Event Type: Mainly a road marathon
Route: Starts at 4am, so carrying a light is useful in the dark areas. Goes through Laem Sadet. Flat and rolling hills, partly by the sea. Roads are not closed but there are road controls and the second half of the marathon is on the cycle route.
Weather: Starts at 25 degs C at 4am and then goes up to 36 degs C by about 9am
During: Water + energy drink every 2km; bananas + watermelon after 10km; water sprays after 20km.
At the End: Lots of local street food + finishers t-shirt with yout name (you are expected to complete). Lovely medal with a wee embedded diamond. Chanthaburi is known for its jewels!
The King of Thailand
My alter ego had to work in Bangkok, so decided to tag along and find a marathon. Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon kindly welcomed the Tyre Lady to their event which was to be held on the 30th October. Unfortunately on the 13th October 2016, the King passed away and the country went into immediate mourning for a month, curtailing all entertainment. The event was postponed to 20th November, a tenuous date for my alter ego as she likes to work. But at the end of the day, the King’s cause won.
In 2015, Thailand produced 26.85 million tonnes of waste, of which 19% was recycled properly and 31% properly disposed of, according to Thailand Environment Institute. 50% was dumped in open landfills and caused pollution. Thailand is listed as one of the main polluters of the world’s ocean. ref: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1128785/even-garbage-didnt-escape-the-kings-eye
And yet this is a country that has bountiful resources, beautiful beaches, amazing rain forests ….(along with the great food and welcoming people).
The King realised the current economic model of consumerism is highly unsustainable and thus developed the Sufficiency Economy Model: it’s purpose to idealize a way of life in order to help the people reduce the pressures of “wants” versus needs versus conservation.
“Buddhist ethical and moral principles are governed by examing whether a certain action, whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one’s self or to others, thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful.”
Basically polluting/harming your environment will harm you and others: the air you breathe, the food you eat, the stress you feel and the health you cherish.
The King walked his talk, being an advocate for environmental and sustainable causes, blending into a permacultural way of living to lead towards the well being and happiness for his people. Thus the King initiated thousands of environmental / sustainable projects to lead the country into sustainable economic practices. All of these can be found at Thailand’s Sustainable Development Foundation.
Love this talk by ted talk by Jon Jandai about living a sustainable life that led to him finding a happier life.
Being Led In and Looked After
As I read more about the King, I had to be in Thailand to remind the people that though the King is gone, the greatest respect and send off the people could give him would be to walk the King’s talk. The first step that every person can take is to reduce the amount of harmful trash such as refuse plastic bags that are given away. Have set some challenges here: Reduce disposible plastic usage.
My potential obstacle was my passport was due to expire in 4 months.
With a week to go before the marathon was due to be held on the new revised date, I told the organisers I would be there but would need help with transport, accommodation and a Thai tyre. They responded all can be done if you can make it over.
As I faced the custom’s officer with my return ticket and passport, that is potentially useless to travel with, I prayed he would let me in. Am sure the King must have whispered in his ear, because after a short pause, he stamped my passport and I was in!
19th November: Registration Day
The Sky Trains are clean and easy to use, though are crowded at peak times (just like every other city). At 7:30am, I had a wonderfully easy ride to Ekkamai Bus Station. Following instructions, I waited at platform 17 and did not see any other person looking like a runner until…. a runner type person came along looking equally confused. Of course I approached him (women always ask when they are uncertain) and he found out that the coaches were waiting at the front of the station.
19th November Meals: My breakfast was 2 small croissants; Lunch was a cornetto ice cream; Dinner was fried rice and another ice cream. My previous days meals had been pretty good, so going light for one day shouldn’t make a difference!
About 3 hours later, hey presto and we arrived in Laem Sadet, Chanthaburi registration.
