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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ultra & Trail Running

Trail running has been getting popular in Singapore. Not too long ago, there was only 1 trail race in Singapore and that was the MR 25 end of year MacRitchie Ultra Trail race. Then along came the Salomon Trail run and North Face 100 Challenge and the scene exploded. From 1 in 2007, there was at least 5 trail races in 2012 and now in 2013, the first competitive running event of the year is a, yes, you got it, trail race - the Green Corridor Run!

Not to lose out, ultra running has also been getting popular. Again, apart from the MR 25 Ultra marathon there was no other ultra race in Singapore until the people from Hi-Velocity came up with the Sundown Ultra Marathon. Then in 2011, Running Guild came into the ultra scene and last year, they organised 2 Ultra races of which one was a whopping 168km round the island run! This year, despite the small size of Singapore, there will be more ultra races starting with the Twilight Ultra and culminating in the monstrous 200km ultra!

The scene in Facebook has parallel the running scene with 2 new Facebook pages started within short time of each other promoting trail and ultra running respectively. There is also another group that is organising a series of "Fat Ass" runs, ie a series of ultra runs modelled after those in the US!

And all these when Singapore has not much trail and not much land to run on!

To overcome these problems, Singapore runners are happily packing up and flying overseas to complete in Ultra trail racing. Take the recently concluded Hong Kong Vibram 100. Of the total 1213 participants from 39 countries, tiny Singapore has the 3rd highest number of participants at 111, a solid 9% of the total numbers. I dare say it will be the same at the next Hong Kong Lantau race, the Thailand North Face 100 Challenge and other nearby trail or ultra races.

For those who have yet to take up trail running, give it a try. It is more therapeutic than road running,  with the nature, the green and the fresh air. 

For those who are want to earn the honour of being an Ultra-marathoner, the wait is not too far off. The first ultra race of the year is just 2 months away in March! It will be a doable event as it is held in the relatively cooler night time and runners just need to complete a minimum of 5 rounds of 10km at the East Coast Park within 16 hours to earn the honor.

For those going to the Thailand North Face 100 Challenge, seeya there!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weighty Matters

A lot of my friends are forever hoping to lose weight. Frankly quite a number of them are already quite slim and almost to the point of being skinny but somehow they still think they are too fat. Maybe that is a sight of anorexic?

For instance, there is this guy that I run with quite often. At one point in time just a few months ago, his stomach was "protruding". One day, he declared that he was going to lose weight and that his stomach will be smaller than mine. Of course that was fairly easy to achieve since he didn't know that cause beneath my loose tee, there is a flabby stomach. Within a few short months, his stomach was gone, his weight was down so much and he looks awfully skinny and sickly. On the plus side, he went from being a fast to a super fast runner coming in podium in a few of the recent races.

Pic from DumBell
Then there is this young lady. She is already stick skin but she still proclaim every now and then that she is fat. Truthfully, she do have some muffin side but I guess that is the case with most people and something that cannot be avoided.

Me, on the other hand, have been trying to balance my weight for quite some time. Somehow I feel I am too skinny and need to put on some weight especially on the face but I am mindful that I cannot put on too much especially since I now have a thyroid condition which will automatically cause me to put on weight if I don't watch it. I won't mind putting some more flesh on my quite sunken cheek but I don't think there is any magical tool that can direct the fats there instead of the waistline. Actually if I follow the local BMI standard, than I am slightly overweight which is quite weird since most people wouldn't really think of me as being overweight although there was a point in my life when I was actually overweight.

Anyway, the reason I musing over this weighty matters is that it is now the Chinese New Year period and I will be gorging myself silly on pineapple tarts and more pineapple tarts and hopefully bak kwa as well as much dining here and in Bangkok and I need to really balance the calories intake but its going to be a tough battle and one which I don't think I will win. 

So I going to prepare for more runs from February onwards. There will be long runs in the trails and on the road, short runs around the neighbourhood and in town and long night runs. Its a tough life!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Plus Size Advantage?

Was at the Megatri this morning. This is a triathlon event. Nope wasn't there to compete just to kapo around. 

As I walked around, one thing struck me. There were a fair number of "plus-size" participants. Maybe that why this event is called the Megatri and not Singapore Tri or Changi Tri. Sorry couldn't resist that.

But I am seriously impressed by these people. Despite their girth and weight, they are able to do this swim, bike and run event. I like to think that the extra layer of fat help them in buoyancy and the swim leg but it must be a heavier load for them to carry during the bike and even more so, the swim leg. But somehow they did it! Bravo!

For more photos of the mega, check out Running Shots

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chia Seeds Energy Food - Fact or Myth?

The interest in Chia seed has continued unabated since the publication of Born to Run. Unlike other super food which has been processed into pills, drinks and what nots, at the current moment, Chia Seed is still sold in its seed form. 

So is it really that great a super food? Does it really provide the much needed energy to fuel a run?  Unfortunately, the truth is after 1 and a half year, I seriously still don't know.

