Race: Run Paradise! – 7th Laguna Phuket International Marathon
Date: 10 June 2012
Venue: Laguna Phuket, Phuket, Thailand
Set in Laguna Phuket, a picturesque 1,000-acre resort with six hotels and villa properties with 8km of long white sand beaches and lagoons, the Laguna Phuket International Marathon aptly titled its race: “Run Paradise.”
Now on its 7th year, the Laguna Phuket International Marathon drew a record field of more than 4,000 runners from 50 countries who raced a variety of distances: 42k, 21k, 10.5k, 91.5FM 5k community walk, and a 2k children’s run. Of the 4,088 runners, only 1,400 were Thai with around 50 other nationalities represented. The Japanese runners numbered 405.
For a relatively small race in Manila’s standards, this marathon was a well-organized and top-notch event. Free shuttles took runners to and from the assembly area, cold hydration, fruits, and sponges on the course were overwhelming, kilometer signs were accurate, and, last but not the least, the race course was safe, scenic, and a pleasure to run.
– beautiful race course. Majority of the 10k course was within the Laguna Phuket area which was both safe and scenic.
– cold and ample hydration (water and 100Plus sports drink), fruits, and sponges
– accurate kilometer markers
– road marshals throughout the 10k course
– free shuttle to and from the race venue within Laguna Phuket
– friendly and helpful race staff
– weather was similar to Manila. Just a little bit more humid.
– attractive medal
– small race with a relaxed and fun atmosphere. No heavy traffic.
– onsite registration available until the day before the race
– pre-race expo with merchandise from sponsors and a short running talk for free
– carbo loading party (for an additional fee)
– for foreign runners, the hotels within Laguna Phuket are mostly five-star hotels that make for a perfect run/vacation for the entire family
– post-race area included free food buffet, massage, and hydration for finishers
– no direct flight to Phuket from Manila. It’s a 3 hour flight to Bangkok and a connecting 1 hour flight to Phuket. Laguna Phuket is 20 minutes away from the airport. Travel time is half a day at best. I’d recommend you stop over in Bangkok—shop, eat Pad Thai, and get a Thai massage—before heading to sunny Phuket.
– race bib design needs improvement
If you’re looking for a run destination abroad, particularly an affordable one around Asia, Laguna Phuket Marathon is a race I would highly recommend. Don’t expect all the bells and whistles or the crowds of a Standard Chartered Singapore or Hong Kong Marathon. But, you can expect a relatively small, friendly, and well-organized race in a venue that will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired to run even more.
I was all set to run the half marathon at Laguna Phuket. Coach Andy told me to run it at race pace. In his words, “Nail it!” So, you cannot imagine how frustrated I was when, the day before my flight to Phuket, I fell ill to intestinal flu. Yes, the works: slight fever, stomach pain, and frequent runs to the toilet. With some meds and tons of fluids, I managed to recover enough to make the flight without any major problems. But, I knew I wasn’t well enough to race a 21k. It was with a heavy heart (and restless legs) that I downgraded my race to a 10.5k run.
If I was anywhere else, I would’ve been distraught. But, man oh man, I was just happy to be where I was. Our resort, Angsana, was one of the best resorts I’ve stayed in (reminded me of Shangrila Boracay) and just to have the opportunity to run in a new place no matter the distance was, in my opinion, something to be thankful for.
I arrived at the assembly area 30 minutes before race start. 10.5k runners totaled 1,661 in number. This was the largest group among other distances.
I sat by the Timex booth and watched everyone: younger runners had their moms as their “cheerleaders” and photographers, foreigners in groups chatting and laughing, and more serious runners warming up on the road running back and forth.
The race started exactly on time. The roads were a little bit wet from the earlier rain. The sky was overcast. Perfect for a short and easy run for me, I thought.
I ran through the roads of Phuket with camera in hand. The course was relatively flat and fast (a great PR course in my opinion), but with my condition, I decided to enjoy the sights and sounds of Laguna Phuket instead.
Majority of the route allowed us to run through lush greenery or pass scenic views. There were little or no vehicles. Most of the time, we ran in silence.
There are always a few attractions at a race and Laguna Phuket was no exception. Some runners came in their colorful costumes.
Things got even better when we entered Laguna Homes. It was peaceful and beautiful here. Looking forward, I could see the runners ahead of me marching like tiny ants through the zigzag roads. To my left and right was the vast expanse of the golf course.
Organizers provided very cold hydration and fruits at certain stations. There were a lot of cold sponges too. I think I used up over 10 sponges for a 10km run!
At around the 4km mark, I ran behind a mother-son tandem. The boy was 10 years old and he ran in pace with his mom. At times, he would struggle to keep up and he’d hold out his hand to her. Each and every time, she would respond immediately, clasping his little hand in hers and, almost instantly, he would find his rhythm again. There were times she would gently fix his hair while running as it fell over his eyes, or she would give him a little kiss almost to say he was doing a great job. I was touched and, at the same time, worried about the little boy: how long could he keep this up?
By around 6km, I was feeling weak because of my illness. The course was beautiful and, half the time, I wished I had been well enough to run it fast. The other half I was just hoping the finish line would be near. Still, the race was enjoyable and fun even for an ill runner like me!
I almost made a right turn when I saw this. I thought it was made especially for me (and the rest of our TBR Dream Marathoners)…
Almost made a pit stop here…
Seriously considered this one too…
And, it took a lot of energy out of me to resist the temptation to just head home to my super cozy hotel room…
Soon enough, we neared the finish. We entered this area with a lagoon to our right. It was definitely a great way to end the race, especially for the 42km runners. This was definitely my favorite part of the race course.
I was still running behind the mother and son. At no time did the little boy slow down. In fact, in the last kilometer, he started to sprint. (To think I was worried about him!) They crossed the finish line right before I did and I shook the mom’s hand congratulating them both. That little boy was a fighter…and I believe he’ll grow up to be one strong athlete. At no point was I even able to overtake them. Wow.
I finished at a relaxed 1 hour 7 minutes. On any other day, I would’ve ranted about the awful time. But, who was I to complain, I just ran through paradise!
– Great medal for an awesome race! –
The post race area was brimming with free food and drinks and offered free massage for runners. I took the free shuttle back to the hotel, enjoyed a light snack at my balcony, and later treated my body to a massage at the Angsana Spa. Aaah, what a great day in paradise!
Click to read Part 2: Laguna Phuket International Marathon – Race Expo