Today I woke up at 4.30 am with a gusto. After all, this is my first race this year. Three months ago I registered for the 12 km run and I certainly look forward to putting my best effort in this event. However, at the last minute, my wife decided to join me in my endeavor. An avid runner in her younger days, she still cherishes the moments where she can join me in my races. Unfortunately, her knees are not what they used to be. So after much deliberations, we decided to walk together for 6 km. I never walked in races before. Certainly, there is a first time for everything.
We arrived one hour early. There were ample of parking space at Cyberjaya, where the event was held. I left my number at home since I am not running in my category. Thus this was the first time I participated as a bandit. I was nervous as hell. My wife who was quite used to the ordeal when she accompanied me in my races before was cool as a cucumber.
"Relax," she said. "It's not that they going to arrest you."
"Yeah, but what if they snag us in the middle of the race?"
"Very unlikely." She replied.
I started eyeing for other bandits within the vicinity. It seemed there were two kinds. The first were the one wearing finishers t-shirts from other races. Normally they are marathoners and half-marathoners. I suspected these people entered many races in a year but not willing to pay for all of them especially the mid-distance ones. Imagine if you enter twelve races a year and three-quarter of that are weekends practice runs. It will be a pricey fee to pay just for the use of the road since you are not concerned with the medals, certificates, and t-shirts. These are the fast runners. You can tell by their physiques that they clocked the mileage and they were just there to finish the course.
The second kind were those wearing the event t-shirts but with no number. This is an amazing discovery for me. That means the runner in the family wore the number but passed the t-shirt to the spouse or child who just walked the entire course. They were not looking for speed or prizes, just accompanying their loved ones. In a way, they get fifty percent discount on the ever hefty price for participating. I like this option better. I normally run the long distance races. Next time around while waiting for me, Liz can join the shorter distance races by walking; while wearing the shirt. At least there are something for her to do rather than sitting idly. I never wear race t-shirt after the event anyway.
So what was it like to walk in a 6 km race? You might asked. It was a humbling experience to say the least. In the very first place, I was shocked to note that the majority walked! Yes, people in this category represented a cross section of the Malaysian's demographics. Here you see the young, the young at heart, the round, the stubby, the joggers, the trotters, the moms with babies and what have you. I started at the back end so as not to get in the way of the paid runners and yet there were still people behind me. Much slower strollers.
It is worthy to mention that as a race normally is, there are competitions at every level. Walking at 10 min/km, turned out we were not the slowest. We took pride bypassing some of the younger generations and sometimes had fun overtaking some "wide rear bumper" ladies. Of course, we did not stop at the water station. We didn't feel justified.
For us, the walk gave us the opportunity to enjoy the rapid development of Cyberjaya; a township that I last visited in 2006. Things had changed a lot. There were many new high rise condos and shopping malls. The city is taking a new shape with new skyscrapers lining the landscape.
The walk was a breeze for me but it's a nice feeling to be able to complete a race with my darling wife by my side. To think that she endured the course with her aching knees was a gesture I treasure. We arrived at the end point slightly over one hour. The route turned out to be 6.7 km long. We didn't cross the finishing line. Instead, we detoured as we reached closer. Giving way to the others to claim their glory.
I didn't expect this race to be that rewarding. Luckily the feeling though obtained differently, was as wonderful as if I was running the 12 km race. Though I might lose the endorphin's kick, I gained much more in the oxytocin's department.