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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TNF Trail Run Series #5 Pulau Ubin

Woke up to an orange sky and the wind howling and trees rustling. Oh no not again! Sure enough, it starts to pour. It was the morning of the TNF Trail Run #5 at Pulau Ubin. Rather pessimistically, I changed into my North Face attire. Is the Pulau Ubin jinx going to strike again? It had rained the first time we went in February to recce the route and as a result, we had aborted the recce and postpone the run in February. Then at our next recce, it rained again and we had to delay going over to the island until nearly 8 am. It didn't rain during the last recce but it poured right after we finished our recce. So don't blame me for being apprehensive.

The rough sea after the rain
By the time we reached the ferry point, most of the hardcore runners were already waiting. Still it was a smaller than usual crowd. Only about 30 persons compared to the usual 50 - 60 of the past few runs. Credit that to the rain and the early meet up time. Fortunately, the rain stopped and we sailed over no doubt most of us with a silent prayer that it will not rain again. 
And the sky held up! And in the end the rain turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it became one of the best run ever with beautiful scenery, cool weather and great company.

RL Brokie pointing the way to the Secret Garden

Our route took us through various highlights of the island. First was the cutesy named Secret Garden which was actually a garden with all sort of vegetables and fruit trees including coffee, bitter gourd, starfruite, pomelo, corn, watercress.........

From there, it was a winding run through the trails passing swamp, rubber trees and cemetery to the Chek Jawa wetland. We stopped for a group photo at the jetty. However, I think everybody was busy eyeing the beautiful coastline of Pasir Ris and Changi and looking for the many sea creatures hiding in the seagrass. That plus the windy breeze and it was with great reluctance that the runners finally decide to continue the run.

One of the many quarries on the island

More trails and a quarry later, we came to Mamam Beach. From there we ran past some old huts, remnants of the villagers and fisherman on the island maybe? Unfortunately one part of it was filled with rubbish. There was an oily smell in the air and the ground was uneven and there were potholes all over. Kelly one of the run leader fell around here the last recce and I reminded the runners with me to be careful but barely had I ran a few metres when I heard a shout and turned round to see one of the runner down on the floor. The first thing he said when I asked whether he was hurt was "hurt nevermind, most important is camera not damaged". 

The 'danger' part where runners fall
We continued through this oily dirty stretch before hitting the road enroute to our second stop, Noordin Beach where we had our second group photo.

The sprawling Ketam Mountain Bike Park

After that, it was non-stop road run passing more cemeteries, jack fruit, coconuts before and durian and more durian trees before we reached our final destination, the Ketam Mountain Bike park. Due to a lack of time, we only managed to do a 1km stretch of the park. That stretch took us through a winding trail before coming up to an open ground where we could see the Ketam island of which the park was named after. 

From there, it was a 3 km run back to the Jetty for our return trip to mainland Singapore. And that conclude one of the most relaxing and easiest run in the series. For many of the runners, it was their first time on the island and even for those who have been there previously, most had not covered the trails that we covered on this run. We hope we had managed to convey the beauty of the island to the runners and that they will come back to explore this last little bit of nature on their own soon before modern development claims the place.

For those who are interested, this is the route we took.

More photos here and more of Pulau Ubin here

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