Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Men …
The Green Race Singapore 2016 finally made its debut here. The Green Race is a global series race. Singapore is but one of a handful of countries. The others being Canada, China, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and USA.
Here’s the events in the respective countries :
- Jan – GreenRace Braemar, Hong Kong
- Feb – GreenRace Ultra, Singapore
- March – GreenRace SunRise Beach Run + Retreat Hua Hin, Thailand
- April – GreenRace Guangzhou RunAway, China
- May – GreenRace Pottinger Sprint, Hong Kong
- June – GreenRace Rochester Relay, New York
This series is the brainchild of its 2 Race Directors – Etienne Rodriguez & Martin Cai. They also oversee the branding, racepack designs, marketing, and website management. However, local race directors are a necessity for each leg in that particular country. The groundworks cannot be overlooked for there will be no events if permits cannot even be procured in the first place. For the Singapore race, there were 3 race directors; Ash Kurt, Sanmuga Rathinam, and Farhan Bin Hamdi. These men were chiefly responsible for securing the permits, logistics – water, food, medical, and tentage. They also had to make sure that there are sufficient marshals, and volunteers, as well as route markers. Above and beyond that which had been mentioned in their scope of duties is that these guys also came up with the route, and the race concept for our Singapore leg. And suffice to say, the execution of the race on the day itself.
Personally, i was glad to have been part of this inaugural event. Just as with the maiden 2015 MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 event, this boutique event encapsulated the characteristics of a well run, well exceuted, tough but thoroughly enjoyable event where runners’ esprit de corp rose magnificently to the occasion. Probably the only ‘bad thing’ after the event is that the route and venue for future events will have to be altered primarily due to the reason that The Green Corridor is slated for a major revamp. I though have had word that plans for next year’s edition are already underway. New routes are already under consideration, with possibly a change in the race concept too.
Green Race Ultra Challenge Singapore 2016
- RACE DATE – 27 February 2016, 8am Race Start
- LOCATION – Old Bukit Timah Railway Station
- 1R – Approx. 9.3 km one round of the course
- 2R – Approx 18.6 km, two rounds of the course
- UR – Unlimited Rounds : As many loops of the 9.3 km within the 8 hours, but a minimum of 5 loops required in order to qualify for the Finisher’s medal
Route / Course
Old Bukit Timah Station at The Greenway –> Green Corridor –> exit at Jalan Asas (Singapore Quarry Rd) –> Dairy Farm Trails –> Belukar Track –> Kampong Trail (Durian Loop, Nangka Trail, Rifke Range Trail) –> Rifle Range Road –> old Bukit Timah Station
The route was well marked with yellow ribbons (contrast), with signboards placed at critical turns and junctions
What I like about this route was that there was no return to Bukit Timah Station via the same Green Corridor segment as the outgoing one. That would have been too much to take mentally especially given that the day’s weather was super hot ! I also appreciated that the flats of the Green Corridor came before the trails stages !
Volunteers / Marshals / Crew
Awesome turnout of the supporting cast. Ranges from school kids to working adults ! A nice mixture, and all so generous with their greetings and cheering !
It is also vital to note that the organizers have nailed it spot on with the positioning of CPs and marshals.
It’s little things that shows how much thoughts have been put in on an event where numbers pale in comparison with those of road races. NParks also had placed a limit of 400 participants. Superb planning & execution !
Marshals were well placed. From the Dairy Farm Amenity centre, 2 were positioned to direct runners to do a sharp left turn. This particular junction have seen runners in other past events such as TNF & MSIG missing the turn and headed straight towards the Wallace Trails instead.
Just a few meters on, another marshal was stationed to warn runners to lookout for mountain bikers merging from the other lane.
Other notable locations : the turn towards Belukar Track via the mini marsh. The turn towards the School of Ammunition to manoeuvre around the metal guardrail of Rifle Range Road. This was a plus for the organizers who have picked up on the oversight of other events like TNF where tired runners still had to overcome the rail by getting over them.
Above all I loved that these CPs were well positioned. It made cheating almost impossible.
CP2 – Murnane Reservoir. Any attempts to shortcut by going over the guardrail would have instantly be noticed. Likewise the volunteers positioned at the end of the Rifle Range Trail – Road intersection would immediately spot any runner running down the road in an effort to bypass the Kampong Trail segment.
The race directors also took it upon themselves to go out on the course (running) to check on the crew manning the CPs and junctions, and also to check on their needs. I personally saw Ms Ash, Etienne, & Martin running solos throughout my time on the circuit.
I also liked that discretion was exercised to pull the volunteers (especially the younger ones) out early after 3 loops (4 hours on or so) to spare them from the elements.
