It is just the right time to fill up your 2015 running calendar. Many new races have been introduced around the region and few races are getting popular among Singaporeans. The one race that many have been talking about is the Borneo International Marathon (BIM) scheduled to be held on 3 May 2015. It is a relatively small race in Sabah Malaysia, about 2.5 hours by flight.
Run, Eat, Play!
What’s special about this event is the stuff that you can do after the race. We all have heard about Mt Kinabalu and Sabah’s beaches. You don’t have to go far to enjoy a day rolling in the sand, just 15 minutes by boat from the capital Kota Kinabalu and ta-dah, you’re at another island and your holiday mode is on. Or, if your legs still can corporate after BIM, you can go on a short trek at Kinabalu Park, about 1.5 hours away by road. Since you’re there, why don’t you just climb the mountain lah!
Another thing that is a must-do is eat seafood – after the race that is. It’s fresh and amazingly cheap. Lobster, big tiger prawns and steam grouper fish with a cold beer dinner sounds like a big food treat after running a marathon.
There are many city hotels in Kota Kinabalu and the places you need to go are within walking distance, so there’s no need to take a taxi. Just look at it as recovery for your legs.
Sg Unfit Runners have explored many places in Singapore but there is this infamous place at the Southern tip of the island which we haven’t explored yet. And what is it infamous for? It’s infamous for its 600m walkway from the newly opened Marina South Pier MRT station to the Marina Bay Cruise Center. So we decided to swing by Marina Bay Cruise center while starting from our usual starting point at the Helix Bridge.
After cutting across Marina Bay Sands, we ran along Marina Boulevard, and the area is a stark contrast to the glistering build-up commercial towers to the north. Barren, hot and weedy. It feels a bit like the desert of Vegas between you drive into the Sin City of US.
The route leading towards Marina South Pier cuts across a few major junctions, namely the major road towards Sheares Bridge and the major road leading into the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE). Lots of traffic junctions and a lot of waiting . On the bright side, the pavements are wide and it seems like that is a cycling road running parallel to the pedestrian pavement. The Singapore government seems to have an intention to encourage people who work in the CBD to cycle in. Interesting…
The Marina South Pier is officially opened on 23rd November 2014 and will link the Marina South Pier and the Marina Bay Cruise Center with the public transport system of Singapore. I don’t recall seeing a bus stop around the area, so I guess that is probably the only way to get to the pier by public transport if you do not want to take a taxi. The Marina South Pier is the gateway to Singapore’s southern islands such as Kusu Island and St John Island. The Singapore Maritime Gallery is also located at the Marina South Pier. The Singapore Maritime Gallery showcases Singapore’s maritime history and how a sleepy fishing port transforms itself into one of the busiest and most important trading port in the world.
Right next to the Marina South Pier, we see a long, straight, 600 meters long covered walkway, stretching as far as the eye can see. The sight of such a architectural feat should be promoted as one of the achievement of Singapore and should be showcase as one of the “Must Take Picture” sight in Singapore. I should swing by at night when all the walkway lamps are lighted up. Should be a spooky sight!
After an exhausting run (imagine hauling luggage for 600 meters in hot humid Singapore to take a luxury cruise to no-where!), I reached the mostly desolated Marina Bay Cruise Center. The current cruise center at Harborfront, is at full capacity and it’s narrow waterways and more shallow waters make it unsuitable for mega cruisers to navigate and dock. Marina Bay Cruise Center with it’s naturally deep waters, is a more ideal docking ground. The cruise center looks like a futuristic battleship, which I believe if needed, can really stay afloat in case of a global disaster whereby Singapore is flooded and we need a Noah Ark equivalent.
By the time I reached the cruise center, I feel a familiar throb on my knees again. I think I pushed myself too far today, especially in the hot morning sun when I dehydrate more rapidly and the chances of my ligament strain become higher. I had no choice but to start a 3.5KM walk back to the Helix bridge.
Yes, I left my EZ link card in the car, just in case you are wondering why I didn’t take the MRT back to Promenade MRT.
By 830am in the morning, the sun is already blistering hot and I am already panting with my tongue out like a overheated doggie. Halfway along Marina Boulevard, I spotted a small path that cuts through Garden by the Bay, which looks a lot cooler than the barren wasteland ahead.
Oh well, let’s take the plunge, if it can get me some shade with all the leafy foliage around.
In fact, I will recommend this route to the runners who are interested to try out my route, as this route skips 2 major traffic junction and the path is a lot more scenic… unless you enjoy looking at weed, ERP gantry, construction sites, zooming cars and foreign talents…
In any case, Garden by the Bay is all fully decked up for Christmas, giving it a very festive atmosphere. I also notice thousands of LED and light bulbs screwed into all these Xmas installment, which I think, will make the already spectacular night lightnings at the Gardens even more Epic at night. Gardens should be one of the “Must Go” places for this Christmas, especially for dating couples.
It has been a pleasurable walk through the Gardens by the Bay despite the pain in my knee. Oh well, I will probably swing by Gardens in one of the evenings with my DSLR camera. Meanwhile, Mcdonald breakfast at Marina Sq awaits.
You have trained for weeks and it’s finally Marathon Day.
Having a good game plan can help ensure that you do the absolute best you can on that day.
What not to do:
Starting too fast.
The first 2km should feel comfortable. If you start out too fast, quickly adjust your pace and your mindset: think ENDURANCE. If you don’t, be prepared to hit the wall – hard!
Starting out too slow.
Negative splits work for shorter distances but for endurance runners, you won’t have enough left in you to go faster as your body (and your mind) start to become exhausted.
Changing things up unnecessarily.
