Puma Night Run 2015

This is the 2nd year that I got an invite to join this race. Last year it was at Sentosa and while that race route was more interesting, on certain portion of the route, runners had to run on narrow pavements and alongside cars. This year, the race, now in its second year has moved back to mainland Singapore.

The good thing about a night race is that race organiser can set up a proper race village complete with all sort of activities like in this case there was photobooth, face painting and food stalls. There was even a big large stage with a beautiful digital display screen for live performance. Not that these are not available at day races but usually those starts too early and the activities can only start post race by which time the sun is up and too hot for most people to enjoin in comfort.1-DSC03199

One of the highlight of last year Puma Night Run was the presence of many celebrities and these year  Puma did not disappoint the fans with a full line up of them.

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Can you recognise any of these celebrities?

The flag off was at Marina Barrage running into the direction of the beautiful Marina Bay.6-DSC03225

Here we have some of the celebrities running off in the first wave5-PNR_5429

The race route wounds round the Marina Bay covering a distance of slightly over 10 km. Puma had thoughtfully inserted this information into the race details so runners are aware in advance that the distance is more than 10 km. The race route itself is the by ow too familar Garden by the Bay – Helix Bridge – Marina Promenade – Tanjong Rhu PCN – Garden by the Bay East and finish at Barrage. The problem with this route is that part of it especially outside around the Tanjong Rhu, Garden by the Bay and Marina Barrage are too dark. Perhaps for future edition, the organiser might want to consider putting up spotlights at the darker part of the route especially the Barrage itself to avoid any accident.

Back at the finish line, runners can check their result instantly! That is a first for any race, I believe.2-DSC03204

I heard there were free beer but didn’t see any. There were some food stalls but these are not free and overpriced. However, overall, it was a well organised race with few if any hiccups. Now if only I have found the free beer. That would be a perfect race!

For more photos, do  check out the Facebook page of Running Shots.

Puma Night Run 2014

The last time I did a road race in Singapore was March this year. And that is despite a running calendar that averages 2 races a week. And the last time I did a 10 km road race in Singapore was way back in 2012. So it was quite like a new experience to me to find myself at the starting line, well almost the starting line, of a 10 km road race on Saturday.
I have no intention of doing a 10 km road run in Singapore especially when more often than not, it is either at the Marina Bay or East Coast Park which is kinda boring. But this time round it was slightly different. Firstly it was to be at Sentosa, a place that I don’t get to run on very often and more importantly I don’t have to pay any registration fee as I was given a complimentary slot by the people from Puma Singapore.
So on Saturday night I found myself about 30 metres behind the Start Line.
Which remind me of another reason why I no longer want to do road races in Singapore. You see, more often than not, to maximise profits, the organiser tends to allow for too many participants but our narrow roads simply cannot cater for these huge numbers. Just like here where the runners are crammed into a 2 cars width road adjacent to the beach. 
After the flag off where I had to weave and pushed myself through the horde of walking couples, strolling and jogging groupies, I remember another reason why I don’t want to do local races. The participants simply lack race etiquettes and do not bother to place themselves appropriately in the correct start pen. Of course, organiser would have help by encouraging runners to sort themselves out but I suppose that will be like asking for the moon.
Walkers barely 1 km away from the start line
Fortunately for the Puma Night Run people, the organiser was sensible enough to start the 3000 runners in 2 waves alleviating the problem a little bit. After about 2 km, the path was finally clear enough to start running properly.
The thing about Sentosa is that it is a very small island and so there were many u-turns along the route. But kudos to the organiser, there was proper segregation of the 2 directions and the path was fully cordoned off so that no other people would wander into it. There were security officers at junctions and marshals at  every turn. Water points with isotonic drink and water were located approximately 3 km apart and I could see 2 ambulances on standby along the route. The route itself was fairly interesting. Starting from the Siloso Beach, we ran to the end at Tanjong Beach, made an u-turn and went up Allanbrook Road. This was where many people started to walk. Then we went up to the Satellite station! I was like wow! The last time I ran up here was in the Real Run in 2005 and since then I understand the road has been closed to public. What a surprise! We also ran into an area that was unknown to me. It was quite dark though and rather narrow and only 2 runners could run on the pavement at a time. Nevertheless, I quite like the route as it is definitely more challenging than the usual flat ground of Marina Bay or East Coast Park. The slight blemish was that on certain sections, we had to run on the pavement and that is simply too narrow to accommodate more runners. Nevertheless  I feel that is was one of the best managed route in all the races that I have done so far.
Unfortunately the ending point wasn’t as well organised. After crossing the finish line, each participant gets a medal, a bottle of mineral water and banana. No isotonic drinks. And then the runners have to walk to the Wave House which is where the Event Village was to participate in the free activities. However, there were not many signs to indicate what is where and I had to ask around before finding out that the collection of the free towel was on the 3rd level of some building.
On the bright side, participate gets to enjoy “surfing” at the Wave House plus entertainment by local bands.
Overall despite some shortcoming like the lack of directional signs at the main event ground and the narrow pavement, this has been one of the best organised race I taken part in. Crowd numbers were kept to a manageable size, adequate security and marshals, a fairly value for money race pack comprising of an event top, a sling bag, a waist belt and the towel and some value for money discount voucher for Puma products. Runners looking for something different should try this race next year.

