Saturday, October 04, 2008

The NorthFace 100

North Face 100 Lead Runners @ The Start

Team FatBird Support Crew & Lead Runners

DO and I signed up to be the NorthFace 100 Ultra-marathon lead runners at the 11th hour, after race organizers felt that it would be good to have runners running in the trails to have someone guide and cheer them. About 300 runners have signed up for this grueling race, part of the NorthFace 100 regional series.

The plan was to have Hui Ying run the first 4km, then DO and I to run the body of about 8km along Northern Route and then onto Rifle Range trails. There will be mountain bikers who will take over the lead for the Bukit Timah/Zheng Hwa trails. Anna was to be the tail, sweeping the rear pack runners.

SgRunners all raring to GO!

The race started at 8am sharp, and we estimated that the first people to be back would be Lexus and some of the MR25 runners. There were also some sponsored Northface teams which were pretty strong. The Gobi runners were also out in force, along with good representation from SgRunners. Team FatBird was there to provide some support stations along the way, as well as do a little photo shoot and media coverage for their lead runners...hehe.

True to form, Lexus arrived after about 17min. Walter from Running Lab was impressed. Then we saw Khek Hong Leong, and then Bug...wah, Bug was fast. Then Hui Ying came...good run from her. DO took the walkie-talkie from her, and away we went chasing after the front 8 runners. They were running below 5min/km pace, and in the Northern Route, that was something. We exited Northern Route in 20min from the zig-zag bridge, and continued to push towards Rifle Range trails. With about 500m from Rifle Range Road, we heard that the front runner has reached. The Bikers took over. I reached the CheckPoint 2 in 39min, after running for 7.5km. We handed our walkie-talkie to the remaining Biker, and stayed at the CP to cheer a;; the runners coming in....lots of familiar faces. It was fun. Then Anna came with Ham and her friend.

Since we expected the front runner to return only after about 3.5hr to the same CP, we proceeded to walk about 4km to Binjai Park kopi-tiam for some solid food....wonton noodles never tasted so good....we were so hungry...haha. By the time we reached back to CP2 after brunch, it was 11.30am, and we heard that the front runner had turned at Bukit Panjang just 30min ago. We knew then it must be a tough run there; to be confirmed later by Lexus and Bug. We chit-chatted for a bit, before we saw the first Biker come at 12pm. She mentioned the first runner coming in, and true enough, it was Lexus. He was way ahead of the field and looking strong.

DO and I paced Lexus from there along Rifle Range Trails....Lexus would be walking up the slopes to avoid his hamstring cramps erupting....a very smart strategy. We followed behind, keep a distance, but yet remaining close enough to give him encouragement. Onto Northern Route, Lexus picked up speed and we had a hard time keeping, this guy is still so fast after having run 45km. With 2km to go, Lexus' hamstrings were real tight, and he was hitting his legs to get rid of the pain. I encouraged him to keep going, albeit not to rush. Finally, we made it out of Northern Route and he was 'chiong-ing' all the way to the end-point at zig-zag bridge...a superb finish, to rousing cheers of the crowd.

DO and I went back to pace the 2nd guy, an ang moh, and also the rest of the 8 runners. Bug came in 8th position, and was a great run for him. After about 13 men, the first lady came back. It was a German, very steady. Lai Chee was close behind in 2nd position. After we finished running with Lai Chee to the finish, and walking back to the carpark, we saw Lesley coming in in 3rd position. Wow, so happy for them....Women's Champion team. Hong Leong came back in 6th position, and together with Lexus, their team F1 Runners captured the Men's team champion. Colleen and Cui Ying did well to clinch third place Womens', after the sponsored NorthFace women's team.

We hung around and enjoyed the nice buffet spread from Subway, and chatting with the runners who had finished. RealRunner and TLR came in later, and they looked good. The mid pack started to come back as we made our way to the carpark. Met F1 Runners there, and congratulated them on a good finish. It was an interesting experience we had, and I figured we ran a total of about 15km, and walked 7km...haha...nice way to spend a Saturday morning, soaking in the adventure of trail running. Heard from Walter that they might do it even bigger next year....let's hope this will open up opportunities for more trail racing in Singapore.

Photo Slideshow from La Senza's cam

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