This time, as a friend said to me, ‘You are running for the animals’. Yes, it’s the Safari Zoo Run and I was answering the call to raise awareness for wildlife conservation. To make things interesting, there are 4 teams: Team Ah Meng (orang utans), Canola (manatee representing aquatic wildlife), Chawang (elephants) and Sunny (Hornbills). I love birds so I picked Team Sunny, the Hornbill Mascot. I joined the 10 km competitive category and there were 5.5 km, 2.5 km family and kids’ dashes.
My friend, Francis had signed up ahead and I had tried my luck at getting a free slot first as the entry fee was relatively high. I had made a resolution to cut down on ‘racing’ since this was eating hard into my budget and overall plan. It didn’t help that I took up running at such a late stage too. Recently, for brief moments, I wish I was younger to start on this stage of life as I realized that in the real world, age is an issue most of the times – try competing for the same position in a company or for any sponsorship.
But still, it had been a rediscovery of the self as I entered into this year of the Rooster, recovering from a fractured spine. You are as young as you think (or as old). Running had also strengthened that belief.
I was getting ready my credit card to pay the entry fees one morning after the futile attempts to get sponsorship. Then I saw a post on FB by Run Society, the official online media, for a giveaway contest of free slots. I tried my luck and got it ! So thanks to Run Society, I got the opportunity to Run For Wildlife free for this race… before I meet Francis again for his debut full marathon in March (Sundown).
The race pack collection was a new experience as the organizer introduced automated machine for dispensing the entry pack. I got my pack without mishap as the volunteers were more than ready to help when I hesitated. There was still some manual handling as I was given the blue carrier for the pack with the discount coupons by the volunteer but it was done in double quick time since there was no queue and I got those as I was waiting for the machine to print the bib. (I realized some folks did encounter some delays on other time of the day due to unfamiliarity and ‘waiting time’.) Still, it was a positive attempt at making it available 24 hours to participants in future.
On race day, I made it to the start line early and the race was flagged off 10 minutes after the announced start time. Francis ended up in the second wave with his friend. But he caught up at his fast pace when I just reached the 3 km checkpoint and then he was gone as he maintained his pace. The route was well marked and volunteers were on hand to guide throughout. The hydration points provided both water and Aquarius drinks except for the last station, I believe. The first hydration point was located less than a kilometer from start point.
Results were announced 2 days after the event. I realized that photo finishes were taken for participants. I observed there might be gaps in the shots so certain time stretches were completely missing (or at least at point of writing this post).
Looking at some of the shots too, I thought the camera could be more prominently shown because there was a number of shots of blocked runners or too close a shot. Not many seemed to be aware of the placement of the cameras.
But Running Shots photographers were on the running route and as usual they took their splendid shots of the different categories (and they are ‘free’!). I took the liberty of sharing some of those candid shots of the young participants. You could just search for Running Shots on facebook if you are somehow new to them and they usually indicate the time span and physical location of the photo shots. (Thank you for the photos, Marcus from Running Shots.)
The air was fresh in the early morning (there were some stretches where you could smell fresh animal dung too) and the route was an interesting break from the usual Singapore race routes. You won’t be seeing elephants or lions (including white lions) for example in the enclosures along a normal race route. So I would say it’s an attractive route though there were some slight gradients. Surprisingly during the run, I didn’t experience any mosquito bites as one might expect.
I collected the finisher medal and a cup of water at the finishing point. The finisher medal was unique too, with designs of the four endangered mascots. Then we had to make our way out some distance to the ‘entitlement’ area before we could get the usual stuff like bananas and Aquarius drinks. We also met the peahen and its chicks making their rounds at the area, unperturbed by the crowd around them.
We made our way back to the zoo to spend some time with the animals before we made our respective way back home. It was a nice way to cool down after a race. As you could see, I was fascinated too by the white tigers. I enjoyed the morning with the wildlife and this also made up for missing my planned visit to the zoo last year.
So this is also part of my journey back to another full marathon – the Sundown, my fourth full marathon since 2015 and then onto my 8th Half Marathon (2XU) a week after. I will be attempting these challenges to support a cause close to my heart and hope to get some support for the kids. https://www.simplygiving.com/runforthekids. Till then, run safe and happy.