Real Run 2013 is back at Sentosa!

The Real Run is back at Sentosa! After a break of 7 years, it has moved back to Sentosa, its home ground since it first started 18 years ago. The Real Run has always has a very special place in my heart. Back then when I first started running, it was one of the few races in Singapore and probably the most unique race around. The 10km route on Sentosa covers road, trail and sand was one hell of a race for the average runner and I remember it as the only race where I threw up after completion. That was also the race where I finally get to meet a great bunch of runners from the Sgrunners forum, many of whom has now come to be good friends and frequent running buddies.
The Real Run had to leave Sentosa when construction work started for the Resort World and moved to the Changi Exhibition Centre. Now, it is back at Senotsa, ironically, forced to move due to construction work at the CEC!
Together with friends from Punggol Runners, I was happy to be invited to test run the new route for this year edition of the Real Run. Azman, the Chairman for the Real Run Committee briefed us that he hoped to make this the “toughest” 10km race in Singapore. Certainly with so many races every month in Singapore, making this something special is always going to be tough but to make it the toughest?
I still remember the old route where we started on the road just after the causeway and ran up a steep hill to the satellite station before hitting the beach and the sun and then wrapping it up with a “trail” run. I also remembered how in 2006 I was stuck in heavy traffic and had to watch the runners start the race while still in my car and by the time I managed to find a parking space, the race was already over! 

This time the organiser had wisely anticipated the traffic problem and the race will be flagged off from the  middle of the Sentosa Boardwalk or Causeway so runners do not have to drive into Sentosa but instead park at Vivocity, Harbourfront or Seah Im carpark. Sadly, the satellite station is no longer on the route but still the route is challenging enough. Right from the start, it is an uphill run all the way till the Underwater World where we entered into the “trail portion”. Here, it is a series of turns over tarmac pavement strewed with leaves from the forest on both side of the pavement. So no earth ground here just man-made ‘trails’ but emerging from the trails, the runners is greeted by the sight of the majestic Reflections by the Bay on the opposite side of the sea.
Photo credit Michael Kang, Punggol Runners
From behind the Underwater World, it is Siloso Beach, the first of the 2 sand stretch that runners have to run on. By now, I guess the average runners will be slowing down to a jog as the soft sand makes it difficult to get a good grip and run fast. 
Photo credit Michael Kang, Punggol Runners
This stretch is about 1km after which it is out of the beach for another series of twist and turns along the major attractions of Sentosa starting with the Imbiah, the Images of Singapore, the Merlion before hitting Palawan beach (no sand here hurray!) and Tanjong Beach where there is the final stretch of sand to run before finishing at the Beach carpark. Too bad no Universal Studio though!
So can it live up to the expectation of toughest 10km race? In my opinion, not really. That honour will continue to go to the Mizuno Mount Faber Wave Run with the steep climb up Mount Faber. But certainly it won’t be easy. This is definitely not a race for those looking for a PB. With the sand and narrow “trails”, runners will be forced to reduce their pace. There is also 2 sections where runners will meet oncoming runners and there will be bottle necks and congestion if lane control is not managed properly. The organiser promised that there will be adequate crowd control and since this is organised by the Home Team which has all the police resources at their beck and call, I have no doubt this will be effectively done.
The race capacity has been capped at only 6000 so that runners can have a better experience. So if you are looking for a different type of race instead of the usual race at the East Coast Park or Marina area, this could be it! Early bird closes soon on 23 March so hurry!
For more information on the Real Run, click here

