Sunday, September 11, 2011

River Kwai International Half Marathon 2011 Day 2/3

We met at 0430 and walked to the hotel lobby. The rain had stopped. There were other participants waiting at the lobby too. Maybe they were waiting for the hotel transport to send them to the race start.

Insufficient sleep but still anxious for the race.

Our van was not allowed to drive in so we had to alight at the main road. The start point was just a short walk in. The camera was fogged up as I tried to take a photo of the walk in.

The 5 of us (and only 5 of us) from Singapore at the 30th River Kwai International Half Marathon 2011.

The run route. You can see the river at the side too.

After depositing out bags, Edmund asked me to proceed to the start line while the rest went to the wash room. Everybody around me was Thai. I saw very few foreigners. This race seems more of like a local race. The MC was speaking in Thai. The speakers also spoke in Thai. I did not understand anything. I did my warm up as they spoke.

It was not very cold as we thought. Just cooling.

The people on stage spoke for a while. "Are they going to start?", I asked myself. The race was scheduled to start at 0530Hr. When everybody around started calling out together with the MC, I guessed they were counting down. Ha .. :)

As we started, we ran along the small road towards Highway 323. There were still people walking in. Most probably they were the 21km or 10km runners. They were cheering us on as we ran past.

When we hit highway 323, we turned left. It was a simple route. Run to the U turn and make your way back. The problem was there were no street lights now. It was just pitch dark. I could only see up to 2 - 3 m around me. I had overtaken a few people as we make our way towards Highway 323 and knew I was slightly in front of the runners. But how front ahead I am not sure.

Visibility was so short I had to slow down and stick to another runner because I could not see whats ahead. I stick to him for a short distance until I could make out another runner in front of me before running faster forward to close up with the runner. I also could not see if it was downslope or upslope. Totally relied on the feeling of running to guage if it was upslope. I only knew we were approaching a water station when I heard the sound of plastic cups being thrown onto the ground.

I was running virtually blind. This carried on for around the first 2km of the run.

Daylight slowly filled the sky. I can see now.

As it was still early morning, there was a short stretch of the road where the slopes on the side of the road were covered with fog. It was a very mystical sight.

Edmund told us before for the 21km it was generally upslope for the first leg. The 30km, 21km and 10km were all running along the same route. The difference was where we did our U turns. Every soon we came to the U turn for the 10km. Just slightly ahead of the U turn was a long stretch of level road from around 5km to 8km. All around us were grasslands and mountains. Very beautiful.

The U turn for the 21km came. I cursed at myself why I did not sign up for the 21km instead. Running upslope for 10.5km was not that easy. To make things worse, the slope got steeper after the U turn.

It was a long and steep upslope towards the U turn at 15km mark. When I started to hear the faint "beep" sound, I knew I was near. As I made the turn, I wondered how were the rest of the gang doing. Jennifer was doing the 21km. She should be on her way back to the finish line. Ivan was not running. How about Edmund, Ah Chua, Joanne and Soon Teck? I ran into them at the 17km mark. It was a steep slope. Downslope for me. Upslope for them. We waved at each other was we ran.

While going back was generally downslope, there were a few upslopes to conquer. The upslope running in the first half did sapped my energy. At the 22km mark, I had to walk up the slope. Too tiring. I made a sigh of relief when I hit the stretch of level road again.

We had merged with the 21km runners on their way back. There were more and more runners around me. I overtook some. Many more overtook me.

In the last 5km, I increased my pace. The downslope helped me a great lot. I was looking out for the inflatable arch where we took photo yesterday and also the Mizuno inflatable show beside it. When I saw a large group of people along the road in front, I knew there it was!

I turned into the small road and charged forward, trying to find any small bit of energy left inside me. I crossed the finish line giving a very big smile.

15km: 1:19:31

Gun Time: 2:42:09
Net Time: 2:41:59

Overall Placing: 59 / 400
Category Placing: 20 / 54

Ok, at least I made it back early in time to grab the last cup of cup noodles which they were giving out.

Yum yum .. :)

I need water! It was ice cold isotonic drink they were serving. With ice in each cup. Wonderful .. :)

They had volunteers to help remove the champion chips.

I collected my bag and waited for the rest of the people. I could not see Jennifer or Ivan around. Edmund and the rest would still be running. I slowly walked out towards the highway. It would be easier to spot them running in at the junction.

