Two weeks before the Race, I collected the race pack at City Square Mall. Thanks to JustRunLah!, this was the 4th free slot in the series and I was quietly happy that I managed to get into wave 1 this round. It’s part of the Transcending Yourself series and I was very hopeful that I would get close to my target PB as I was feeling fairly fit on my legs with the recent switch to cycling. I had a fall from the bike but found that cycling relieved my Plantar Fasciitis symptoms somehow. I was a bit worried there would be a long queue but managed to be early and got my race pack within 10 minutes.
With a week to go before the race, I went for the Sportive Ride and got my second fall ‘lesson’ from the bike, hurting my elbow and fingers, wrist with some scrapes on the lower leg. But otherwise was fine. I was feeling good still for the race the following week.
I set my clock for 5 am and planned to reach the area around 5.45 am and thought there would be more than enough time to get to the start point by 6.30 am. My friend told me to try and park at Temasek Polytechnic if possible. I reached the area near the target time but found Temasek Polytechnic closed and circled around for HDB car parks which were all full.
In the end I parked at a public carpark opposite a sign that said Tampines Police! It was about 6.10 am already. I walked quickly, having noticed a group of runners further down on the left. The skies were dark and it was windy. When I reached the traffic light, I saw a lady walking in opposite direction to where I thought the group was. I stopped to ask for directions as she was dressed in TPS Tee. Yes she was familiar with the place. She told me the direction and said that it would be 6-7 min to the starting point. Then she added, if I run. She was in second wave. I jogged and then realized that it seemed further than I thought. I slowed down to take stock and then saw some other participants after some time. (It was about 1.5 km in distance – I found out later.)
I reached the venue but needed to release the water I had drunk earlier. Luckily the male toilet queue was shorter.
Unknown to me, a few minutes earlier, 6.15 am and 6.25 am, the organizer had contacted NEA to check on the weather and confirmed it was not a CAT 1 risk. So the race was flagged off at 6.30 am as planned.
(Side Note: Singapore has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity in the world. Situated close to the Equator, the warm and humid tropical conditions are highly favourable for the development of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms produce lightning, and in severe cases, are accompanied by heavy rain and gusty winds. Cat 1 means there is highest risk of lightning.)
Approximately 6:40 am, I ran to the start line. I was estimating I was about 10 minutes late so I started running, a bit faster than I intended. (I run almost all races without watch nor smartphone. But I would be estimating the rest of the narrative with gut estimate and combined them with the accounts given by the organizer. They turned out to be pretty accurate after I looked at the timing split given on Tuesday’s results.)
I felt fine. I felt the winds. It started to rain. I love running in the rain and I had run under the rain often during training and a couple of times during races – the most memorable was Nila 10 km run in 2015. So I just carried on. I glanced occasionally at the reservoir – getting quite blurred with the rain drops but felt a sense of ‘tranquility’ yet, high energy. Could hear the wind blowing – somewhat familiar sound to me now with the evening rides I had been doing. Couldn’t see anyone in front, but a few folks were behind me and they seemed hesitant to carry on.
I reached the 1 km loop and overtook some folks – saw more participants. I continued running, then less runners again. Saw the first hydration stop and continued running. The rain picked up. There was a flash and then thunder clapped rather nearby. But I wasn’t feeling any concern as I was still feeling quite strong and continued to run. My mind was almost empty, just get the PB this time. At least I wasn’t impeded like the last race. Saw a photographer, gave the thumbs up, and it seemed he took that ‘last’ photograph before he moved away as the rain got heavier. Another chap was with him and seemed to be calling him. I continued.
