Click here for the latest on RunEatGossip »

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Running 101 for Newbies Part 2

Continuing from previous post

The competitive world of running is divided into 3 main type of races - track & field, road runs and trail running. As the name implies, track & field refers to events that are held on a track, more specifically a stadium running track. Events are mainly the shorter distances like the 100 metres to 800 metres race, relays like the 4 x 100 metres or 4 x 400 metres or hurdles and decathlon. These sort of events are held at competitive level in schools and for major meets like SEA Games, Asian Games and Olympics Games. Generally, here in Singapore, it is generally safe to say that once out of school, people do not participate in such races unless they are elites and representing running clubs and country. Most recreational runners will not be able to meet the qualifying times to even get on the starting block.

The most popular type of running races is the road race. These are generally held in public areas like parks and public roads and distances varies from 5 km to a full marathon. Generally the most common distances for a road race are

5 Km Race - Locally there are very few 5 km road races. Most are fun events as the logistical cost of organising a short race is equal to that of a longer distance races so I figure organiser probably find it more beneficial to their pockets to have 5 km races as fun events where every Ah Ter and Ah Kor can take part. Some clubs do organise occasional 5 km time trials for their members but if you are wondering how to take part in such time trials, likely you have not acquire enough running experience and contacts to qualify for one.

10 Km Race - First thing first. A 10 Km race is not a 1/4 marathon! A marathon is 42.195 km. 4 quarters of a 10 Km race is 40 Km. 2.195 km short of a full marathon. So please do not go round saying you ran a 1/4 marathon. There is no such thing.  10 km road race is the most common road race here and dare I say the whole world. In term of challenge, the distance is sufficiently long enough to make it a good workout and yet short enough for almost every runner wannabe to take part in. A person can walk the whole 10 km and still finish in a decent time of say 2 hours. So if you are a new running convert, this should be the first race distance for you to try before stepping up to the next level.

Half Marathon - A half marathon is half the distance of a full marathon i.e. 21.0975 km. In term of level of difficulty, it is consider an endurance race but it is an achievable distance for most runners. Running a half marathon takes an average runner about 2 hours or so. Walking a half marathon (not encouraged) will probably take 5 hours. So take part in this only if you has sufficient training and is able to run 10 km or more distances comfortably. People have died from trying too hard in a half marathon even here in Singapore so do not do this unless you have trained sufficiently and got used to our hot and humid weather.

Full Marathon - A full marathon of 42.195 km is the ultimate road race for most runner. It is the holy grail of running something to check off the bucket list. The average runner in Singapore will takes more than 5 hours to run/jog/walk the full distance. A full marathon is not for newbie. It is an endurance race and only those who have trained sufficiently should do this. In theory, a runner needs to do an average weekly mileage of 60 km with long runs of up to 30 km before he/she can do a full marathon. People who thinks it is a walk in the park as in, that they can simply walk the full distance will be in for a rude shock. Walking 42.195 km is not akin to walking 8 hours in the shopping mall where you have air condition, coffee breaks. In our hot humid weather, walking the full marathon 100% of the way will most likely take more than 10 hours. Those who do a slow jog/walk will need to take at least 7 - 8 hours if not more by which time, the water station may have ran out of water, the sun is high up in the sky and one can easily get cramps, dehydration and heat stroke. Do this only if you have at least 1 year of running experience and is able to complete a half marathon comfortably in under 3 hours. Most prudent and responsible race organisers will set qualifying time, checkpoint and race cut off times to weed out the unfit and reduce their logistic nightmare of catering to the mass of marathon souvenir collectors wannabes.

Ultra Marathon -  Officially, any distance that is more than a full marathon is considered an Ultra marathon but most people recognise ultras event at certain regular distances like 50 km, 84 km, 100 km, 100 miles, 160 miles and so on. Ultras are not for the faint hearted. It can take anything from 5 hours to complete a 50 km ultra to more than 36 hours or even days to complete longer distances. For this reason, most ultra organiser will require participants to provide evidence that they have completed certain distances in a certified race before they can sign up. So if you have never run a half or a full marathon, don't even dream of doing an ultra. 

Of course in between all the above, there are the quirky distances like 15 km, 32 km and so on. These distances races are good and useful for those training for the half and full marathon and can serve as good training races.

Trail Races - Trail races are the equivalent of road races except that it is held mainly on trails in forests and jungles. Here the level of difficulty rises due to the different terrains, ground surface, inevitable hills and climbs. Special equipment like trail shoes, hydration bags, torches, headlamps will be required for longer distances. For those who are new to running, trail races should only be done after familiarising oneself with the trail and getting the feel and hang of it. If you do not like mud, uneven surfaces and is worried about snakes bites, bees and other creepy crawlies, trail running is not for you. And if running in the dark alone in the forest at night is not your idea of a night out, forget about running a 50 km or even a 42 km trail race. 

