Sunday, June 10, 2007

MR25 X-Country Marathon

I have done many MR25 progressive runs and time-trials, but just could not find time to do their annual X-Country Marathon. This will be my first trail marathon, and I was looking forward to just complete this grueling race within the 5-hr time limit.

There was a sizeable turnout at MacRitchie, and there were many young school runners going for the team event as well. SgRunners and SAFRA Runners were well represented for this race too. TLR, Ultraman, Brokie, RealRunner and mrs., Bug, Teck Hou, Trevor Chua, KK Chin, Ronnie, Bill were just some of the familiar people we know. Lai Chee and Sok Hwa were there to defend their ladies titles, so was Tobias Franz. Spotted Dr. Ben Tan, Lim Lian Hock, Eric Wu, Wei Bin, and many of the regular MR25 runners.

It looked to be a HOT day as we started promptly at 7am, after a brief of the new route by Stephen Lee. Because of the OB areas at Ranger station, the route this time will take us through 4 laps of 10.5km, going via slopey Northern Route, turning into the trail after the pumphouse, making a loop out back to the Northern Route, and after passing the start point, proceed for another 1km loop to Lornie Road and back. My plan was to do 2 1hr laps, then a 1:10 lap, and finish off with a 1:20lap, trying to hit a target 4:30hr I secretly set for myself.

I was way back for most of the 1st lap, taking it easy, and finished in 58min. TLR, Bug and Teck Hou were the speed monsters for the men's open. The team event had a lot of the MR25 elite runners taking part, and they were just zooming away. The sun was already out in full force after the 1st lap. I had my fuel belt on with 3 powergel packs mixed to give me the energy I would require after 2 laps. I finished the 2nd lap in about 59min...hmm, ok, that left me with 2:30hr to finish the remaining 2 laps. I took very short water breaks, and went for for the 3rd lap without stopping for too long. The blazing sun was having its effects on me, and the run through the trails, though full of ups/downs was a welcome break from the sun's heat.

There were a number of younger trekkers and joggers in the trails this morning, and as I ran towards the pump house along the Northern Route, Tobias, TLR and many of the fast ones were already running back. I just maintained my pace and tried not to walk, even though going up the slopes were getting to be quite slow. My mind was drifting away as the run was getting lonely, and I was mostly by myself. Those that kept close to me in the first 2 laps were nowhere to be seen. Bug was onto his 4th lap, accompanied by DO, as I was running to the start point. DO offered water and honey, but I was too tired to stomach them. I was glad to finish the HOT third lap in 1hr8min. I was exhausted and took a 5min break. RR mentioned he was stopping, and I told him I would just complete the final lap after a good rest. I downed 4 cups of 100plus mix there. My powergel mix have kept my energy level up.

The 4th lap was most 'mental' for me, and I was trying not to take too many walk breaks. My calves were cramping a little, and I had to ease the pace to a slow jog whenever the seizures came. There were times I tripped and nearly fell, causing the cramps to erupt...I changed my strides a little to accomodate the seizures. I tried my best to slowly bounce up the slopes, using my arm swings to aid in the hard upward climbs. After a lot of water to quench my thirst, and going through the small loop of eternity near the pumphouse, I was finally going back to Northern Route, Trevor was stretching his cramps near the water point. As I chugged up the slopes of SICC, Ultraman just came running down. He was focused, and I was too tired to call out to him. Brokie was just 50m behind him...I was impressed that she was looking cool as a cucumber, and was running at a steady pace.

The Northern Route back provided some relief from the sun, and I managed to keep running most of the time, albeit at a very slow pace....could have been 6:30min/km or slower. Soon, I was back to the canoe area, and as I ran back to the start point, there were cheers for me to go on and finish. My spirits were lifted as DO paced me, and informed that I was in the running for 5th position...haha, quite surprising. With an opportunity to win something, I perked up, and went steadily up the carpark slopes and then all the way down Lornie Road for a finish with my arms met, and like what Vincent said 'You managed to squeeze into 5th position'...haha. Had a good stretch, and cheered for Brokie, Ultra, Sok Hwa, Trevor and the rest as they finish.

There was a prize-giving ceremony, and as I collected my 5th prize from Stephen Lee (MR25 President), he said 'Anthony, you finally won something...'...haha, so true...this was the first time I ever won something from a MR25 easy feat...I was happy, and I felt very lucky. There was a Nike shoe voucher, Nike dri-fit T, 2 pairs Nike socks, 1 Nike wrist-band...not bad. I was happy that Teck Hou, Bug, TLR, Brokie, Lai Chee, Sok Hwa all did well to win prizes, and Ultra and Trevor were awarded certifcates too. Tobias and Lai Chee retained their individual titles. A most memorable race, and as we settled down for the famous Adam Road Prawn Noodle and Cheng Tng/Ice Kacang, I could feel the tiredness in my legs, but a sense of satisfaction in having completed such a 'tough' race.

Distance: 42km__Time: 4hr20min__Pace: 6:11min/km


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At 10:02 AM, Blogger roentgen said...

Wow, this is an amazing achievement! Congratulations Dream! :D Very inspiring to read your account of the race...

At 2:56 PM, Blogger The Dream Runner said...

thanks Roentgen...hopefully you are impressed enough to attempt next year's MR25 will be quite enjoyable if we do it as a larger group :)


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