And of course it would not be complete not to give credits to the standout CP of the day. That honour goes to CP1 at Dairy Farm. These guys are no strangers to me. A little bias on my part but not without due reasons. Affectionately known as “CP4” (first came to prominence during Craze Ultra 2014 which was also my first Ultra distance run of any sort) they went out of their way to provide Coke and other drinks and ice for the participants. CP1 was manned by Habib, Sheena, Neo G-Ann, & Wong Wee Chyn
Water Station : Food & Drinks
Clearly stated and understood by all participants, there was to be only one Official Support Station – the one at the Start / Finish point. The Dairy Farm Amenities Centre, CP1 – also the midway point of the course already has a water cooler, a vending machine, as well as toilets. But most importantly, the single support station had an abundance of watermelons, bananas, potato chip snacks, and bread ! There was no shortage of water, 100Plus, and the GU Brew Electrolyte Energy Drink Lemon Lime Mix was concentrated. There was so much 1.5L pet bottle 100Plus that runners were encouraged to take them home with them come the end of the event !
The unique medal is made from recycled wood could be used as a drink coaster as well
My Race Recap
This was my first race of year 2016
I’d decided to invest in a Coleman coolerbox seeing how i’m going to be doing a few more loop ultras this year, and the benefits it offers me. This event would be the first time i’d put the new coolerbox to use. I packed it up with Coke, Coconut drinks, bottled water from NTUC (chosen for it’s compact size), Lucozade orange flavored istonic drink, coconut jelly, self pre-prepared bottled Tailwind. I’d also taken steps to make sure the contents stayed as cold as possible come race day even before the start of the race by dumping the stuff in the morning before, with ice and ice blocks (self made from empty ice cream tubs). On the morning of the race, i poured out half of the icy cold water within and placed 3 more blocks of ice, and a packet of ice cubes i’d purchased the night before. The ice blocks were still intact at the end of the race ! The trial worked, will do likewise for future events
I arrived at the race site via cab. I decided to book a cab this time around to avoid the mini ordeal i experienced on the morning of MR25 Ultra back in Dec 2015. That morning the cabbies refused to take me bcoz of my coolerbox. They were afraid of spillages. Dang ! I wasted valuable time, and not to mention the frustration and desparation that came with it then. No such this time around
A quick setup upon arrival at event site, the usual greetings and photo takings, race briefing by Sanmuga … and my race (UR) was (first to be) flagged off round about 8am.
Right from the flag-off, i’d soon found myself in 3rd position heading out towards The Green Corridor behind LAN Runner (i didn’t know him then) & Faith Tan (the eventual Winner of this category). My buddy & pacer Bc Seah was alongside me throughout this lap too. Somewhere along this lap, i was overtaken by Steve Chia but still the pace was unexpectedly too fast. I found myself in 4th place at the end of the first loop
The weather was generally kind up till this time of the day
I’d done 2 separate recce / training runs prior, totalling 3 laps. However on both ocassions, i’d used ZhengHua Park trail sections to get onto Belukar Track section avoiding the grassy section before the almost barren site, so i was kinda caught offguard when marshalled towards the grass bcoz i knew from the past this area was always wet and marshy. And so it turned out to be so …
The rest of the sections went pretty much according to plan, same goes too for the personally dreaded Nangka Trails where i failed to psyched myself to run thru. I walked yet again after crossing the wooden bridge. Did so too throughtout this day
CP : 57:03
Swapped out the bottles from my Salomon vest. I’d already prepared the exchange in ziplocs such that upon arrival i need not bother fumbling and searching for them. One big, one small bottles in 2 separate ziplocs. Big, 330ml – Tailwind. Small, 200ml – either Coke, or Lucozade (prepared the day before).
I left without my buddy cum pacer Bc Seah. I’d told him to help himself to my coolerbox. I was sure he would catch up with me later on. I soon got passed by a speedy Ang Moh in his event tee. Little did i realize (much later on) that he was a 2R participant (i’d assumed he was a UR). I started walking once over the railroad bridge. LAN Runner passed me. I passed him just before the BTH area, but myself got passed by a group of speedy runners (again i’d assumed they were UR runners too !)
I regained my composure momentarily (from all that walking) … but think my pace had been too fast, one which I was to pay for later on …
Dairy Farm, CP1 … where i’d previously turned down Habib’s offer of Coke … no such thing this time around. I was flagging by now
Steve (Chia) was already on his way out as i was just arriving at the end of my 2nd lap !
CP : 2:03 (lap – 1:06)
In and out fast, grabbed a can of Yeo’s coconut drink from my coolerbox and drank it on my walk out … 2:05 into the race, i was already 25 mins faster than when i did my 2 loops training run from the week before
Was walking and walking more and more. The heat was on the ascendency ! Arm sleevings fully extended. As i walked the Green Corridor i kept turning round to look behind. I was sure there’d be runners closing in on me … I was hoping the sight of another running up behind me would motivate and kickstart my engine but nothing doing. There was no one, and with each step i lost the urge to get myself to run !
