Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wet, Wet, Wet Phuket

What? Laguna Phuket International Marathon

Where? Bangtao Bay, Phuket

When? 17 June 2007 (Sunday), 6:00am

How long? 21km (Half Marathon)

Run Paradise....That is the tag line for the 2nd Laguna Phuket International Marathon. But they didn't warn us about the torrential rain in Paradise. When it poured, it poured for hours.

Phuket has two main seasons: Rainy (May-October); Sunny (November - April). I think there was a conspiracy behind the Laguna Phuket Marathon date. It must be fixed on the rainy season to increase tourist flow. Hahah! Anyway, the trip was enjoyable despite the daily downpour in wet, wet, wet Phuket.

My journey began with rain in low cost carrier terminal in KL, which caused the flight to be delayed for 45min. (Insert grumbling here).

I arrived in Phuket about 2pm (Thai time). Greeted by my Thai friend, Eng. He is kind enough to allow me to stay with him for a night. After dumping my baggage at Eng’s house, Eng took me to the beach. The sky didn’t look as blue in the Phuket travel brochure I picked up at the airport. In fact, it was grey! (Insert Oh! No! here).

Later, it rained the whole night.

I woke up with the sound tapping on the roof.

I was a little worried as I promised Narumol that I would meet her at the marathon expo at 10am and the place is like 30 minutes away by motorbike. I texted Narumol, that I would be late. The rain stopped at around 10am. So, I rode with Eng to Laguna Beach Resort to collect our race kit. Horror! Horror! Halfway through the journey, we saw the road was FLOODED!

We could either go home or "bulldozed" our way through the 1-foot-high water. We decide the latter. I kept very still to avoid wobbling into the water. Eng expertly maneuvered the bike through the floodwater. Finally, we reached the other end of the road unscathed and continued our journey to Laguna. (Insert Phew! here)

Met Narumol (Kop khun krub for the registration) and Hajime at the Expo. Collected my stuff and made a quick walk around the so-called expo. What's in the goodie bag? An official vest, bib, Championchip, a muscle ointment and some pamphlets.

We zoomed to Phuket Town. It was another ride. I was holding to my dear life as Eng sped his bike along the winding hilly road. We visited Central Festival where I bought Madonna Confession Tour DVD and Beyonce's B'day Deluxe Edition CD. (Insert happy face here).

It was another bumpy held-on-to-my-life bike trip back from Phuket Town to the airport area. My shoulders were very sore as I had to lug another 7 race kits bag that I had collected for my fellow Malaysian runners. But who's complaining? Things that you would do for your friends, right?

Later in the evening, I checked into Laguna Beach Resort. Wowow! I was very impressed with the room and the surrounding. But before I could warm-up my bed, Eng called and invite me to party with him in Patong, which I gladly accepted. Not often that I get the chance to come to Phuket.

Thank God, no more bike ride. Eng's friend got a car and drove us to Patong. We had a few drinks there. I think I came back to Laguna about 3:00am. Great! I still got two hours of shut-eyes before the half Marathon. (Insert ZZZZZ here).

I was still groggy when I put on my running vest and shoes. With 2 hours of sleep, I hope I could survive this 21km run. After a light breakfast - a plain water and banana cupcakes, I took the hotel tuk-tuk to the start point. The sky was dark. (Insert thunder and lightning here)

We, the half marathoners were set off at 7:00am. At the same time the sky decided to bombard us with raindrops. For once, I didn't get that "why now" feeling! Why? Because I got my new baby! And my baby was going to get wet for the first time!

What baby am I talking about? My brand new Olympus 770SW water proof camera, of course. I used to get very upset when it rained in my runs. But now, I felt invincible! No rain is going to stop me now! You can now virtually run with me in the rain! Heheh!

First drink station. Rain water with ice! Yes, the Thais like to put ice in everything, I notice. Heheh! Chai Yen Yen!

As you can see here, there were distance marker in every km. (Insert thumb up to the organiser). Our Malaysian marathon organiser please take note. It is not difficult right? There are 42 markers only to be placed along the route. It will help us in pacing ourselves.