Eat pasta the night before – this is good advice only if it’s something you’ve been practicing in the last 20 weeks of training. Stick to your usual diet so you get a sense of how much you can eat comfortably without bathroom breaks.
What to do:
Control your pace very well.
If you feel great on race day and your test races predict success, lock in your goal pace and be vigilant to maintain it over the race.
Be mentally prepared for the wall.
You will probably hit “the wall” during a marathon (between 27km-35km) depending on your glycogen stores and metabolism.
What starts as a major mental battle transforms into a strange ache, pain, or cramping. Physically, your body is switching from using glycogen, a fast burning fuel, to fat, a much slower burning fuel. Remember it’s not forever. You will come out on the other side ready to finish the final 10K of the race in style.
The last 10K
The last 10K presents the greatest mental and physical challenge. At 32km, here’s where the marathon really begins. Your mind will need to fight off the negative thoughts of doubt and defeat. Our advice? Look at your heart rate monitor and remind yourself that your body is coping just fine. This can also help quiet your mind by getting your breathing back on track. Try to hold on for as long as you can. If you have to slow down, do it in stages, never come to a complete stop.
Enjoy the experience. Be well-aware of your pace, don’t maintain at the wrong pace. Find your pacer and stick closely to him/her!
Christmas came early for Singapore this year! If you were at The Promontory @ Marina Bay last Saturday evening, you would have double- checked your calendar and thought that Christmas was yesterday instead. Decked in Santa-lookalike race tees and Christmas hats, thousands of Santa Run For Wishes’ participants were gathered in town yesterday and ready to start off Christmas with not only a generous heart, but also, in a healthy manner. How so? Well, the registration fees and donations made will go to Make-A-Wish Singapore, the only wish granting foundation in Singapore that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions between the ages of 3-18 years. After all, Christmas is about the spirit of sharing joy, love and laughter, isn’t it?
As any runner would know, warm-up exercises are important before any run. Accompanied with groovy music, we were lucky to have enthusiastic instructors from Fitness First to lead us with some dynamic exercises. Despite the cold weather after the rain, it was hard not to feel pumped- up for the race after the exercises.
As the race horn sounded, thousands of Singapore’s very own Santas and Santarinas dashed across the starting line with enthusiasm, passion and joy. It was as if they were all rushing and eager to deliver Christmas presents to the good kids! (We all know naughty kids do not get the presents!)
A comfortable run
Despite the huge number of participants, there was no overcrowding experienced during the race at all. Not only is the race route wide enough, it is also a relatively easy one with little slopes and inclinations. Not to forget, the scenery was breathtaking. Besides the sea of red and white balls of wishes floated along Singapore River, one can also witness the myriad of kites being flown at Marina Barrage. In addition, the Merlion can be spotted at a distance.
Besides, it was encouraging to have passers- by to cheer you on for the run. Furthermore, you get to witness the myriad of costumes that the participants donned on during the run. From kings with crowns to Green Lantern, many participants were keen on winning the Best Dressed Competition. There were even ladies dressing as sexy Santarinas and Catwoman!
When one thinks of Christmas, besides Santa Claus, one will not forget the elves. Dozens of elves were there to help out for the carnival. Not only were they selling popular snacks like popcorns and candy floss, they were also facilitating games stations like the Bouncy Castle and H2O walkers. Bring any kid to the carnival and it would literally be like a paradise of fun and joy for them!
Overall, despite it being a new run, Santa Run for Wishes exceeded my expectations. It would be a great run for any beginner and also, for anyone who is keen on bringing their families along to a run. Not to forget, it is a run that encapsulates the spirit of Christmas- sharing joy, love and laughter.
With the countdown for Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore coming to single digit (7 more days to go!), one participant at SCMS this year drew my attention. Mr Chan Meng Hui, or known as Uncle Chan to some, is seeking to complete his 100th marathon at SCMS this year. This makes Uncle Chan the oldest runner at this year’s race. The 84-year-old veteran joins host Yasmin Abdol Hamid at SuperSports 360 to discuss about his running journey, as well as his lifestyle changes to run at this age.
Uncle Chan shared some tips for the runners at this race:
Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when to stop or go.
Have strong willpower for the long distance.
Most importantly, RUN TO ENJOY.
And a reminder for the runners doing SCMS14, remember to collect your race pack from 4 to 6 December at Singapore Expo!
Information booklet is available here with all the details for race route, transport, race day programme etc.
I was one of those unfortunate ones that booked the Starlight Ultra (21km) held in Penang in May 2014 but only to have the event postponed to August due to the by-election of Penang’s politician Karpal Singh. This has left me infuriated because my travel plans were all set and I was fully trained for this half marathon. I was frantically searching for an alternative overseas destination to run on the same date. It was then I had realized Thailand could be the answer. Alas, I found the 8th Hatyai International Marathon to be held on the same date! More on the event later.
First off, travelling to Haytai has been made easy because there are comfortable coaches from Golden Mile Complex that brings you right to the doorstep (quite literally) of the race start point. If travelling long distances by coach is an issue to you, skip this option and book a flight. I decided to book a bus ticket on a Friday night, which will be due to reach Hatyai by Sat, 8am in the morning.
Arrival in Thailand
After a good night sleep in the bus, I finally reached the Thailand immigration checkpoint at Sadao. Despite all the uncertainty and curfew conditions imposed in Thailand, the immigration counters were rather empty. Once I arrived at what is known as Hatyai’s central shopping district (another 1 hour drive from the checkpoint), I quickly went into the same bus company branch to book and secure a return trip back to Singapore on Sun night at 6pm. Don’t worry, there is plenty of time to rest and recuperate after your run on Sun. Trust me.