I was beginning to feel the need for some input. I’d brought a pack of vacuum-sealed seedless dates in my pack. I felt now is as good a time as any to refuel for the race. I proceeded to open the packaging. The first layer was easy enough, but then i struggled to tear thru the next layer. There was no perforations. Did all these on the move (walking). I stopped. Took out a 10c coin, found a nice flat granite along the Green Corridor and attempted to use the edge of the coin as a cutting tool. I was sure i’d no trouble making a gash on the bag. I failed, and there was still yet another layer of plastic within ! I gave up !
Jalan Asas. Came across my friend Ash, one of the 3 local race directors. He was back from making his rounds checking in on the volunteers. I was to see the 2 global race directors during my time out on the course too. Kudos to the race directors !
Was not until DF trails that i started to have a real go at it again especially on the downslopes. DF CP1 – Coke
Belukar Track – i could sense i was starting to hit the wall !
Murnane Reservoir, CP2 came and went. A little struggle to get into the Durian Loop. Was ok once inside, auto-pilot mode but came off the rails at … yep, the Nangka Trails ! A real battle, possibly the lowest point in my entire race …
CP : 3:27 (1:24 laptime) … even the welcome sight of my buddy William Muk who’d come over from BTH after his training runs, as well as those who’d completed their 1R and 2R did little to raise my battered spirit !
As i sat in the tent resting, i knew it was only a matter of time before Esmond & Daniel would make their way here too. So too Bc Seah who had to call it a day soon afterwards as the soles of his shoes DNF
Daniel urged me to tag along with him & Esmond, and i duly took him up on his offer
So knackered i was that the 2 who arrived minutes after me were now ready and heading out – running on their next lap, whilst i could only trudge on. But i knew better to than let them out of my range, and out of my sight. I had to catch up before the gap between us became insurmountable
Alas, i was running with them once again. We’d started the race together before they decided to drop off the pace.
I was merely a pillion at this point in time – running when they ran, walking when they walked. A Solid strategy ! I was thankful. Daniel would ocassionally check in on me asking if i was alright. He knew i needed motivating. He knew i was in a bad place
The race ‘competitively’ was over for me since the end of the 3rd loop. It was now just a journey, a matter of finishing the minimum 5 loops … 5 loops for the unique medal. 5 loops for personal pride. 5 loops … 5 tougher than i thought loops !!!
But even now i was struggling, a sense of general loss of fitness and drive. The weather was partly to blame. The 3rd loop and even now was the hottest it’s been since the start of the race
On the other hand, Esmond was a total beast ! Not a sign of fatigue when out on the course (can’t say the same when he gets back into the tent though ! lol) This guy was talking of a 6th loop already. I knew i was lucky to complete 5 if i could
Durian Loop … Daniel started experiencing a few close calls. Twice, out in point he nearly tripped and stumbled over the precarious roots here. We urged him to slow down a tad. Thankfully we got back to the admin tent without incident
CP : 5:04 (Lap-time : 1:37) … i’d imagine this lap would have been close to 2:00 hrs had i gone at it alone, and that’s not even a conservative guesstimate
We took as much time here as possible to recover before heading out for our 5th lap
It was pretty hot. I conceded to an ice-water cold showering on the head, and as before … the guys were once again tearing down along the trails … time for me to play catch-up for the last time !
I finally caught up to them at the fringes of the GC. The long rest did lesser good for me than it did for my 2 buddies. I’m really paying the costs of going out too fast the first 2 loops. Nothing new … seems to be a common theme for me lately. Not good
Durian Loop, Daniel once again stumbling along coming close to tripping. I knew he too was spent, like me. Esmond was dreaming of a 6th (loop). We both told him to finish this one first. Daniel suggested i pace Esmond on his 6th. I didn’t know if i should cry, or to laugh … but pushed a ‘lil faster we did so that our bro would have enough time for his 6th should he decide to go for it. And suddenly i found the wind in my sails yet again. Second Wind ! The both of them urged me to ‘cheong’ ahead. I declined. They’d carried me thru these last 2 loops, i could not bite the hands that feed. We shall race as one to the Finish Line !
As we drew ever nearer, Esmond determined he was going to do one more loop. He asked me to go ahead to get Lily to be ready for his arrival, and more importantly his ‘barang2’ !
CP : 6:33 (Lap – 1:29) … 5 loops completed, finishing joint 18th with Daniel Ong !
I came into this event believing i could do 6 loops at least, 7 if all the elements and factors go in my favor, but ultimately struggling to complete 5. It was only later as i had the opportunity to glance through the live results that i appreciated how tough it had been not just for me, but for just about everyone else
As for Esmond, he did an awesome 1:13 on his 6th and final lap ! Amazing ! Placing him 7th Overall !
Good event, good route, good organization, good atmosphere, awesome volunteers, PB photogs, and a bunch of responsible race directors, and all for a good cause : “to create ZERO WASTE RUNNING RACES across Asia and beyond! We aim to generate maximum enjoyment at our events with minimum waste by eliminating needless consumption.” … and most importantly, good camadarie amongst the runners !
Many Thanks to all who made this a memorable event, and i am already looking forward to edition #2 in 2017 !