Penang Bridge International Marathon 2017… International? Really?

 |Nov 29, 2017

INSUFFICIENT number of medals and finisher T-shirts, expired food being distributed, the lack of water stations and poor overall management- these are among complaints by participants of the recently concluded Penang Bridge International Marathon.

The annual event which took place last Saturday (Nov 26) may have attracted a large turnout of 35,000 runners but the increasing numbers also saw a steady increase of complaints year in and year out.

The complaints have grown noticeably in the past few years, with many claiming it was better organised in the past.

The Penang Bridge International Marathon 2017 is an international event as the name suggests, with participants coming from all over the world to take part in but whether it meets international standards still leaves room for questions.

This is obvious as a check on its Facebook page still sees it being inundated with angry and disgusted comments from participants voicing their many dissatisfaction with how things were organised.

Some have vowed never to take part in the event again following the bad memories it left them with.

However, the event, held since 1984, continues to attract participants, probably due to its unique attraction of being able to run across Penang’s iconic Penang Bridge.

Sadly though, the significance of the Penang Bridge as an attraction to draw participation has somewhat failed to remind the main organiser which is the Penang state government, just how important it is to maintain, if not improve the quality of the event.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, when questioned about the blunder, passed the responsibility to his exco is charge of tourism, Danny Law Heng Kiang to respond to complaints.

Law on the other hand seemed to pass the blame to the sponsor, saying a press conference on the matter would be called soon.

Being in charge of Penang since 2008 and PBIM close to a decade now should have made the state government more competent in handling an event of such magnitude especially when it serves as an annual tourism attraction which contributes to the state economy.

A lackadaisical attitude not only leaves a bad impression on the organiser but also Penang as whole as those travelling from afar just to take part in the event will surely be reminded of at the mention of Penang.

Also, perhaps it is being taken for granted that no matter how poorly organised, the crowd will keep coming back as it is not always the bridge is closed off for one to be able to run freely on it?

And besides, it also leaves many to wonder if something like the Penang Bridge International Marathon cannot even be held without repetitive errors, how can the state handle bigger issues?

As a runner myself who sometimes takes part in runs and races, I have stopped taking part in the PBIM after my first and last participation in 2014. Let’s just say that I have first-hand experience of nearly all the complaints being written about the marathon.

It is not cheap either. I remember paying close to RM100 to take part in a half-marathon but all I got was bad experience where organisation and coordination were concerned.

The following year I paid to join marathons in other states and other countries. Suffice to say, I did not encounter such problems and I have promised myself to only take part in races and runs outside of Penang!