Conservation and life in Borneo

Inspired by Bears

Yesterday I ran in the Borneo International Marathon. What an epic that turned out to be!


right from the start, I had the feeling that something fishy was going on.

I went snorkelling two days before and somehow, whilst simultaneously kicking and twisting in the water, managed to make my right knee crunch about in a way it shouldn’t have. Snorkelling! I was so angry with myself.

By the time I returned to my hostel it felt quite swollen, so I gave myself some first aid. standard procedure is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and I did all these: Rest (staying off my feet as much as possible), Ice (20 mins on, 20 mins off with a bag of frozen sayur campur), Compression (an adjustable neoprene knee support done up as tight as it would go without my foot turning blue) and Elevation (hanging my foot in a loop of rope from the bunk bed above mine). I also bought some very strong painkillers (prescription only in UK) used by arthritis sufferers in order to reduce the swelling.


The start of the race.

The race started well enough, but by 14km in I was almost dizzy with pain from my knee and almost considered stopping when I saw an ambulance at the side of the road. Now, this may seem really corny, but it’s true: I started thinking of wild bears and how they endure pain when trying to get of of traps. It made me very emotional and also made me realise that my worries were trivial by comparison. I ran on.


When the sun came up it started to get a bit warm.

By 26k the sun was beating down on everyone with full force. I was hot and starting to get tired. at the following water station I took 2 drinks (plus 1 poured over my head) and washed down a mouthful of worms & nuts). I repeated this every 20 mins or so.

The final 13k was bloody hot. Everyone in front of me was starting to take walking breaks, so I did the same. However, I made sure that my walking break was always about 5 seconds less than that of the person in front. It felt like a slow motion race, but 1 by 1 I picked off my targets. This “game” was very motivating and a welcome distraction.


Crossing the finish line. Thanks to M. for the footage.

500m out from the finish I decided to just go as fast I could. The finish was at a stadium and when I heard the crowd and realised that they were cheering for me it was quite a feeling. As you can imagine, it took a while for me to get my breath back and cool down.


“Somewhat fatigued” whilst chatting to the author of mysabah.com.

I also bumped into Ian, the BSBCC’s pet architect, who was there watching his girlfriend run. It was quite unexpected, really nice to see him.

Humans are quite a pathetic species when you see how much we whine and complain. Working with the bears seemed to have helped bring out the “beast” in me for this event. I don’t actually know what my time was yet. I’ll see when they put the results on the website. Whatever it was, I did my best and that’s good enough for me.

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