Kaohsiung Mizuno International Marathon 高雄国际马拉松 2016.02.21 | A Race To Remember For Its Warm Hospitality and Many First Time Experiences



Kaohsiung Mizuno International Marathon 高雄国际马拉松

Kaohsiung Mizuno International Marathon 2016 in Taiwan was my #18FM, #5 Sub4, and 1st sub 3:55 with net time of 3:52:38, 4 min improvement from my previous PB at Twincity Marathon in Jan 2016.  Thanks to the flat scenic route, 18-23 deg C weather and the friendly cheer leaders.



Despite the PB, it was a humbling and eye opening experience for me as my best effort couldn't even squeeze me into top 10% (overall ranking 693 / 6037) in the sea of fast runners in Taiwan!

KHM 2016 was such a wonderfully beautiful experience allowing me to soak myself in the warm hospitality and friendliness of Taiwanese. It also let me see the beauty of Kaohsiung City on foot running pass all the tourist attractions. Additionally, I have also had many first time experiences that really open up my eyes.




Here is the recount of the unforgettable experiences:

Registration



Kaohsiung Marathon is a very popular marathon with the aim to become the friendliest city marathon in Taiwan. 
To gauge the popularity of the race, 6,000 full marathon slots, 8,000 25 km slots and 16,000 3.5 km fun run slots were all snapped up within 7 hours once it was open for registration!


The marathon also attracted 127 overseas participants but i believe the number could have been more if not because of the offline payment system. The current registration system is online but upon successful registration, you will be given a fixed time to make offline payment in one of the convenient stores in Taiwan. Thankfully, my payment was helped by very nice Taiwanese friends. Otherwise, I might not even be able to have this wonderful experience.

If you want to register for next year's event, do visit: http://www.kaohsiung-marathon.com/


Race Kit Collection

Can't wait to run inside the World Games 2019 stadium to the finish line!


The cartoon character is actually the City Mayor! :) So cute! 


This is the World Games Stadium. All baggage will be placed here as well at this level.

City Bike is every where in Kaohsiung. No queue to the race kit collection! Mizuno - main sponsor is having a great booth for testing out new running shoe!



Race Kit collection was a breeze. No queue at all as most runners have chosen to have the race kit delivered to their homes. The venue was awesome! In fact, it's the stadium where World Games 2009 was held!

What makes it even more excited is to know that we will be running in the World Games 2019 Kaohsiung National Stadium to the finish line!!! This experience - I have never had - and I so look forward to the stadium feel finish!!


Race Day

42 km race course - the best way to explore Kaohsiung City
by foot running pass at least 11 tourist attractions!

This is a city marathon so the 42 km race course is rather flat except running pass a few bridges and 1 underpass. Since I'm a first time visitor to Kaohsiung, I have found that running this marathon is indeed the best way to explore beautiful Kaohsiung city on foot. Along the way, you will run pass at least 11 tourist attractions including the famous Love River.

The weather was around 18-23 degree C. Not as cold as I thought and quite hot I must say with the sunny sky. It reminded me of running in Bali with the hot sun. The only difference was that I didn't sweat much here due to the low humidity. 








As an overseas participant, I came here not only to run but also to learn more about Taiwan culture and people as well as the running community. And indeed, through the whole 42 km journey and out of 18 full marathons I have run so far, I still managed to have so many first time experiences at Kaohsiung Marathon! 

I'm excited to share them with you here.... :)


9 First Time Experiences


1. Most variety of food
While River Jungle Marathon at Hulu Langat and Island Ocean Marathon in Langkawi provide the most exotic local fruits (durian, coconut, langsat, etc), I must admit that Kaohsiung Marathon organizer with the support of the running groups here have provided the most variety of food for runners!
  • Cherry tomato - you can dip into the salt on the plate next to it for your salt intake! :)
  • Fried tofu - instant protein - local and traditional! The Taiwanese style of hospitality!
  • Fish ball - wow! Fish balls at 30 km? My oh my!! A local runner took a few sticks of fish balls and ran to a house along the route to pass to his son! 
  • Cheese cake - for those who prefer western food! 
  • Guava with sour plum powder - what more can you ask for? A real thirst cruncher!
  • Mandarin orange - I guess it's still Lunar New Year! 
  • Red Wine - drinking wine and running? I must try one day! lol!
  • Gao Liang Wine (高粱酒)- local wine!
  • Chocolates
  • Bananas - all cut into small little pieces provided in few stations; easier to eat
  • Pepsi
  • Soy bean milk - In Taiwan - soy bean milk is everywhere! It's also local breakfast dish!
  • Red bean soup - very traditional, making the race reflective of Taiwan culture
  • Green pea soup - another local dish that reflects Taiwan culture

2. Most water stations

Every 2.5 km, there was a water station by organizer. But in between the distances, there were many local running groups (if I'm not mistaken, there were about 52 running groups setting up support stations along the route) providing free water, food, etc for runners with smiling face and encouraging "add oil"加油 cheers!

In fact, as I ran, I kept stopping and drinking water and checking out the wide variety of food available in various stations. 

May be because I drank too much, i also ended up going to the toilet 3 times - the most in any full marathons I have ever run!! haha! Literally every 10 km I ended up in mobile toilet!!

By the way, some water stations also provide ice bag and sponges to cool us down. I also took quite a few sponges and 1 bag of ice as the weather was turning hot after 8 am.








3. The least "paper cups" on the floor

Taiwan is such an environmentally friendly country and it all started from their education. I was told by one of the Taiwanese that in fact it's the young teaching the old. The young learns from school and practices, and the young teaches the old to do the same! That's why it's so successful and sustainable! (In fact, I will write a separate article on this later)

As runners, we are so used to drinking out of the paper cups and throwing the cups either inside the trash can / bag or on the floor. I for one am guilty of it! In recent races, I have controlled myself as much as I could so that I won't simply throw the paper cups on the floor. 

