Top five goofs in my running life

Pushing yourself to the limit comes with comical mistakes sometimes

In Summary

• There are professional runners, and then there are amateurs. I am the latter

The writer catches his breath after crossing the finish line in 2011.
The writer catches his breath after crossing the finish line in 2011.

Imagine leading a 10km race only to be overtaken by three people in the final 100m, getting a stomach ache in the middle of a half marathon, and training for a full marathon only to miss it entirely after mistaking the date.

Such moments ought to have pushed me into retirement a long time ago, but an amateur runner’s curse is the eternal pursuit of redemption.

2011: Shady preparations

I thought I’d found a smart way to finish 21km in this city in the sun without getting my eyes fried. I mean, why wasn’t everyone wearing sunglasses? It looked like such an obvious trick to the trade. Well, I didn’t feel so smart when I got to the starting line and realised I’d forgotten my shades in the changing bag. I dashed back to get them and returned to find the runners had long taken off.

2005: Premature acceleration

You are in the frontline huddle 400m to the end of a 10km race. Adrenaline kicks in. Full speed ahead! Sadly, by the time you get to the last 100m, you are out of gas. The buggers you thought you’d shown dust are right on your heels. One by one, they pass you, and you can only wish you could get away with tripping them.

2015: Calendar malfunction

I missed what would have been my milestone 10th year in the Stanchart Marathon races last year. The official line has been that my knee was injured. While indeed I wasn’t a 100 per cent fit, truth is, I was caught napping on race day. I knew it was always on the last Sunday of the month, but was deceived when it fell farthest possible from end-month (25th out of 31 days) into thinking it was the following weekend.

So I lounged in the house like a cat, strolled out at midday to empty the trash, and alas, my neighbour was in a sweaty Stanchart shirt. Had he been jogging? I asked. No, he was returning from the race. “Didn’t you see it on TV?” he asked, as my jaw hit the floor.

2007: Porridge nightmare

This was a case of taking instructions too seriously. The race manual included tips like taking porridge ahead of the race. Boy, did I take a lot of it. With my inflated tummy bouncing as I raced, the beverage thrashed around and reacted like a Chemistry lab experiment. I pity those who had the misfortune of running behind me as I started belching and farting.

The portable toilets roadside were soiled by other runners’ own nightmares and out of tissue paper, so I stayed pressed for hours until I got back home. I’ve since run twice the distance, but that was my longest race ever.

2010: Fire in the pants

Stitches and blisters come with the territory in long-distance running, but I once developed a unique sensation after a poor choice of running shorts. The netting inside it chafed mercilessly against my manhood as I ran and started gluing itself to the inside of my thigh. I kept tugging my shorts down, thinking it was sweat, but was shocked to find after the race that it was actually blood. I would never have recovered from the embarrassment if my shorts weren’t black and thus able to conceal the stain.

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