Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The North Face Singapore City Race 2013...

Event: The North Face Singapore City Race 2013
Venue: Millenia Walk, Singapore
Date: 03 March 2013
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 40KM
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 3
By Frank

The inaugural The North Face Singapore City Race (SCR) is a free form foot race and a very unique one that brings runners to seldom unexplored places in Singapore. Imagine The Amazing Race, just that runners whether running solo or up to a group of 6 runners is given a map of Singapore City with marked areas. We all have to navigate through the streets and reach the designated area using the shortest and fastest route possible, and we do not need to do it in sequence. Self supported and no marshals nor road closure as we run. Interesting eh...

8 categories to register from...

Representing Running Lab Malaysia will be our run leader Syah who will run the long distance solo leg, while I teamed up with Roy in doing the long distance team leg. Long distance as in 40KM. We might run over 40KM though if we navigate wrongly.

Me and Roy.

So I flew down with Roy a day before. I flew Air Asia for the first time since the very scary incident back during Twilight Ultra Challenge 2012 last year. We stayed over at Fernloft Hostel a ,nice place to stay at with very friendly people around. And it's Chinatown! Plenty of food around too!

Fast forward to race day, preparation was a bliss though flagging down a taxi isn't. Hardly any taxi around Chinatown and we ended up taking the MRT to the venue at Millenia Walk. All the rushing send butterflies to my poor tummy. We however got to the venue on time to witness the flagging off of the solo runners. We the team long distance runners were then given the map and with only 30 minutes to study it before we are flag off too. We were flagged off at 7.30am and within 9 hours, we need to head to Ion Orchard, Old KTM Track, Singapore Quarry, Kent Ridge Park and Mount Faber. Yeap, that was the sequence we ran through.

Studying the given map.

The start was rather fun with all runners laughing out loud. Most ran towards Ion Orchard which was a straight charge down Bras Basah Road before entering Orchard Road. But poor me as I didn't feel good and needed to hit the potty loo. But I held on and that is probably the reason I sweated a bucket. Struggled to keep pace with Roy.

Next, we were to head to the Old KTM Track. Took a bit of time to study the map once we arrived at Botanical Gardens and kudos to Roy's excellent ma navigation, we took a shorter route within the housing neighbourhood before joining back at Farrer Road. Then it was a straight charge with other runners and we managed to find the very old remains of the railway track.

It was very green at this area and we shaded by the sun. A bit of trail running but we were lucky the track were pretty dry. Bumped into Yim who looked lost but I am sure he wasn't. Always nice to see him on a run. Then as we head to the Singapore Quarry which was another straight charge, both our legs were already giving way especially on the foot bed and ankle. It was run walk for us that time as we met into many other runners which include some of our Malaysian friends like Poh Chye, Fong Sang and Syah.

Towards the end, we were to navigate a short but slippery climb before we were greet by the beautiful sights of the Singapore Quarry. Before heading to our fourth destination at Kent Ridge Park, we took a short break at the quarry while studying the map again. Then we were off again. Tackling the slope where we came up from earlier was tricky as the rocks were loose.

Singapore Quarry.

From there, we backtrack to the Old KTM track, rehydrated and followed yet another straight charge to the other end. And while doing so, we met a fellow Singaporean name Kuang who joined us. We navigated out of the trails and into Lower Kent Ridge and was welcome by the sights of Singapore National University Hospital, the place where was I was treated at years ago. It's good to see them expanding and it certainly looks very different now. From there, we went into the Science Park before arriving at  Kent Ridge Park only to see 2 lady runners being Ivy and Yanan, and Fong Sang there who looks lost. Together, we formed a team of 6 in trying to located the very tough hidden check point here. It took us a few turns to actually locate it which was hidden below some stair case behind a barricade. So near yet so far!

Singapore National University Hospital. The white block is where I was warded at last time.

The final checkpoint located at Mount Faber wasn't to far away and in the team of 6, it makes thing pretty interesting. Into Hort Park and later the beautiful Forest Walk before ending up on Henderson Waves, this took us to places where we didn't though existed! Simply stunning! The final checkpoint was located at the end of the Henderson Waves and it is here, we were joined by Kim Lai and Tick Hock ad with the latter around, our group suddenly turned very noisy and interesting! And Tick Hock being the funny one introduced to us the word "CHIONG" where we literary charge through traffic lights and junctions screaming out loud!

Forest Walk.

Planning for the "escape" from Mount Faber.

Running together...

It was tricky to get to the finish located near Ritz-Carlton Hotel as we were to navigate through the city. But from Henderson Waves, we need to make our way down and out of Mount Faber which then took us to the old Tanjung Pagar KTM station. Yet another place that I have not been to.

In front of the fenced off old Tanjong Pagar KTM Station.

Finally into the city, we navigated through underpasses and junctions before ending up at Fullerton Hotel. Fong Sang and Kuang went ahead while the remaining 6 of us stop for an ice cream break! It was certainly refreshing and it fueled us up for the final 2KM or so charge!

Posing with our ice cream.

Getting ready for the final "CHIONG" across to the finish.

Off we went, and finally found the finish line just located behind the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. A final charge down the last traffic down and finally successfully to complete the run in 6:35:52 hours accumulating a distance of 43KM! Yeap, we over ran the distance but it's all right.

Yeah! We finished!

With new friends Ivy and Yanan.

The finish venue was a little low key with only music playing. Volunteers look lifeless and we only had runners ourselves to keep each other company. Rehydrated and grab a sandwich before some photos together with friends before returning to the hotel for some well deserved rest.

Overall, I enjoyed this very unique race and the companionship and camaraderie from the other runners. I hope the race will be an annual event from now on with changes made to the checkpoint each year to keep it fresh, challenging and full of surprises. Well done to the organisers and till the next edition.

* photo credits to Kim Lai, Tick Hock and Ivy.

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