For someone who swear does not want to run local races, I somehow find somehow find myself doing 2 races within a month with a third to come next month!
On Saturday morning I find myself at Marina Square for the 3rd Singapore City Race with 5 others in a team and thousand of participants to challenge ourselves in the City Race. I done both 2013 & 2014 editions and while I think my group took too long to complete, we did enjoy the experience so we are back for a 3rd time to torture ourselves.
The City Race is different from the conventional race. Participants can either run solo or in a team of up to 6 members. The unique thing about this race is that the race route is intentionally not reveal until the morning of the race on site and the participants have to use their ingenuity and legs to get to the 6 checkpoints in the fastest time. This means not just running fast as a team but also knowing the shortest and best route. The first 2 editions brought us all the way to Bukit Timah so I was kinda expecting the same only to be surprised this year. To our utter surprise, this year was a totally “city” race. No trail. And the furthest checkpoint for those in the Long Distance, which means us, was at Changi Chapel all the way up at Loyang!
So after studying the map and a short discussion, we flagged off. First target was the nearest checkpoint at Tanjong Rhu. Most of the runners took the Marina Promenade route. We figured going via Nicoll Highway was the shortest and that was how we ran. Nicoll Highway, Stadium complex area and crossing the suspension bridge to the first checkpoint!
Weather was still good and a short 10 minutes later we were at the next checkpoint at Katong Park. To my disappointment, the 2 Singh and British soldier sentry statues were no longer there. Was looking forward to having a group photograph with these 2 kind souls. What a bummer.
At this point we had a short discussion whether we should go to Checkpoint 9 & 3 which was at Joo Chiat & Dakota but which will involve a short detour of maybe 2 to 3 km. In the end, the pragmatic Vincent decided that it was more prudent to go straight to Checkpoint 8 at Bedok Jetty and to cover these 2 areas on the return leg. So 6 km down, we reached Bedok Jetty. 3 checkpoints covered!
From Bedok, it was going to be a long haul to Changi. We crossed the underpass to Bayshore, ran along Upper East Coast Road and had a pit stop at Bedok Corner Food Centre where we had goreng pisang, sugar cane and coconut juice. Then we continued on to Simei. With 5 of us in the team being Eastsider, we knew the area very well. Our dilemma was how to get to Changi Chapel via the shortest and safest route. By now the sun was out and we didn’t want to run any extra distance if possible. There was various way to get there with the shortest being up Upper Changi Road East to the TPE/PIE/ECP junction. But the problem was there was no pavement along part of that route especially where the 3 expressways meet and it was kinda dangerous with very heavy traffic entering and leaving the expressways. Initially we ran along the PCN underneath the MRT track next to ITE East until we hit Jalan Angin Laut. The plan was to go into Simei, cross the PIE via the overhead bridge to Tampines and run beneath the HDB flats parallel to the PIE before hitting the junction. But that involve a longer distance of at least 3 km. At Jalan Angin Laut, after some further discussion, we decided to abandon the plan and try out luck with the heavy traffic. So we got to run next to the expressway and dash across all the various exit and entrance. And thank God, we and all the other like minded runners made it through safely without any incident.
Checkpoint 10 done and dusted and now the long long route back to the city. This time we decided that the most logical way was the straight route from Upper Changi Road East to Still Road. No twist and turn. We did have another pit stop for iced coffee at a coffeeshop at Bedok though. By now the heat was getting to us since it was already noon and we were doing run/walk. The MRT and the bus look so tempting. Just hop up one of them and it will get us so much closer to our next destination at Joo Chiat. But of course we have our integrity and pride and so we run/walk on. And after what seems like an eternity we reached Joo Chiat Place where checkpoint 9 was supposed to be to discover it was not there. What the hell! Apparently, there was some printing error on the map or some miscommunication and in fact the Checkpoint 9 which is Kim Choo kueh was the outlet at East Coast Road and not the one at Joo Chiat Place. Thankfully it was just a short distance away so not much of a problem.
The kueh looks so tempting but we were rushing for time now and cannot stop to eat so on we go. Then my lack of long distance mileage shows and I developed cramp outside the Katong Mall. Damn! So while the others ran ahead, I had to walk the next few km. But hahaha since I was the team leader with the timing chip and bib, they still have to wait for me so even if they are far ahead, only my arrival counts. Too bad for them.
Our last checkpoint was at Dakota Crescent. Thank goodness it wasn’t that far from Kim Choo. Not more than 2 km. And despite my walking, I think we did quite good time cutting through Goodman Road and using the Park Connecter to reach Dakota Crescent in double quick time. Checkpoint 9 was at Tian Kee Coffee. Oh to stop for a sip. But time was of the essence and we had to move on but not before the ladies played on the Dove playground for a while!
I found back my legs on Nicholl Highway and managed to run back catching up with the 3 ladies. Vincent and Mel had zoomed off and disappeared from view. At the junction of Suntec and Marina Square, I managed to dash across the road first to reach back to Marina Square only to find no Vincent and Mel. The 3 ladies came shortly and we were wondering where the 2 of them disappeared to. Turn out they detour to Suntec City for shopping? and from being the first and fastest in the group they returned last. But all well that ends well and we crossed the finish line together. 7 hours after flag off at 7.30 am!
With this, I completed the longest race for this year. No plans to do anymore. Too lazy and tire to do this type of distance. But then again, never said never……