After getting that squared away, I wasted no time and proceeded to the race expo to collect my race pack by means of a motorcycle taxi. The journey is very near and it will not cost you more than 100Baht (S$4). The race expo is held at Jiranakorn Stadium, Hatyai, Songkhla, right at the start point of the race (I know, how convenient is that right?). Ok, here comes the beautiful part of the race – for those who are unfamiliar, you can actually do a walk-in, register on-site and still get the right size of your event t-shirts/singlets at the race expo! You get to choose either a singlet or t-shirt. I chose the t-shirt since I will not be getting a Finisher Tee for 21km category.
I had a quick look around the expo which most stalls sell lots of cheap sports attire and shoes, where most of it sold there I must say, were imitation of well-known brands. If you are looking for something that is meant for training (to take the harsh beating of your 70km per week mileage), this is not the place to purchase anything. Once happy and contented with my shopping, I headed straight to my hotel. It was a 6 mins motorcycle taxi ride that cost 40Baht (S$1.60) to be exact. I stayed in Greenview Hotel (700Baht/S$28 a night), which is like 1km away from the start point. Room was simple, very basic and within walking distance to night markets. Offers free and strong signal to WiFi.
At 5pm, I was again heading back to the Stadium for the carbo loading ‘party’ sponsored by the organizer. Food was delicious and it mainly consisted of rice, chicken and vegetables. Heading back to town, I shopped and shopped until 9pm. Tiring as it may seem, I just wanted to proceed back to the hotel to just chill and have an early night before race day.
I woke up at 3.30am on Sunday to have some pre-race snacks and a banana. Feeling excited, I walked to the Stadium where the start point is. All the runners were ushered to the start pen from the stadium which was led by a brass band. The full marathon is already in full swing while my half marathon race will be starting at 5.30am. The route is very flat and no unwanted surprises. The half marathon is a simple “out and back” type of running route with occasional supporters staring at you with a warm smile. You will have to run from the within the city out to the highway, do a U-turn at the 11km mark and back. But do take heed, there are no distance markers along the route at all. So as with all my overseas run (others being Gold Coast Airport Marathon and Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon), my best advice is to wear some kind of GPS/distance tracking device.
Running route was bestowed with drink stations about every 2km, serving cold drinking water, drinks that came in red, yellow and green colors, with light refreshments like watermelons and jellies. Overall, the route was scenic and safe. Thai traffic police were alert, enthusiastic and always cheering the runners on! Crossing the finishing line was such a joy! Volunteers gave out medals and certificate of completion at the end point.
At the finish line!
Moving further into the stadium, food and drinks were being served. I gave my Thailand chicken yellow rice away to a homeless man who came to me asking for food. Took another bike taxi back to hotel, had a well deserved shower and managed to catch a quick nap before checking out at 12pm. After a nice lunch, I remembered during my run that I promised myself to get a foot massage before I left just to pamper my legs. So I actually asked for a 2 hours foot massage (500Baht/S$20) and inevitably, I went into slumber land again…….. Altogether, I have spent only a S$270 (all expenses in) runcation. Not too bad huh?
Sometime during our Friday night’s poolside drinking, some 12 months ago, someone came up with the brilliant idea of registering for a triathlon in early 2014. Up until now our Friday night group of about 10 friends were occasionally dabbling in an occasional form of exercise. Maybe a gym workout, maybe a run, maybe a cycle but really what we were best at is partying, drinking and having a good time socialising.
We range between 30 and 44 years of age. We are families with kids from all walks of life. We are Aussies, Canadians, Americans, English, New Zealanders and a variety of Europeans. Yes, we are all expats from English speaking countries although sometimes you wouldn’t know it given our different dialects, accents and colloquial expressions.
Anyway, nothing like peer group pressure and a jolly mood for most of us to say, “yeah sure, why not, I’ll do a triathlon”, followed very quickly by “what is a triathlon and how far do I have to go”.
And so the new year began, with a serious “holly Molly, the triathlon is in 4 months and I’ve yet to survive 50m in the pool and how far do I have to run” kind of questions, mixed with exclamations. A steady training regime ensued for every single one of us. In our own time, sometimes together and sometimes alone. It didn’t take long to note who were the swimmers and who were the runners. Everyone was a cyclist, it’s one of those things you never forget.
Unfortunately in the end only 3 participated in the triathlon. It was a tough one since neither of the 3 were natural swimmers but perseverance and a naturally competitive streak took care of the rest. The event was like opening Pandoras Box.
Within a month two of our members went from cycling 40km regularly to taking on the Wheels for Change Batam 100km cycling event. Most of us thought they were a little crazy but not as crazy as when they returned full of euphoria and signed up for the Darwin Gran Fondo 120km event. Since then other Gran Fondo events ensued along with the two-day 250km Tour de Kepri Training Camp in Batam and Bintan. Now they clock up 110km round the island cycling on Saturday morning before breakfast and we no longer think they’re crazy nor do we bat an eyelid anymore. What’ll they do next?
Come late May and there’s new talk about triathlons such as the SG International Tritahlon in August and the Trifactor Triathlon in September. This time registration has taken traction and 8 of us sign up for varying distances: a few entry level minis, a sprint and a standard. Swimming still a weakness for the majority, we finally adhere to common sense and engage a swim coach who can take us through weekly drills and open water swimming. It helped immensely as our swimming results attested to during the triathlons.
New bikes were bought throughout the year: some having their fancy racing bikes, some entry levels and some with whatever was available. Brick training was introduced although something I found very difficult given that at the time I had not yet started running. The muscles used for swimming, are different for cycling and different for running. I found it tough to switch gears in my legs coming off a bike and launching into a run. The triathlon day was no different and found myself walking a good deal of the distance.