However,  I must admit that Kaohsiung Marathon was the first ever marathon that I threw almost every paper cup after drinking inside the trash bag. I believe I only missed 1 and the paper cup ended up on the floor next to the trash bag (but quickly picked up by cleaning lady). I was surprised by my own act. :) 

When I look around, I noticed there are still paper cups on the floor but not many compared to other races I have entered. Cleaning ladies whom immediately picked up the paper cups on the floor to throw inside the trash bags really help to keep the whole race very clean with minimal rubbish on the floor along the route.

Oh - how could I ever forget? I saw quite a number of runners running with a paper cup or steel cup clipping to their hat or pouch or wearing it on lanyard as they ran! I really salute them for keeping the environment clean by not using the paper cups provided at water stations!




4. Most cheer leaders from various schools, running groups and locals along the route.
Happy happy runner!



Bali Marathon was the most unforgettable race when it comes to culturally-rich supporters and cheer leaders! But this Kaohsiung Marathon - even though the supporters are not as colorful as the Balinese, but we were so encouraged by many school children, running groups, locals (even the elderly - I saw 1 in his wheel chair) standing on the road side to cheer us. 

They managed to space out in a very good way so that almost every 1 km or so, there was a group of supporters! It was truly encouraging and motivating!!

And of course, there were also lion dance performances, supporters in traditional Chinese costumes who support us along the way.

And do you want to know how the city encourages the locals to support the runners? They have the below signs along the route:

请以掌声来代替喇叭声。
(please replace your honk blowing with hand clapping to show support)


5. Stadium Feel Finish!!

It was my first time to really run into a stadium. And it's not any small stadium but Kaohsiung National Stadium which hosted World Games in 2009. The moment I ran downwards on wooden plank from the street leading to the stadium, the surreal moment was just indescribable! 

I felt like a champion running inside the Kaohsiung National Stadium to the thunderous claps! I felt like a World Games athlete!! haha! Such a wonderful feeling!!!

running into the World Games Kaohsiung National Stadium - so excited!! 



In the World Games Kaohsiung National Stadium - pia to the finish line!





So overjoyed by the time!! :) But no smile already!! No more energy! lol!





6. Instant Print Finisher Certificate

We were given a nice folder with the 42km race route, then an instant print finisher certificate with a layer of plastic to protect it. The medal is also very solid and beautiful!
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 6

The organizer was very organised - and the moment I collected my very nice finisher medal, the cert printing station immediately printed out my finisher certificate with the finishing time!!!! This was truly eye opening for me!! My jaws almost dropped seeing how efficient they were!!


7. Massaged by volunteer on massage table

The organiser was very caring I must say! Besides the usual medical tent, they also provided mat on the basement floor of the stadium so that finishers could rest. 

What more - there were 10 massage tables (the type with a hole to put your face!) with volunteers to help you massage your sore muscles!!!

I was so so impressed! And I couldn't resist the warm hospitality of Taiwanese so I ended up queuing for 30 min to get my 10 min massage on my back and calf!! So wonderful!!


8. First time Sub 3 hours 55 min




This is something I never dreamed off before! So unbelievable!

For the first 10 km, there were many runners and rather crowded. I finally managed to speed up to the pace of 5.33 min per km. In fact, my original strategy was to try my best to maintain at 5.33 min per km pace throughout. 

The reason of 5.33 min / km pace: I tried 5.30 min / km pace in Kuching Marathon last year but my speed dropped to drastically at 2nd half. And during Twincity Marathon, I managed to run consistently at 5.35 min / km until the last few km dropping to 5.37 min / km pace. 

Therefore, I thought perhaps I should try 5.33 min / km pace - somewhere in between to test my limit. :) Not a very scientific strategy huh? :)

Anyway, I ended up following 2 triathletes running at 5.30 min per km pace. :) The female triathlete was rather popular. I could see many people cheering her and waving at her. It was such an honour to be able to pace beside her and another male triathlete. (by the way - it seems that Taiwan has many triathletes as many runners are wearing triathlon shirts!)

Credits go to the 2 runners, flat route, motivating crowd, scenic route keeping things interesting and the 18-23 degree C weather, I managed to smile running to the finish line with a time of 3:52:38 with 5.31 min per km average pace! I was really in cloud 9 when I crossed the finish line in the stadium!! Very memorable indeed! 

By the way, Saucony Kinvara 6 shoes also helped me to keep me comfortable throughout.


9. Mobile Shower Cubicles & Changing Rooms at Finish Area




Usually after race, our body is sweaty and smelly! A shower would be nice! Kaohsiung Marathon is the first race ever that I participated in to provide mobile shower cubicles and changing rooms for runners to freshen up!! I was so impressed!!


In conclusion

Kaohsiung Marathon is indeed one of the friendliest, best-organised races I have ever participated! It's also rich in culture with warm and friendly people to cheer and support. The route allows me to explore whole Kaohsiung City by foot!

As for my running - it made me eat humble pie realizing there are many many many many runners who run very fast!! Sub 4 is a no big deal to them but it's a big big deal to slow runners like myself! :)

I shall learn more and improve defying the age factor! 

Thank you Kaohsiung, Taiwan for giving me yet another wonderful race experience after Fubon Marathon (Taipei) several years back.

Kaohsiung - I look forward to seeing you again soon!!


Notes: 
Photos credit to AllSports.tw and running.biji.co Thank you so much for the memorable photos!!

vincent

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