Runners finish the year with a bang

Runners dressed up for the KLSCM 2020 VR.

STARVED of running events for almost a year, runners are enjoying December which features virtual versions of two of the biggest marathons in the country.

A total of 34,219 runners pounded the streets to complete the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM)

2020 Virtual Run while to date, over 4,200 people have submitted race times for the Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) 2020 Virtual Run that continues until end of the year.

KLSCM project director Rainer Biemans said the organising team was devastated to cancel the annual marathon originally set for June, citing Covid-19 concerns.

“When you are standing there among tens of thousands of like-minded individuals,

you can’t help but feel a certain sense of belonging, really.

“The excitement and anticipation, the fun and laughter, the adrenaline rush and certainly nothing beats the sense of achievement – and relief for some – of crossing that finish line. So, I don’t think that VRs fill the gap in that sense but it does serve its own purpose.

“What we have tried to do is galvanise the running community and motivate them to keep running and keep their fitness levels up by challenging them to better themselves, ” Biemans said.

Over the nine-day race period until Dec 13, race times and photographs from all over the world poured into online running groups as well as Biemans’ personal Facebook page.

From Putrajaya to Limbang and Singapore to Moscow, runners posted about their achievements, struggles and triumphs in competing in, what was for most, their first large-scale virtual run.

“When we launched, we were hoping to get at least 15,000 runners which we achieved on the first day of registrations. We ended closing with 52,363 registrations.

“Along the way, the KLSCM 2020 VR became a movement with runners reaching out to each other and organising themselves in small groups, helping each other out with makeshift water stations and refreshments as well as cheering each other on via social media, ” Biemans said.

Marching into unchartered territory with their first VR, Biemans added that precautions had been taken to cut down the instances of cheating within the race.

“Competing in the KLSCM, be it actually or virtually, must always mean something.

“Our team sifted through the leaderboard several times a day and we removed unrealistic times and adjusted times deemed inaccurate due to some irregularities with the tracking devices used.

“All in all, we would have removed around 2.5% or around 800 of results received, ” he said, adding that runners with top results were asked to provide further proof of their runs such as split times, heart rate and cadence to analyse if they actually ran the distance.

Official KLSCM results will be out later this week but multiple-KLSCM champion Cosmos Matolo Muteti from Kenya currently sits on top of the full marathon leaderboard with a time of 2:32:00.

Up north, PBIM surpassed the 10,000 mark in registrations just this week with runners from approximately 70 countries committing to participate.

“This year, about 30% of our runners come from outside the country.

“Our registration is still open and entries have been steadily climbing since the event was launched on Oct 1, ” said PBIM chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.

As of early Friday afternoon, a total of 1,607 PBIM runners had completed the VR, while 414 and 1,263 runners had submitted times for the full and half-marathon respectively.

A total of 922 runners – some in their teens – had clocked in for the new 5km category opened specially for this VR.

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