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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Singapore Blade Runner - Running the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon

Md Shariff Abdullah, more popularly known as Singapore Blade Runner is Singapore's first blade runner. Born without a left foot, life was tough for young Shariff as he struggles with ridicule from schoolmates, a broken family and more physical problems as his stump got infected and had to be further amputated. However, not one to be put down by life, he pressed on and in 2008, inspired by Oscar Pistorius the South African amputee, he started competing competitively and soon went on to compete in many road and trail races including the prestigious Boston Marathon.

Despite his handicap, Shariff dares to dream and once had a dream to climb Mt Everest. Unfortunately, upon doctor's advice he has to stop that dream and is now focusing on completing the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon in 2015. However, as a self employed motivational speaker, he is still short of funds for this trip and is looking to raise more funds for a spare Ossur Flex Run Prosthetic leg, registration fee, flight and accommodation, insurance and other incidental fees.

How you can help:
  1. Run with him or your friends and simply share a picture of you running saying you support his trip to Everest, and asking others to donate, with this URL 
  2. Rather not run? Just share his page
  3. Kind contribution or purchasing the blade runner products which includes a limited edition Compressport tee.
For more information go to his home page or visit his Facebook page 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Light up your Runs

I talked about running safe in an earlier post. And I not talking about being attacked but being visible to motorists and other people. One of the way is to wear bright apparel. Black, dark blue are not bright colours and yet it is so common to see people here wearing dark coloured apparel and running in the night. And event organiser adds to this by issuing running and event tops that comes in black colour. I know black is a great solid colour that speaks of power and might and command respect it is not suitable for night running, not unless one is thinking of doing a stealth run and need the cover of darkness.

But good news for those who really want to wear dark coloured apparels at night. In the past, most major apparel manufacturers will incorporate some reflective strips (usually the logo or some lining) that will reflect lights from vehicles and torches. The problem with this strips of reflective lighting is that they works only when a light is shine on them otherwise they are not useful at all. And they tend to drop off after several wash.

Lately, apparel manufacturers have come up with more innovations to make night running safe. Like Puma NightCat Powered apparels which comes with built in led light strip. And the light can be turn on and off or set to blinking. Cool!\
Photo: Puma

And Skechers have come up with a Night Owl running shoes which incorporates photoluminescent technology which produces an intense glow in low light or darkness. And no battery required!
Photo: Skechers
Not to be outdone, Asics has a Lite Show apparel with built in reflective material in the shoe shoe and design.
Photo from Asics

But if spending hundred of dollars is not your idea of running safe, just wear a white top and maybe carry one of those tiny blinking lights.Cheap and good light include those from Nathan and many many others which you can get from those cheap perpetual clearance shops in HDB estates.
Photo from Nathan
Happy Running. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Unconventional Shoes

I constantly tell people to wear proper and suitable shoes when they run but when it comes to myself, I never ever follow my own advice. Take this 2 pair of shoes for instance.

I bought the Puma Mobium on impulse at the Puma Factory outlet in December 2013. Back then I knew nothing about the shoes and the only reason I bought it was it cost less than $100.00 and it was orange in color. True be told, it wasn't a really great shoe. It was a tad too rigid for me and I was always afraid the Mobium band will break. But slowly I got used to it  In fact, I worn it so often that I managed to clock more than 700km in it and all from runs of not more than 10 km. I still couldn't bring myself to run longer distance in it. And the Mobium band didn't break. In fact, it was the upper that finally tear and force me to retire it. So it has been a pretty good shoe after all and certainly good value for money. But not a shoe that I will recommend to anybody.

The Skecher shoe on the right of the photo is the Skecher Go Run 2. I got this in the 3rd quarter of 2014. It was on sale as the Go Run 3 was already out. Since then it has been in its box till this week when I finally took it out to replace the Puma Mobium. And these 2 shoes wouldn't have been more different than night and day. But more about the Skecher when I run substantially enough to form a proper opinion.

So these 2 pair adds on to my collection of unconventional and non main stream running shoes which so far have included the Altra Lone Peak (still in use); Terra Plana Evo (one of my favourite and now retired); Tyr booties, Pearl Izumi SyncroPace; Zoot UltraTempo (another favourite) and my current daily ride, the Puma Faas 300. How many of these names do you recognize?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Run Safe

Recently there was a press report of a case in 2013 when a lady jogger was attacked and raped by a man while out on a night run. I think a lot of people were shocked. Surely Singapore is the safest of all place? But like the police slogan, low crime doesn't mean no crime and this is not the first time a lady has been attacked while out running. In 2000, a lady was attacked and rape while running in Bukit Batok Park. She died a few days later from her injury. And for those who thought MacRitchie Reservoir is safe, in 2003, a lady was sexually assaulted while running there.

