Date: 30 April 2011
Venue: Mandai, Singapore
Distance: 6km (Garmin: 6.63km)
Timing: 37:43 minutes or 5:43 min/km pace
Result: 6th placing (full results here)
Surprisingly, no laments despite it being a trail or “off road” event. See, the Singapore guys do have a way with organizing things and letting you take away a great experience. I was and still am glad I chose the NB 361 over the KSO or the Bikila – there was absolutely no way to tackle the run without getting an entire 6km or 12km foot reflexology, nada any stretch that was paved or even closely resemble one. I could run freely and since I was shod in the 361, did not bother too much, about where I stepped though I did have momentarily panic attacks on 2 occasions when my foot rolled on a stone and I thought I was in for a sprain – and way too early in the run (km2!).
I moved cautiously and had zero expectations since I have not done a trail race before this (heck, I had practically no training for that matter!) and it was dark (not even moonlight). The first km was a bit congested, so there was a wee bit of weaving around – in the dark! – and this took 5:41 minutes. There were a fair bit of climbs and hills and the first one probably started at km2; no, let me take that back – close to 80% of the route was climbs and all I could tell myself (repeatedly!) was: this is what Kenny and Kei Ming trained you for; this is like Seputeh-Taman Desa and DH workouts, stop whining, get through them, there’ll be a downslope soon (only this didn’t show up or the gradient didn’t justify the upslope!!!) etc.
The route was do-able until km4-5 when we came face-to-face with the mother of all hills! The guys dubbed this the “256 hill” – I gathered that this is where the Singapore Army trains. The portion was “un-runable” and the only way to get up there was pull along the rope (there were 2) and haul yourself up. This was also where I was “bounced”, first frontal and ended up with cuts and abrasions on my elbow and knee; second when my back was thrown against the upslope face (thank goodness, no stones or hard mud) when someone either at the top of bottom grip-swung the rope. There was still some swinging and I somehow lost the grip and the headlights. So what does a damsel in distress stranded in the middle of the hill and with the rope not within reach do? Answer: yelp for help! So thankful for the girl and another volunteer who helped me up; they were so encouraging and kept telling me I could make it. Thank you. Thank you.
After this, the route returned to “normal” although I did have to follow the runner in front of me quite closely – for the light!
a) Very well organized.
b) Responsive organizers – Elaine emailed me almost immediately when I inquired about my race bib pick up.
c) Race day bib pick up for overseas runners.
d) Frequent (and free!) shuttle service between Woodlands MRT and Mandai.
e) Very well marshaled route with marshals every 200-300 meters and these did a good job to forewarn runners of downslopes, hills, steps etc.
f) Great race carnival – plenty of events for non-runners.
g) FOC ice cream!
h) Hydration points – about 2 along the route for the 6km as well as at the finishing.
i) Route markers and reflective lights – god send when I had to finish the last 2km without my headlamp.
j) Excellent and cheerful volunteers/marshals.
a) Traffic flow at the end could have been better managed – segregation of the 6km and 12km runners in order to collect their respective finishers’ medal.
b) The false alarm “finishing” gantry at km5.5.
c) Better lighting on or at signboards for the turn offs for the 6km and 12km routes. I had to stop briefly to check – of course, I take part of the blame since I wear my reading glasses while running but it has never been a problem for me during day events.