Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Comrades Expo

There is a time difference of 6 hours between KL and South Africa. I got up automatically at 3am ( it's already 9 am) in KL. It was still dark and I tried to sleep again.

At 6am, I saw the sunrise from my window and how beautiful the Durban beachfront was. It was dark when I arrived last night.

There were people running alone the promenade and it was really spectacular. The winds and waves were strong enough for surfing. In fact , that's people usually do when they come to Durban.

Our meeting time at breakfast was supposed to be at 8am. I got down at 7am and saw many runners. I am an expert in identifying runners by now.

The first to come down was CP Tan and his wife. We sat together and soon I excused myself to go up and get changed because we were going to the expo later.

When I come down again, I saw the whole group. First I saw Wong in the lobby and he helped me to snap a photo with the famous Russian twins. Then we went into to the breakfast lounge and Francis, Frank, Roy and Cham was already there. The next table is Chee Kong and Mei Ee with baby Xi Ning. Xi Ning was born a week before the 2 Oceans Marathon in March.

Then a voice called out to me and said ..Mr Fashionable.

I looked behind and here she was, this a petite lady with long locks of hair wearing a pink dress with geometrical designs like a Pucci. She is Celene from Hong Kong. We interacted on Facebook but this is my 1st time meeting her.

She loved the statement ring that I was wearing. So it was words of Renee Zellweger in the movie Jerry Macguire (1996)'ve got me at hello. She was warm and lively. Sometimes in life, you met a person and within the first 5 seconds, you'd know that you both clicked. This was one of those moments.

We continued to interact the next few days up to the last day when we sat together for breakfast before I flew to Cape Town. In fact, Francis, Celene and I had breakfast together everyday. It is a pity that she didn't joined us for the Pasta Party. She must join us next year.

I will never forget our 1st meeting. We looked out for each other the next few days like brother and sister.

Chee Kong was so nice to send the 3 of us who arrive late last night to the expo. He and the gang from Joburg has already collect their bibs yesterday.

The Comrades expo is huge but there is preferential treatment for foreign runners. We have a special booth for collection. There is free coffee and tea plus biscuits there. We can go on a free bus tour of the Comrades Route at 8am either Friday or Saturday. There's a special tag for our baggage or tog bags as they called it South Africa. We can get our bags at the International Tent, a guarded area that serves a buffet after the run.

The expo is huge but not as huge as Tokyo. The security is not as tight as the American ones i.e. we don't go through metal detectors. But it is certainly bigger than Gold Coast Expo.

One thing I really like about the Comrades Expo is the amount of seats available. There's sofas at the Bonitas area and Nedbank chill lounge as you entered. There's a big food court serving almost everything including chinese , middle eastern, popcorns and even beers. The wifi is really fast in the Durban Convention Centre too. Just ask for the password from the information counters.

The Foreign Runners' Booth. A German lady with a bigger camera took this photo for  me.

There's is also a official merchandise area sponsored by Reebok. There's also a green number merchandise area. Beware, we are not allowed in there. Green Numbers means the runner has run the Comrades for 10 times and gets to keep his number permanently . There's also other privileges such a separate bib collection, separate corral and special merchandise at discounted prices. There is the Comrades' loyalty program I supposed.

Frank, Roy , Cham , Chee Kong , Mei Ee and baby came soon after . We walked for a while and off we go to a private Comrades route tour.

I saw the Comrades route for the first time and we took a very meaningful photo together .. I will share it in the next installment..

No comments:

Post a Comment