Saturday, October 15, 2011

The North Face 100 Singapore 2011

This was my third attempt at TNF 100Duo. Had so much fun (or rather suffering) in the past 2 years that I decided to go for it again this year. Similar to last year, I would have a back to back race this weekend again. I was also going for the New Balance Real Run the next day. Last year, I ran the Newton 30k the day after the TNF. Having done it before, this back to back races was not that fresh an idea to me anymore. Besides, this year I would not be running 30km but 21km the next day. However, I still made sure I had done my back to back trainings beforehand. No single race was the same. Having done it before did not meant that I can surely do it again.

Same as previous years, the route was only disclosed to the participants the weekend before the race. It was in fact more or less the same as previous years. Singapore is after all a small island so there is really not much trails that we can run on.

The 100Solo would start at 0100Hr. The 50Duo at 1000Hr. The start time of the 100Duo was, at last minute, delayed from 0700Hr to 0800Hr. The reason given was due to some "risk management" issues which was not very satisfactory.

All of us knew the consequence of the delay. It meant the weather would turn hot from the earlier part of the race. By noon time we would still be stuck somewhere inside Asrama, taking in the full soak of the sun.

Anyway, not much that we could do. We just have to take anything that happens on race day.

As before, the organisers required us to sign up in teams for 2 unless you are attempting the 100Solo. I had asked Aileen (my partner for 2010) if she wanted to team again. She replied me she was still deciding whether to run TNF again this year. She said I could go ahead if another person was to approach me to team up. Coincidentally, a friend I knew when I was in university, Tricia, was looking for a partner. She tried the 50Duo last year and so wanted to try the 100Duo this time. So I thought why not team up with her. It was also a silent form of encouragement for her from me for wanting to sign up for the 100Duo.

So there we are: Team Run for Fun Niah .. :)

Packing the stuff for the race the night before. Using the Salomon hydration bag which I had used for my Sundown 100 for its comfort of wearing and ease of accessing my stuff in it.

I reached Macritchie Reservoir Vistor Center just before 0630Hr. Some runners had already arrived before me. Just as I sat down on the bench, somebody called out to two runners who had ran in to drink water. I was told they were in the 100Solo. I looked at them in awe as they ran off. 100Solo started at 0100Hr. So it meant they used less than 5.5hr to cover 50km!

Cranberries! Ate them for the antioxidants.

With Gia Yee.

With runners from Malaysia and Mohan.

NB Runners.

Collin and Archer (left and 2nd from left) would be participating in The Most Beautiful Thing in Nov. They would be doing the 100km. I would also like to join them if not because of my reservist which clash with the race. :(

Tricia, my partner. She was feeling very nervous about the race.

Walking to the start line.

Queuing up for the weigh - in in order to enter the starting area.

My colleagues.

It was very packed. All of us were eager to start the race.

Moving towards the start line.

Nervous nervous.

And off we go!!!

Same as the previous years, I chose to stay at the back at the start of the race. Did not wish to push too early in the race. My strategy was always to reserve some energy for the later part of the race, especially for Asrama.

Recalling last year's race, one of my good friend was diagnosed with cancer during the period of the race. That race was sort of like ran for my good friend, hoping that my good friend would have the courage and strength to push through. A year had passed. All the treatments were over. The doctor had given a clean bill of health. This time, the race was still ran for the good friend, hoping that good friend would have the strength and courage to carry on life, to continue pursuing what was left behind one year ago.

Life goes on.

Good friend, 你要加油。 Your family and friends will always be there to support you.

This year, instead of passing through the visitor center, we ran through the damp of the reservoir. Moods were high. Runners were cheering for each other.

Running on the narrow path after turning left from the damp.

Entering the trail.

Big smile from Tricia and Lynn.

One difference this year was I kept my camera in the front pouch of my hydration bag this time. In the past I kept them inside the hydration bag. So I have better acces to the camera this time. Taking the camera out for a snap was a breeze and I really did took a lot of photos during the run.

This year, the distance were marked on directional signs. That meant we would only see the distance ONLY when there were directional signs and we would get distances like 3.7km. I still preferred the previous races arrangement where the distances were marked at regular intervals (inTNF 2010, it was every 5km).

To Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

We were now close to Rifle Range Road. Recently they added the flight of wooden stairs.

Walking upslope.

Water point 1 at Rifle Range Road.

There was also another issue on the isotonic drinks. Initially the organisers did not provide isotonic drinks at any of the water stations. It was only after repeated requests on the event's Facebook page that the drinks were added. I chose to be self sufficient on race day in case there were insufficient isotonic drinks.

The guy in orange seems to be saying: "hey, you are blocking my way!"

Slowly going up Rifle Range Road.

At the BKE Flyover.

At the BKE Flyover.

When we reached the Muraiane Reservoir, we met Zhilei who was there supporting her friends.

Up we go.

Running along the reservoir.

Turning into Durain Loop.

Coming out back onto Rifle Range Road.

We reached the end of Rifle Range Road and turn towards Bukit Timah.

Right at this stretch, we were supposed to make a left turn to go to the Bukit Timah visitor center. However, at the junction there were neither signs nor marshalers to guide the runners. A whole group of runners just went straight. The route would end us up at the long open stretch of big pipes.

Upslopes .. :(

There were a lot of people who missed the left turn and ended up here.

In fact, its so much that when you look at it you thought you were on the correct route.

