Sunday, February 01, 2009

GE30K: Cheers from the Last Water Station

What? Great Eastern - Pacesetters 30K Run

When? 18 Jan 2009 (Sunday)

Where? Last Water Station @ Jalan Sultan Salehudin.

Who? Team members - PK Chan (Leader), Lydia, Catherine, Corinne & PK's domestic helper.

What do you do if you want to be part of the big road race but you have not been training and you don’t think you can make it back to the finish line within the stipulated qualifying time? Be a volunteer! Heheh! I took “the easy way out” this year’s GE30K.

I sent in my application when I saw the request for volunteer in the Pacesetters website. I was asked to be at the Lake Garden, the starting point of the run at 4pm, the day before the run for a briefing session. I was assigned to help at the water station.

I reported myself to Francis Toh at the tent. I already saw some of the water station volunteers had already started their work. After collecting my breakfast pack and PowerBar t-shirt , I joined them to mix the Powerbar Endurance Drink (sponsored by PowerBar of course).

The task was simple - pour a can of powdered drink with 8 bottles of 1 litre mineral water. After mixing, we filled the mixed drink back to the bottle. We called it a day when we get around 40 dozen of drinks which would be distributed evenly to the water stations on the next morning. I noticed little blisters on my palm and fingers. Ouch!

It seemed that the “easy way out” is not so easy. We had to be at the water station at 5:15am much earlier than the runners reporting time.

Corinne and I were the first to arrive at our water station. It was located near the JKR building at Jalan Sultan Salehuddin - The last water station.

The moon was still in the sky when we arrived at the water station. (Insert sleepy eyes here)

The tables and crates of drinks were dropped off by the lorry earlier.

We set up 3 tables and waited for the runners. Due to the design of the route, we were the first water station that runners saw even though we were the last water station i.e. they had to pass us twice. So, we had to wait until all runners had passed us before starting put water on the table.

Instead of just standing there and be mosquito food, we perked up the morning by cheering for the runners! I am sure you noticed us, cheering our heart out. Without the pompoms and back flip somersaults of course.

“Good morning! All the way! Keep it up! Keep going! And Muy Bien!” filled the morning air.

What? Muy Bien?

Yes, Lydia taught us that. It’s “well done” in Spanish. She's a Puerto Rican and speaks Spanish.

As we cheered the runners, I saw a lot of familiar faces ran pass. I didn’t waste the opportunity to take a video clip of the runners. It was too dark to take a good photograph anyway. So, here it is...on YouTube.

Slowly, the number of runners trickled. We knew it was about time to start preparing for the second wave. It was time to get serious. No more cheering as the coming runners would be a thirsty bunch. We need to get the drinks ready.

We arranged the plastic cups on the table and started to fill them with water and endurance drink.

Oh No! I had forgotten that we had to open up bottle after bottles of water again! I should have brought a pair of glove to protect my hands. Luckily Corinne had an extra handkerchief for me. I used it to open up the bottles. It helped a bit but the abrasion between the bottle cap and the skin was so bad that the skin peeled out from one of my blister. Ouch!

We worked very fast. In no time, our tables were filled with cups and the cups were all filled. We waited in anticipation for the second wave of runners.

I was quite excited when I saw a bunch of Africans runners from the 20K category appearing from the bend. They sped towards our table. One of them trying to grab a drink as he ran pass but he knocked down twenty cups in the process. I was a bit surprised but quickly activated spill control . No harm done. The cups were refilled immediately.

It took awhile for the next bunch of runner to appear. I guess the African runners must have literally “led by a mile”! I took out my camera and took the photograph of the incoming runners.

One of the "perks" of being a volunteer is that you get to witness the on-going battle of runners. Michelle Tan (black sport wear) was seen here running neck to neck with Margaret Wangui Njuguna (white vest) in the 20K Women Open. They slowed down to grab a couple of drinks from our station.

I like the perspective of following picture. Very aligned, eh?

Some runners just love to wave to the camera. I normally would snap those waving at me. :)

Japanese runner, Iwata was seen wearing those breathable thingy on his nose.

Peace signs! I get those alot. :)

As time went by, more and more runners were approaching the water station. I put down my camera and concentrate on pouring drinks into the cups but occasionally pulled my camera out to snap the pictures of my friends.

I could see all sorts of faces at the water station. Tired. Half-dead. Flushed. Dehydrated. In pain. But most of them were relieved to see the drinks.

They gulped and gulped. Most of them took more than one cup. Must have been the hot weather. I heard the route were tougher. Someone counted – there were 17 hills along the route. Anyone want to verify this?

We got busier and busier as more and more runners streamed in. Somehow I wished that I have more than two pairs of hands. Eight would be nice. Two to open up the bottles. Two to hold the cups. Two to pour the drinks. Two more to snap pictures of my friends.

Anyway, I think we managed the water station quite efficiently. I am glad to say that we have drinks all ready in the cups for everyone. They do not need to wait for us to pour the drinks for them, unlike what we experience in other runs where runners had to drink from big bottles because the water station guys couldn’t cope with the number of runners. We might have run out of energy drink at the later stage of the run but plain water was abundant. So, nobody went left our station dehydrated.

Some even decided to take “shower” at our station. My first reaction was..."Hey don’t pour from the cup.....We busted our backs pouring water into those cups!!! I’ll give you the whole bottle if you have to..." LOL! But anyway, I just let them be - as long as they don’t pour energy drinks onto their heads...they could do whatever they want. Soap not provided though! LOL!

Lydia busy ensuring every runner was hydrated.

Zombies in the morning? Just kidding!

Yikes! This gotta HURT! And poor NIKE shirt! :P

Nipple chafing is a problem normally happening to men. Most running women wear sport bras which normally effectively protect them against nipple chafing. It happened to me a couple of times too. But now I have wised up if I do a run longer than 10K.

Nipple chafing occurs because of the constant rubbing of your running shirt over your nipples when you run. Usually, on short runs, there is no problem at all. Not enough time for your shirt to do real damage. But when you run for longer distances, the constant rubbing can result in your nipples starting to bleed.

From that point on you feel an unpleasant stinging sensation with every step you take.

Next time please lubed up or plaster those putings. Maybe wearing a bra would help. LOL!

Poor guy below. He collapsed and had to be carted away in a stretcher. I hope he is alright!

Mak Cik Power!!! :)

While waiting for the last runner to arrive, we played the role of DBKL...Clear up all the strewn cups. Gathered all the empty bottles and other rubbish.

It's a dirty job but somebody's gotta do it. :p

Meet the last runner of GE30K. She arrived at 10:59am at the last water station. A big salute to her for never give up! We gave her lots of water to drink. Even one whole 1 litre bottle. To clear stock :)

After she has gone off, we packed our stuff and head home. I decided not to go to the end point as I was very tired and I was told that all the "tau foo fah" already been gobbled up by the runners.

It was a productive morning. We busted our backs serving drinks to 2,200 over thirsty runners (1,000 for 30K and 1,200 for 20K). We cheered and clapped for them. Made some new friends and learned some Spanish too.

To my team members, Lydia, Catherine, Corinne, PK and PK’s domestic helper:

Thank you for making the work at the last water station so enjoyable and MUY BIEN!!!!

Note: Volunteers are never enough for a sporting event like this. Experience a run a different way.

Do sign up to volunteer in a race. For water station, it helps to bring a pair of garden gloves to uncap the water bottles. Your volunteer spirit may be strong but the skin on your fingers isn’t to withstand the abrasion of opening crate after crate of water.

Enjoy the experience and you will appreciate your race better the next time you approach a water station.


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