New Balance Real Run 2012

Haven’t take part in this event for the past 3 years and wasn’t going to this year as well although this has traditionally been one of my favourite race. But ever since they moved the race from Sentosa to Changi, it has lost its glamour and uniqueness. The 3-in-1, road, trail, sand still attracts a lot of interest but the long boring stretch along Changi Coastal Road and the long run in the finish is a real put down.

Nevertheless, I dragged my butt out of bed on Sunday to go down to take some photos. As per the norm in Singapore, races are super unfriendly to supporters. The roads are closed to vehicles from an ugodly hour, there are no place to park cars, and the race catered buses are for runners only. Even when I thought I tried to park further away, the carpark at the next nearest place at the Coconut Grove is closed to all but the ambulance. Sighed………
Anyway, I managed to walk to the beach and positioned myself there. There was no way I was going to walk another 4km to the race site. Had some time to kill. Ate my breakfast and waited for the runners to appear.
The first lot was the increasingly common sighted Kenyans. Seriously I wonder why these people bother to travel all the way here to take part in these small events when the prize money is so small. And I heard the money is pooled and shared among the whole squad!
Then the bulk of the 10km came. There were too many of them and I soon gave up trying to snap individuals, choosing to just mechanically snap away. Not much of a challenge but hopefully participants who see their faces in the Running Shots facebook album or here will appreciate it.
Although the 10km runners were flagged off later, the timing of the flagged off resulted in the main body of the 21km running right smack into the slower 10km runners. Poor them. Having to struggle on the sand was bad enough but having to weave through the runners as well. Also because of this, I was not able to take many pictures of the faster 21km runners as they well sandwiched between all the 10km runners.
Here are the photos.

Photos can also be found on Running Shots Facebook page where there are more photos taken by friend, Marcus Lim.

North East Tampines Run 2012

Took part in my final 10k was m race for the year. It so funny. Just before this year, I have not ran any 10km race for a long long time and in the space of 4 months I have completed 3. But the only reason I signed up for this was that it was almost in my backyard. And it cost only $18. Cheap by local standard. So I wasn’t expecting much from this. On the way to collect the race pack though, I was a bit worried about how “no frills” it was going to be. Race pack collection was only on 1 day and between 4pm to 9pm. I was like huh… don’t tell me the response is so bad. I jokingly told the sidekick to expect aunties and uncles at the finishing line jotting down the runners’ bib number for the race timing!

Imagine my surprise when we walked into the hall and saw the race pack collection setup.

It was easily one of the most “pro” looking I seen here locally! And my respect for it went up a notch further when we collected the goodie bag. It was bulging with contents.

And there were no usual useless discount vouchers for products and services which nobody ever uses. Instead, there were 2 tees including 1 Li-ning tee, a shoe bag, a can of isotonic drink, 2 towels and a race bib with timing chip!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I know the grassroot organisation got a lot of money but that much?

The good feeling continues on race day. There was a huge stage. Drinks including isotonic drinks and even bananas were readily available even before the race starts. There was even holding pen for the various timing including this one for those below 30 mins. Wow, either there are some very super elite runners taking part or the organiser are so confident of our local runners’ ability!
Everything appears wonderful and perfect for a great race. Even the weather was great! And then the runners were flagged off behind this balloon arch. Unfortunately, very that was good about the race ended here. The first 50 metres or so was along this very narrow pavement through the small park. Luckily, the number of participants were not that great so it wasn’t so bad.
Out onto Tampines St 83 and everybody just ran across the road even though there were no road closures and vehicles were travelling up and down. The runners should have kept right and cross the road at the junction but there were no barrier or marshal at St 83 to direct the runners down the road instead of crossing it.

