WIDESPREAD criticism has been levelled at the organisers of the recently concluded Penang Bridge International Marathon. Having run in about 40 full marathons all over the world, I could give a more balanced view of the organisation of the marathon.
Granted that there were some shortcomings, the Penang event is still one of the better marathons in the world.
Being among the oldest participants in the full marathon, naturally I was one of the slower runners. However, despite finishing relatively late I found the refreshment stops still well stocked with water, energiser drinks, energy bars, bread and bananas.
This is not the case in many established marathons elsewhere where the stations often run out of supplies even though one runs well within the time limit. In many marathons, one has to run through dense traffic and smog.
Long after the cut-off time at the finish line there was still an abundant supply of 100PLUS, Milo, mineral water, breakfast cereals and even fried noodles available at the Penang marathon. In most marathons, only one bottle of mineral water is handed out at the finish and usually food and drinks are not provided.
Very few organisers provide finisher T-shirts and most marathons adhere to the cut-off time strictly, awarding medals only to runners who qualify.
On the contrary, in the last few years the Penang marathon has been awarding medals to runners who finish much later than the cut-off time until the medals run out.
To top it off, all runners, including the slow runners who finish long after the end of the race, get a chance to win a RM80,000 car in a lucky draw. The Penang marathon is perhaps the only marathon in the world to offer a car as a lucky draw prize.
I hope the organisers are not too discouraged by the many complaints. The organisation is generally as good as any and the organisers only need to take note of the complaints, such as the shortage of medals and finisher T-shirts, in a positive manner and improve in those areas concerned.
Virtually no other marathons in the world feature what the Penang marathon has to offer – abundant food and drinks, a car as a lucky draw, and a traffic-free route mainly over the sea.
The Penang marathon remains one of the better, if not the best, of the 40 marathons I have run in many countries.
DR H.K. CHENG