For the last 17 months I have been living halfway around the world in Bangkok, Thailand. While I have been in Thailand I have had the opportunity to introduce the sport of orienteering to some Thai children aged 6-12. They were very excited to try a new sport that they had never heard of before. I made a number of courses around the school yard at the school that I am teaching at. The students enjoyed the challenge and adventure of finding the controls marked on the map. However; they needed constant reminders to orient the map because they were often going in the wrong direction. Maybe the World Orienteering Championships will one day take place in the land of smiles! Here is the first ISSOM map that I know of in Thailand:
Running racing and training in a foreign place where the temperature rarely drops below 25 degrees Celsius can pose some challenges. For this reason many of the running races here start at 6:00 am. or earlier when the temperature is a cooler 24-27 degrees Celsius. Running a race when it is 38 degrees Celsius and 46 with the humidity would not be ideal! There are many running races here in Bangkok almost every weekend and sometimes 3+ races on a Sunday morning. To date I have entered 33 races during my time in Asia. I have entered races of varying size and distance from small 10.5 km. races (which are called a mini marathons here) to large marathons in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, Thailand; Beijing, China; Chuncheon, South Korea and Singapore. The constant with the races in Thailand are that you get at least one running shirt/singlet, a medal, and lots of food afterwards. Many of the races here seem like a big deal with VIP only seating areas, nicely decorated awards stages, prize money and trophies.
Besides the heat, running the streets and sidewalks of Bangkok can also pose some other challenges that we would never even think of in Canada. One of these challenges is running on an empty stomach and running past many food carts and restaurants along the road selling every type of Thai food you can imagine. If you are hungry then there is the urge to stop and eat some food. Another challenge is dealing with the odd chilli powder in your eye while you are running. Chilli powder and spices are very prevalent in Thai cooking, so there has been many times where I have found myself ‘running blind’ because of chillies in my eyes! The street dogs can also get a little crazy after dark. It makes you run faster when they are chasing you!
There is a nice park fee of food, chilli powder and street dog challenges. This place is called the Buddhamonthon Park, which is one of my favourite places here in Bangkok. It is a good place to run because it is quiet, beautiful and there is some shade! I can also practice some visualization and pretending that I am orienteering here spiking a control behind a large clump of bamboo shoots. It would make an awesome venue for the next Park World Tour (PWT) race…
Happy New Year from Thailand!