There you have it. Running 101 for the newbies. See where you fit in and join the correct races. That will help you to improve your running competency, reduce your chances of getting injury and provide a good experience and a chance to shout out that you ran all the way without walking!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Running 101 for Newbies Part 1

Came across this article in the press recently. And saw this little bit.

I must admit I do get a little bit peeved when people use the wrong words but most them if they are not runners and get the terminology all wrong, I just shrug it off but when people who are doing it gets it all wrong, I go grrrr...........

So I guess it time for a little refresher in layman terms:

JOG - This is my pet peeve. I absolutely hate it when people asked me whether I am going for  a jog. Yeah its an ego thing but I don't jog. I run. A jog is when you put on a pair of running shoe, go downstairs or walk to the neighbourhood park and do a slow slow run of not more 20 minutes. It is done at an easy pace where you don't break into a sweat, you can talk and laugh and noticed all the little things like the chio bu doing her stretches. And some people can walk faster than your jog. And after you finish the jog, you can just sit at the park bench and chill or hop straight into the car and drive home. No need to change or cool down because you never break a sweat.

RUN - I run. I don't jog. At least not yet. Maybe when I hit 60 and the joints and bones start protesting louder. Meantime, when I put on a pair of running shoes, it is to run. A run is when you break into a sweat. You try to run faster than the previous time and you wish the traffic lights will be in your favour every time you need to cross a ppedestrianised crossing. And when you see a runner in front of you, your thought automatically turns into whether you can outrun that fella. You don't notice the kingfisher in the trees, heck when you in the mood to run, you don't even notice your friend on the other side waving to you. When you finished, you all sweaty and smelly and you need to cool down. Not hop straight into the car and drive home. 

And running can be more complicated than science. Ha ha ha. There are easy run, tempo run, fartleks (no its not something you do silently in the elevator although most runners are prone to it), intervals, long distance run. An if you don't know what these are, it simply means you are not yet a hardcore runners. No worries. You will learn soon enough. And then we have pace. We measure how hard we run by the pace we ran which can get pretty complicated. Your hard pace can be the easy pace of someone else, your long distance run can be a short run for another person and a climb for you is just a gentle incline for somebody else. For a totally non-scientific analysis of pace read here. And all these don't apply if you just jogging.

That is the difference between a jog and a run.

Of course, once you get hooked into running, you will want to join events. And nowadays, events are a dime a dozen. And there are so many events of different distances and themes that you go all blur blur. Here are a run down of some of the main characteristics of each event and what it is meant for.

FUN RUN - This is usually a short distance "running event" of not more than 5 km although there are some which are longer at 10 km. Generally, participants are welcome to walk, jog or run. There are no prizes to the top few finishers and no completion timing will be given. There are also no "Finisher Tee" although some events may give event tee, certificate of participation and a medal. Fun Run are usually organised to raise funds for charities, promote a cause or as a side attraction to a main run to attract more participation. Fun runs are suitable for everybody from children to senior citizen of all shape, sizes and fitness.

COMPETITIVE RUN - As the word implies, this is a competitive run. Prizes are given to the top finishers (usually top 3 or in some cases up to top 10). Runner's timing are captured through timing devices attached to shoes or bibs and read by sensors at strategic points along the route. Serious runners who takes part in these runs to i) win prizes ii) get a good time and ranking iii) get a personal best (PB). Not so serious runners join to measure how they fare against other runners or mostly to assess their own standard of fitness. Most organiser will give an event tee or singlet, a medal, a certificate with the timing printed on it and for some events, a finisher tee. Competitive run are suitable for people who have put in efforts to train for it. Of course, there is nothing to stop fun runners and those who never train to take part in competitive run but the experience for them will be much better if they train for it.

Competitive run comes in various distance though and runners should learn to sign up for the appropriate distances according to their ability.

To be cont'd

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Light at the end of the tunnel?

I was at the URA Centre when I saw this exhibition. The first thing that strike me was this long long building model.

My immediate thought was shit, they gonna build buildings over the Green Corridor!

But on closer look, there was these small little signs place.

 Hmmm definitely something interesting here. So I took a closer look at the exhibition.

This is the Skyland for the Future Exhibition that is currently ongoing at the URA Buidling at Maxwell Road. Basically what this is about is building upwards and separating the living area from the "transport area" by building on top of roads and other open spaces. In another word, creating more land/space for the future. Maybe to meet the 6.9m population?

I don't know enough about architecture and buildings to comment more about this vision but I am excited that there is now some sort of official mention of biking/cycling. It will appear that the authorities have accept that there is space in Singapore for cycling and this is the blueprint for the future. Hopefully in a few years time when this pan out, Singapore can really be a cycling city.

