“BMM was definitely a very different and wonderful experience compared to other races, in terms of the electrifying atmosphere and crowd support, professional organisation, the field of runners, and of course the Thai hospitality.” – Evan Chee, 36, an engineering manager by day and diehard Marathoner who finished 4th in SCMS 2016. He is currently managed by ONEathlete.
Bangkok. Midnight. Tightly packed sweaty bodies and pulsing music. Sounds familiar? Think again.
The inaugural Bangkok Midnight Marathon (BMM) flagged off with a bang on 20 May ’17 with 10,000 participants from 30 countries. ONEathlete(s) Evan Chee and Soh Hua Qun were thrilled to be part of this amazing experience and luckily we weren’t fooling around because the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok was following our every move! Read on to find out more!
Right From The Start
First off, getting to the race expo was a breeze. The seamless collection also meant we had plenty of time to check out the sponsor booths who had turned up in full support, like this 360° bullet-time booth feat. Jed, co-founder of RunONE & ONEathlete with his leg in an aircast!
First Of Many Firsts
As this was Hua Qun’s debut at the full marathon and Evan’s first overseas race as an elite runner, it was an eye-opening experience for them to be talking with the other elite runners (think Kenyans and Olympians) who were sharing their training experience as well as race strategies.
Evan, who was a Sundown with Love ambassador at the Singapore Sundown Marathon 2017, is no stranger to marathons and midnight races. For him, an important part of preparing for midnight races is acclimatisation.
“Being a night marathon my approach had to be different from day races like Tokyo Marathon where I achieved my personal best of 2:45. For instance, I schedule my last few trainings late at night to get my body used to running at its otherwise-usual sleeping time.” – Evan
“My last few months of preparation have been quite different. For example, my long runs are much longer, and slower. I also have to pay more attention to injury prevention and recovery, as well as learning about race nutrition. I never had to drink while running in a 800m race!” – Hua Qun
At the stroke of midnight
The IAAF-certified 42.195km course was a simple out-and-back, starting and finishing at the Rama VIII bridge over the Chao Phraya river.
Evan and Hua Qun were joined in the elites start pen by runners like Igor Olefirenko of Ukraine, a Rio Olympian with his marathon best of 2:12:04 and Esther Macharia, former winner at Dublin Marathon, with her marathon best of 2:30:50. The Thai runners were also known to be one of the strongest in Asia. Looks like it was going to be a tough
day night at work.
Evan recalled: “I knew it was going to be a hot and humid night race in Bangkok, just like in Singapore. And since we were racing on an elevated highway, I wanted to start conservatively to keep my heart-race in check. Heading into this race I felt pretty good having clocked peak weekly mileage of about 120km”
If all goes well, Evan’s target for a finish under 2:50 with a negative-split (running the second half faster than the first) seemed possible with a strategy that respected the race conditions.
However, at the stroke of midnight, all bets were off as Igor led the Men’s race setting a blistering pace, closely chased by Silas Muturi of Kenya (Marathon best 2:12:38), as well as Bonginkosi Zwane of S. Africa (Half-marathon best 1:05). This threw Evan’s pre-race strategy out as he and Hua Qun were quickly left straggling without a pace group to hang onto.
Evan: “It was mentally challenging from the start, so I had to quickly focus on my race execution and how body was responding, being mindful of hydration and fuelling and reminding myself to be patient.” Unknown to others, Evan was also quietly struggling with an upset stomach and a splitting headache.
Near the 21km mark, the race soon claimed its first victim when cramps forced Igor to retire. Other runners also began to struggle with the heat and pace as Evan overtook them and closed the gap to the lead group towards the closing stages of the race. Meanwhile, Hua Qun, who had a promising start, started having issues with race nutrition.
His day in office just got rougher with every passing kilometre, although he would go on to finish in 6th place. “For me (Hua Qun), it was certainly a great learning experience, though I had certainly higher expectations for myself with my training and preparation. Somedays you win, somedays you learn. I will improve on this and do better in my next race’
Silas Muturi eventually crossed the line in 2:30:32 taking the men’s crown while Esther Macharia won the women’s race in 2:53:17. Evan went on to finish 4th and as top Asian athlete.
Back at ONEathlete, we had our own little “runners’ high” when the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok shouted-out to Evan for his strong finish. It took us by surprise, especially Evan who is very humbled and thankful for all the kind words of support, encouragement and advice he’s received from friends and family, especially his sister and fellow runner Yvonne Elizabeth Chee.
It was the icing on the cake as there were many points during the race when Evan remembers being in a ‘deep dark place and simply wished to finish’.
Last but not least, runONE & ONEathlete will like to thank Muse Group Asia (Thailand) and team, P’Pom, P’Tammy, liaison officials N’Sirin & N’Latte, as well as Riduwan & Alan from Muse Group Asia (Singapore) who made a difference in helping our ONEathlete(s) feel at home as much as possible and really eased the nerves at an overseas race.
For more photos, visit Www.facebook.com/runONE/bmm2017/
Marsch Nach Berlin
Coming up next, Evan will be racing in the Berlin Marathon so if any of you readers are also heading to that race, we will love to hear from you! So please drop us a comment to say a quick Hi!
Meanwhile, keep looking out for ONEathlete(s) who will be putting their best foot forward and maybe even running beside you at a local race, ONE step at a time!