When news broke that the company would be sending a team to this year’s Rat Race, some colleagues buzzed me asking if I was really doing it owing to the 4K distance. I guess they too know that I race so sparingly and when I do, the event is usually of longer distances. Having subjected the body and mind to shock treatment during the BHP Run, the Rat Race is a crazier one to be doing but I wasn’t about to let go the chance of participating get away. It was, after all, the first time the company committed to the event’s charitable causes. For the background of the Rat Race, head on to the official website.
Everything was done with just 2 weeks to the race. Runners were quickly sourced – no time for time trials and such – and the company has a team!
Bursa Malaysia was no longer associated with this year’s event hence the runners saw some changes made to the route. The start was from MATIC along Jalan Ampang before heading right into the traffic cauldron that is Lebuh Ampang, hooking left at Museum Telekom and heading to The Weld, Shangri-La Hotel, Beach Club, KLCC and back to MATIC.
The mood of the race has always been part social and part intense. This year’s edition wasn’t any different. It was obvious which companies had bigger budgets and it showed in the contingents they sent, the team get-up and props they brought along. It was hard not to have fun with all the festivities happening around. As expected I spotted many friends who are regulars in the racing scene and had a great time catching up. Our Big Boss (BB) had delivered his mission objectives to the team earlier and the takeaways were – Compete, Fair Play and Sportsmanship. That and also to come back with honors! Talk about pressure!
Prior to entering the corral, we went on a 2K jog along part of the route to warm the muscles up. Marshalls were already at their stations and the cones were already dropped off, just waiting to be laid along the roads. The day wasn’t sunny but very muggy. Weather forecast called for rain towards the later part of the afternoon and early evening, and nearly every runner I spoke to wanted it to pour! The dress code for the Rat Race was always about tackling the route in office apparel. At the very least, either the top or bottom should reflect what we wear to work. The team had running tops but we stuck by the rules of wearing our long pants or in the case of our lone woman, skirt. Some teams, though, reported in as if they were heading for a half marathon, what with compression tights *snorts*. Certainly debatable when it came to sticking to the spirit of the event.
After the customary photo sessions, it was time for the CEO race to start. Their distance was just 1.5K and there weren’t many in that category. With much fanfare they were let off and the main racers waited for our turn. Slightly over 5 minutes later, the first of the CEOs returned and I learned later it was Chee Kian, a fellow GCAM alumni! If I’m not mistaken, his marathon PR is 3:20-ish. A few minutes later, our CEO rep finished, to our amazement, in 3rd place! Sufficiently motivated, we just couldn’t wait to start. And once the last of the big shots stumbled across the finish line, it was our turn.
The start was crazy. We were somewhere in the middle of the pack and there were the expected jostling when the gun went off. No issues for me as our timing would be based on chip anyway. 150 meters after the start I finally found some space to the left and broke free. Once I was out on the main road, it was a go. The cops managed the traffic well at the major Sultan Ismail-Jalan Ampang intersection and the road was wide. I took full advantage of the space and ran per plan. My team-mates were around me right up to the Dang Wangi-Jalan Ampang intersection, before I surged ahead. I was wary of the dreaded stitch and kept the pace hard but controllable. Rounding the bend in front of StanChart, I spotted Adam just about the same time he saw me. He shouted, “Go GC runner!” Thanks, Adam!
Raja Chulan was next and again traffic control were great. I grabbed a cup of water, took 2 sips and doused the remaining content on my cap. It was very humid. Not much supporters along this road except for the Weld intersection where AMBank employees were stationed. The short climb thereafter was negotiated with no issues and then it was time to push the pace a little going down towards the Beach Club. Up to this point, I counted only 2 runners who passed me (not sure if I passed them again) while I was doing the overtaking. Things were progressing great even if my GPS went wonky reading out wrong splits. I was surprised to see Tony there cheering and took a photo as I waved at him.
Suddenly it started drizzling (the joy!) and the precipitation became heavier as I neared the finish. The company sent very few supporters and I finally had a glimpse of them as I kicked towards the finish. Crossed the line in 19:36 which meant I met my personal goal of a sub-20. Grabbed a chilled can of 100 Plus and just soak up the rain as I ambled around the open area, waiting for my team-mates’ return. Zool came in next in a superb 19:58 followed by Michael in 20:26. Next up was our women open champ Shann (tough woman!) in 21:30 and CY 22:58. All in all an amazing result. Even at that point I knew we didn’t do too shabbily.
Most of us couldn’t wait for the entire results to be published but boy, was it a pleasant surprise to have found out the next day, that we finished 9th in the Open category! With our CEO and Woman Open placings, it was a fantastic outing for a debutant team. Imagine if we had more time in planning! If you’ve been in the running scene for a long time as I have, you’ll see several elites, and even former national/state runners amongst the participants. It was never going to be an easy race, even if it was about charity 🙂
Hopefully the company’s senior management commits to our participation again next year, and with luck we can assemble a stronger team to fight for better positions all-round. I – no, the team – had great fun and I’m glad the safety fiasco of past years (see the coverage here) didn’t recur, thanks to a tweak in the route. The Rat Race was the 2nd of 3 short races for me for the month of September. It started off with the BHP Run, this one, and a 10K this weekend.