Singapore Marathon 2016 – A Non Runner Report

So the Singapore Marathon has come and go. And happily for the majority of the runners, the chaos that I and many others foresee when we first heard about the combined start of the FM and HM did not materialise. In fact by all account, it was smooth sailing all the way. Well almost.

Understandably when almost 30000 people gather together in one area, some congestion is to be expected. But I guess the Pen system and the staggered start works well enough to ease the jam. Probably the only screw up was that the 10 km start was delayed for almost 30 minutes.

But ultimately in a big race like this, there is bound to be some congestion and like the previous edition, the congestion was at the end at the 40 km point when all the 3 categories merged together. And this was contrary to what Geoff Meyer said in the announcement of the new routes: “Meyer also pointed out that the half marathon and full marathon runners would be running on separate lanes” and “To ensure a smooth end to the race, we’ve created separate lanes as the routes merge from the 33km mark for Full and Half marathon runners to maintain their pace,” said Meyer to Yahoo Singapore.”  There was no segregation at Raffles Avenue where I was.  So something failed here or Ironman Asia could not persuade our very pragmatic authorities to see things their way.

Apart from the congestion, the other sore point  was that some of the hydration points ran out of water. Actually was it out of  water or out of cup? I was at the 40 km water point and personally witnessed this. scm_9330The volunteers stopped serving the water. At first I thought they ran out of water but 10 minutes later, a landrover came by and replenish the cups and it was business as usual. So I supposed it was a case of being super unlucky for those runners who ran past the hydration points when they just happened to run out of water or cups.

Last but not least, an observation on the diversion points. There were comments on the various running forums that some runners took short cut. This was particularly so at the 12 km Fort Road/East Coast Park junction where the FM and HM split up. Apparently, FM runners can just take the HM route without completing the loop at East Coast Park. And although they will not get a timing they will get their finisher tee and medal.  People also took shortcut along stretch of East Coast Park. This as opposed to being marked as “DNF” and disqualified from collected the finisher tee and medal. Oh well I supposed this is to be expected seeing that the organiser cannot possibly partition off the full race route. But the organiser could make it more difficult for people to take these type of short cut by having proper cut off timing and checkpoints instead of the weird 3 km, 12 km and 18 km diversion points. And why was there a need for a diversion point at 40 km when there is no other way for the runners to go but to the finish along the race route?

But overall, reading all the comments and feedback online, I think this year edition was indeed a much improved version compared to the last 2 editions. With more time and experience next year, possibly can there be hope that Singapore will finally have a Gold Label race to be proud of?

Singapore Marathon 2016 Cut Off Time and Diversion Points

Finally, Ironman Asia has announced the cut off timing at various points along the race route. But instead of at easily remembered distances like say every 10 km, they have it at various weird distances.  But this is still better than not having one. Here is a rundown of the cut off and what it means to you if you are dangerously close to it.

First, there is the overall race cut off which is 8 and 4 hours after last flag off respectively. Assuming the last wave starts at 5.20 am as per the Race Guide, that makes it 1.20 pm and 9.20 am. So if you cross the finish line after these times, you will not get a timing, the finisher tee and the finisher medal and the finisher tee.  However, the cut off timing for the full marathon is pretty generous considering the early start and the flat route. It is a bit tight for the Half Marathoners if they choose to walk all the way but still very doable.

Now lets analyse the consequences of failing to reach the various “diversion points” as the organiser choose to call it.

First up is at 3 km or 3.5 for the FM and HM respectively just along the start of Cecil Street between the Raffles Place MRT and Upper Cross Street  . The cut off time is 6.00 am which gives the runners starting at 5.20 am 40 minutes to run the 3 km or so making it roughly around 11 – 13 minutess per km. At that speed, that is walking pace! What it means for you is that if you have to take 40 minutes to touch 3.5 km, you probably have not trained a single mile for this race and you cannot possibly hope to complete the race be it the half or the full by the cut off time of 4 hours or 8 hours unless you can do the balance distance at a considerably faster pace which will seems like a pipe dream since you need to take that long just to walk 3.5 km.

Don’t waste your time and the volunteer’s time. You are better off going home to sleep.

