Running in Kyoto – Kamo River

One of the things I love to do when overseas is to find a nice place to run. Ideally some place where there are no or little traffic and people. Not for me, the crowded sidewalks of Beijing or even Tokyo. In Kyoto, we found a beautiful place to run – alongside the Kamo River.20161109_084001

The Kamo River is like what the Singapore River is. A river that runs through the heart of the city franked both side by roads and buildings and with many bridges over it. In both cases, the authorities have put in much effort to make the riverside a place for people to commute or to just sit and enjoy the view. But this is where the similarities end. Unlike the Singapore River which is a river converted to a concrete drain converted into a beautified waterway, the Kamo River retains much of it original form. One can literally walk right into the river much like what I did here while taking this photo. So unlike the Singapore River which is out of bounds to anyone.dsc_2181

Beside the easy access, the river water is so clean and teeming with ducks, egrets and other birds. dsc_2063

There was also many storyboard like this telling the history of the area. These are mostly located under the many bridges which span the river and protected from the elements.dsc_2204

Our run along the river bank was pleasant enough and we spent a lot of times stopping to take photo. We got lucky and were rewarded with this beautiful rainbow.dsc_2071

The path on the side was a mixture of asphalt and sand/granite mix and straight all the way. There were bridges at regular intervals for vehicles to cross the river and we did not have to stop for traffic or anything else and could just run on and on. There are regular markers along the way indicating the distance between each bridge.20161107_130133

Interestingly, we could choose to cross to the other bank via the many bridges or we could simply cross the river. One could simply wade across since the water level is so low unless it rains or we could cross via some nicely placed “stones” like what this office lady is doing.dsc_2114

And here is a close up of this interesting bridgedsc_2140

And this is M crossing the bridge. Look at how much she has to stretch her leg to leap to the other piece.dsc_2135

Indeed the gap between the stones is rather big and I really admire those people in their working attires who can cross the wet and slippery stones with ease.

We did an easy sightseeing smell flower pace run down or rather up the river until the junction where the Kamo River is joined by the Takano River to form the main Kamo River. dsc_2162

For the past hour or so it has been raining intermittently. We could have love to continue to explore the upper reach of the river but and we were getting cold and so we decided to turn back completing a 12 km run in the process. 

The next time you are in Kyoto, why not go for a run or a stroll or cycle along the Kamo River instead of visiting a shopping mall. You won’t regret it!

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

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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

Singapore City Race 2016

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!

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Photo Credit : Rosemary Chan

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!

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Photo Credit Rosemary Chan

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.

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Photo Credit Jancy

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!DSC_1436

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!

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Photo Credit Rosemary Chan

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……

A Hot and Heaty Affair

Last weekend I did a 21km run.  Nothing unusual as that is quite normal for long run on weekends.  What was unusual was that it took much longer than the usual 21 km run.

For this particular run last weekend, I took a massive 3 hours 17 minutes. Ok admittedly this run route was what I called the Mother of all 21 km run in Singapore because it involves going up and down 3 of the highest hills in Singapore so the timing is always gonna be longer than the usual.  I try to do this route at least once a month and so far the timing has vary widely

April: 2:50; May 2:41; June 2:48 and August 2:59 and last week 3:17

So what accounts for the fluctuation?  Apart from toilet and water breaks and stopping to take photos, the first 4 runs were more or less still within acceptable range of 10 minutes but the last one was horrendous. And I think the reason was the heat. It was unbearably hot towards the 2nd half of the run and all the energy just sapped away and I just felt so weak. I walked up Vigilante Dr, Pepys Hill, even part of Kent Ridge Park, the Canterbury Estate and finally walked the entire length of the Forest Walk.

And I think that is the toughest part of running in Singapore. The heat. Many people think Singapore is all flat and easy to run but with our heat and humidity, running is definitely not easy. Which is why most of our races here flag off at insane hours in the morning from 4.30 am for a full or even half marathon to 6 am for 10 km races. Tomorrow I have another long run and if my experience during the last run along this particular route is repeated, I think I am going to wither and die under the heat.

It going to be  a long hot and heaty affair tomorrow! For all those doing the Craze Ultra tomorrow, Gambete!

Craze Ultra Fam Run 3

I joined the Craze Ultra Familiarisation Run 1 a few weeks ago. That run took us from MacRitchie Reservoir to Admiralty MRT station covering a total distance of 26 km. I crashed big time after about 14 km as the heat took its toil and took almost 4 hours to complete walking most of the last 13 km.

I didn’t go for Fam Run 2 which was from Admiralty MRT to Sengkang. Not that it matter since I wasn’t running that far on the actual day  anyway.

But just so that I have no excuse not to run, I joined Fam Run 3 which is the last stretch of the entire Craze Ultra 100 miles route. This starts from the Sengkang Recreation Centre and ends at Bedok Reservoir with a total of 24 km.

But of course me, the sidekick and our buddy running couple, RSM and her hubby had no intention of doing the entire distance. We had decided that since the route will runs into Pasir Ris where we put up, we will stop there which should give us a decent distance of about 16 km.

This is the group that set off from Sengkang Recreation Centre

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Photo Credit: Ben Swee

The route brought us through the park connector to Buangkok, Punggol Park, Punggol Promenade, Lorong Halus and Pasir Ris Dr 3.

At Lorong Halus, the group took a long long break to wait for everybody to reach. At this point after the group photo, we decided to do a little recce and left the group and headed towards Coney Island. Our mission – to see whether the place is now open and/or accessible. Unfortunately, what we saw was this sign – all 3 of them too!

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Photo Credit: Jancy Yap

Oh well, got to wait some more then. We took a slow easy run back to Pasir Ris and eventually did 17 km in slightly over 2 hours which was pretty decent considering the many time we stopped to take photos or wait for each other.

Trail Running Singapore Trail Run Series No 2

The second run in the current series for Trail Running Singapore. This time round, with the promise of a beautiful new trail, about 40 runners turned up on a bright cheerful Saturday morning at the Dairy Farm carpark.

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Photo Credit to AC Leong

After a short safety and trail running etiquette briefing, the runners took off for the Wallace Trail, a short but challenging trail that is easily accessible from Dairy Farm car park but often overlooked. Here it was group photo taking time before the runners proceeded to the familiar Belukar Trail and the Zhenghua Park Connector before entering the Gangsa Loop.

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Photo Credit to AC Leong

After a long hard run to the end of the Gangsa Trail, it was time for another group photo before the runners u-turn back to explore 2 not so well known trail.

The first one was a 1 km run to the West Seletar Pumping Station, a relatively flat and straight forward trail on partly broken up asphalt. Next up was what I guess most people came for. The promised “Fisherman’s Trail” so named because people go there to fish. And there are reports of sting rays and other large fresh water fish being caught. And indeed during our run, we saw 2 fisherman patiently waiting for their catch.

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Photo Credit to Eu Gene

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Photo Credit to Eustaquio Santimano

But what took our breathe away was the stunning view of the Upper Seletar Reservoir as we ran along the shore. Some runners who are familiar with the now closed Butterfly Trail might be forgiven for thinking that this is the same place but it is not. The reservoir at the Butterfly Trail side is the Upper Peirce Reservoir while this is the Upper Seletar Reservoir. But both are just as beautiful. The other difference is that the ground here is a tad softer and while winding and challenging, is not as technical with less big roots.

The total distance for this run was a doable 15 Km. I think all the participants had really enjoyed this 2nd of the 3 part trail run in the lead up to the Singapore TNF 100.

The next run will be in mid September. Folks who are interested in joining the TRS monthly run, do look out for the details in the TRS Facebook page.