Race against Typhoon

I have run Hsinchu Marathon in 4 hours, 2 minutes and 46 seconds and I am very very happy. That’s not only because this result improves by over an hour on my previous result, I am also glad that I managed to finish it because it was a real challenge.

A few days before the marathon it was very hot, so overheating was the primary concern. But on Saturday the wind got much stronger and rain began. Honestly, I was afraid that the marathon would get cancelled because of this. Fortunately, when I woke up on Sunday morning at 4 AM, there was no rain, only very strong wind.

In fact, it was the first time I had to face inclement weather on the run day. Previously, the sky was always clear and there was not even a smallest chance of rain. This time I was expecting the rain to start every single minute. But we were lucky – the rain began only after we finished the marathon and continued for more than 24 hours. Later I found out that some typhoon was passing near Taiwan shore and we have only been touched by it. However, even this touch of typhoon was enough to generate record wind speeds – the organizers of the marathon claimed that wind speed was the biggest during this year – well over 40 km/h.

Running is nice when there is no challenge. But when the weather becomes worse runners have to jump through the hoops in order to survive. The other option is of course to stop – but for many people this is not an option. You have to go forward no matter what.

Many thousands of people participated in this marathon. Together with Paul we arrived 15 minutes before the start and barely had time to park the scooter and do warm-up exercises. It is funny that I could not find drinking water near the start line, but there were lots of toilets! On the other hand, there were lots of water stations along the way (good job organizers!) but only 1 toilet at each water station. Sometimes, long queues of runners built up near each toilet so they had to waste time. I was in a similar situation – the toilet was locked for a long time (at least it seemed to me like an eternity, probably it was a minute or so). Then I started banging the toilet door like crazy, and it opened pretty soon.

The route was going mostly on the highway – a wide road on the pillars which was open to any kind of wind. We had to run 2 loops, there and back, on this highway. As we started around 6AM, the wind was not that strong. I did not run too fast in the beginning, so I arrived in a pretty decent shape at half-marathon distance. Then suddenly the wind picked up with gusts of 40-50 km/h. I was very lucky that this time the wind was blowing into my back! But then at 30km point I had to turn back and face all the power of the typhoon! I was crawling all the way until 40 km, when I finally got off the highway and went to the finish part of the route in Hsinchu downtown. I realized that I was pretty near 4 hours, but I was totally exhausted, I could not accelerate in the final few kilometers, and many people have overtaken me at that point.

At that moment I only had one thought in my head – I am alive and I am pretty happy that I did not stop on that highway. I made it through the typhoon and I don’t care what my final result is. Somehow I managed to get to the finish line and then I saw the clock ticked 4:03:00 (I had no wrist watch, so I didn’t know what was the time all along the way). Since we were using electronic chip, my time was adjusted to 4:02:46 as I crossed the starting line a few seconds after the clock was started. The moment of finishing the marathon was the happiest moment of my running career – this was by far the toughest race ever!

Date October 2, 2011
Distance Marathon
Time (hh:mm) 04:02