We skipped water point 2 at Dairy Farm Road and reached water point 3 at Zhenghua Park. I checked the distance on my garmin with the distance marker and calculated that our distance was now 1.5km shorter.

Henry, who was attempting the 100Solo, on his second loop. He told me he had sprained his ankle when he started his second loop and it slowed him down a lot. I ran with him for a short while and he asked me carry on first because his ankle was really hurting.

Leaving Zhenghua Park.

Passing through underneath the flyover and we were now making our way to Mandai Road. Notice the weather had now turned hot.

It was a mixture of open and shaded path. We ran up North along Gangsa Trail beside BKE towards Mandai.

It was gradually getting hotter as we ran.

One part of the trail offered the much needed shade.

Water point 4 at Mandai Road. Topped up my hydration bag to full over here as we were not entering Asrama. Inside its going to be open and hot so its better to have more water with you.

A nice cold coke raised the morale.

Crossing the traffic light at Mandai Road. For previous years we would turn left and go in from the entrance. This year we turned right and make a detour first.

We ran along Mandai Road for a short distance and turned into the park connector.

Harsh harsh sunlight.

We followed the park connector until we hit SLE. From there we made a left turn into Asrama.

Vegetation on both sides reflected the heat from the sun onto us as we ran through. Hot and humid.

Finally the path opened up.

We kept following the trail trying not to lose sight of the runner in front of us. When we can to an open field, it looked very familiar to me.

Crossing the field, we came to another more familiar sight.

and we arrived at THAT training shed.

Behind the training shed was this .. Hill 265.

Inside the training shed was water point 5. A lot of runners were taking a rest here before continuing.

One for the occasion!

Off we go!

Almost there .. well .. ALMOST!

I made it to the top. It was 1200Hr. Exactly midday.

There was a check point at the bottom of Hill 265.

Level road again. The directional signs read 27.2km.

We sticked to the side with more shade.

The trees at the sides did not offer much shade.

Walking up the slope.

Near the exit of Asrama.

Arriving back at the water point 4 at Mandai Road. Most of the runners were already half cooked.

The start of the journey back. It was now 1300Hr. We were running on Gangsa Trail in the reverse direction. The parts where there were no shade were torturing. The weather was really hot.

(Somebody told me later that the temperature on race day was like 36 degree C!)

Arriving at water point 3 at Zhenghua Park. Besides the water point set up by the organiser, there were other groups of nonparticipants who set up their own aid stations here for the runners. They offered stuff like cold water, banana and gels. A very big thank you to all the people who were there.

From this point onwards it was familiar ground back to the finish line.

Running on the long big pipe stretch baking under the sun.

Back on Rifle Range Road. We were nearing the finish line!

Water point 1 at the end of Rifle Range Road. Final water point for us before heading for the finish line.

Met Trish, a tough lady who finished the RTP series Sahara Race last year. I knew her through Jane, who did the Sahara Race with Trish. Jane was also running the 100Duo today. I hoped to see her along the race but where was she?

The run back was tough. You had ran it countless times before during your own trainings but it was still mentally and physically tiring. I was focusing on my footsteps not to slip when going downslope and not to trip over any rocks or roots.

I also saw some unpleasant things along the way. Paper cups were thrown all over the path. 1.5L mineral water bottles (some even only half empty!) from the water station were left laying around. Empty gel packs could be seen here and there.

Runners, please take note:

  • Do not dirty the trail!
  • Do you need to take the whole bottle of water from the water point? It was a 1.5L bottle. Are you able to finish it by yourself? If not why did you take the whole bottle? The remaining water could had been given to other runners who reached the water point after you. And now that you could not finish the water, you just left the bottle at the side of the trail hoping that other people would clear it for you.
  • Respect nature.

When I reached the ranger station, something happened which surprised me. Henry caught up! I thought I had left him behind this morning at Zhenghua Park. His ankle was still hurting. In fact, even more now. I could tell that he was in deep pain. In my heart I was having deep respect for him. If I were him I would have given up long ago.

From the ranger station it was around 5km to go.

5km more .. and after that .. one guy finishes 50km .. the other 100km .. :)

I ran together with him the rest of the way. He was very strongly mentally. He kept pushing and pushing. At some moment I checked my garmin and realised we were going at aorund 5:30min pace!

We reached the end of the trail!

Make way!

Its all gonna end soon!

Back on the damp.


We did it!!!

We made our way to the tentages near the zig zag bridge. There were refreshments for the runners who returned. We need food!

I finished several bowls of the strawberries. Easy to chew, juicy and sweet. Very easy to go down the stomach.

Subway cookies.

Fruit jellies! Yum yum!

Hard boiled egg for the protein. I did not eat the egg yolk though.

Muffins. The TNF100 logo on top was actually white chocolate.


I went back to the finish line to cheer for the runners coming in.

I was waiting for Tricia. I am confident she would be able to finish it.

And there she came!

We did it!

Alright, I skipped 1 check point. So officially it was a DQ for me. But it was a good experience. This race would serve as a lesson for me in future races to check on the route no matter how many times you had took part in the race.

The weather was also something to remember for. I was glad I did not skip any of my own runs because of hot weather. It was really draining to run under the hot sun in the race but I guessed my own training runs made the suffering today seem (or at least seem) lesser. It shows that no matter how small your effort was, some day it would pay off.

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