Assuming you managed to clear the first hurdle but is now hovering dangerously close to diversion at 12 km. This is the start of East Coast Park at junction of Fort B and East Coast Park and you need to be there by 7.30 am. FM goes into East Coast Park whereas the HM goes up Fort Road. If you reach here just slightly before 7.30 am, said 7.20 m, and again assuming you start at the last wave at 5.20 am (I don’t even want to think that you start somewhat earlier and took that long to reach this point) , you are now averaging 14 minutes per km which is like dragging your feet and walking.

If you are a HM, congratulations. This is the last diversion point for you and you now have 1 hour 10 minutes to complete the last 9 km. If you are lucky, the Gods are kind to you, you get good weather and you can now improve your pace to 7 minutes per km to get that finisher medal. Can you double your pace? If you can’t, stop a taxi or hop on to a bus or the MRT and take a ride back. Don’t waste your energy cause what the point of walking back to the finish line if you can’t get the coveted finisher medal?

If you are a FM, you now have a new lease of life. Another 1 hour 15 minutes to do 6.5 km and reach the next diversion point of 18.5 km by 8.45 am. I reckoned that somewhere around the Car Park F2 area.  That seems pretty doable even if you have to walk this whole 6.5 km. The average walking pace is approximately 10 minutes per km but here you have an extra 1 minute per km so unless you need to go to the many toilets along the way to do Number 1 or stop at the food centre or MacDonalds for breakfast, you should be able to complete this stretch.

After this, the organiser has generously given you 3 hours 45 minutes to complete the next 21.5 km which is at the 40 km at Republic Boulevard outside F1 Pit building. 12.30 pm noon. This means if you have continued walking from East Coast Park to this place without stopping to dump, piss or take pictures or buy drinks, your are on target to complete the FM! If you had somehow found some inner reserve of energy, who knows you might even have a fair bit of buffer till the final diversion point.

By now, you should be hot, sweaty and if it is hot, hot, hot, super tired. Pray for rain. That always liven thing up a bit. But if you reach the last diversion point on time, you now have only 2 km to go. And a whopping 50 minutes to finish 2 km and collect your finisher tee and finisher medal. And I think even if you crawl all the way back, you can still make it on time. Congratulations, you are a Marathoner!

 

 

TNF 100 2016 Eco Ambassadors

Once again it is the TNF 100 trail race in Singapore and a group of us are back for the 4th year running to support the event and to give back to the running community and at the same time play a small role in keeping our trails clean by picking up the trash in the trails.  

whatsapp-image-2016-11-26-at-1-49-48-pm-1

Photo Credit Maggie

It would have been nice if our roles are redundant and not required but unfortunately the sad truth is that many people who frequent our forests, be they hikers, nature lovers, mountain bikers or runners or workers leave behind a lot of trash in their wake.

Every year without fail, we pick up bags after bags of trash although I think there seems to be an improvement and we are picking up less trash nowadays. Or maybe it is because we are doing this yearly and the time gap for more trash to accumulate is shorter and hence less trash.

Anyway back to this year trash picking. The TNF organiser called us Eco Ambassadors – a politically correct and nice word for cleaner. This year there were 18 of us. We split ourselves into 4 groups with each group starting from a different location and covering a part of the race route plus some extra areas.tnf-eco-amb-2016

We picked up a total of 16 bags of trash. Main bulk of the items were bottles, food packaging, shoes and soles, clothing including a men’s brief. dsc_2334

The trails seem to be relatively clean.  Unfortunately there were a lot of trash under the various underpass and behind the fences. People seems to think that it is ok to throw as long as it is out of sight. 

whatsapp-image-2016-11-26-at-5-31-00-pm

Photo Credit: Maggie

whatsapp-image-2016-11-26-at-1-30-13-pm

Photo Credit Jancy

We  were well underway to complete the cleaning on time when the rain came. And that put paid to our day.

dsc_2340

Oh well I suppose there always another day. And if you are reading this and am interested in participating in this, we do have ad hoc trail cleaning projects be it in conjunction with race organiser, Trail Running Singapore or Nparks and if you interested in joining this effort, feel free to drop me a message via email or pm me on Facebook.

 

Great Eastern Women’s Run

I have never missed this event even though I have never run in it since last I checked, I don’t qualify. But every year without fail unless I am not in town, I will make my way down either accompanying M and her friends or taking photos of the beautiful ladies.

