Running has become one of the most popular workouts in Indonesia. Identifying oneself as a runner is no longer confined to amateur athletes, but is a title proudly owned by people from different walks of life, including businesspeople and executives who have embraced running as part of their lifestyle.
Many take up running because they want to stay in shape, in addition to the relaxation of escaping their work routines. Every Sunday morning, they head to Jakarta’s central boulevards of Jl. Sudirman and Thamrin or Senayan Sports Stadium.
“Running is a product of the explosion of social entrepreneurship and also the growing middle class who take care of their health by doing sports,” said businessman and avid runner Sandiaga S. Uno.
He adds that running and especially marathons are used by individuals or companies as a medium for social outreach programs or corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.
Sandiaga pioneered “Berlari Untuk Berbagi” (Running for Sharing), a charity program that raises funds for the needy through competing in marathons.
Unfortunately, international marathon races that are open to the public are rarely held in Indonesia, with the last organized way back in the 1980s. And compared to neighboring countries, Indonesia ranks the lowest in terms of hosting international marathon events. In 2011, for instance, no single international marathon event was held in the nation, compared to eight events in Thailand, six in Singapore, four in Malaysia and two in the Philippines.
Amateur runners have instead been forced to go abroad to compete in such events as the Singapore Marathon, KL Marathon, Gold Coast Australia Marathon, Berlin Marathon and New York Marathon.
The good news for runners is that Bank International Indonesia (BII) Maybank will organize an international open marathon on April 22 in Bali, with the Bali Safari Marine Park, Gianyar, designated as the starting and finishing point.
About 2,500 participants, both professional runners and amateur enthusiasts, are expected to take part in the BII Maybank Bali Marathon, with a full marathon (42.19 kilometers), half marathon (21.09-km) and 10-km race.
BII Maybank said its reasons for organizing the event were to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of marathon enthusiasts in Indonesia amid a dearth of competitions.
“Besides promoting Indonesia in general on the international athletic map, the marathon event is also part of BII’s CSR program,” said BII’s general legal counsel Satyo Haryo Wibowo, who is a co-race director.
Bali has been selected as the venue because it is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, offering cultural wealth and beautiful scenery to visitors. The route will allow the participants to enjoy Bali’s legendary vistas.
“It covers not only the main road, but participants will also see paddy fields, kampongs and Balinese temples, gamelan, dancers and other exotic scenery,” he said.
“Besides Bali has sufficient infrastructure and supporting facilities, hotels and adequate airport, which will meet the requirements for holding an international-scale marathon.”
To ensure that the marathon proceeds smoothly, BII Maybank has coordinated with the Bali governor, Denpasar mayor and Gianyar regent, and is also closely cooperating with several parties that have extensive experience in organizing sports events.
“Barbara Oravetz, founder of Jakarta Free Spirit, one of the running clubs in Jakarta, is assisting us in this regard,” he said, adding that Mark Clay, a triathlon ironman, and Bali Discovery Tour event organizer that organizes the Bali International Triathlon, are also involved in its organization.
According to Satyo, the marathon will be held in accordance with standards set by international practice. The BII Maybank organizing team has cooperated with the Association of International Marathon and Distance Races (AIMS) on ensuring the proper race course.
“The AIMS has sent Dave Cundy to conduct measurements on the distance of the race. Dave Cundy has extensive experience in conducting measurements on race distances and already holds Grade A as an IAAF-AIMS course measurer,” he said.
Participants will have a time chip attached to their leg, enabling the speed of each runner to be recorded.
BII Maybank is offering US$20,000 in prize money for the marathon champion and $10,000 for the 10-km race winner. “As a form of appreciation for their participation, all participants will be entitled to a medal as a finisher,” Satyo said.
To date, about 1,500, or more than 50 percent, of the targeted 2,500 runners have registered and confirmed their participation in the event. “Many of the participants are runners from other countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Switzerland and the United States,” Satyo said.
The walk-in registration, which began in December 2011, will remain open until April 10, while online registration will be open until April 12.
Those interested in participating in the BII Maybank Bali Marathon should visit balimarathon.com for more information.