In between Grand Fondos and triathlons, several running races were also completed such as Saffra, Trifactor Run Series, GEWR, SMU Mile, PassionNorth, Colour Run and Newton Challenge and these are only what I can remember.
To help with the training and motivation we have setup an FB training group, acquired training gadgets such as Suunto/ Garmin watches and connected ourselves to Strava to track each other’s sessions and accomplishments.
Our Friday night conversations are now often centered around races, sport articles, innovative sport gadgets and anything fitness related. But don’t think we’ve forgotten how to party. We just fit it around our training or is it vice versa? Sometimes it’s a little fuzzy.
As the year comes to a close, with the Standard Chartered race as our last event, we found ourselves as a tightly knit, supportive unit. We may have started a little haphazardly but we’ve pulled together enough now to create our own team with our own name. And Team Costa was born. With team tops in production, the colors were inspired by our condo’s swimming pool and it’s name translated as Coast of the Sun. The slogan on the back reminds us that: “It never gets easier, just faster”.
We have been so inspired by our personal changes and sporting milestones that Little League in our condo has been inaugurated 3 months ago where our children aged between 2.5 and 8 years, engage in various sporting activities led buy us as the parents. A roaring success it has since doubled in size with various games played, such as: soccer, tug of war, dodgeball, relay races, sack races and so on. The kids are learning sportsmanship, tolerance, patience and of course physical skills. Developing physical fitness along the way, several of these kids have already competed their own fun runs like: Cold Storage, Saffra Father and Child, PasionNorth, Jurong Lake Run and Standard Chartered. We are certainly training the athletes of the future.
And just for added extra fun, Team Costa has created its own Top 10 Running Series. It was inspired by an article from March 2011 entitled “10 Best Places to Run in SG”. Ideally we cycle to our destination, depending on proximity to our home, and run a predetermined route of varying lengths to allow for runner’s preference. A hearty breakfast post run should give our legs the required rest prior to riding home. The first one in the series took place on Saturday, 22 November but that’s another story.
Welcome back everyone Captain Canada is fresh from a 28 KM taper run legs aching soul a breaking. With the countdown to the SCM 42 underway I thought it would be appropriate to discuss one of Captain Canada’s darkest secrets.
Now I hope you will all contribute some opinions to this post at the end, but before that I want to share something that only my beautiful fiance knows. I am a running shopaholic….. Yes there it is I said it…… I love shopping especially for running gear… I really believe I love it more than my fiance loves buying handbags haha..
Now you may not think it with my rough beer drinking lumberjack exterior (The Al Bundy of Canada see pic below), but when I get into the Queensway sports mall I turn into a little kiddy in a Candy shop. An example is today post run my colleague and I decided to go buy running gels in preparation for the SCM and Kaboom my inner child came out to play and walked out with a new pair of Newton Distance 3’s…. shhhh don’t tell my fiance I may not make it to the SCM after all haha.
Anyways to make a long story short and to get to the point I would like to believe I am not alone in this addiction. I really believe that runners know what I am talking about here. The thrill of trying a new running belt, or the first few runs in a new pair of shoes are my definition of a true runners high.
I have been in Singapore for 11 months now and have somehow managed to amass a collection of 3 running watches, 2 running belts countless shorts/shirts and 6 pairs of shoes to go along with the many that have been left in Canada, or found the garbage can due to the sewage like odor that was being omitted from them haha.
I posted a pic of the current collection of shoes and miscellaneous items just for a little visual evidence of my addiction. Well that is it for now I am very much looking forward to hearing about others addictions, strange purchases, or like in my case the lovely but non supportive wife/fiance/gf opinions you all encounter.
Till my next post- Live Love Run and most importantly Beer!
It was a great friendly community cycling with over 400 cyclists last night. The event (in its second year) was flagged off at Jurong Green Community Centre and ended at East Coast Park over a humble distance of 42km. I was assigned to the fifth group and we waited patiently as the other groups moved off slowly. The ground was slightly wet due to the rain that afternoon. However the weather was kind and it was just humid throughout the night.
Unlike races, this event is not time-competitive. Cyclists were moved off in small groups, each with its own lead, sweeper, safety cyclists, road marshalls, etc.
Along the way, we stopped at some landmarks like West Coast Park, Marina Barrage and The Promontory for water breaks and photo taking.
I also have the opportunity to chat with some participants and we encouraged each other to conquer some small hilly roads. Most of us managed to reach east coast park at 3.30am.
Overall, it was a great, fun and friendly night and I look forward to the next one!
A quick review of this year’s installment of the Salomon X Trail Series.
I did this in 2012 just after I arrived in Singapore. As with this year, it was during November, and as with this year I was supporting ‘Mo-Vember’ and sporting a fine (thats my opinion, not shared by most of my family) moustache.
In 2012 the event was at Tampines Mountain Bike Trail (not sure if that was always the home of this race – perhaps Singapore Running Historian Reawakened Runner can advise 🙂 ? ) But that was a proper trail, mud, jungle, streams, roots and all. I remember that it was tough. (Funny annecdote – here’s a pic of me at 2012 Salomon – see that guy running just in front of me? Didnt know him then, but he’s now one of my main ‘Running Kaki’s’ we only realised we both ran this race and were running so close about 2 months ago – SG such a small place – especilly in the Running Community).
Fast forward to 2014 and the run has been moved, since Tampines Mountain Bike Park has been/is being demolished. I wasnt going to enter, but Lexus from F1 persuaded me and so I put an entry in.
I am now in the final run up to SCMS in two weeks time, so my plan for yesterday was a final hard/endurance day – Park Run 5k in the morning, and X Trail in the afternoon. 15k in total, all at race pace. Decent final hard workout before the taper begins.