The first 1/2 of the route was quite flat. We ran pass paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber plantations and small villages. Scenic...but wet. (Insert wet shoes sloshing sound effect here)

Mobile toilet! A rare sight in Malaysian city running route but you could find this in the rural area in Phuket. (Insert applause to the organiser!)

But then again, some idiot prefered to do it openly on the route. Shame! Shame!

I am the number ONE! I believe this is what he was gesturing with his finger. Initially, I thought he was giving me his middle finger. Heheh! Couldn't see clearly in the rain! Later, when I checked the result, he is indeed the winner of the half marathon category. His name is Niwat Oytip from Thailand with timing 1:21:14. (Insert applause here).

(Pic above) This is our Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia President - Mr Munning Jamaludin, slogging it out in the rain.

The rain subsided after I made the U-turn. The atmosphere was cooling and the country air was crisp. Everything seemed so fresh. Nice view, eh? (Insert wink here!)

Beware of Cows!

Beware of cow dungs! Where there are cows, there are cow dungs. Heheh!

We ran passed a small town, with a busy market. Not sure what is the name. Someone mentioned "Thalang" town. Anyone to verify? By then, I was a little hungry. The aroma from the fried chickens, dumplings and "khanom" stalls was very inviting. I breathed in as much the yummy smell as I could. Heheh!

The photographer being photographed! I hope my handsome picture turn out OK! Heheh!

Food! I screamed when I reach one of the drink station which also carried some delectable taengmo (watermelon) and gluay (banana). Of course, I stopped and gorged myself silly.

The 3/4 of the route was hilly. We ran though many "hillview" housing projects. Lovely houses. But they cost millions!

The latest fashionable headgear taking Phuket by ehem..storm. Wear your showercap outdoor.

Our sweeper bus? Nah...Just kidding!

For a Phuket event, I expected to see more "seaview". However, only at the last 4km we got to see the sea from afar. Sorry, the picture didn't turn out well.

At the same time, my MP3 ran out of battery. So, my remaining run was accompanied by the serenade of the waves. It was a pleasant change. I chugged on, while noticing some blood trickling from my left nipple on my white vest! (Insert oh sh*t! here!)

Bleeding nipple? Oh no! I had worn this vest before for half marathon with no problem. How come it bleed this time? How embarassing!

My theory? It was due to the rainy cold weather. Well, you know what happen to nipple when it gets cold, right? So, more friction happened. (Insert ouch here!)

Sore nipple was not a problem. I plodded on. I also noticed the blood spot location had moved further down. Due to rain! Not drooping nipple! LOL!

I knew the end point was near as I passed by the water station right after The Banyan Tree. I quickened my pace.

One man cheerleading team. Kop khun krub for the tireless support!

Me, swaggering towards the finish line. I could have sworn that I heard "Chariots of Fire" playing.

Me, receiving my sweet medal from an equally sweet young girl.

Ooooh...We looked so totally cool with plastic bags on our head! Heheh! Wouldn't want the rain to ruin the expensive rebonding treatment, would we?

Steph Cox - The Editor In Chief of AsiaRunner, a premiere magazine for runners in Asia dashing to the finish line. I met her briefly at the marathon expo the day before. I think it was her first marathon. She finished 4:01:21. (Insert applause here)

For more info about Asia Runner, please visit

AsiaRunner Website

If Steph is reading this, I can't find AsiaRunner anywhere in Kuala Lumpur! Help!

This is for Terence Leong! A bunch of Pacesetters members dedicated the run to Terence Leong aka Penguin 6 who succumbed to brain tumour last week. See my previous posting on Terence.

My hard earned medal - with sweat and blood (from nipple!). Thank God, no tears!

A little treat after slogging it out in the morning. I screamed for ice-cream! On top of the ice-cream, I had a full body Thai massage later in the evening! What bliss!

I stayed another night in Patong Beach. Visited the beach on the next morning. The beach looked deserted. As you can see here, the deck chairs were empty. Why? No prizes for guessing rain!

I must say the Laguna Phuket International Half Marathon was one of my most memorable runs despite the wet weather. My new baby sure made the run more exciting!

Bye Bye Phuket

For more pictures, restaurants, shopping, things to do and other recommendations in Phuket, please click

runwitme's Virtual Tourist Guide to Phuket

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