The idea of racing Seoul was never in the frame. After all, a bunch of us just ran our best races on the Gold Coast last July and with me progressing well to the Boston Qualifying Standard, I didn’t want to rush the improvements and jump right back into another training cycle. Consider that learning from my previous Macao experience. The body and mind just needed to have some time off, and enjoy the shorter races. So post GCM19, I raced the EE Run 10K, SCKLM 10K and HSN21K. While not spectacular, my timing weren’t that bad, considering the lower volume of running.
So why Seoul? After all, there were already many poor reviews written about how bad the organisation is. Despite being an IAAF Gold Label event, the runners’ grouses ranged from the registration process, the bungling of the corral to the somewhat lack on race course support. The kicker was, of course, the fiasco of the 2017 edition which a number of my friends ran. I’ve posted the links to their race reports at the bottom of this post.
The decision for Seoul came about after working out a realistic 2020 racing plan. Pinning my BQ attempt solely on the Gold Coast Marathon in July was just too risky. It’s ALWAYS prudent to have back-up plans! Without a late winter or spring race, there’s no room for another attempt should I fail in Gold Coast. With the wife’s blessings, the planning began in earnest.
South Korea has never been a destination I’d like to visit – I really do prefer Japan – which made planning for Seoul an easy thing to do, in that there’s simply no need for any planning! I will arrive 2 days ahead to acclimatise to the cold, race, sample some food and come home a day after the race with a BQ Standard or thereabouts. Before any reservations were made, I wrote to and received an email confirmation from the race organisers on the event date – March 15.
I planned a tight budget and even so, the initial projections came up to about RM5,100, the bulk of which was spread somewhat evenly between flight tickets (Singapore Airlines), a room atop a bakery-cafe and meals for 5 days. With a baffling upgrade to Platinum Label (see earlier mentioned complaints), the race fees saw a corresponding increase to around RM430.
Then came the first boo-boo. The organisers made a sudden change of date from March 15 to March 22 in early January which sent us scrambling to change our flight and hotel arrangements, at additional cost to the runners. Even after an appeal to Singapore Airlines, and their waiver of applicable penalties, I still had to top up RM330 for the higher ticket prices. The organiser’s past fiascos were starting to surface.
That aside, training had been on track with a number of the GCM Crew also on the Seoul train. Then came the second boo-boo.
I finished January’s Twincity Half Marathon with a very bad injury. I was on Week 10 of training and Twincity was supposed to be a tuneup/checkpoint race for us Seoul Bros. All of us ran well in Twincity, and despite hobbling from the 11K mark, I even finished the race with a 2-second course PR. The ankle injury was severe enough that I had great difficulty walking back to the car, stopping every couple of steps. I limped for more than week, unable to put much weight on the right foot and had 2 visits to the GP, 2 visits to specialists that included MRI and SWT sessions. I needed to know if anything was torn or broken – thankfully there wasn’t. The setback ensured that my Chinese New Year celebration was anything but. The long holiday weekend was supposed to see some mileage being covered but a total of 16km over 4 days were all I managed, and with considerable discomfort and pain at that. Other than 2 20-minute jogs over the next 2 weeks just to gauge the recovery, there were no running. Any thoughts of racing probably died then.
The final nail was hammered home when the global pandemic struck. It’s hard to fathom the impact of the pandemic to the world and I won’t regurgitate them here. We’re in a nationwide lockdown until April 28 and some measure of restricted movement will be in order in the foreseeable future. Cooped up indoors isn’t easy mentally and I’m not in a state of mind or intelligent enough to go into the subject of what this outbreak means for humanity. We can pray that we come out of this as a better species.
- While the ankle has healed on the medial side, the limited range of motion, discomfort and dull pain felt on the lateral side continue to plague me 2 months on.
- Events and races in the country have all been cancelled for the year even if we still see countries that are more optimistic about things for Q3 and Q4. I personally doubt so.
- I hope when the policies, controls and SOP framework are being designed to transition the country back to some semblance of “operations”. I fully support the present restrictive controls but the health authorities must realise that there will come a point when allowing people a chance to exercise outdoors, with social distancing of course, will be a NEED than a WANT. There’s physical trauma and there’s the mental side as well.