After a period of almost 1 and half year of consuming it, I still haven't come to a conclusion whether it is of any benefits to runners. The thing is, unlike the Tarahumara who eats it daily, I am a teeny weeny bit inconsistent in my consumption. The Tarahumara make it into a sort of gel which means they put loads of the Chia seeds into their mixture and when the whole thing coagulates, it becomes sort of jelly/gel like. Therefore, it is likely that the mixture provides a more filling meal than what I usually do.

Typically, I add Chia Seeds to my drinks, (when I remember). But I don't add a lot. Just a sprinkling. enough to cover the surface of the cup. And this is not for my runs. Just a typical after dinner drink. For runs, if I am carrying a water bottle, I will make my own mixture comprising gatorade mix or whatever energy mix available; orange juice, honey if available and water topped with Chia Seeds. But most time I don't carry a bottle while running which means the mixture becomes an after run recovery drink which kinda defeats the purpose and runs contrary to how the Tarahumara uses it.

The past year has also coincide with a year of less intense running, shorter distance, less races and more slacking. So performance and speed has deteriorated. Of course, that could also be the result of ageing. So there has been nothing positive that I can pinpoint as the direct result of consuming Chia Seeds.

So the thing is, is Chia seeds really that good? Does it really provide energy for running? Is it a myth generated by Born to Run, unintentionally? And how do people in this region consume it?

Anybody care to share their own experience? 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zoom on Track Relay

Ben Swee, the brain behind the longest ultra in Singapore and the banana relay has done it again! This time he came up with another fun and innovative run - the Zoom on Track Relay. Essentially, this is a relay event but with super flexible rules. There are 2 distances available - 10km or 21km to be ran by each team on the stadium 400 metres track. Each team can have 2 to up to 5 members and are free to choose how they want to run. So there were 2 members team who each ran half the distance and teams which rotate runners every lap etc

True to its no frills billing, there was no drinks, no bib, no timing chip and no baton although some did brought their own baton like this guy here.
Or these 2 who simply change over with a pat on the hand
The teams really got into the spirit of the event with a fair number of them wearing synchronised attires  like these groups:

There were trophy given out to the top team in each category even though this was billed as a non-competitive event. 

Despite the no frills and "non-competitive" aspect of the event, judging from the look of every body at the end of the event, all of them looks like they really enjoyed themselves. It just prove that runners are not always after goodie bag, finisher tees and medals but a good and fun experience.

More photos of the events can be found here and in Running Shots Facebook

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Running Shots

A friend, Marcus Lim took his interest in running and photography, put them together and came up with Running Shots. After going it alone for a while, and with the ever increasing number of races,  he roped in a few other fellas including me to join in the effort.

The objective of Running Shots is simply to take photographs of runners at races and then upload them online for the benefits of the runners. Consequently, the emphasis is not quality but quantity although we will try our best to take good pictures. But as long as the face is visible and identifiable and the picture does not look like it was taken by someone riding on a roller coaster, we will upload the photos to the group page on Facebook and website for free. Yes absolutely free to download the photo, print them and share them with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social media but....

As per  common law every where, the rights to the photographs belong to the photographers of Running Shots and not the person whose picture has been taken. Therefore, while we may be proud and happy that you like our photo, you may not have them published in any other media like magazine, newspaper or commercial website. However, we will in most cases give our consent to the publication if we are asked provided credit for the photo is attributed to Running Shots and/or the photographer. Of course, passing off the photographs as your own and using them to join photography contests is a "no no" and we will not hesitate to ask the contest organiser to remove the photos if we come across such cases.

Event organiser who would like Running Shots to cover the events may write to Running Shots at

Meanwhile, runners if you see a photographer along the race route, smile, wave and who knows, your photo may appear on Running Shots!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Trail Running at Pulau Ubin

Good friend, ultra marathoner and trail lover, Kelly Lim has started a facebook group dedicated to trail running. The objective of the group according to the burb on the page is "An online trail running community to bring together trail runners based in Singapore, provide a platform to exchange info on training and local/overseas races and running routes, and to inspire more to step out to embrace nature".

To kick off the group, she organised a trail run at the last running frontier of Singapore, Pulau Ubin. The last time I went there to run was in 2011 for the North Face Series and I thought why not? So I too went along for the fun.

Apparently great minds think alike and about 50 persons turned up for this inaugural run. Weather was great and everybody was in a good mood except for maybe a rather "wet" photographer, Marcus Lim from Running Shots who went into the sea at the island to retrieve a dropped handphone of one of the participant.
Photo from
The distance to be covered was only 10km. But there was a long long break to walk the broadwalk at Chek Jawa and photo taking and that took up nearly an hour. Some of us decided 10km wasn't really enough for a good workout after coming all the way and went an extended distance of another 5km. For once, most of the runners managed to stay together during the run so it was rather enjoyable running at a leisurely sight seeing pace. I think everybody had a great time.

For those who are interested in joining future trail runs, do check out their facebook page for the latest update.