It was one of those days filled with trepidation and unfounded nervousness. I’ve been looking forward to this race for months but I couldn’t help thinking in the lead up to the event whether John and I have overstretched ourselves. We have never run anything longer than 10km and this event had a 14km running route. Add to that 9 obstacles and it was likely to be a physically demanding challenge.
The morning was abuzz with Urbanathletes and a quick glance at the post race activities such as the “drink all you can” beer station indicated a good Sunday morning. We settled into wave 2, geared up including our gym workout gloves. Looking at the description of the obstacles we figured it might be useful to wear gloves to protect our hands from rope burn. Looking around at fellow participants, it seemed we weren’t the only ones thinking that.
The gun went off at 7.30am with our wave delayed about 10min. In order to last the distance, we started with an easy pace. We tackled the first 1.5km around the sports hub towards Tanjong Rhu, and met our first obstacle, “The Tipping Point”. We had to climb up a narrow plank which at halfway point tipped and then climb down. Nothing complicated, a little balancing but nice warm up to what was yet to come.
As we rounded our way beneath Benjamin Sheares bridge we came across obstacle two the “Bottom Line” which required us to traverse a slackline with the use of dangling ropes and then swinging onto a platform at the end of the slackline. I had to look up the definition of slackline to find out that it is a recognised balancing sport, except that it doesn’t use any ropes for extra help. Who knew.
It takes my legs about 3km to warm up and take on the jarring effect of the pavement, so it didn’t surprise me when shortly after the second obstacle I needed to walk. As we reached the Marina Barrage bridge we picked up the running again until we realised that part of the run was tackling the up and down concentric footpath. We walked the up to reserve strength and energy and jogged it down.
When we reached midway of the footpath on the green roof of the barrage we saw the third obstacle the “Balance Sheet”. Made up of one sloping beam and four straight beams the challenge was balancing on the 4 inch width of each beam that gradually increased in height until the last one which was a drop of about 30cm onto the last beam. Given that I’m not fond of heights, I felt my heart rate raise with each beam I crossed and even more so when I had to step down on the last one. I was more than elated when I jumped off the end as the photo below can attest to.
With four obstacles complete and very much enjoying the experience, we set off past Gardens by the Bay and its Domes in a cheery mood and curious about the next location and obstacle we’ll be presented with. Ho and behold the smile got wiped off my face as I was faced with obstacle four the “Lateral Move”. Made up of two sets of parallel bars, the first one required to make our way across a pair of 6m-long parallel bars using our hands. Probably every girls nightmare as this activity required upper body strength and some seriously well developed triceps. Needless to say I failed it miserably. Each time I tried to move across it my arms would give way and I would drop onto the ground. I fumbled my way through it somehow to then maneuver down a second set of parallel bars, with my hands on one bar and feet on the other. The second set was easy even though at first I wasn’t too sure about the 1m distance between the two bars.
Glad to move on it was time to wrap up the Marina Bay area and make our way back towards the sports hub via the Singapore Flyer and to my delight cross the 10km mark, the longest distance I’ve ever run. It was definitely a pic moment for me.
Coming onto obstacle five the “Workload” we found ourselves queuing in enormously long lines where we lost a good ten minutes. Here we had to carry two 10kg cement blocks and run 100m. Wow, I’m sure my arms were elongated a couple of centimetres but having a 20kg kid that still gets tossed around by both parents, we didn’t have too much trouble with this obstacle.
It wasn’t long after this obstacle that John started complaining about knee problems. Somewhat surprised given that it’s not something he has problems with, we had to change tactic by doing short bursts of running, followed by walking to ease the pain. Targeting points to run to helped push us along and stay motivated as the pain was niggling away at his knee.
Near the Kallang Riserside Park was obstacle six the “Wheel and Deal” where we had to squeeze through tyres of different heights feet first. The first and second tyre was easy given that it was at the lowest point. The third one was two tyres tied together, a bit fiddly squeezing through but okay. The fourth was a bit trickier just simply cause it was quite high. Perhaps not too difficult for John given his 6″1′ height but I needed to leverage off the pole construction holding up the tyre, use the rope to pull myself up and once my feet were through I wiggled my way through to the other side. I certainly felt for those who were not particularly tall.
At this point I couldn’t remember how many obstacles we had done or what they were but given that we had passed the 12km mark we figured there couldn’t be too many left. Most of the obstacles were approximately 1.5km apart and that created plenty of opportunities to rest between runs by tackling them. However, the last three obstacles were in much closer proximity.