So for my cycling friends, look like there is light at the end of the tunnel after all and one day, you might just be able to cycle all the way to work without having to brave the traffic.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Apology - Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2014

In my previous post, I made a claim that some people were taking a shorter route during the SCMS and included in the post were photographs of some individuals and their timing results. That post has attracted a lot of attention including calls from reporter and even a lawyer purporting to act for one of the individual in the post.

Since then, it has came to light that these individuals may have been diverted by the race organiser to take the shorter route. Below is the full statement from the SCMS. The link can be found here.

Public announcement about SCMS 2014 results

Spectrum Worldwide is aware of the online article referencing marathon (42.195km) runners who were photographed at Gardens By The Bay East during Sunday’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

To clarify, a number of diversion points were positioned along the marathon route. If any runners had not passed a diversion point by a specified time, they were diverted on to a shorter route towards the finish line. The diversion points were planned with the safety of runners in mind, as the closed roads had to be re-opened at a specific time in accordance with the requests of the authorities.

One of these diversion points was located at approximately the 13km mark of the marathon. From 7.30am, all marathon runners who had not crossed this point were diverted (removing the entire stretch of East Coast Park) and had their race distance reduced by approximately 17km. This diversion allowed them to comfortably reach Marina Barrage (35km) by about 8.15am where some may have been photographed in the referenced online article.

As highlighted on the official event website and handbook prior to the event, all participants who were diverted are still entitled to receive the Finisher’s T-shirt and Finisher’s Medal upon crossing the finish line. However, they will not receive the Finisher’s Certificate and their official race timings will not be recorded.

One of the reason why I wrote the earlier post is that as a regular runner in the local running scene, it irk me a lot to see runners who are totally not prepared attempting the full marathon. And everywhere there will be many people who do so just for the finisher tee and medal like the infamous incident last year. My intention was to highlight these incidents and hope that the running community as a whole can come together to condemn such behaviour and build a better running environment and community. In penning the post, never in my wildest dream would I ever think that the SCMS itself, the organiser of a Gold Label race will actually ask participants to take a "shorter" route. The correct practice adopted internationally I believe, is for participants who failed to meet the cut off to board the sweeper bus and not be allowed to take a shorter route to the finish line! I will address this again in a separate more detailed post in due course.
In any event, it appears that because of this, I have jumped to the wrong conclusion and wrongly accused these people. I know no words can take back what has been done but still I would like to offer my sincere apologies if the post has caused any one of these individuals any embarrassment. Nevertheless I have decided that the original post shall remain but with some amendments and the deletion of the photos and names. Hopefully, the post will generate more discussion on this issue and if it serves as a wake up call to running community at large to tackle this problem, the post will not be in vain.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2014

Note: When I penned the below post last night, it was without the knowledge that the organiser of the SCMS had actually asked runners who failed to meet certain unspecified time at unannounced designated points, to be diverted to run a "shorter route". Since the publication of my post and following media queries,  the organiser has made a public announcement on this here.

I would therefore like to offer my sincere apologies to the individuals who were included in the post below for any embarrassment that I have caused to them. While I have decided to keep the post, I have deleted the photos and any references to the identity of the individuals. I know no apologies or words can right whatever that has been done but once again I would like to tender my apology.

Well I was at the Garden by the Bay East on Sunday taking photos of the runners doing the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. (SCMS). This was roughly at the 35 km part of the race. The first runners came by around 7 am roughly 2 hours after the flag off. Those were the elites. A rough back of the envelope calculation - the average 4 hours runners will reach this area around 8.20 am and indeed the 4 hours pacers came pass me at 8.19 am.

But way before that I had already noticed a very unique hi usual thing. As a regular runner and active photographer for the past years, I can recognise a fair number of the local runners who can do sub-4 and there aren't really a lot of them here in Singapore. And even if I don't recognise them, I can tell by the way they run that they are seasoned runners and used to that type of timing. But what was interesting this time was that I could see many unfamiliar faces and people who pardoned my saying so, do not look like runners who are capable of doing this type of timing. Now I know looks can be deceiving but it is kinda difficult to believe that these following people can run sub 4 marathon.

And more over as I came to find out later, runner with orange bib are self declared sub 5 hours runner and starts in a much later wave. So they couldn't have been so fast to reach 35 km in just over 3 hours!

And true enough, my instinct was right. A quick search at the event site and these are their race splits. Looks like all of them skipped the distance between the 10 km checkpoint and the 30 km checkpoint slashing a cool 20 km off the total distance. 

