Singapore Marathon 2017

In every major marathon, the organiser will usually set up a pacing group to pace the runners who wish to achieve certain timing goal. The SCMS is no different and for the past few years, the Running Department, a group of seasoned running enthusiasts have been tasked with doing this job. They will wear tees with their timing standard on their back and have balloons tie to them to make them visible so that runners can keep track of them easily.

The Running Department has been doing a great job as evidenced by their being the official pacers for the past years. But this year, thing has gonna a bit confusing. Another running group has set up what is essentially an “unofficial” pacing group for the marathon as well. This group will have pacers from 3.30 hours to 4.30 hours slightly different from Running Department’s 3.45 hours onward.

This unofficial pacing group has rifled some of the pacers from Running Department and split opinion whether it is a good thing. Those in favour argued that the more the merrier. More runners can then achieve their target. Those against argued that the unofficial pacers will cause confusion to the runners, is not liable for any mishap and take away the credit from the official pacers.

Unfortunately when asked, the organiser has refused to take a stand and only repeated its position that there is only one official pacer.

So is the unofficial pacing group a good or a bad things. I suppose just like the argument against the new disruptive technology and to a certain extent, us volunteer photographers in Running Shots and the official event photographers, there are always pro and cons.

On the one hand, the so called unofficial pacers can, if they do their job properly help some runners to achieve their goals especially if it is in a time band that the official pacer is not able to provide. On the other hand, if the unofficial pacer group fail to do their job properly and runners who didn’t realise they are unofficial, follow them and subsequently failed to achieve their goal, who can they blame? The unofficial pacer or the organiser? 

Me think the official pacer group should be allowed to be the only visible pacing group so as not to cause confusion. Anybody who want to pace as a community service should either join the official pacing group and go through a proper structured pacer training  to ensure that they can do the job properly on race day. Or they can just run alongside a friend or a small group of friends as personal pacers and not be some visible group with their own timing target printed on their top.

Here at Running Shots, we don’t call ourselves unofficial photographers. Neither do we openly declare that we will be covering an event (unless we are invited to do so by the organiser). We don’t even announce where we will be parking outside to shoot photos. Why? Because we recognise that there are official photographers and we should let them do their job properly without interference from any other parties trying to cash in on their territory. Having said that, I think there is room for everybody to co-exist but everyone need to be mindful of their own position and respect each other. After all, this is a voluntary effort and not some profit making scheme and there should not be any competition to be one upmanship against the other. 

 

Never Stop Exploring – Bulim Forest

The Bulim/Tengah forest will soon be gone – converted into another block and block of flats and condominium. So before it is gone forever, I went down with some friends to have one last look and also first look at the place.

First thing that strike me when I entered the place was its sheer size. From the main road, it looks just like any small patch of forest but once in, we were like Oh Wow! Just take a look at these photos:

As I understand, these place used to be a kampung before the villagers were resettled in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas and the SAF took over the place for the army training. Hence, the nice wide paths that criss cross the entire area.

There is supposed to be a small stream but we didn’t manage to locate it. Instead what we saw was this little longkang which I understood was a lifeline for the people there during the second world war.

This stream and all the mini waterways there eventually leads to this new longkang.

While we were there, we observed many birds including a large flock of Long tailed Parakeets and many other smaller forest birds. We also spotted Brahminy Kite and White Bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead.

A rather beautiful place to admire Mother Nature and admire its beauty. Sadly scene like these will disappear soon as the crazy Gahmen continues on its relentless quest to concrete the whole of Singapore.

Sundown Marathon 2017

If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. The people at Hi-Velocity, the organizer behind the Sundown Marathon (SDM) should have remember this wise saying when they set up to “improve” this year edition.