Singapore is generally a safe place to move around but like in any other countries, there will be sickos around. Here are some unsolicited advices:

1) Don't run at night. The best time to run is early in the morning but I know it is easier to sleep late than wake up early. And with everybody's busy schedule, sometimes the only time available to run is in the night. So if you must run at run, try to run earlier and end by 8 pm rather than start after 9. But if you really cannot avoid running later in the night:

2) Get someone to run with you. The hubby, the boyfriend or girl friend, neighbour or even a child. There safety in number. But if there is really nobody to run with you:

3) Avoid running in dark places. For some reasons known best to Nparks, our parks are not well lit at night. Even places like East Coast Park is poorly lit and the park lights are switched off after a certain time. So if you must run, run along the roads or in brightly lit areas. Or if there is no other option, run only in the brighter areas within the park. Do loops around the brightly lit area rather than run the full distance along the park trail. Some parks with poor lighting to avoid:
 - Area A and area G of East Coast Park
- Pasir Ris Beach Park especially the middle section between Sungei Tampines and Sungei Api Api
- Fort Canning Park. The lighting here is atrocious. Many stretches have no light or they are switched off at random
- Bukit Batok Nature Park - the place with the most incidents
- The Green Corridor. Avoid running alone at all cost and this applies to the guy too!
- West Coast Park
- Garden by the Bay East. The lights here are generally ok but it is too quiet. Keep to the waterfront and not run into the park ground.

4) Wear bright clothing. I am always amazed at the number of people who wear dark apparel to run. Not only does it absorb heat it also attract mosquitoes. And in an incident, it is easier to see something bright moving/struggling than something dark. Beside, other road and park users can see you if you wear brighter clothings and minimize the chance of a collision or being scared out of their wits!

5) Carry a small panic button, the phone and identification. The panic button is useful in situation where you need to attract attention. The phone? To call for help not just for attacks but in case of accidents. And ID - for identification purpose.

This is a rather useful panic button. Can double as a key chain too. You can get this from Sim Lim and other electronic stores or buy online. A panic button is more useful than a whistle as in an emergency, chances are you have no opportunity to blow the whistle

This ID band can be purchased online but you can also make your own ID band like what I did

6) Let someone know. Where you running and what time you be home. This will help if you go missing and people need to search for you. Or if you fail to reach home in the expected time, help can come earlier.

So that about it. Run happy and run safe.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Merlion Run

Group run is fun when you are running with a group of great people and there is no competitive element, no time pressure, no stress and no need to worry about being named and shamed for taking short cut ahem... diverted route.

So after a long absence of group run in 2014, I ended 2014 with a group run and started 2015 with another group run. This time round as a sort of informal and unofficial SG50 event, a group of us decided to run to the five official Merlion.

We started at the Seah Im carpark at Telok Blangah and went to the first Merlion on our list at Sentosa. But enroute, we found another Merlion. A multi-colored Merlion in fact.
Photo Credit Lionel Cheng/Neyton Tan via wefie
But this is the official one that we came to see

From Sentosa it was on to our next destination at Mt Faber. Unfortunately not by cable car though. We had to run there up the 100 metres or so "high" hill. Poor me legs.

Fortunately it was all downhill from here although our very fierce leader made us run from here all the way to Orchard Rd where we sneaked into the Tourism Board office for this group photo with the very malnourished looking Merlion.

We also discovered there are actually more than 1 Merlion here.

But we have to move on to the last 2 Merlions. The anak Merlion and Papa Merlion in the background.
Photo credit Lionel Cheng
And here is a better view of Papa Merlion

Group run can be real fun and there always one going on organised by one group or another. For those just starting out running, this is a great way to get started on running, make new friends and get tips and see places. So if you are free, look out for such events on FB and why not join one?

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A Letter to Nparks on MacRitchie Reservoir

Dear Nparks,

Thank you Nparks for thinking of our welfare and safety.

Thank you so much for putting in more fine gravels and providing such nice mini steps so that our precious feet in our expensive running shoes will not be dirty and we will not trip over those sharp ugly rocks and roots and injure ourselves.

Since Nparks place such premium on taking care of us who visit MacRitchie Reservoir park, can I request for more?

- How about providing a shelter throughout the whole trail. That way, rain or shine we can visit the beautiful park and be in tune with nature. And no need to worry about falling branches injuring anyone.

- Also our weather is rather hot most of the time and it can get pretty hot and stuffy under the trees. So maybe when building the shelter, Nparks, you can consider like put in air con. Maybe enclosed the whole shelter, put in air condition and while we at it, maybe a travelator like those at the SEA Aquarium. Then really, rain or shine we can visit the park. No need to get wet. Our expensive Nike shoes won't get dirty and best of all, the filthy monkey can't get our lobster roll.

- At every 500 metres, provide drink vending machine. As you know, it is rather hot in Singapore and I am sure you don't want us poor park visitor to get dehydrated. And of course I am sure you know that we Singaporeans are so gentle, we don't have strength to carry water bottles so a drink machine every 500 metres will help us fill our hydration needs.

And oh I noted that you are doing some major renovation works at the Male shower area for the past months. It looks like very major since it is taking so long. I am rather excited. I hope Nparks instead of having stupid open shower, can you provide jacuzzi and onsen instead. Those smelly fellas who want to bath can bath inside the shower stall. The rest of us after walking around the park, will surely enjoy a nice soak in the jacuzzi or onsen. So please do take your time to do up the place nicely. 

I am so looking forward to the air con sheltered trail walk, the jacuzzi and the onsen. Thank you in advance.

Your most loyal MacRitchie Reservoir visitor.