And everyone seems to be doing it. Not just the not so athletic looking people but the young folks like this guy

And foreigners as well

And even the very athletic looking guys are doing it. The type that looks perfectly capable of doing this sort of timing but look at the splits

And there are more, too many for me to list them all here.

Looking at the splits, almost all of them turn off after the 10 km checkpoint which is somewhere around the  Sports Hub. I believe after coming out from that area, instead of going towards Fort Road and East Coast Park, they simply turned right on Tanjong Rhu to Garden by the Bay East and continue on from there. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they got lost but I really really doubt it is the case. 

And again I like to think that the weather was too hot for them and they decided not to continue on but turned back. But they should then do the right thing and not cross the finish line but in all cases they did which leaves me with only one conclusion - they just want the finisher tee, medal and the bragging rights that come along with it and are not interested at all in completing the distance!

Me think it is high time race organiser takes steps to weed out these sort of behaviour. It is not good for a "gold class" event and a waste of resources and hinder the genuine runners. For starter, I think event organiser should stop giving away finisher tees at the finish line like  what many overseas races do. I am very sure that the event won't be so attractive to the non-runners if there is no finisher tee for them to wear around town to show off. Race organiser should also ensure strict compliance of race rules and barriers and marshals should be deployed at vulnerable junctions and points along the routes to reduce such inAnd last but not least, get the timing system working properly so that their status is stated as DSQ and not "Finished".

Sunday, December 07, 2014

End of the Road - Tampines Mountain Bike Trail

On 1 December, the Tampines Mountain Bike trail officially ceased to exist. To make way for another housing estate to house the 6.9m population.

I first discovered this place right in the backyard of Tampines town way back in 2008. Back then, it was one big place with some challenging knolls, some small streams to cross and many many small trails criss crossing the places. Although not technically very challenging, it was a worthwhile alternative to the crowded MacRitchie. The only problem then was that it was a very rugged place without any toilet facilities and shelters. 

You can see more photos of the original trail here when we did a Eastside Trail Run.

Then in 2010, it was split into the Tampines Mountain Bike Park and Mountain Bike Trail for the Youth Olympic and 3/4 of the place was taken away from non-mountain bikers. Still there was a good enough 5 trail with a challenging 1 km narrow jungle trail complete with mud pool and stream, a small climb and breathtaking scenery.

When I moved to Pasir Ris, I ran there more often as it was just a 10 minutes run from my home. It was literally a run in my own backyard. But last year, the government announced plans to redevelop the area for Tampines North estate and that sounds the death knell for the place. After a short reprieve, the Bike Park closed last month and this month, the Bike Trail closes too. I managed to do a literally final run there on the morning of the closure. As I came out of the trail, the workers were putting up the fencing at the trail head. 

Here are the final photos of the place. 

The 1km stretch of jungle trail that is permanently muddy and wet. I have a video of a run I did there sometime ago in the mud and water. Rather long and boring but if you don't mind taking a nauseating ride through the choppy video, the link can be found here

There are lot of wide open field like this with narrow trail

The view from the top of one of the small hill

This is my favourite part of the trail. Running under this canopy of trees

The death knell. Closed and gone but cherished with fond memories.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

An Officer and a Gentleman - Terence Yeo

I first got to know Terence early this year when he joined a group of us trekked up to Gunung Nuang in Malaysia.

Terence in the middle of the group photo at the summit of Gunung Nuang
Back then, I only knew he was in a school and I thought he was a school teacher. It was only later that I found out he was in fact a vice-principal at a secondary school.  Why did I mentioned this? Because he was not your typical school principal. In my mind, school principals are mostly bookish and boorish and very serious. But Terence was not. He was fun, loud at times and very down to earth. During our trek, he constantly stayed behind to help the weaker climbers even though he was probably one of the fittest having completed many marathons and ultras.

From that trip, we got to know each other better and Terence strikes me as a most helpful and humble guy. He joins us on crazy escapades like the Prawn Mee Makanathon, made time to have dinner with us despite his busy schedules and join in our whatsapp chat; something that I certainly do not expect from somebody so senior in the hierarchy in the Civil service.
Terence at the Prawn Mee Makanathon
Terence at one of our dinner outing
Sadly, on 27 November 2014, at the young age of 40, he passed away leaving behind his wife May and 3 beautiful kids. It seems he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage after climbing Mount Kinabalu with his students. 

In the short time that I have known him, I could sense that he was a very special person - the type who will go out of his way to help friends and probably strangers as well and the type who will probably give his life for another person if he has to. And the testimony and tributes that has floored his facebook page demonstrated this wonderful traits clearly in the way that he has touched and helped and inspired so many people.

He will be sadly missed but never forgotten. RIP Terence. Your time here may be over but you will always be loved and remembered by your loved ones, friends and students.