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A Matter of Course

Post-Race Criticism Mounts From Participants in Bali Highway Half Marathon

(11/20/2013) Many of the star athletes who participated in the Bali Highway Half Marathon held on Sunday, November 17, 2013, have been left embittered by the experience, expressing anger and frustration at the last minute changes announced by the organizers only one day before the race’s start.

Original plans to hold a combined after-sunset 21-kilometer half-marathon, 10-kilometer and 3.14-kilometer race on Bali’s newly opened Bali Mandara Tollway were changed on the eve of the race due to the failure of the organizers to obtain the needed permits from the Minister of Public Works to allow the road to be used.

As a result, the race was moved to the Nusa Dua Complex in South Bali with the Half-marathon distance reduced to only 16-kilometers.

Following the failure to run the race on the newly opened highway suspended over Benoa Bay, a series of incriminations have taken place between the race organizer and PT Jasa Marga Bali Tol who operate the roadway.

At the heart of the dispute are claims by the toll operators that the organizers failed to include them in their planning or request permission to use the road from the Minister of Public Works as required under law.
Runners in the troubled race have shared their dismay via social media and comments to the press, with many claiming the revised route was not viable from a safety standpoint.

Joseph Dennis a Kenyan runner told ASATUNEWS after the race: “I am very disappointed with the organization of this marathon because that which was publicized in the mass media did not match the reality. Not only was the route changed by the course was extremely difficult.” He bemoaned that plans announced by the organizers to hold the race on the Bali Mandara Toll Road were suddenly changed to a new location. He added: “Having the race at night in accordance with the original plans is not a problem. But for all the runners who don’t know the new route, (the changes) were very dangerous. It looks as though the race operators just ‘made do.’”

Dennis went on and condemned the preparations of the organizing committee, saying they were very poor, with little thought given to the safety of the runners. He said those marshalling the course were few and runners had to negotiate a running path through motorbikes.

Will Tanni, another elite runner who had traveled from Ethiopia to compete, voiced similar complaints. Tanni, who said this was his first night race, called the course the worse he had ever experience since he began participating in international running events. “This was the worst route I have encountered. I am really disappointed. I came here not just to win a prize, but what was more important for me was how the organizers prepared for this international event,” Tanni complained.

Meanwhile, another runner Osias Kamlase from Indonesia who has won the Bali 10 kilometer in the past admitted that the route chosen by the organizers was not fit for a marathon. “This was the most unsuitable route I have encountered since I began running in the 1980s. All along the road runners were worried because the route was not sterile.”

The chief organizer of the race Andreas Kansil admitted that the change in route was a sudden deviation from the original plan to conduct the race on the Toll Road. “I am aware of the complaints and disappointment of these runners, but we did not anticipate the cancellation of plans to use the toll road,” said Kansil.

Kansil said the organizers would evaluate the results of the Bali Highway Half Marathon in order to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Final participation in the 2013 event was less than 1,000 runners. The original projection for participants listed on the events Face Book page was 13,000, later reduced to 3,000 runners on the event's official website.

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