GEORGE TOWN: A sea of people swept through the streets of this Unesco world heritage city in the northern region’s biggest walk event – the Penang Starwalk 2013.
Participation in the walk has grown tremendously over the years since it made its debut in 1978, with more than 21,000 people signing up for the event this year.
Of the number, more than 3,000 took part in the competition category. They were flagged off at Penang Times Square here by Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim at 6.30am yesterday.
Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas flagged off the non-competition walkers at 7.15am.
He was accompanied by Kamal, Star Publications acting group CEO and executive director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and other VIPs.
Also present were Penang Amateur Athletic Association (PAAA) president Datuk Syed Mohd Aidid Syed Murtaza and The Star’s senior regional manager (operations) David Yeoh, both of whom were organising chairmen of Penang Starwalk 2013.
Due to the large number of participants, it took more than 15 minutes for all the non-competition walkers to cross the starting line.
Kamal said he was delighted to see such a huge turnout this year.
“To see the event grow from 5,000 participants when the walk first started 36 years ago to more than 21,000 now has been amazing.
“This is only possible with the support of our loyal readers,” he said.
There was also an element of charity as 10 charitable organisations benefited from the event through a 1km charity walk themed “Walk with Us”.
They each received RM10,000 donated by nine companies and a businessman.
To quench the participants’ thirst, the sponsors dished out drinks at their booths after the finish line while others conducted games.
The participants were also treated to a host of performances in the Starwalk Variety Show.
Those who completed the walk within two hours were eligible for a lucky draw which offered attractive prizes such as gold bars, computer tablets, motorcycles and hotel stays.
A newcomer to the event was Australian Grimm Andrews who said he enjoyed the heritage route as it enabled him to get a better view of the heritage buildings in the city.
“Usually, we cannot see some of these structures up close due to the heavy traffic but through this event, we can see them better,” said the 40-year-old expatriate.
He said another plus point of the walk was that it was not strenuous.
“We can take our sweet time and walk around which is great for someone who is not fit like me,” he quipped.
Penang Starwalk 2013 was organised by The Star and PAAA in collaboration with the Penang Municipal Council and Penang Education Department.
The event’s Platinum sponsors were Public Gold, Tropicana Corporation Bhd and YES while the Silver sponsors were Modenas, Magnum, 100Plus, Golden Screen Cinemas, Milo and BP Healthcare.