the route, sponges soaked in ice water were given to us and water hoses which gave out generous sprays of water were used to cool us down. The volunteers picked up the discarded used sponges and dumped them back into the ice water bins. Recycled iced sponges were nice and environmentally friendly.
Ra ra groups around the venue were very enthusiastic. No one was in costume though. They were nurses from Gleneagles, a group of students who held big card boards with well wishes. There was this group who was cheering runners when I headed out to the 10 km mark and when I returned, heading towards the finish line, they were still cheering runners on.
Race pack collection
The race pack collection site was easy to get to (in a shopping complex near the hotel) and it was fast. When I arrived before the stipulated collection time , they had already started the registration for collection.
The running route was 90% flat, a small portion of the route with uphills. Elevation on those uphill route wasn’t steep. Part of the flat route was beside the South China Sea. The other parts of the route included ran around the university area, through a wetland.
It rained on Saturday morning before dawn broke. Sunrise was about 6.15 am. There was no rain on race day Sunday. General climate was cool, breezy at times, generally cooling unlike the humidity here in singapore.
Sunrise at 6.15 am, a 5.00 am start for HM was a little late. By the time we made the U-turn back to the finish line, the sun was already up and it was starting to get warm.
Welcome banner at the airport.
We started behind the ‘Start’ banner. There was many moments of confusion.
The poster that everyone wanted to take a picture with. Including me. A finisher tee for HM would have completed this picture.
Bottleneck at the finish line, when all three categories of runners merged into one.
I stand at number 14 complete with a medal and a bib.
The route is suitable for beginners looking to score a first time PB or season runners aiming to get a new PB under their belt or aim for a podium finish. The run was generally enjoyable. Good mix of runners – The pros, the seasoned, the beginners and the in betweens.
Kota Kinabalu is a nice place with good food, nice sceneries overlooking the mountains, the seemingly exciting mix of out of town activities to keep you occupied.
Arriving at Kota Kinabalu airport for the Borneo International Marathon, I was greeted by a huge welcome banner. Having participated in a few runs in Malaysia, this was the first time there was a welcome banner. Nice.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was a short one. Taxis were readily available outside the airport.
When I arrived at the reception of Mandarin hotel, the owner made a mention that, for guests in the smaller rooms (like mine), he usually would do a free upgrade but because of the race, the rooms were fully booked.