The Sundown Marathon is an event which is close to my heart and which I have fairly good opinion of, unlike the SCMS. I seen the SDM grown from a small little race in 2008 with just 800 + runners to a mega race involving more than 20000 runners in 4 different categories. In its early days, the SDM could be considered a true heartland race running through the Eastern part of Singapore. It was also the first race to have a 84 km distance – probably the first ultra race in Singapore. While I didn’t run the SDM in those early days, I had many friends who did and those of us not running had a great time providing support to the runners as they ran through the Eastern Park Connector. We were there for the runners in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Those time, we made many friends and got a lot of appreciation including this nice little cap. This was also the only race that I won something – haha not a running trophy but a photo contest in the 2009 race expo. I did ran the SDM eventually – twice in fact, in 2011 where I had a horrible time and again in 2015. By then, the SDM had moved from Changi Village to Changi Aviation Road and eventually to the current Marina Bay. Along the way and over the years, it has became a race catering to the mass instead of being a niche event and I guess as it grew bigger and bigger, it became more and more difficult to manage. First to go was the run through the heartland making use of the park connector. Next was the 84 km Ultra Distance which I feel was unfortunate as that was to me the main highlight of the annual event. And by moving to Marina Bay, it has became just another race in the area – nothing really great or special other than it being held at night. But I guess to many marathon wannabes, this race was a much welcome introduction to running a marathon as it enabled them to avoid the harsh heat of a day race. And so years after years, the numbers continue to grow…… Continue Reading →

Crocodiles!

I been seeing crocodiles and I mean real crocs and not monitor lizard like these people actually saw and mistook for crocodile. And no they are not at the zoo either but out here in “wild” Singapore.

A few years ago, one can hardly sight a crocodile at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve but nowadays a visit there is almost guaranteed one or two sightings. And there is no need to wander the whole place. There are usually at least 2 or 3 of them around the main river and can easily be spotted from the bridge. Like these:

And although I haven’t encounter one on the walking path yet, there are some that can be see basking in the sun

While  I happy that there are so many of them now, I wonder what is going to happen if one day some idiotic visitor gets too close and ends up getting injured. I have seen the antics of some people especially from a certain country in Asia and the stupid things they do. I couldn’t care less if they get bitten in the process of getting a selfie with the croc or while throwing things at it to make it move but I will pity the poor croc who will only be protecting itself. 

Hopefully that day will not happen when the crocs have to be relocated or culled for the “safety” of the visitor.

Scammed and Conned Willingly

Take a look at this photo. There are 3 different items in it. A few pieces of stickers, a pen and a baggage tag.

These 3 different items actually have a lot in common.

  1. They are all pirated ripoff of copyright items
  2. Each particular item cost $10.00 each. Grossly overpriced for imitation items
  3. They are all sold by  people who purported to be “students”
  4. They are sold for a “good cause”
  5. A “sucker” bought them even though he knew they are overpriced and may be a scam.

That sucker is me and yes I bought them with my eyes open even though I knew that they are overpriced, not original products and the proceeds may not really be for a good cause. So what drove me a usually practical hard headed man to buy them?

As stated, they were all sold by people who claimed to be student. The pen and the Batman baggage tag were bought from pedlars who went door to door. The stickers were from a young men standing in the middle of Cecil Street. And I bought them because I admire them. It takes a lot of guts and determination to go door to door to sell some stuff that nobody actually needs. It takes a lot of mental power to have door slammed in your face and yet to continue on knocking at the next door. And it takes a lot of will power to stand in the middle of a busy street and try to persuade people to buy the cheap imitation stickers.

I half buy into their story of raising funds for their studies and I like to believe that it is true and it is not a rip off especially that nice boy selling the stickers. This is not the first time I bought the stickers from him. In fact I make it a habit to buy something from him every time I see him never mind that I don’t need the stickers. I just gave them all away to my colleagues for their children. On the most recent purchase, I managed to find out that he is a first year student at Ngee Ann Poly and selling the stickers to raise funds for his studies. The baggage tag and pen were also from 2 youths who claimed to be selling them to raise funds for their studies.

I know I shouldn’t be encouraging people to sell imitation and rip off over priced items but somehow I hope these young people do raise some money for their studies and nothing goes to those syndicate.  And I also like to think that I earn some good karma for helping these young people a wee little bit.

 

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!