Post-marathon reflections – running for the captive dolpins.

I ran the Sundown full marathon on saturday evening at 10pm. Prior to that Otterman called me to wish me good luck and we started to talk about the dolphins that were being held captive and at some point would be brought to Resorts World Singapore for human entertainment. I immediately thought that I should then dedicate the run to the captive dolphins at least to put it on facebook to tell my friends and help raise awareness. And so I did, and posted on facebook that each km goes in against keeping the dolphins captive.

So when I started the race, it was really a different deal from the normal races I do where I basically go with the flow. My thoughts were of the dolphins and trust me, 42 km is a lot of time and distance to think about it. I ran with a running kaki and for the first 10 km we were chatting and telling each other how stupid we were not to train yet again.

By the 21 km mark I was alone and made the u-turn along the PCN at East Coast Parkway. I was alone with my thoughts and my pace was good, dedicating each km to the dolphins made the run a purposeful one. And as I ran close to the beach, I imagined dolphins porpoising (alternately rising above the water and submerging) freely in the sea nearby. I kept my pace and was in for a sub-6 hour timing; I had everything covered – gobbled enough power gels to keep glycogen stores up and checked my heart rate and running pace. My previous marathon was done in 6hrs 55 mins, not very good by any standards.

Then it happened yet again at the 35km, the “Wall”. I had stopped at a hydration station and took in two cups of 100-plus and wiping my face with a dry towel I had kept in a ziploc. After wiping my face, I felt instantly dizzy and had that bitter taste in my mouth. Very.. bad.. feeling. I struggled to even to stand up and walk so I laid down on the road for 10 mins. There were nice runners who saw me in trouble and ask: “Bro, you ok?”

At the 39km mark, I was barely making it, constantly spitting out the bitter taste developing in my mouth and walking very wearily. All thoughts of dolphins now disappeared and I thought how terrible for me not to finish a race I had dedicated to them. Even the thoughts of the dolpins couldn’t keep me going.

What kept me going and not fainting were thoughts of my little kids running beside me, laughing and skipping as they always do and me walking alongside my wife – as we do when we walk in the park. I had to visualise that to keep myself from giving up and that mental picture and the sounds of my kids laughter kept me going. Such is the strength of family ties, what we treasure most, our closest and dearest. It keeps us going no matter what. I finished the marathon in 6 hrs 15 mins, shaving off 40 mins from my previous timing.

What goes through a dolpin’s head when it is separated from its closest? I know as a biologist, that dolphins are highly social. If our family ties give us so much, then won’t it be the same for social and intelligent creatures? Especially sentient and highly intelligent ones like dolphins?

What bothers me about the RWS issue is that in the past we were battling ignorance of what people knew about dolpins. These days in a highly educated society like ours, what is it that we are battling to free the dolpins?

From now on, I am dedicating all the mileage I clock for the release of the dolphins and in support of the campaign by ACRES called the World’s Saddest Dolphins

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