GEORGE TOWN: Not enough medals, expired food and wrong T-shirt sizes were some of the problems that apparently marred this year’s Penang Bridge International Run (PBIM) held yesterday.
All local Chinese language dailies today front-paged the agony of famished participants who had to wait more than three hours to get their food.
There were also a string of other complaints that runners claimed were “sia-sui” (embarassing) to the organisers.
Another report claimed a 17-year-old girl who had won the second prize in her category was not given the honour of receiving her prize on stage and sobbed uncontrollably when told to gather her prize at a booth.
The girl was part of an under-17 girls’ junior 10km category. A parent of the third place winner of the category said it was grossly unfair to treat podium finishers that way.
“They ran the same route as the adults, and they deserve to get their medals and cash prizes on stage like others.
“For all the international events, you see prizes given out on stage and those who came out in fourth to 10th placings had to claim from a counter. I saw the first to third place winners claim their prizes from a booth.
“Why bother giving foreigners winning the main marathon the spotlight when our young children can use some motivation as well? They will be running for us in the future,” Govin Munusamy, 48, said.
Govin’s daughter Kugashini, 15, won third place.
State executive councillor in charge of the event, Law Heng Kiang, told the Guangming Ribao daily that the PBIM was well organised and those who did not get their medals were likely those who did not finish on time.
As for the expired food issue, he told China Press it was regarding a chocolate bar given out at the run.
“The sponsors gave 35,000 chocolate bars but admitted over 200 had expired. The sponsors will put out a statement soon,” he told the daily.
The run attracted 35,000 runners from 85 countries competing in four categories, the full marathon (42km), half-marathon (21km), 10km run and Fun Run (8km) this year. Cash prizes totalling RM259,200 were given out.
On PBIM’s Facebook page, many runners vented their frustrations, with one saying the run was as good as “dead” and many others vowing to boycott the run in the future.
Other comments left were “bad management” and many expressed shock over slow first aid for burned- out runners.
“I saw the queue and saw it was not moving. I didn’t bother to queue up and collect the medal because I needed to check out of my hotel and recover.
“PBIM is dead to me already with such horrendous organisation. No wonder they’re losing big-name sponsors,” FB user Mong Xeng Xuang said.
“I came all the way from Sabah to join this run, but I did not get my finisher medal due to the medal shortage. Super disappointed,” Bebeth Jerry Jiwas said on FB.
“Looks like the PBIM17 was not organised well this year, which is a huge disappointment to many participants who paid, woke up early for the event and were deprived of the finisher T-shirt and medals.
“Worst is the organisers were not even there to solve the problem and left it to the guides or volunteers who had to deal with the angry runners.
“Where is the organiser in responding to this issue?
“I believe all participants (who were) in the same boat as me deserve an explanation/response and solution as to how to claim the finisher T-shirt and medals,” FB user Ng Li Ping said.
Another user, Wilson Chan, said water for runners also ran out.
“Water station at 25km ran out of water; 1st isotonic station only available at 15km.
“Finishing line crowded with people; no dedicated lane for different category runners.
“Please do not call this an international marathon event… Really memper-siasui-kan (embarrassing and degrading),” Chan said.
“It is time to give red card and boot out the organiser. We need the organiser like the one for KL Standard Chartered marathon,” FB user Jason Toh said.
A long-time runner, who wanted to remain anonymous, told FMT the problems faced by runners were “nothing new”, saying she had quit going to the run two years ago.
“All the complaints are identical as before. I refuse to pay nearly RM400 for an event that is poorly organised. That is why I do not go for PBIM any more.”
Penang Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong said the snags experienced by PBIM had affected the image of Penang on the international stage.
He said many had observed the run had experienced a decline in standards and the state government ought to buck up.
“I feel the state government, as organiser of the run, must be held responsible for the many complaints that have come up.
“This is very serious and state executive councillor Law Heng Kiang ought to be faulted and made responsible for all of this,” Oh said in a statement.
FMT has contacted Law for comment and is awaiting his reply.