Today I ran my first 5k in Thailand! And not only in Thailand, but right here in Mae Sot.
It was so much fun, and also very much what I expected 🙂
It was the first day we were awake before the community, as we rolled out of bed at 5:00am and were out the door by 5:20am. Kudos to Stephen for coming to cheer me on at such an unruly hour!
The run was about as organized as I would’ve guessed: somewhat marked & somewhat blocked roads with a few semis to avoid. There was a large turnout, but most were students. Thai school students were given bonus points or a grade of some kind if they came to participate, so of the thousand or so participants, about a hundred were over 18.
I was nervous to be one of just a few white people; I saw four in total. I prefer to blend in, particularly in things I’m not great at! In a race, I am there to finish and not to truly compete for speed. But knowing everyone would be watching made me nervous.
This was well-founded. I had three video cameras on me while I registered.
It took over half a kilometer to just get running, so the start was a little rough. All of the students also ran very much like students in a school race: they would dart off running full speed, and then stop to rest, dart off, and stop. I can’t tell you how many times I was running and then nearly tripped over the person in front of me who decided they were ready to rest.
I was also stopped before I actually crossed the finish line: the volunteers came out to meet me and took my bib. There was some confusion as they asked me my age and which race I had run. I think they thought I had run the 11k and was just very fast–in 30 minutes! In reality I was just a mediocre 5k runner. But they stole my bib in the confusion; and when I asked for it back they gave me a different one. I have no idea what went down, and we decided it wasn’t worth seeking out the clarification.
But it was a race, and I do love races! It is so fun to have all the excitement. It feels very communal; as though we’re all in something together [beyond the next few minutes of running].
The participation medal actually one of the best I’ve seen, maybe because it’s simply from another country! It had Thailand on the front, with the pattern of the national flag within the country outline. And the back was a design of all the ASEAN flags again and very international-looking for Mae Sot!