Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Results and Reflection : the 63rd Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon

A few days ago I received my 'diploma' via email from the organizers of Beppu-Oita Marathon. So this is how it is done,  and I think it is rather exotic compared to the typical finishing medals (for a change)


And I also found my final timing results at the official website. Very professionally done, maybe this is a common practice in Japanese road races where they provided breakdown of timing for every 5km. Every column is timing for each 5km marker and each distance marker were exactly on that spot.

Looking at the timings, I recall my experience on race day. Since this run is in a rather cold atmosphere, I initially targeted a 3:10 finish because  I wanted to have a good experience of the event without too much pressure so I think 3:10 will be fair. But unfortunately, it turn out that I had to stop for 3 times; (once because I really need to pee because it was cold) and the other 2 times because of cramp toes due to the cold, altogether had cost me about 5 minutes. And I will never forget that I got 'scolded' by the one of the old aunties (in the cheering crowd) when I was trying to fix my cramp toes. Maybe she thought I am Japanese and so she was telling me something in Japanese but I read from her high spirited gesture I should not stop at all and I should continue to run, and gambateh and .... alamak! I quickly continue to run after that...it really helped.

Looking at the timing gap of each runners reminds me of what I saw in the Japanese runners. Their spirit of not giving up is what I have never seen anywhere. I saw at least a few whom seems to have serious cramps to the extend that they start to walk funny but yet they struggle to the end.

I noticed my placing is about 1737 which means there are about 2000 runners behind me since I have estimated that there were about 3700 runners.  But when I checked at the bottom of the result, the last runner in the result list is position at 2657. So if the math is correct, almost 1000 runners did not finish.

So how can 1000 runners whom are pre-qualified to be sub 3:30 runners did not finish within the 3:30 cut off? And all of them were such serious runners, plus the marathon world has always insist that we finish no matter what. That is why they have Finisher Medals and DNF is not acceptable, no?

Well, this race changed my perspective about chasing a dream always come with a price.  Maybe in this type of hardcore races, DNF is not such a taboo after all. It could be true that most of these runners DNF because they were running really really hard, I think most of them ran at their full effort, determined to achieve their running ambition that day, be it a record, a PB, a sub 3hour, a sub 2:45 etc. so much so they are willing to risk their finishing. Spirit of fight!

In a race that has short cut off time, the chance of DNF is almost certain if one mistake was made and even a small injury which can be inflicted by racing too hard especially at the beginning.

Here is what the rule book says about the cut off timings.

So in a race that has strict cut off points as above, a short 5 minutes walk will cause you your race and it is not at the finishing line. Perhaps that is why all the runners that are allowed to be in the finishing list must make the km 40 mark before 3:19:59.

This runner displayed a short touching moment of utmost disappointment for not making it to the finishing line before 3:37 or so. We estimated that time, because it was around one minute after the marshals had removed the time keeping devices.

Many charged to the finishing line especially the last minutes. Lesson learned: Good marathoner do not give up even up to the last minute.

Lesson learned: as much as this marathon timing chasing culture remained as our habits as time chasing runners, we must know when to draw the line, and to remember when it is necessary to be strict and when it is to loosen up (and to be humane too) so that we will not let out attitude hurt ourselves or others (mentally). After all, most of us started running as a recreational activity to keep ourselves healthy. Remember, these are just numbers, and we should be wiser than that.

As for the race, it is one of the best marathon I have ever experienced. But if you are looking for something happening like what Tokyo Marathon has to offer such as  hot Miso soup, hot green tea or hot aunties doing dances in kimono, I guarantee you will face serious disappointment. This is a  purely athletic event, and they don't even give out finishing medal.

But I promise you will experience great support from the organizers and volunteers. The public and spectators was just as awesome. Everyone came out of their house to cheers. Even old folks in wheelchairs and toddlers. The cheering of gambateh coming from everywhere! The scenery of the place is beautiful although some parts where not very visible due to the fog. You will run pass the beautiful seaside and inside the town with beautiful traditional Japanese houses.

And the most important feature I will say, is to have the honor of running among the fastest and the very determined.

And what do I think after this?  I will definitely be BACK!

Next time, I will not be number crazy but I promise I will run even harder hopefully FASTER!

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