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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Newton Challenge 2012

One thing I have never understand is why people will pay good money to run loops at East Coast Park when one can run for free there everyday. So it never fail to amaze me that thousand of people signs up for the multi loops Newton Challenge Race every year. What was the attraction? So this year since I was free, I decided to drag myself down to witness this spectacle for myself.

The race had already started when I go there at about 6 am. I parked at Carpark F2 and walked up to the Bougainvillea Terrace to take some pictures. But it was too dark and I had to wait until it became brighter before I can start taking photos. My wait was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise and I managed to get a few shots of the sunrise with runners in the foreground. 

Too bad the trees were blocking the full view of the sun unlike this photographer who managed to take a beautiful shot.

The race comprised of 2 categories 18km and 30km. Because of this and probably also because of the high registration fees, only "hardcore" runners turned up. I think there were not more than 5000 runners in total. I guess quite a number of runners are using this race as a final warm up for the SCMS in December like this group of official SCMS pacers from Team BMW.

The race was also well supported by runners from Punggol Runners and the Newton Running Club who were pacing the runners.

I finally understand the reasons for the runners choosing this race over the more highly marketed Adidas King of the Road when at the end point, runners were given a cold towel on top of the finisher medal. What a nice touch! And there were free food galore. Bananas, watermelon, biscuits, ice cream and even soya bean curd! Something that I have not seen except at the North Face 100 Challenge.

The Mok siblings Mok Yin Ren and Mok Yin Rong won the Men 30km and Women 18km races respectively and walked away with $300.00 cash and $300 worth of product vouchers each. But the best was the lucky draw winners who walked away with Ipad and Ipod.

From the feedbacks from runners, distance markers were on the dot, there were ample cold Pocari Sweat isotonic drinks and it was almost a perfect race for everybody - except for the heat. But I guess that is something the organsier cannot do anything more other than providing the cold water and the cold towel.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Balance Real Run 2012

Haven't take part in this event for the past 3 years and wasn't going to this year as well although this has traditionally been one of my favourite race. But ever since they moved the race from Sentosa to Changi, it has lost its glamour and uniqueness. The 3-in-1, road, trail, sand still attracts a lot of interest but the long boring stretch along Changi Coastal Road and the long run in the finish is a real put down.

Nevertheless, I dragged my butt out of bed on Sunday to go down to take some photos. As per the norm in Singapore, races are super unfriendly to supporters. The roads are closed to vehicles from an ugodly hour, there are no place to park cars, and the race catered buses are for runners only. Even when I thought I tried to park further away, the carpark at the next nearest place at the Coconut Grove is closed to all but the ambulance. Sighed.........

Anyway, I managed to walk to the beach and positioned myself there. There was no way I was going to walk another 4km to the race site. Had some time to kill. Ate my breakfast and waited for the runners to appear.

The first lot was the increasingly common sighted Kenyans. Seriously I wonder why these people bother to travel all the way here to take part in these small events when the prize money is so small. And I heard the money is pooled and shared among the whole squad!

Then the bulk of the 10km came. There were too many of them and I soon gave up trying to snap individuals, choosing to just mechanically snap away. Not much of a challenge but hopefully participants who see their faces in the Running Shots facebook album or here will appreciate it.

Although the 10km runners were flagged off later, the timing of the flagged off resulted in the main body of the 21km running right smack into the slower 10km runners. Poor them. Having to struggle on the sand was bad enough but having to weave through the runners as well. Also because of this, I was not able to take many pictures of the faster 21km runners as they well sandwiched between all the 10km runners.

Here are the photos.

Photos can also be found on Running Shots Facebook page where there are more photos taken by friend, Marcus Lim.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The North Face Run with Kami Semick

The week before the Singapore TNF 100 flag off, TNF Singapore had a special visitor from out of town. Kami Semick, ultra marathoner and TNF sponsored athlete. She came to give a talk to the runners and wind up her visit with a run at the MacRitchie Reservoir.

Runners were invited to run with her and about 50 or so turned up on Saturday.  Most of the runners ran 1 round whilst she and a few others went 2 rounds.

A few of us from last year TNF trail run series and Running Lab were roped in to help marshal the runners. Of course, most of us could only smell her dust but that did not stop us from having a nice time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

TNF 100 Singapore 2012

Jinx? Fated? 3 times bad luck? How do I ever start to describe this? How could I once again mess up a simple 25km run?