Park Run was good, ran the whole thing with Ben, including re living our own Coe vs Ovett moment in the last 200m, lucky for me Coe had an off day and my Ovett reincarnation won the sprint finish. Stuart had already won the race by about 2 minutes, but I was very happy to come away with a PB of 18:31 and a rare win over Ben!
Part 1 complete, now to see what impact that exertion would have on my 10k performance in the afternoon.
Punggol, never been here before. A fair drive up the TPE and I arrived around 4.15 with Shug, my race buddy, who is recovering from an ITB case and will use this run to test out his knee.
Race Village is in a really nice setting, with a broad expanse of Park and Pulau Ubin visible in the distance.
Great organisation and fairly low numbers make the whole bag check, toilet visit and line up very simple and we flag off ontime at 5pm.
First section is in the park and through a sort of building site, then we are out onto the boardwalk for abbout 5k. This is 1) all wood and concrete 2) a lovely place to run and 3) not very trail like! but I am ok and enjoying the run, shug is ok at this point also and we go through 5k in about 21mins having spent about 800m off road!
Loop back at the end of the boardwalk and head back towards the finish, still on the Park Connector, Shug can feel some pain so he’s eased off, I’m feeling pretty good, so I push on and overtake a couple of guys heading into the last 3k.
Surely there must be some trail coming some time?
Finally, we turn off up a bank and into the woods – finally we get 1500m or so of hardcore trail, there’s no path, just the flattened grass of the few runners ahead, we’re running along a ridge through the trees – I have a guy just behind me who i overtook going up the hill and so we have a good 7-8mins of racing through the jungle – most fun part of the whole race.
We emerge from the jungle, run under the MRT line, and then climb the hill I saw from the start line, along the ridge again and back down hill for the final blast to the finish. My jungle trail buddy and I go head to head all the way through the last 3k in some great old fashioned racing and we finish together in just over 43 mins.
Course Route Map and KM Splits courtesy of my Garmin Fenix 2 and Strava:
Lexus later confirms I finished 10th, sadly no MAsters category and prizes for top 5 only (I would have been 4th masters/over 40 if there had been), but I am very happy with the run, with how good I felt in the second half and with my overall effort for the day of 15k in 1 hour and 1 minute.
Nice atmosphere post race, I’ll say again, this is a great spot to start/end a race – hopefully we will see more events moved to this beautiful part of Singapore. I will certainly sign up the next opportunity I get.
In Summary, this was a great race, well organised, pretty good marshalling and hydration, nice items in the race pack – only two negatives for me really, being 1) on the hill down from the trail there was a turn which wasnt flagged – me and my race buddy overshot it and had to turn back after going 50 m in the wrong direction and 2) the very small amount of actual trail – for me this was fine as I am just as happy road running, but I can imagine a pure trail runner wouldn’t have been so happy.
If I had bought a pair of $200 Salomon trail shoes to do the race in I would have felt a bit mislead!
So now I am going to start my two week SCMS taper, eat loads of pasta and drink a tonne of water, hopefully I can get it right come Sunday Dec 7th and hit my target.
Good Luck to everyone in the same position, hope you can ahieve your goals and have a great race.
11 girls conquered the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge (aka known as the Penang 2nd bridge)
The Asics Penang Bridge International Marathon (APBIM) held on 16 November 2014 is touted as the world’s longest bridge marathon. Held every year since 1985, the run is opened to people from all over the world. It is also the only event and time of the year that the national landmark is closed to traffic. Organised by the Penang State Tourism Development Committee, this year’s race was held at the new 24km Penang Bridge for the first time.
The PBIM is a much anticipated annual event and almost every Penangite knows about the event. Indeed, the event is so popular that all Penang hotels were fully booked over the weekend and we met with some slow traffic on the roads. Nonetheless, the race did bring energy and buzz to the lovely “The Pearl of the Orient” island which is rich in heritage and famed for its delicious street food.
From Singapore to Penang
I have always been fascinated with bridges, so obviously I was interested to do a bridge run. Thus, when I learnt a couple of other friends were going this year, I decided to join them. Eleven of us flew together to Penang on Friday evening and the next day, we collected our race packs. We also visited three malls, shopped (a bit) and ate (a lot).
Race Day: 16 November 2014
The organisers offered free shuttle buses from certain pick-up points to the start point but we knew that with a huge crowd, we decided to play it safe and booked a van with the hotel to bring us to the start line. We left the hotel at 5.45am and reached the race venue at 6.20am which gave us sufficient time to be ready for the 10km flag off.
At 7am, the women’s open category were flagged off and when I realised I couldn’t really start running due to the sheer numbers, I decided to enjoy being in the moment – how cool the weather felt at 26 degrees, the gentle slope as we moved up the bridge, the sun peeking out from the far side of the horizon waiting to rise further. This was when I decided to whip out my handphone to take a picture, but first I had to ensure that it was safe and no one would crash into me if I were to stop. Then again, everyone else was doing the same thing!
There was absolutely no shelter on top of the bridge and because I wanted to take advantage of the “coolness” before the sun rose, I knew I had to RUN. This was when the “weaving” began. I found myself zipping in and out of human traffic and was amazed at the numbers that were actually just strolling (or taking pictures) on the bridge! Alright, the clumsy me had to be really careful not to bump into people when I navigated through the crowds.
For 10km runners like me, the u-turn was at the 5km mark. But it was only at the last 3km when we were allowed to merge with the other half/full marathon runners on the opposite side of the bridge. This was when there was more space to run and those who wanted to pick up their pace could actually do so.
At the end of the run, we collected our medals and were treated to various booths of Sunkist orange, Revive isotonic drink, nestle cornflakes, milo, and even milo ice-cream! Boy what an awesome morning it was!