Anucha, one of the organisers welcomed me and immediately showed me my accommodation at the Jungle Bay Resort. Huts mingled in with the native trees, the forests animals can come and go. Some of the permanent residents are a blind monkey, a baby monkey that was abandoned by his mother and there is an albino python that loves a good swim in the fish pond! Though mosquitos are plentiful, I loved the place for its raw and rugged feeling and yet the huts had good beds, air con and their own bathroom.
There was an option of staying in tents that is seconds from the start/finish line (in the distance in the following photo).
Now the only thing missing was my Thai tyre. Anucha promised me it was coming and it would be outside my room. At 2pm, I wandered aimlessly around the registration area and then at the tents.
“You need to register with the organisers and then they will allocate you a tent” a voice called out.
Ming seeing a lost soul reached out. I thanked him, we got talking and he became my buddy for the day. He was doing his first marathon.
6pm, I returned back to see Anucha to let him know I would need to go to bed and enquired about my tyre once more. It had arrived and it was lighter than my normal tyre. I would be glad about this later when I would have to fight the heat (about 5kg tyre).
The Tyre lady was now complete. Photographer Tom gave it a name “Khun Krabaen”
And before the rains came, we got some signatures to start the ball rolling.
We collected pledges before, during and after the event. People pledged to reduce their disposible plastic. And hopefully this would also mean in this area the moo dud (dugong or sea cow) will also be saved.
By 8pm, lights out for a 2:30am wake up. Jungle Bay Resort was about 600m from the start line. Breakfast was a chocolate cookie and another ice cream! (the room had a fridge/freezer)
The Honour of Completion
The event starts at 4am. The air although coolish, is still humid. I am one of the last to leave the start line to ensure I do not impede the runners.
Thus I am amongst other slower moving participants. Once out of Laem Sadet, there is less lighting. Before @7.5km at the top of a hill, I watched a participant (we had been continually overtaking each other beforehand) stop, change his clothes and get on a motor bike. I would see this same participant when I was going up to 22km and he was heading back at 38km. It was sad to see someone cheat themselves.
He may have got a medal and a t-shirt, but he lost out on the opportunity to grow. Overcoming challenges makes us become more resilient, mentally stronger. By conquering his fear of failure and suffering, any future overwhelming situations are more easily fought and conquered.
As the sun woke up, the sun would be shining down, revealing sea, mountain, farming and village views.
This is a pleasant marathon to enjoy in the early morning.
Marathon food was some jelly babies and 3 small chia seed snacks + bananas and melons at check points that had food. My main concern was handling the heat and keeping cool when the sun woke up at 6am. Thankfully the event had organised lots of spray/sponge points.
As I continued after the first 22km, many people stopped me to take wefies. Total stoppage time would amount to about 20-30 minutes. I thought it would be okay as I had killed the first 22km….well I did have a lighter tyre than normal and Ming did say it would rain at 10am. Towards 30km, the staff from FaaSai Resort were out supporting and more Wefies were taken on the return journey back to the start.
Though with stoppage time meant that I would be facing a hotter day. The dreaded heat was soon beating down but I would continue to fight. As the sun sapped me of energy reducing me to a march, I was thankful for the lighter tyre and I would remember everyone who called out to me to keep fighting, and I would tell everyone behind me to keep fighting as I looped back on myself back to the finish.
Because it is the fight that makes us grow. And if I can put in the effort to drag a tyre 42km, then I am sure we can put in a little mental effort to bring our own bags shopping, bring our own thermal cups for a hot drink (a large amount of plasticizers leaches into the drink from the plastic bag), and we can continue to put in effort to fight for the environment that gives us joy and life.
To the lady who finished her first marathon and gave me a big hug even though I was wet and smelly – you rock! Thank you to the organisers for all your help, Jungle Bay Resort for hosting me, the volunteers for being out so early and everyone who encouraged me to continue. Thank you for letting me run for the King.
May the late King of Thailand’s thoughts on sustainability and environmental concerns continue to become part of Thailand’s fabric of living as a remembrance to him.
The late King’s Sufficiency Economy Model can be read about here: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/thailands-sufficiency-economy-philosophy-and-the-sustainable-development-goals/