Ever since 2010 when I first did this event and although I finished it, I wasn't satisfied with the way I ran it and vowed to do it properly. So the following year, I trained hard, even formed a team to prepare for it but at the last minute, had to sit it out with a injury that forced me to halt running for a long time. So this year, although the long runs wasn't adequate, I felt fit and confident enough to finally be able to close this chapter of my running in good stead. Instead, just barely halfway into the race, I broke the year's injury free record and busted my ankle on a part of the trail that I had ran countless time and eventually had to DNF!

The day had started well enough. We reached MR bright and early to secure a car lot. Walked around, meet up with friends, took some pictures before we were flagged off at 8am. The earlier start compared to past years were warmly welcomed. We could at the very least avoid the hot noon sun.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

North East Tampines Run 2012

Took part in my final 10k was m race for the year. It so funny. Just before this year, I have not ran any 10km race for a long long time and in the space of 4 months I have completed 3. But the only reason I signed up for this was that it was almost in my backyard. And it cost only $18. Cheap by local standard. So I wasn't expecting much from this. On the way to collect the race pack though, I was a bit worried about how "no frills" it was going to be. Race pack collection was only on 1 day and between 4pm to 9pm. I was like huh... don't tell me the response is so bad. I jokingly told the sidekick to expect aunties and uncles at the finishing line jotting down the runners' bib number for the race timing!

Imagine my surprise when we walked into the hall and saw the race pack collection setup.

It was easily one of the most "pro" looking I seen here locally! And my respect for it went up a notch further when we collected the goodie bag. It was bulging with contents.

And there were no usual useless discount vouchers for products and services which nobody ever uses. Instead, there were 2 tees including 1 Li-ning tee, a shoe bag, a can of isotonic drink, 2 towels and a race bib with timing chip!

I couldn't believe my eyes. I know the grassroot organisation got a lot of money but that much?

The good feeling continues on race day. There was a huge stage. Drinks including isotonic drinks and even bananas were readily available even before the race starts. There was even holding pen for the various timing including this one for those below 30 mins. Wow, either there are some very super elite runners taking part or the organiser are so confident of our local runners' ability!

Everything appears wonderful and perfect for a great race. Even the weather was great! And then the runners were flagged off behind this balloon arch. Unfortunately, very that was good about the race ended here. The first 50 metres or so was along this very narrow pavement through the small park. Luckily, the number of participants were not that great so it wasn't so bad.

Out onto Tampines St 83 and everybody just ran across the road even though there were no road closures and vehicles were travelling up and down. The runners should have kept right and cross the road at the junction but there were no barrier or marshal at St 83 to direct the runners down the road instead of crossing it.

The lack of road closures and marshals extended all the way along the whole race route. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to stop at any road crossings although I saw one group in front of me having to stop once. The problems continued. We were supposed to run towards Avenue 10 after crossing the overhead bridge outside Temasek Polytechnic. Of course some people ran across the road junction instead of crossing the bridge. The route lead us into Bedok Reservoir and out of it onto Avenue 1 outside Temasek Polytechnic before crossing the first overhead bridge along the road. This is the route as shown on the race website.

But because there were no marshal or directional signs within the reservoir, what everybody did was ran 1 round of the reservoir. This was the route as picked up by the GPS. Compare the difference! For us mortal runners, it didn't really make a great difference. The distance in fact came closer to 10km (9.8km on both me and the sidekick's watch whereas if running on the straight path of Bedok Reservoir Road and Tampines Ave 1, it will probably be a tad shorter. However, for some of the front runners, they ran an extra 2km to 3 km exiting the reservoir from the water pump side road. These resulted in favourites like Gary Goh, Mok Yin  Rong failing to finish within the 10! What a let down for them! And this has to take the record for the most number of runners who ran off course!

I think the problem was the lack of marshal at the Bedok Reservoir area. The runners turned into the carpark, ran along the reservoir and was supposed to run along the upper path instead of the lower dirt path but nobody guided the runners. Consequently, the runners missed the water point along this stretch as wellhe. So the smooth and good organising all went to pieces at the most critical part of the event - the running.

These are the 12 top 3 finishers in each category. Did they deserve the placing? Of course it is not their fault that the organiser screwed up but somehow, what's if...........