What worked well:
Because registration numbers were high, the race pack collection was spread out over several weekends and at different venues to minimise congestion. This enabled participants to pick and choose the most convenient dates and venues to pick up their race kit. Also, for the first time, race pack collection was made in a different state – Kuala Lumpur, to cater to runners from Klang Valley. Kudos to the team that planned this massive logistics task.
Group collection (minimum of 11pax) was allowed. We submitted our IDs and race confirmation slips via email and when our representative reached the front of the queue at the collection venue on Saturday, all our 11 bibs were packed nicely in a box for us.
What can be done to improve the event:
Cap the number of participants. The sheer numbers alone meant that smooth running would pose a challenge. Indeed it took me at least 8 minutes before I could actually cross the starting point as I was somewhere in the middle of my flag off team.
Have different lanes for different running speeds. Or at least educate participants about race etiquette! Many a times I had to suddenly stop in my tracks because someone decided to take a selfie. There were many people who were also walking from the start which added to the congestion. Perhaps the beginners or weary can keep to the side of the bridge so runners do not have to zig zag around them.
Manage the crowd at the finishing point. I could not step cross the finishing point as there were just too many people hanging around at the end point and I literally had to nudge someone so I could cross the line.
Overall, the run was a smooth and enjoyable one and all 11 of us thoroughly enjoyed our quick weekend getaway to Penang with much fun, food and camaraderie. Best of all, we conquered the longest bridge in South East Asia… oh well, at least part of it 🙂
Last but not least, if you are thinking of doing the Penang Bridge International Marathon next year, here are some tips:
Sign up early to take advantage of the early bird fees. Registration begins on 1 May 2015 if you intend to do this run on 22 November 2015 and hotel rates
The bridge is totally unsheltered so be prepared for hot weather. Put on sunblock, carry a bottle with you on the run and stay hydrated.
Rest early, especially if you are doing the half or full marathon as it begins at unearthly hours at 1.30am and 3am respectively.
Give yourself ample time to get to the race site. Factor in at least 1.5 hour’s travel time as it gets congested nearer to the start point and you may have to be dropped off a distance away.
Keep your cool. The crowd is huge, so don’t be intimidated or frustrated when you find that you can run at the speed that you would like to.
If you intend to eat at any restaurants during that busy weekend, do make reservations in advance too!
A finisher medal reflects our pride and glory; in conquering a distance, a personal best, a tough mental and physical challenge. When we look back at our finisher medals, we bask in the personal glory of achieving something.
In 2015, let’s achieve something meaningful, something that goes beyond our personal glory. Set your sights on obtaining a finisher medal like no other: one with Braille engraved on it. The text translates to Runninghour. Runninghour represents the one hour when all runners in Singapore come together for a single purpose: to run so others can. On 22 March 2015, in that one hour, you run alongside more than 200 visually, intellectually and physically challenged runners.
Experience how running will be like for someone with a visual impairment. The Blind Run is an inaugural and unique event where participants will run in pairs of up to 1km. Each pair is connected to one another by a band. One runner will be blindfolded/blind while his/her partner will be guiding for a distance of 500m before swapping role in becoming a guide / blindfolded. Participants are encouraged to sign up in pairs for this category. Of course, runners can also register as an individual where they will be paired with other individuals at the starting line on event day. Experienced volunteer guides will act as safety marshals at the starting line to assist individuals participants in pairing them up with another runner according to gender and physique.
After choosing the Penang Bridge Marathon over Standard Chartered Marathon Bangkok last year, we decided to give the event a go in spite of the political turmoil that hung over Thailand. Hence in March, with the protests still ongoing(before the coup), we signed up for the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon. Registration was done via the official race agent(which all foreigners are required to unless they are residing in Thailand) as they have different registration rates for locals and foreigners. It is important to register only with the official race agents as there have been reports of other race agents informing that they failed to secure any slots a few months before the event. As usual, the hunt for cheap tickets and cheap lodging began. By June, we had secured our tickets and lodging and were just hoping for the situation in Thailand to improve.
I headed in on a Thursday evening as I wanted to collect my race pack earlier(and because the ticket was cheaper!) Traveling in on my own, I was determined to keep to a low budget and hence on arrival at Don Muang Airport, I took an express bus to the nearest BTS station. Anyone looking to take this bus at Don Muang should keep a lookout for sign(facing the wrong direction) that says ‘A1 Shuttle Bus’ at the exit for Airport Limousine Ticket Holders(near tourist information). The ride which costs 30 Baht takes you to Mo Chit(the BTS station located at the famed Chatuchak Market). From there, you can take also take the MRT(BTS is above ground while MRT is the subway) to your destination. As always, taxis and tuk-tuks are on hand for hire. My stay was located at Makkasan and hence was not near to any BTS station. However, bearing in mind low-budget, I took the BTS to Chitlom(Station for the 4-faced Buddha) and took a 20 minutes walk to the hotel. By the time I checked in, it was already about 2300hrs and my dinner for the night was well, McDonald’s. Total spending for the night – 221 Baht($8.70SGD).
Even though my initial plan when I booked my flight was to do an early race pack collection, I was not able to collect the race pack as the race expo was only on Saturday – pretty strange arrangement by the organizers . Hence Friday was a free and easy day while I awaited the arrival of my race buddies. By the time we met, it was already 2200hrs and the only place we could get proper food was this restaurant at Siam Square. While pricey, it did give them a chance to sample Thai cuisine.