6:45 am – the organizer called NEA and found the weather had escalated to Cat 1. 6:50 am, the organizer decided for safety reasons to cancel the wave 1 and then monitor the weather for future waves. Immediate communication was made to the volunteers about the cancellation. And just about 6:52 am, an announcement was made by the Emcee at event site via public announcement (PA) system, stating that Wave 1 has been cancelled. I was still pounding away…
(Photo Credits Are Due to Running Shots and Tony Ton Ton Fun Shots in the Gallery below:)
Blissfully unaware, I overtook some folks again and skipped the hydration stop. Then just around the 3 km mark (probably 6:58 am or thereabouts), I saw the volunteers trying to stop a group of runners. I was thinking they were giving them the option to continue given the weather was ‘worsening’. But actually, rain seemed to be calming down, so as I got nearer, I only heard what I wanted to hear. One volunteer said ‘you could choose to carry on if you wish’. That was what I wanted, so I shot past them. I did notice at that time, nobody seemed to be following. Anyway, I was too much enjoying the rain running. Ran on, not knowing the wave 1 was already cancelled about 6 minutes ago.
Then I saw volunteers at a sign that said turn left to finishing line, go straight to second loop. I just carried on straight. After another short distance, I saw volunteers directing all runners to the left. I followed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw further down there was some barrier ahead if I had continued straight so I thought I was still en route to the course finish. I went up some slope, overtaking some folks, then ran on. Sooner than I expected, I saw the ‘finishing’ line. What ? I saw the race clock that said 42 minutes, so about 7.12 am.
Oh Shakespeare…it hammered home. About 30 minutes by my estimate, so I DNF ! They had diverted me somehow probably the last stretch. But runners were coming in, in front, behind and I just collected the medal and finisher tee, feeling like I cheated somehow, though I also felt cheated of a race. I started to ask around. Wave 1 was confirmed cancelled.
Then I saw my running buddy Chia SY walking by, who was supposed to be in wave 2. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and then I got a big surprise as I saw ‘Ah Siao’, the famous runner who ran with a tyre for the BMDP cause, whom I had befriended on FB. I could only say ‘hi’ as I wasn’t expecting him to recognize me as we had never spoken in person before. Then he continued with his retinue of followers around him, as I quickly stretched out too to tap my buddy before he walked into the crowd. We chatted and he showed me the weather apps forecast and the activity before.
It didn’t feel good to run a race and had it cancelled half way. But it was for safety reasons and it happens to races around the world. I just had another FB friend (another inspiring runner Umar) who was in Japan for his ultra run (UTMF) and the distance was shortened due to weather too. There was a picture of the UTMF director breaking down. Of course, that is different in terms of proportion.
But as I always encounter and repeat, running resembles real life. You won’t get fair weather all the time. Things happen. Cancellation, injuries, DNS, DNF; it’s what you do after such experiences that matters most. If something serious did happen during the race due to weather conditions, it would have been irresponsible of the organizers to ignore the CAT 1 warning. As it was, the CAT 1 was only lifted after about 7.40 am.
I did consider running a second round with my friend but he usually runs at a faster pace and he was watching out for his friends. I had planned to take breakfast with my family as I expected to complete early that race. Then I heard the announcement that wave 2 could be at 7.30 am, then later to 7.45 am. I realized that there was some level of uncertainty. I decided to call it a day and went home.
At about 7.45 am, the announcement was made to start wave 2 and 3 at 8 o’clock and apparently runners who ran the race enjoyed the nice cool weather and perhaps like Chia and another great photographer (FB) friend – Hock Chuan, some might have done a pretty good time with the cooling aftermath. I knew Ah Siao went for another round. Another FB friend, Chris completed 7 km in wave 1 and also thought that it was the right decision to cancel. In fact he reminded me of safety first too when I posted on FB, after the race. Overall, after calm reflection, the decision to cancel was the right one, and kudos too to the organizer to make a difficult decision, and also posted an official apology and statement of the events leading to the cancellation which I had freely adapted to this piece.
I went home and decided to expend my energy on my bicycle and did about 25 km, after missing the breakfast too with my family. Still, I would say a fairly good run and looking forward to the last run in the TPS series ! I told myself I would go back to the Reservoir for a 10 km run and enjoy the tranquility of running near the waters again ! To go beyond the current disappointment and get ready for the next stage. Two more 10 km races, one more Spartan Beast and the coming Swim For Hope before the end of the year – and maybe, a marathon. Am still scouting for a free slot for StanChart as I just missed the first 100 by just one like !
Run Safe, Run Happy. Till the next round!