Been a while since I’ve written but then I’ve not raced as much as what I used to when I first started back in 2014. My Sundays are also taken up with running the U11 SG Nippers (a junior lifesaving program at Tanjong Beach) that leaves very little racing time in my schedule.
When I think back to 2018, I focused on 3 HM for the year, Sundown, SAFRA and GEWR. Unfortunately, I suffered a stress fracture after the Sundown that never quite recovered and my following HMs just went downhill. I showed up and fudged my way through it but it wasn’t pleasant. Had a bit of an upside during the SCMS Ekiden relay race. I did the first leg which was around 7km and actually enjoyed the run. It was reasonable and satisfactory. That was my last timed race and pretty much stopped running altogether.
Review of my racing effort
Fast forward eight months to this morning and I found myself back at the Start line with my hubby, John and friend, Michelle by joining Decathlon’s Inaugural Race. It had a single category, being 7km, which you could register as a solo runner or as a pair (and had to finish together). At $45 for a pair, I thought it was pretty good value and a reasonable distance. Not too short at 5km but not quite 10km which I definitely was not ready for.
Having restarted running only 5 weeks ago, a good deal heavier and unfit, let’s just say that a run around the lake near my home which was my starting measure (a mere 2.2km) was quite painful on the legs and psychologically unpleasant. So over the course of the 5 weeks, I pressed on getting out 3-4 times a week with the target of just getting around the lake. I changed my diet and stopped drinking which helped shed 6kg and lighten the load during the runs. I could honestly say, I was good to go for a 3km race. Legs were trained, cardio still needed some work but that’s as far as I got.
So showing up this morning for 7km, I pretty much knew what would happen. I’d have a good 3km run and then fudge my way through the next four and like reading a crystal ball that’s precisely what happened. Since I was signed up with John as a pair and him being a faster runner we agreed to run our individual paces and then meet up 100m from the end to finish off together. That worked out very well. In a nutshell, I am not trained up enough for this distance, my body improves slowly and I just need more time to get the mileage under my feet.
Review of the race
Being off-season with Nippers and a good distance, the Decathlon race was an ideal event to venture back into racing. Now, let’s review the race itself:
- Registration – was a bit of an awkward two-step approach. First step was to make the selection and pay and then I waited a week before I received confirmation that my registration was successful.
- Race pack collection – very easy and efficient with a location that was suitable to me. I despise travelling for race packs. It’s costly and imposes on my time.
- Race pack – Good selection. Their famous Quecha 10L backpack (my family already owns 4 and are excellent value for money) was the highlight. Inside was a microfibre towel, powder electrolytes, breakfast bar (quite tasty) and racing tee. I have no idea how I ended with a 2XL (I’m usually a large as a Caucasian). The men’s tee was a great dark teal colour which fitted both of us well but I didn’t think much of the ladies version. The colour was a pastel green which was nice but it had a very wide and baggy cut as I observed on most of the ladies wearing them (I was swimming in mine so wore my usual running top). Overall though the best race pack I have seen since my 2014 & 2015 GEWR.
- Event organisation – they were spot on. Although we started a few minutes late, I don’t really care about this. There were lots of enthusiastic volunteers and marshals directing. Two water stations with all the cups ready and filled and volunteers handing them out so you wouldn’t have to stop (any Sundowner here would understand how important this is).
- Route – lots of hills, ramps, underpasses and sharp turns and mostly narrow paths. It lacked a visual feast. As hubby puts it, it felt like we were in an industrial area. So not much to look at. Not to mention that it was an extra 800m long which kinda messed with my head when I realised that instead of finishing I had to keep going further.
- Finisher medal – if I could insert a crying emoji here, I would. There was none. Didn’t even realise that till my friend told me the morning of the race. Kinda felt a bit flat at the end, like something was missing that encapsulates the race, the event and the actual finish. Such a shame as I have nothing to commemorate my race with. I don’t know how others perceive finisher medals but for me they trigger memories and events. As the years roll by and I walk past my medal hangers, I remember the good, the bad and also the very ugly (fracturing my ankle comes to mind at the 2015 Urbanathlon). They provide a timeline and storyline of my running life. According to Decathlon’s website it was a choice towards being eco-friendly, fair enough but I would’ve enjoyed seeing the blue and white ribbon with Decathlon plastered on it and some swanky blue and white medal design. Well maybe next time.
- Race village – usually when I finish, I look for water, electrolyte drink and a banana and they had all three in large tents, easily accessible and no queuing. I don’t usually hang around the festivals so I can’t comment on it but from what I saw, people were enjoying themselves and participating.
What do I think? I’m on the fence. Lots of positives in the organisation, race kit and collection, volunteers, race village and water stations. I am not a hill runner so the downside for me was the route and disappointed about the lack of finisher medal (which you only find out if you bother reading the FAQs and get all the way to the bottom). I do wish Decathlon all the best in future racing events and I hope they maintain the organisational quality they have today (and toss in a medal, I’m willing to pay a bit more to cover that cost).