As more people start to fall in love with running, events for these athletes are becoming more prevalent throughout the country. However, these events are not limited to Thailand, as many countries around the world are also putting on marathon races which cater to the needs of this rapidly growing sport.
Applying to join these events can be done in a variety of ways. In larger races, referred to as the Majors, applicants must have run under a specified time related to their age group as defined by the AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) before they can apply. An example of such a race is the Boston Marathon, which is a race revered by runners around the world, and on the bucket list of many more.
The Tokyo and Osaka marathons rate extremely high on the list of races which Thai runners are eager to participate in as they are open to all athletes. However, due to the number of applicants regularly exceeding the number of slots available, these races operate a lottery system to aid selection of runners each year, a method that leads to much excitement around the time of the draw.
Once you have successfully applied to enter a marathon, preparing adequately becomes the next most important aspect. In addition to the intensive training required to prepare the body for a marathon, runners must also be aware of numerous other aspects that require close attention.
First on the list are your travel arrangements. Make sure you have a passport and the relevant visas before travelling.
Most running events will provide athletes with race information, including the start line location and where to receive your bib, which should be checked carefully prior to the race. Any information related to these aspects is usually sent to athletes via email. You should take your passport along with you to confirm your identity when you go to collect your bib number.
The details of the race route are usually specified in the event information pack. Where possible, try to compare the race route with a separate map in order to pinpoint various landmarks that could give you a rough idea of the distance you have already covered during your race.
Hotels located nearby race events tend to become fully booked on the days leading up to the race. However, most countries will have electronic railways or public transport systems in place. Hence, it is advised that participants study their route to the event properly before they make the journey on the day itself. If possible, athletes should also travel the route prior to the day of competition in order to help calculate the time needed for the journey on race day.
Check the weather forecast for race day and use this information to help you dress appropriately. Additionally, any time differences may have an effect on the time it takes for our bodies to adjust to new surroundings, which may affect each individual athlete differently. If planning to race in a country in Europe or in the United States, it is recommended that you travel 1-2 days prior to the race to give your body enough time to adjust. I, myself, advise going for an early morning run one day before the race to ensure the body has completely adjusted.
New is not always best. Equipments we use regularly and are used to, including shoes, clothing, hats and watches, should be the first items we turn to when racing abroad. If you are afraid of losing your bag or it being subject to delays resulting from air travel, it is recommended that you pack everything needed on race day in your carry-on luggage, including some clothes for non-race days, as this will give you peace of mind when travelling.
Moreover, nutritional supplements, gels and various forms of medication should always be brought along with you. When eating abroad, you may want to avoid trying anything new prior to the race. Instead stick to familiar food in order to reduce the risk of stomach issues occurring during your race.
On race day, it is advised that you arrive at the start location around 1 hour before the race is scheduled to begin because some events are extremely strict on screening athletes, which can lead to delays. Furthermore, arriving early will give you the chance to stretch your muscles in order to prevent against injury, while also helps to reduce stress.
The race routes are usually packed with spectators cheering you on from both sides, so I’d just like to wish you all a happy and enjoyable race, because this new experience is sure to stay with you forever as a treasured memory. Finally, once the race is over, don’t forget to find some time to organize a short, relaxing trip to sample the sights before you return home.
Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University , 2008