Feeling ‘adventurous’ on Saturday morning, I took a motorcycle cab as I switched hotel. Motorcycle cabs are basically available at every corner and you can spot them with their orange/pink vests as they gather together while waiting for passengers. As with Tuk-Tuks, fix a price with them(although they do have a price guide to specific places in Thai) and off you go. While I did end up paying higher than the locals, it was an experience and with their ability to weave in and out of the traffic(some guts required), it was understandable why many engage their services.
Race Pack Collection
After meeting up, we proceeded to the race-pack collection area via Tuk-Tuk. Despite the hotel staff helping us to bargain the price, as we moved off the price increased with the reason of “Oh I didn’t know it was 4 of you.” Nevertheless, we agreed to the 20 Baht increase. We arrived at the Royal Thai Army Club in about 15minutes the banner on the outside showed that we were at the right place.
We proceeded to the second level and for the first time, was asked to sign a waiver as well as release form for the race pack. We also had to refer to boards which listed all runners to get our bib number to be written on the form. After completion of the form, we went into another room, whereby the locals were separated from the overseas runner. Overseas runner get to collect both their bibs and t-shirt together while locals get only their bib and have to head downstairs to collect their t-shirt. The ‘shocker’ for the race pack collection is that the race medal is in the race pack. I guess for some this is somewhat disappointing as they have yet to earn the medal. But logistically, it is probably a good move as well – no requirement for additional volunteers to hand over medals after the race.
After collecting the race pack collection, it was back to being tourists again and we headed to the Chatuchak market for a couple of hours, another couple of hours at Platinum mall before ending the day (early) with a foot massage as we prepared for tomorrow’s foot pounding.
As in KL, the marathon buddies got up at about 0115hrs before heading to the start point. We got ready at about at about 0315hrs and made our way to the start point, whereby there was once again a carnival feel to it with music by a band on stage. Everyone seemed relax – standing/sitting by the sides waiting for the race pen to open – nobody standing by eagerly to be the first.
When we flagged off at 0400hrs, I was surprised by the rather leisurely pace adopted by most runners. The first slope of the race came early at around the 1km mark as we went up the Phra Pinklao Bride over the Chao Phraya River and followed by another at 3km mark as we went up an elevated road. The good thing was that as we reached the top you could feel the morning cool air welcoming you. U-turn point came early at 4km mark and the merge with the full marathon runners came at 5km(about 26km for the full marathon runners). It was however not really that crowded still as the entire highway was closed. At the 8km mark, we crossed the Rama 8 bridge – which although not encouraged, is probably one of the few selfie points along the route.
The rest of the route was pretty flat with not much sights but certainly unique smell as we passed the Dusit Zoo as well as the Royal Stables(or Equestrian Club) between the 12-14km marks. A point to note is that on these roads off the highway, vehicles are moving along the road by the side of the runners Near to the 15km and 16km marks are another 2 selfie points at Anantasamakhom Throne Hall(most Thai runners made a Wai in the direction of the Throne Hall in respect) and United Nations Conference Center respectively.
As we approach what we thought was the end point due to the fanfare, a rather large group of enthusiastic students from Thammasat University out to show their support around the 19km mark, would probably be game for a photo or 2. Turning into the finishing stretch(other than seeing the Grand Palace,we couldn’t really tell as there was no finishing arch as with most races), it was quite a ‘unique’ experience as you didn’t know where the end point was! After we crossed the finishing point – that’s where everyone started to walk – we grabbed a drink before heading back to the hotel, foregoing the free food and fruits which is available to all runners.
Water points were well spaced – 2-3kms are what we would term as undermanned. There are at most ten tables at each water point with 2 about 2 volunteers per table or 5 for 2 tables. However, despite this they manage to clear the queues pretty quickly and I must also commend most runners for being patient as they await their turn. Some of the water points are supplemented with bananas(they are cut into smaller pieces) as well as water melon.
An issue I have with the race though is the distance markers. The first marker I saw was a 4km marker at the 6km mark and the next was the 10km marker at the 8km mark! Subsequent markers were about 1km and the off and the last marker I saw for the half marathon was a 20km marker at the 18.5km mark. There was even a 40km marker at the 41km mark – pretty demoralizing for a full marathon runner if you think there were 2 kilometers left when there was only 1 left!
On the overall, this is another recommended race despite some hiccups – water point issues and distance markers are something seasoned runners will easily brush off. The support from the locals as well as the police/military(assisting with the race setup and stopping traffic – note the minimal road closures other than the highway)can definitely be felt and all tourists stay, no matter how short, is always welcomed. If anything as my race buddies would attest to, come for a short shopping trip and enjoy the Thai massage – something which they all did when time was available even though the hotel was slightly out of the way.
In any case, the hotel of choice is The Warehouse, located at Thanon Bunsiri near to the Temple of The Emerald Buddha which is also the race start point. I must admit that what caught my eye initially when bookings were made was the price then followed by the location. In the end, it turned out to be a rather good pick as amenities, though not 3/4 star is more than sufficient for anyone looking for a place to stay for the race. They also have a cafe which is able to satisfy basic food requirements (no supper though).
The staff there are also very helpful and their help with the taxis/tuks-tuks will help to overcome issues getting out to the shopping areas. Cultural area such as the temples and the Grand Palace is no issue as they are all within walking distance.
As before if anyone is keen, overall expenditure for this trip SGD (Baht)):
Race Registration 65 (1650)
Transport (Singapore Airport) 27
Air Ticket 143
Food 75 (1900)
Transport 25 (750)
The above estimate is based on a triple sharing room(per person) and shared transport costs including air port transfer but excluding massage and shopping. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Hard Rock Cafe on the above budget.
