Running In The Old Town Of Phuket
It was mid-January, just a few weeks after our family vacation to Nikko, Japan and after I had done a few half-marathons in December (both in Japan and in Malaysia) when I declared to Hubby that I don’t think I want to visit Japan this year and we should consider a trip to Thailand instead. I had been hankering for a beach holiday and craving to go somewhere warm after our December winter vacation.
I duly Whatsapped to him the Bangkok Airways Boutique Series 2018 list of races.
At that time, Ultra trail Koh Chang was too early for me, Krabi was too near Ramadan month, Samui was during Ramadan and Lanna was too late. What was left were Phuket in August and Chiang Rai in September.
I decided on Phuket because we could get relatively cheap fares on that race weekend and Hubby booked our air tickets a few days before race registration opened on 01.02.18. We got our tickets for RM283.40 for two pax. Good bargain, right?
And the trip to Phuket also served as an early anniversary trip for us.
This year, the race only offered half marathon, 10K and 5K categories whereas last year, they did offer the full marathon category. I registered to join the half marathon category for 700 THB (RM92.00) and Hubby without informing me, quietly registered himself for the 5K category (500 THB). I only knew that he registered when I saw him queuing to collect his race kit himself!
Anyhoo, we only flew to Phuketwhich was fine as REPC for Bangkok Airways Phuket Half Marathon was held from 12.00pm until , the day before race day.
REPC was rather simple and it was done manually! Gasp!
First, runners needed to check their race numbers themselves, either from the website or from this list erected at the entrance of Limelight Avenue; the venue of the REPC and it’s a shopping mall located just a few hundred metres from where we were staying and a few kilometres from race venue.
I found my race number, headed to the counter, the volunteer looked for my name and I signed the paper, then was given an eco bag with my bib in it. After that, I proceeded to the next counter to check whether my timing chip is functioning OK and then, proceeded to another counter to get my event tee. Then, proceeded to collect whatever freebies I can get from the sponsors’ booth. Haha
Interestingly, the organizer still allowed category changes on REPC day!
My category was flagged-off atand I walked from Quip Bed & Breakfast to Sapanhin Park, Phuket. It was about 2.5km from my hotel and I arrived just a few minutes before flag-off time.
There were about 6,000 runners participating in this boutique race and about 1,200 runners in the half marathon category.
I started somewhere mid-pack and following the pack, I started way too fast for my liking. I just kinda got swept by pace of other runners. My Polar GPS watch had died on memorning so I ran without wearing a watch so I had no idea what pace and what distance I had covered.
No one seemed to be doing run-walk thingy unlike in Malaysia where there would be walkers as early as the start of the race. Everyone seemed to be running fast and I kept getting passed by other runners.
|Cheerleaders at 2.5K mark cheering for 5K runners|
Hubby was waiting for me at the Clock Tower roundabout and he passed me his watch to wear. It was still early and I had only done about 2.5K at that time. However, his watch will only turn itself on at so I only knew how fast I was running at , after a full hour of running. I reached 8K which I think was rather OK, considering I haven’t been running at all that week.
For the first 8K or so, we ran around the old town area and I got to see the interesting Sino-Portuguese architecture of the shops and buildings in the town area as I ran.
As we ran early in the morning, I also got to witness monks in white robes receiving alms in the town area as they walked along the street lined with shops and shop owners praying while waiting for the monks. Then as we exited the town area and ran towards the outskirts of the town, I saw monks in orange robes.
The first 4K of route was rather flat with just a bit of incline after that. We finally got a long gradual incline at KM8 point and it got undulating from that point on.
Water stations were located 2K apart until KM12. From then onwards, it was about 2.5K apart. Distance markers were also placed 2K apart.
As I ran without a GPS watch, I was completely dependent on the distance markers to gauge how far I had been running. It’s both liberating since I didn’t need to keep on checking on my watch and also worrying since I was just running on effort without knowing my pace.
The first 3 water stations served mineral water and at the KM10 water station we were served with watermelons (heaven!), bananas and a pink energy drink apart from mineral water. That pink energy drink was sedap! Subsequent water stations served the energy drinks and mineral water and we get another round of watermelons and bananas at around KM19.
There were no mobile toilets provided along the route so runners either darted to the nearest petrol station or just relieved themselves by the roadside. Sometimes, in full view of others! @.@
At KM10 to KM12, we ran beside a bustling morning market and along the route, there were plenty of shops and food stalls too.
The route was shady for most part and the constant breeze really helped to cool us down. Only the last 2K or so was rather hot as we ran facing the sun. I kinda struggled to finish my run and boy was I glad to see the last water station located probably 1K away from the Finish Line. They still served ice cold drinks even to stragglers!
Many photographers were seen taking photos especially towards the finish line and for those looking for their race photos, the list of photographers are listed on the race website because photographers taking photos at the race registered themselves via the same website.
I find the route interesting and challenging enough for us runners to be happily occupied during our half marathon. We saw many sections of life in Old Town Phuket. It wasn't too hard but not too easy that it get boring. Do note however, Bangkok Airways Phuket Half Marathon route did not run alongside the beach. We ran through town area and its outskirts. We do get our beach view at Sapanhin Park, the location of the race village.
Traffic management was superb. In the town area, there were no traffic cones placed but runners kept themselves running in the innermost lane and traffic drove slowly on the right side. Unlike here, where sometimes we do have to shout to other runners about incoming traffic as they ran with nary a care for traffic. Traffic cones were placed along the route when we ran along the main roads from KM8 onwards. Despite a somewhat busy road as themorning traffic were out and about, I felt quite safe running that .
After crossing the Finish Line, I was handed my finisher medal and Hubby told me to get my results printed at a tent next to the finish line. A staff scanned my bib and my results and ranking were printed. Unlike in Japan, no immediately printed certificate though. Hehe
Then we proceeded to the Food Area at the field by the beach. Hubby told me to join the queue for coconut drinks while he went to get me some pineapples on sticks (sweet, juicy & cold) and drinks.
There were plenty of food served for runners and Halal food were available.
Such a good feast after the run and both Hubby and I enjoyed our post-race makan by the beach.
It was really a great experience for me and I’m looking forward to join more races in Thailand in the future!
Better start saving now!