Obstacle seven “Leap of Faith” is when we were most grateful for our gloves. Having to climb up a 2m high tower, at the end of the platform we had to grab a rope that was dangling 1.2m away, hang on to it and then lower ourselves without rope burn. John’s elegant descent was the complete opposite to my “oh man, I can’t hold on” and dropping unceremoniously to the floor. Imagine one of those comedies with the pro gliding (that was John) and the comic relief fumbling (that was me). Don’t be fooled by the pic demonstration. That’s just John’s good timing with the camera.
By now the novelty was starting to wear off and we were looking forward to the end or perhaps we just naturally think that way when we know we are reaching the end. I guess the troubling knee wasn’t helping to sustain our enthusiasm.
We soldiered onto obstacle eight “The Network” which required us to climb up and down a 3.2m high 3-tonne truck using a rope web. We observed some unique versions of tackling this obstacle but it was essentially a vertical climb up the truck, traversing the truck and descending the other side on a slope. I had my Spider(wo)man moment on top of the truck by wedging my right foot into the corner of one of the webs for stability whilst using my hands to crawl forward and my bent left leg to follow. It seemed to work without wobbling too much. Where I was completely ungraceful in the previous obstacle, I was much more coordinated on this one.
And then came the big bang in more ways than I could have foreseen. We completed the remainder of the run with a shuffle, hobble, walk whatever got us to the last obstacle “The Mystery”. Oh yeah, I should have been scared but when I saw the potential fun, I was hanging for the queue to get cracking and move along. By this stage we were in the scorching sun and our supportive team watching from the sidelines quickly snuck in a couple of cups of water which were very much appreciated.
Obstacle nine was a crawl-climb-jump surprise. It was all fantastic till I got to the jump. The first section was a 10m prone position crawl beneath a platform just barely 30cm above ground. I was surprised how swiftly I could glide through. Incensed with confidence I climbed up the side of the construction, ran up the two sloped platforms and came to a screaming halt when I saw the 4m high jump I had to take to land on safety mattresses.
I am petrified of these kind of heights and I did not take this into any consideration. I sat down on the edge and in nanoseconds contemplated the next move. Fear was edging its way through my veins and I knew if I didn’t push off now, I would be paralysed with fear. So without further ado, I throw myself onto the mats and land with an agonizing twist of my right ankle. With my face contorted in pain and the onlooking volunteer just staring at me, I told him to pull me off the mats so the rest of the participants could keep going.
John may have missed the whole kerfuffle but my girlfriend didn’t and photographed the whole sequence not realising what was about to happen. I had my suspicion as to what occured that was confirmed when I viewed the pics. Upon landing on the mattresses my right foot slipped through the cracks of the joining mattresses and took the whole brunt of my jump. Had I landed squarely in the middle of a mattress this ending would have been completely different.
I was 200m from the finish line and there was no way they were wheeling me off. With what could be interpreted as a snarl and determined to cross that line on my own two legs, I said no to the wheelchair and with John beside me I hobbled my way across the Finish line and straight into the medical tent.
The medics were great. They stuffed me with painkillers, rubbed Tiger balm on, iced me, wrapped me up and when I was ready to go home about an hour later, they wheeled me to the nearest taxi rank put me into a cab and sent me on my merry way. The cabbie had a giggle in good gest at my misfortune and shook his head at my foolishness.
Never made it to the ‘all you can drink’ beer tent but after a much needed shower, I spent the next 6 hours poolside with my own cold beer, good company, high on painkillers, alcohol and ‘happy’ pills. I was far too jovial for someone with an injury and John was just waiting for the painkillers and alcohol to wear off and eventually they did.
It’s been 9 days that I’ve been housebound, couchbound and foot propped up. Can’t walk yet but the healing is taking place albeit a little too slow for my liking. Unfortunately, I had to miss the Green Corridor race but hopefully I can manage to make it to the Twilight Ultra at the end of the month. Not sure what I can accomplish but since I registered along with seven of the Team Costa crew, I’d at least like to participate.
Overall, this was a fun race regardless of the end. We enjoyed the obstacles that broke the monotony of running. The camaraderie amongst participants was friendly and courteous as we all waited for our turn.
We’ll certainly be looking out for more obstacle races this year and will be back for Urbanathlon 2016.
* Photo credits: Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2015