The lack of road closures and marshals extended all the way along the whole race route. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to stop at any road crossings although I saw one group in front of me having to stop once. The problems continued. We were supposed to run towards Avenue 10 after crossing the overhead bridge outside Temasek Polytechnic. Of course some people ran across the road junction instead of crossing the bridge. The route lead us into Bedok Reservoir and out of it onto Avenue 1 outside Temasek Polytechnic before crossing the first overhead bridge along the road. This is the route as shown on the race website.
But because there were no marshal or directional signs within the reservoir, what everybody did was ran 1 round of the reservoir. This was the route as picked up by the GPS. Compare the difference! For us mortal runners, it didn’t really make a great difference. The distance in fact came closer to 10km (9.8km on both me and the sidekick’s watch whereas if running on the straight path of Bedok Reservoir Road and Tampines Ave 1, it will probably be a tad shorter. However, for some of the front runners, they ran an extra 2km to 3 km exiting the reservoir from the water pump side road. These resulted in favourites like Gary Goh, Mok Yin  Rong failing to finish within the 10! What a let down for them! And this has to take the record for the most number of runners who ran off course!

I think the problem was the lack of marshal at the Bedok Reservoir area. The runners turned into the carpark, ran along the reservoir and was supposed to run along the upper path instead of the lower dirt path but nobody guided the runners. Consequently, the runners missed the water point along this stretch as wellhe. So the smooth and good organising all went to pieces at the most critical part of the event – the running.
These are the 12 top 3 finishers in each category. Did they deserve the placing? Of course it is not their fault that the organiser screwed up but somehow, what’s if………..

Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2012

After 3 years I got another shot at this great race. I took part in the inaugural race, skipped the wet 2nd race,    was injured last year (although for some reasons still unknown to me), I got a timing and the certificate even though I didn’t run and I in the 4th edition!

Took a bus from home to the start site. There was a mini jam so we alighted 1 stop earlier only to find that the jam cleared straight after that bus stop! But what greeted us a few metres away was this klutz of a car wreck!

The driver must have been so distracted by the race site on the other side of the road that his car kissed the bus. And I figured that was the cause of the traffic jam with the remaining 2 opened lanes being reduced to a single lane for vehicles in both directions. Luckily there were plenty of auxiliary police around to direct traffic.
While walking to the start line, the MC announced the arrival of the Guest of Honour and then to everybody bemusement, the race was flagged off, 10 minutes ahead of the official start time! Sighed. GOH comes late, runners got to wait. GOH comes early. GOH cannot wait. I guess the people stuck in the buses and vehicles must be seething in anger at the earlier start.

As we were still far behind, we had to walk with the crowd to cross the start line. The first 2 km was expectantly jammed pack with runners. What made it worse was that the 2 carriageways were reduced to 1 single lane about 50 metres after the start line making it extremely difficult for runners who want to run fast to weave their way through the mass. Me? I was in no hurry although I also didn’t want to be reduced to walking pace so I too squeeze through whenever I see a gap or resorted to running on the pavement whichever has the least crowd.
The way became clear when we entered Loyang Way. But that also signal the start of the many inclines along the various streets. But at least where there is an up slope, there will be a down slope. So it wasn’t that bad. And we had great weather. There was adequate water point at every 3 km serving isotonic drinks and water. Road marshalling was great with no stoppages for traffic despite us running not just through the prison complex but industrial and residential areas.

For the most part, I was running at a comfortable pace at about 80% effort. The kid was just slightly ahead of me about 10 metres away. It turned out he had a stomach ache and wasn’t pushing himself as well. I stopped at 2 drink station and finished about 54 minutes surprising myself. 

Muffin unlimited
At the end of the race, there was the usual carnival with games, massage and free flow of drinks, bananas, muffins but sadly no ice cream. Overall, another well organised race by the Yellow Ribbon team. And except for the snafu on the start time, I am sure every participant has no complaints about this.