Virtual Racing

Time has really changed with the onset of what economists called disruptive economy. Taxi companies, hotels, travel agencies, bicycle rental are all being affected by this new way of doing business. But I never thought that running in a race, which is a very personal and physical thing can be affected as well.

Typically, when one sign up for a race, he pays a registration fee which entitles him to run in the race, a goodie bag with some freebies, an event tee and after the race, a medal, a certificate and perhaps a finisher tee. During the race, there will be some sort of support, drinks station, road marshal and medical aid. There may also be a carnival area for the runners to enjoy after the race. Above all, one gets to run together with friends and compete with peers on a public course that is partially closed to traffic. And that is what a typical road race is like. 

But now it seems the disruptive economy has reached into the ambit of road racing. Now a person can register, pay a small sum of money and run a virtual race ie he runs alone according to the race or challenge as determined by the app. There is no fixed route, no support and no finisher tee. Some will have a medal and nothing else. And you run alone.

This is the part I don’t understand. Why pay good money to other people and then run alone without getting any support or for that matter any real challenge with other runners. It just doesn’t make economic sense to me. Couldn’t it be cheaper to just do one’s own run. Why need to pay other people for that right? Some may argue that in some cases, the participant can get a medal but we all know what we do with the countless medals that we already have from real races. Mostly they just get chucked into a cupboard to be forgotten. Some may argue that these app create special race challenges like a virtual parallel race with the KL Marathon for instance, or a distance challenge. But companies like Nike and Garmin and many other apps already has peer challenge programs which requires no payment. So why pay to run your own race?

Can somebody tell me what is the attraction of doing virtual race?

 

End of an era – CBD Runners

Running groups come and go. Some are a bit more resilient and stays a few years. Some die barely a few months after they start. In today time where things come and go at super speed, the CBD weekly Tuesday night run was a constant. But like all good movies, all good things has to come to an end and finally after 10 years, the CBD run has shut down.02-DSC07129

The CBD run was started by Little Tigger and Tiwazz and a few others back in 2006 when mass running in Singapore was just starting to take off.  The CBD run was a spin off from the now largely defunct SGRunners. Back then, there was corresponding regional group run like the Eastside Run, Westside Run and even a Northside Run! Interestingly, not all the founder of the CBD run work in the CBD yet they initiated it in the CBD for the benefit of us folks working there.

In its early years, the number of runners at each session was easily more than 20, a record for group run in those days. This is a picture of the runners at its first anniversary run in 2007.

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Photo credit: Tiwazz

The runners meet every Tuesday evening at the open area on top of the Tanjong Pagar MRT and ran to places such as Marina South, Fort Canning and even Mt Faber. With the redevelopment of Marina South, the run there was curtailed and looking for new routes became more challenging.

The CBD run was especially memorable as it managed to play matchmakers and spanned a few couples some of which gone on to get hitched.

The construction of Tanjong Pagar Centre on top of the MRT took away the little space for the runners to gather and that I think was the start of the death knell for the Tuesday night run.

By then, many other running groups had started in the area – from the still going strong Running Lab Funan Thursday Night Run to the HPB I-run twice weekly run at the UOB Plaza. There was also the Athletics Circle Thursday run and the Newton Wednesday Run both of which have since went the way of the dodo bird. Some of the runners moved to these new groups which were nearly or more accessible to their workplace. I myself went over to the Running Lab Funan Thursday Night Run although I tried to join them once in a blue moon like during their anniversary!

After 10 years, the CBD run has finally decided to bow out. In its last year, the number of runners have dropped to a handful of regulars, not helped by the lack of activity in the SGRunners forum where all the original members came off.

Anyway 10 years is a long time thanks to the dedication of Little Tigger, Tiwazz, Suanjing and Charlotte. Thanks for the time and the memories!

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.

Hot Hot Run – Craze Ultra Familiarisation Run 1

There is Craze Ultra race coming up in September  with the longest distance at 100 miles. And yes there is no mistake here, It is 100 miles or 160 km spanning half of Singapore! Of course there are shorter distances for the not so gungho runners but these still packs a mighty punch at 43km, 78km and 101 km.

On Sunday, the organiser conducted a familiarisation run of part of the route. A short 26 km run from the MacRitchie Reservoir to the Admiralty MRT station in Woodlands. I don’t know what possessed me to join this when I could have been in my nice cosy bed but I don’t supposed they named this “Craze Ultra” or called those people who complete it “Nuts” for nothing. So I guess I must be nuts after all!

26 km sounds doable especially coming off the back of my Sundown marathon 2 weeks ago. And well I was curious to find out how to run from MacRitchie to Woodlands. They said curiosity kills the cat. And in this case, it didn’t kill me but almost fried me though!

We started at about 7.45 am which was late by Singapore’s race time standard.  From the MacRitchie Reservoir, we ran along Upper Thomson Road until Sembawang Road and then Mandai Ave. The sun was already bright and shiny when we started but with fresh legs, the run was still manageable and I managed to stay with the leading pack all the way until Mandai Ave where I started to feel the heat. Not even the sight of the beautiful Seletar Reservoir would refresh me. But still I completed the first part of the run in quite satisfactory condition.

The heat started to get to me when I crossed over the road to the Ulu Sembawang park connector. The running become lesser and lesser and the walking become more and more frequent. Eventually it became more walk and less run as we hit Woodlands estate. Even the 2 pit stops for cold drinks failed to perk me up and I was cursing myself for doing this. I need I can qualify to be a craze nut!

The highlight of the route must be the panoramic view of the Malaysia Johor’s state coastline.DSC_0439Reaching here means that we have at most another 5 km to reach the Admiralty MRT station but it was a long and hot 5 km. By now, hot and tired, I have no energy to go on. Along Admiralty Road West, I spotted a familiar face and we decided to walk back all the way. Running be damned!

I think the distance is manageable but the heat is not. Just this short 26 km was enough to fry me.  After doing this, I have the utmost respect for those who can complete the 100 miles or the 101 km in our hot humid weather. I really marvel at their resilient and strong will because I am sure that is the only thing that keep them going on one step at a time in our hot hot weather.

Trail Running Singapore Trail Run Series No 1

Trail Running Singapore launched its first lead up run for the upcoming Singapore TNF 100.  This is the first of 3 trail runs to introduce the Singapore trails or whatever remains of it to trail runners and to assist runners in their preparation for the upcoming TNF 100.  About 30 trail runners turned up on Saturday morning at the Buona Vista MRT station for the run.

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Just before start of run at the Green Corridor off Holland Drive

After a short walk to the Green Corridor,the runners set off for a nice scenic run in fairly cool weather. The run route is a 16 km run along the Green Corridor and winding through a mixture of flat tails, technical trails and road and covering some of the most scenic spots in Singapore.

After about 3 km, we reached the now unused former KTM Bukit Timah Railway Station where we naturally stopped for a photo at this historical site.2-DSCN6213We continued on and exited the Green Corridor to Rifle Range Road where after a short 100 metres, we entered into what is the Durian Loop. The bonus of this slightly technical trail was of course the aroma of the durian as it is now durian season. Along the trail, there were people waiting to collect the fallen durian. The additional bonus was that there was a “water crossing”. The bridge across the small stream is under maintenance and we had to cross the muddy tiny little stream something that was not expected.

From the Durian Loop, we crossed back onto Rifle Range Road and went into what is popularly called the Pipeline Trail, a sprawling open ground of up and known and guarantee to make the runners paused to take in the magnificent view of the horizon.3-DSCN6222

Group photo at the top of the Pipeline Trail

After a pit stop at the Dairy Farm carpark B’s toilet to top up water it was another short but challenging run up to the beautiful Singapore Quarry, an little known beauty spot of our little red dot.4-DSCN6228After this, it was a fast and furious run back to the Buona Vista Green Corridor before the might of the Sun comes full force.  Total distance 17 km.

The next run will be sometime in August. The runs are free and anyone can join in the run. Runners who are interested to join the run can check out the Trail Running Singapore Facebook page for updates.