I must admit I prefer taking photos of ladies runner than men. Somehow they are more photogenic and they dress in more colorful attire and make good photo subject. For example, a group of men vs a group of women. Invariably, the former will not look as glam or as good. And the ladies know how to ham it for the camera. Sly smile, pouting lips, arms on hips and legs forward. It is enough to make any men nose bleed and drip saliva all over. Most men will think the same as me. Don’t believe, just look at the number of male photographers at all women’s run!

Just look at this collage of the photos I taken during past few years races. Just look at the color!  Will it be the same if it is a collage of men? I seriously doubt.downloads6

Too bad I won’t be around this year to cover this. But ladies, do look out for my friends from Running Shots who will be there. Happy running and smile when you see the camera:)

Choa Chu Kang Farm Run

Sunday I joined a fun run. One of those many 无聊 running event where there are more walkers than runners. Have not join a fun run in ages because I see no meaning in it. Distance is usually too short and the mass of walkers make it difficult to run. So what drove me to sign up for this?

Firstly, it was the attraction of running around the farms of Choa Chu Kang. An area that I have not run before. And also because it cost only $8 unlike those themed runs which can cost an arm and a leg. And it is organised by the People Association and grassroots which usually mean the goodie bag will be packed to the rim.  So I made an exception.

Parked at Choa Chu Kang one of the multi storey car park. There were volunteers with signboard all over directing participants to the shuttle bus boarding area. Very efficient. Reach the start area at Brickland Road which was actually still within the HDB area and not in the farm area as I thought. There wasn’t a lot of runners and run was flagged off at 7.30 am sharp. So far so good. dsc_1831

But barely 20 minutes after flag off, the wide full 3 lane roads where we were became a narrow single lane. $**%$$@$^& And another few metres later – we were stopped at a traffic light! What the hell. Sigh… lucky it was a fun run and I wasn’t going for timing or anything like that so I wasn’t really upset although such things should be.dsc_1836

The initial route was bad with heavy traffic held up by the runners belching foul smelling fumes and frequent bottleneck but once inside the farm area, it became easier to run with wide open roads.dsc_1848

We ran past Nippon Koi, one of my favourite place when the kids were young. Then we went past Qian Hu, another of those places which we frequented when the kids were in primary school but has not been back since then. Other than the farms, nothing much to see except some view of the areas beyond the farm.dsc_1850

dsc_1853

Reached back the finish line to some really bad singing over the sound system by some fella. Where in the world did they find him? Thankfully there was the Milo van to save the day!dsc_1865

And as expected of a PA organised events, there was not 1 but 2 goodie bags filled with non-things. Yup no mistake there. Non-things meaning not really useful stuff. 3 fridge magnets with some social message, 1 bottle of mineral water, 1 bread, 1 paper fan and some White Rabbit sweets. Ok this last items bought back nice memories and make my day. Oh wait there is a mini first aid kit and a disposable poncho. And  a medal. How about that! So $8 well spent after all.dsc_1866

Puma Night Run 2016

So the haze situation became better and the Puma Night Run went ahead as scheduled. This is the 3rd edition of the race and so far each year they have managed to host it at a different location. This year, the race moves to a brand new running location in Seletar – the first time that a pure running event has been held there.

Those of us who have run or cycle in the area previously will know that the area especially around the new aerospace hub can be super hot but fortunately for runners, the race starts in the event at 6 pm for the 12km and 7 pm for the 6 km. That effectively takes care of the heat. The staggered start time also means the majority of the 2 group of runners will not meet and the route will not be congested.

The only problem with this race is also the location. It is too remote and the runners can only take the shuttle service from Punggol MRT to the race site. There is no parking facilities and getting a taxi there and subsequently back out is a nightmare with the pick and choose attitude of our taxi drivers. Other than that, it looks like one of the perfect race.

14102807_1146151285433142_3660773959774469891_o

Photo Credit: Epalite of Running Shots

As per the past 2 editions, Puma has invited some celebrities to join in the run attracting the attention of their young fans though I must say a lot more runners were probably more interested in catching Pokemon than Stars.

Photo Credit Daniel from Running Shots

At the race village, Puma has thoughtfully provided entertainments with live concert, activities booth and food and drinks. Nice touch. The only puzzling thing was the lack of isotonic drinks along the route. In our weather, hydration is important especially as the race distance is 12 km.

Nevertheless, despite this small hiccup, kudos to Puma for daring to stage this race here and having something that is literally a breath of fresh air for runners more used to racing along the Marina Bay or East Coast Park.

I wonder where will they think of next? Pulau Ubin?