I remembered reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” where she travelled to Italy, India, and Indonesia, but her memoirs about Bali struck me the most. I have been to Bali several times before, but just like the author, I can never get enough of it. Perhaps I should move there too? There is a lot of things that is yet to be discovered on this mystical “Island of Gods”, and luckily enough, a few years later, I was given the opportunity to participate in Bali Marathon 2016.
Set in Gianyar, Bali Marathon took us away from the stereotypical tourist spots such as the beach and town. There is certainly more to Bali besides surfing and partying. The route for all categories (full marathon, half marathon, 10K) showed a softer side of Bali that is often forgotten and under-appreciated: it’s green, terraced paddy fields, the calm, picturesque villages against the dramatic background of the volcano, and the friendly, warm smiles of local children cheering for you.
As the runners are weaving in and out of the village streets, the adult villagers, on the other hand, go about their daily affairs as usual – women balancing market purchases on their heads, everyone going to the temple to perform their morning prayer, putting a little pallet of offering by their doorstep, or busy weaving flowers and leaves for the next ritual of the day. It’s as if nothing is happening, allowing foreigners like me to observe this daily routine that is uniquely Balinese. The world and its inhabitants is such a beautiful place, we should learn more to appreciate this diversity so we can respect our differences. Maybe, this calls for a future trip to Bali again for a crash course on their culture?
Apart from observing the local villagers, Bali Marathon also gathered a lot of running crews from all over the world. They are very proud about their origins and the club that they are representing, often carrying the flag towards the finishing line or the supporters accompanying them towards the final kilometers. After checking their social media accounts, prior to this event, they have showed immense team spirit and fostered strong teamwork through training together, going on trips regularly, or attended non-running events together. However, that does not mean that they are not open to new friendships. These running crews are definitely a fun and friendly bunch of people, and thanks to them, we had a good time before and after the marathon, plus, they also assisted us on making the necessary ground arrangements so our stay in Bali will be as smooth as possible.
Bali Marathon might be the first running event overseas for me, yet it won’t be the last. If God wills it, there will be more runcation (running + vacation) events for me in the future!
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner