Saturday, December 13, 2008
Hualien, Taroko, and the International Marathon Part 3
John and Andrea were on their run and wouldn't be finished for a long while. I hung around near the staring point for a while, watching the runners file through and watching the people watching the runners file through. I didn't know when my race was supposed to start but I was keeping an eye on all the other people who were wearing a number. As these numbered individuals drifted away toward the other inflatable arch I also made my way there. There was no way I could have been confused about where my run was going to start. After a bit of talking from some guys in suits on a raised podium, the starting guns fired and we were off. "We" were all kinds of people: mothers or fathers pushing babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, Taiwanese, Americans, Canadians, and other assorted foreigners, boyfriend-girlfriend couples, and people who were obviously unfit for a longer run let alone as many as five kilometres. Everyone looks so fresh and excited and happy. It won't last long. You may note that despite having only run a kilometre or so at this stage, there are people who are already walking. In fact, there were people who never ran and walked the whole way. Oh well, good on them for doing something. It certainly is a magnificent place for a walk. The water and sponge station. Sponges for a fun run? To be fair, the sponges were probably used more by the long-distance runners who had already passed by but there were many fun-runners, I'm sure, who sponged themselves just because the sponges were there. The organisers or sponsors had enlisted a couple of professional Kenyan runners who, not surprisingly, both came first in their respective male/female categories. I'm sure that they were expected to win and were there to headline the whole show. The Kenyan runner was the first of the competitors in the full 42km marathon to reach the finish-line. Although running twice as far as John and Andrea, he managed to overtake them at some point in the latter stages of the run. Here are Andrea and John about to cross the finish line after running 21km. After crossing the line they found a shady spot and sat down. Andrea was feeling nauseous but John seemed to recover pretty quickly. They collected their complimentary lunches, having run the longer distance. My measly five kilometres hadn't earned me a lunch but Andrea's nausea put her off her lunch box and I was quite the gentleman in offering to eat it on her behalf. There followed a period of much resting and laying about, doing very little of anything besides remarking on the physical toll the run had taken on their bodies. It was turning out to be quite a hot day and the heat was not helping with Andrea's condition. We caught one of the buses back to the station where we were collected by taxi and ferried on to Gina's aunt's place. It will come as no surprise when I say that it was a fantastic experience for John and Andrea to have showers and change clothes and sit down with a drink and just relax. I felt as though I hadn't really earned the right to complain about my legs or my feet. Well, I guess I didn't really have anything to complain about anyway, unlike the other two who sported the wounds of long-term chafing in all sorts of wonderful places about their persons. That night we were joined in our room by Mister who bought his guitar along for a sing-song. And sing we did, all quite badly apart from Mister who played the guitar and sang at the local church on a regular basis. I managed to belt out a rendition of Gandhara (the song played over the closing credits of Monkey), and a couple of my other faves. Mister was particularly keen to hear me sing the theme to an animated children's show called Alias the Jester after John explained to him that it was a traditional Australian song that families in Australia liked to sit around and sing together. Perhaps the truth would have been more difficult to explain. WARNING: While the first of these two short movies showcases Mister's skill and passion with his guitar, the second contains images of singing and dancing that may disturb and potentially embarrass the weak-of-constitution. You have been warned.