At this moment, I started to feel rain drops on my forehead. Its starting to rain. Oh shit .. There was no shelter around. The rain got heavier as I reach the junction. Luckily there was sort of like a security post at the junction. A number of policemen and runners where all standing inside. I only had space at the side. I was still being hit by the rain. I stood there any waited for the rest to run in.

The rain was rather heavy. I wondered where were they now.

Around half an hour later, the rain got smaller. I saw Ivan walking towards the junction. He was searching for us. I asked how did Jennifer do. He replied she won champion for her category. Wow .. !! .. :)

As we chatted, Ivan spotted the rest of them turning in from the highway. They were back!

We walked behind them as they ran towards the finish line.

We were looking at this on the notice board. The first line was Jennifer's timing. Category champion!

The hotel was serving breakfast for all participants. The hotel provided transports to ferry participants to and from the start line. This was the vehicle used. I felt like I am a cattle now. Hahaha .. :)

Jennifer's trophy and prize.


We agreed to go back to our hotel to wash up and have a short rest first. We would visit the Erawan Falls in the afternoon.

Along the way back to Pung Waan Resort, it rained again. I suddenly realised that the weather here was very spontaneous. A moment it may be sunny and the next it may be raining. Could not really predict the weather.

On the way into the resort.

We were still driving into the resort. Did I mentioned it was a long drive from the highway?

Back in our rooms, This was River Kwai viewed from our balcony. The flow was very swift.

River Kwai .. checked .. !! .. :)

Our van first picked up Jennifer and Ivan from River Kwai Village Hotel before coming over to Pung Waan Resort. The waterfall was an hour drive from our hotel. Every seems to be far away in this area. We brought along extra clothes as we wanted to jump into the waterfall!

We had not had a proper lunch. Luckily, Jennifer and Ivan bought mooncakes in Bangkok. Durian mooncake. So this marked the first time I celebrated Mid Autumn Festival overseas.

It tasted just like a durian cake. :)

At the entrance.

Erawan Falls had 7 different levels. They were saying trying not to spend too much time at each level as it gets more beautiful higher up.

Walking to the first level.

Hazardous waste?!!

It was a popular place for families to come for family gatherings.

Level 1

Level 1.

Level 2.

After level 2, we passed through a pavilion whereby we need to deposit or dispose all our food and drinks. We were not allowed to bring food and drinks beyond it.

Level 3.

The air was humid because of the vegetation and all the evaporation from the streams. I was breaking into a sweat at this point. The walk was actually not that tough. It was made so by the slippery ground and the humid weather.

Level 4.

People like to slide down the big rocks.

Level 5.

Level 6.

We were making our way up to level 7 when we met the park ranger coming down. He told us we have another 5 - 10 mins before the parks was closed. He told us the park closes at 430pm every day. We guessed this was to allow people sufficient time to descend from the top. We quicken our steps up towards level 7.

I walked all the way up and how can I skip level 7 and walk back down!

Level 7.

When we reached level 7, the sight was too irresistible not to jump into the water.

We noticed at several levels there were many of those fishes you found in those fish spas. Those that nimble on your dead skin. The difference was .. over here .. the fishes were so big they were as long as your palm!

All of us suffered a few "bites" while playing in the water.

The weather turned as we began to walk back down. It just started raining so suddenly. It was still hot and sunny when we were walking up. Now, it was raining cats and dogs. All of us were drenched wet.

We used around 1 hr to walk up. Going down took around 45 mins. It could have been faster if not because of the slippery ground due to the rain.

When we reached the bottom, most of the shops were closed. Luckily this was still open. Edmund had been talking about this BBQ pork every since we had signed up for the race. He said it was so good you would want to eat the whole pig after your first bite. Hahaha .. it was very delicious indeed .. :)

As all of us were dripping wet, we went back to our hotel to change up (again) before going for dinner. By now, all of us were famished!

We had a feast at one of the restaurants in Kanchanaburi town. All of us joked and laughed together. Good times always passed by fast. Early tomorrow morning, Jennifer and Ivan would go back to Bangkok first as their return flight was in the afternoon. For the rest of us, we get to sleep a little later. We would decide what to do tomorrow morning.

Back in the hotel room, the tv was showing the live telecast of the 10 year anniversary of the 911 attack  at New York. I was still in university year 1 when it happened. Ailing was in New York at this moment. I bet she would be near Ground Zero too. I did not watch much of the telecast. Too tired ..

ZZzzzzzz ..

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