This race also marks the end of our trips this year but rest assure that planning has already began for next year’s trips 🙂
It has been a great first year. At JRL, we are constantly thinking about how to make this site a fun and informative place for everybody. Now, just in time for our birthday, and thanks to our contest sponsors, we are bringing you a grand giveaway sweepstakes with 10 amazing prizes!
2 x 3D2N Stay at Bayu Villa with Breakfast and Return Boat Transfer, Gaya Island Resort
There is a place, accessible only by boat, where all that nature has created, from sheltered coral reefs to protected mangroves, over thousands of years has been preserved by those devoted to its care. A place called Gaya Island Resort at Pulau Gaya.
Gaya Island Resort is located on Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a natural conservation area off the coast of Borneo, close to Kota Kinabalu. Gaya Island Resort has a unique setting: the land is fringed with a golden sandy beach, rocky coastal outcrops, and surrounded by coral reefs. The hilly island landscape is covered with lush tropical rainforest and an abundance of flora and fauna. And to complete this perfect setting, visible in the distance, is the stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu.
The guest villa exterior respects Sabahan architecture, uses local materials and blends harmoniously with the natural environment. The interior living space is designed with contemporary elegance to create warmth, comfort and a serene indoor setting.
Gaya Island Resort is committed to ecologically-sustainable practices to minimise the carbon footprint within its environment. Therefore, the resort is a walking resort and only minimal motorised vehicles are used for operational purposes.
SleekTag Prime: with a Stainless Steel Tag and Security Clasp looks great on your wrist. Its high grade silicone made it comfy to wear. They come in vibrant colors. Easy to put on, with a simple snap on the buckle. The band is adjustable to fit all sizes. Some ideas about which information to tag: emergency use (name, contact number, allergies (if any)), motto for team events, special or personal quotes for best friends, couples and more.
SleekTag Lite: With vibrant colors and joyful hearts materials. Comes with polished or matte stainless steel tag. This bracelet is ideal for smaller hands. Ideal for children on-the-go. You can now bring your children out for shopping, school’s field trips or any outdoor activities, with peace of mind knowing you will be contacted whenever they go out of your sight. Ideas to tag information, for emergency use: parent’s name and contact number.
Enjoy discounts at over 80 sports, fitness & wellness related merchants with the SportSanity Premier Card. From retail brands like Key Power Sports, Royal Sporting House & Decathlon to Futsal Pitches, Paintball Parks & Watersports, we’ve got it all covered! All cardholders will also receive a set of free trial vouchers worth over $720 where they can enjoy free lessons, trials & free gym passes at SportSanity partner providers. For parents who would like to purchase it for their kids, don’t worry there’s a kid option too.
So I kinda jumped the gun and posted something without formally introducing myself first. So here ‘s a little self-introduction to provide you with a “voice” to the words you’re reading.
(Am I the only one who imagines the author’s voice reading to me even when I’ve never met him/her before? I hope not.)
My name is Steph, but here you can call me smallsteph. I got that nickname during a university orientation game where everyone sits in a circle and introduces their name, along with an adjective which describes themselves and which begins with the same letter as their name. Small, not short, because I look like somebody downsized me by dragging the diagonal inwards with a computer picture resize tool.
I run, because I like to feel the wind in my hair. I run, because it takes me to new places. I run, because it makes me stronger.
I write, so that abstract thoughts in my head become meaningful words. I write, so that my memories stay forever. I write, so that I may share my thoughts with the world.
Hence this blog.
I may come as a small package, but I can spread significant positive energy to this community and beyond. A newbie to the corporate world, I am still experimenting with activities that help maintain the active lifestyle that I used to lead as a competitive cheerleader. While I overcome this lazy monster in me one run, one fitness event at a time, I hope that my blog would empower others like me (or not) to do the same.
Welcome everyone to Captain Canada’s first blog post on JustRunLah! I thought before I start taking you on the journey of a mischievous Canadian running his way around the word, I thought I would introduce myself first.
Being from Canada the one thing I have learnt since moving to Singapore 10 months ago is that going from one extreme to the next can really do strange things to your body. I decided to take up running just over 2 years ago now after a life long career of playing Volleyball, Rugby, and of course the pride and joy of Canada…. Hockey eh!
After many years of abuse to my poor body the logical move was to help myself live a bit longer and buy a pair of $50 dollar new balance shoes (Oh how much I’ve learnt about why you should not wear a $50 pair of shoes to run). I will spare the details of running on ice and in minus 40 degrees Celsius for later posts, but let’s just say that it takes a brave soul to keep things going during the winters which is maybe why I left… shhh don’t tell anyone I may lose my passport 😉
Now this has nothing to do with running but I thought a story of my first week in Singapore will be a great prelude to my first year of hitting the pavement and now completing 7 races in Singapore with 2 to go.
I arrived in Singapore February 1 2014 in the midst of a very dry month. Being in the finance industry and from Toronto the idea of a suit and tie is not too unfamiliar to me. That is until my first day heading into the office one of which will stay with me just like my first races here in the most humid place on earth.
As I walked to Orchard station I got a quick dose of the reality of humidity, and why I saw no other fools like myself walking outside in a suit and tie. As I arrived at the office after leaving a trail of maple syrup sweat behind me on the MRT I had been solicited by not only the front desk security at Suntec, but also my new co workers to call an ambulance to head to the hospital. (Now I understand the strange looks I was getting as hair gel melted down my face. Let’s just say this is the last day of a suit and tie and my first glimpse at what laid ahead for me as I tied up my laces and hit the rickety road.
To avoid letting myself ramble on (Which I can do forever) I want to leave this as a brief expectation of the types of shenanigans you can expect from Captain Canada.
On a final notes I live life to the fullest and by a simple accord. “Run, Eat, Beer and if there is time Sleep” Looking forward to sharing my adventures with you all.