Keen to usher runners into virtual world

Yeoh (right) and Penang Amateur Athletics Association president Datuk Syed Mohd Aidid Syed Murtaza lighting a virtual flame to mark the launch of the Penang Bridge International Marathon’s new logo.— Filepic

THWARTED by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) team is setting themselves a new goal to introduce local runners to the possibilities of virtual runs.

With the PBIM Virtual Run 2020 registration launched yesterday, organisers are looking to guide local runners into the new world of large-scale virtual runs or VRs, as they have come to be called.

“Our first PBIM VR is totally free for participants.

“When we did research on VRs, we realised that not everyone knows what they are, how to register or how to run them safely.

“We got questions from participants asking if the PBIM VR meant that they could run on the bridge by themselves on that day!” said PBIM project manager Grace Teoh in an interview.

VRs are becoming increasingly popular as the current pandemic rages on, creating the need for local runners to be well-versed in carrying them out safely and properly.

“When we were contemplating a VR, we realised that no other VR organiser really guided participants on how to run them.

“We are packing the PBIM VR 2020 with activities like running clinics, medical forums and fitness sessions which will all be held virtually.

“There will even be virtual talks by the Royal Malaysia Police on how to safely complete VRs. A video on the rules of VRs will be released next week, ” Teoh said.

As a result, the ‘free’ VR that contains four running categories, will end up costing the state government quite a bit.

“PBIM is unique in the sense that the state government organises it. Because of this, Penang’s reputation is at stake.

“We are using established but expensive overseas platforms for our registration and result processing.

“On top of this and the related activities we have planned, there are also costs incurred for things like publicity and marketing, ” said Teoh, adding that the PBIM

VR 2020 had a budget of 10% of the normal physical PBIM marathon held at the end of every year.

Teoh, who has been involved in organising runs for over three decades, said VRs were a whole new step in the running world and credibility along with minimising occurrences of cheating were among the new challenges.

PBIM chairman and state executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin encouraged Penangites not to allow Covid-19 to stop them from running.

In addition to the usual full marathon, half marathon and 10km categories, he said, a new 5km fun run is being introduced in the PBIM VR this year.

Details, visit the Penang Bridge International Marathon Facebook page at

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