I have been intrigued by the Bali Marathon since it’s first edition in 2012. It quickly grew popular and is becoming one of the biggest in Asia. They even say that Bali Marathon is the best in Asia. For my 14th marathon, I was about to find out.
Slots for the Bali Marathon quicky sells fast, especially the full marathon category. I signed up as soon as the registration opened to make sure I don’t run out of slots.
Bali Marathon then regulay sends updates through email. Among them was a video of the race route and the elevation profile. The elevation looks challenging. With the 5AM gun start, I already imagined myself running past 11AM under the heat of the sun.
Race Pack Collection
The race pack collection was quite a show. It was held at a hotel with a beach view. There were plenty of personnels to assist you and I was able to get my race kit and event shirt in 15 minutes or less.
The event area have lots of booths and activities from sponsors. There were food, music, special offers and discounts.
If it was this good, I can’t wait to see how the race day will be.
I was impressed with how the shuttle buses were organized. The pick up points were clear. The buses were clean and comfortable. There were lots of marshals to assist and it left on time to the race venue.
The race area is in Gianyar which is far from the more popular areas in Bali like Kuta, Legian and Nusa Dua. Thus, the buses leaves at 2AM and 3AM depending on your area. I had to wake up at 1AM for a 5AM race.
Upon arrival at Gianyar, the buses will be parked about 1KM from the starting line. There are smaller vans similar to jeepneys that will ferry you from the shuttle area to the starting area. But still expect a lot of walking to the starting line.
It was well organized, so far. First, is the security check, then the baggage area, and the portalets. Finally the starting area which are divided by categories and by wave.
The gun start did not have much funfare. No countdown too. Just a faint sound of a gun and the host shouting GO!
There were some dark areas for the first 30 minutes. But once the sun rises everything goes well. Plenty of marshals and plenty of police officers.
Not all roads are closed for the runners. There were few instances where runners only get half a lane and only 2 runners can fit side by side.
Hydration was about in every 2KM. It was adequate but the water is not cold. The isotonic drink is cold. They are serving a different brand of sports drink, Mizone, which is non-carbonated.
I counted about 3 banana stations and 2 sponge stations. In most hydration stations, they are also giving ice in plastic that you can carry and cool you down.
The route is new this year and more challenging. There were plenty of instances where runners would rather walk than run the uphill portion.
Surprisingly, the heat was not that bad. The sun can be scorching but the wind was cool. There were plenty of trees to get shade from. I wore a good armsleeves and cooling tech shirt which probably helped me bear the heat.
Is it No. 1?
I can’t say it’s the overall Number 1 in Asia. But what sets it apart from other races is how the Bali Marathon leaves a distinct flavor no other races can provide. Bali culture in itself is rich and amazing. The Bali Marathon did a great job letting you experience this culture as you run the couse.
Even if your body is aching, the Bali Marathon demands attention from all your senses. It wants your eyes to see it’s architecture and art. It wants your nose to smell the incense in the air. It wants your ears to hear their music. Yes, all of these are in the Bali Marathon route. And if you dare, you can even taste some local street food that they sell along the route.
No tall buildings nor bare landscapes yet each turn has something about Bali to show. The sunrise was beautiful. There are hues of orange and purple in the sky with the hills and mountians outlined in the horizon. You see temples, shrines, rivers, rice fields and terraces. If you have gotten tired of city races, the Bali Marathon is the best alternative.
And the number 1 thing about the Bali Marathon is the people cheering along the route. They treat you like a superstar. In other races, the route entertainment is limited in the beginning or the cheerers will be just one or two volunteers at a time. But Bali Marathon have big groups of cheerers, dancers and musicians until KM40! In some points they left their spots since it was getting hot but many stayed on their post still full of energy.
I wanted to finish before 11AM since that is the time the shuttle is scheduled to take us back to our hotels.
KM28 is the highest elevation but the roads keep rolling until KM37. It is in the last 5KM that everything goes downhill. If you get past KM37, it gets easy from there. You can surely say you will finish the race.
I finished at 5:35:12 based on the Bali Marathon Official Results. The medal and shirt are being given at the race village. I expected the race village to be as festive and as grand as the race packet collection, but it was not as grand. Maybe because I finished late and I could have missed the celebrations there already.
The Bali Marathon medal is one of the best designed medals. No other medal is as intricate as theirs. And I think the medals for 10K, 21K and 42K are just the same size. That’s something 10K runners would love to hear.
I strongly recommend joining the Bali Marathon. It’s a totally different experience. If you are interested in signing up, be sure to watch out for the next Bali Marathon 2018 schedule since the slots will surely run out fast again.
And after the race, be sure to stay longer in Bali. There’s so much more to do than just run a marathon. I suggest that you stay for a day for the beach in Kuta and another day in the countryside in Ubud. Yet, two extra days is not enough in Bali.
I fell in love with Bali and I can’t wait to be back again for a longer vacation.
Check out my video of the Bali while I was running on the route. I stopped several times to get closer to the crowd. It was fun.NOW AVAILABLE. TAKBO.PH COTTON TEES AND HOODIES. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ORDER.
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