Monday, December 29, 2008

MR25 Ultra-Marathon 2008

I had to miss 2007's MR25 Ultra-Marathon because of my Chiangmai Marathon. This year, I revisited the MR25 Ultra-Marathon, which I did in 2005 and 2006. There was a large crowd of more than 300 participants this year, many doing their maiden Ultra-Marathon at MacRitchie.

Team FatBird had a good contingent. SgRunners, Pacesetters, SAFRA RC, aniMILES, trifam were well represented too. The new carpark became operational, and because of renovation works to the carpark area, the registration area was shifted up slightly. It was great to meet many runners and lots of photos were taken prior to the start. My plan was to do just 5 laps to qualify, and not over-extend myself.

A quick brief by Steven Lee, and away we went. I took it slowly, and was aiming to do 1hr15min laps. Many of the faster runners overtook me, and for most of the first lap, I was running near to YN. DeepCruiser, Cheow12 were running just behind me. I used the Nike Vomero to test out its resilience on trails. The weather was dry and good, and without much incident, I completed the first lap in 1hr10min. Since it was too early for food, I continued on with a visit to the toilet.

Loop 1 - Inside Northern Trail

The second lap had HophIng running alongside me for most of the way. The sun seemed to be emerging, but with cool winds, I was still feeling good. Spotted Brokie, wend88 and jjchng who were armed with cameras and firing away. I posed for some nice pics and continued running. The Sime Trails claimed Colleen and a few others as victims. The pebbles and sharp rocks caused some serious abrasion to their arms and legs, but they bravely continued on....such are the resilience of Ultra Runners. Once again, Colleen overtook me and she was looking very strong indeed. I spotted Eunice running very strong near the end of the 2nd lap, which I completed in 1hr9min. DO had stopped his run to provide support, whilst terry, YN, spencer, Max, kopibaby, and the rest of the gang were going on.

Lap 2 - Along the bund near golf course

I took a Gu gel, a banana, and then set off for the 3rd lap. I was still feeling good. I became cautious after 2 near misses when I kicked on some rubble. The crowd had thinned by then, and I caught up with Cheow12 and DeepCruiser midway. I could sense HophIng running well just behind, and so was Charmane and YN in front. Saw the camera crew yet again, and more photos followed in the trails. Tey from Pacesetters was also busy clicking away, and he was actually running the 5laps too...*wow*. The MR25 Photographer (SteveChoo) was also roving around and taking pics of the event....very happening. Byron, Bose and Shut were stationed strategically at the end point to capture the runners as they finish their laps. I did not have my fuel belt with me up till then as there were ample isotonic support at the water points. It was great to see Shirlyn from SAFRA TP who kindly offered me her famous 'Sng Pao'. That was heavenly. Completed the 3rd lap in 1hr13min, and was still feeling ok.

I took a mini pao (thanks to Meteor), another banana, and off I went. I wanted to do the first 42km within 5hrs. I was running the 4th lap mostly by myself. I was still running up all the slopes, although there were others that were taking walk breaks. All the runners were looking strong, and running pretty tactical too. Near the end of the 4th lap, I once again saw Eunice and Charmane. I was feeling hungry throughout lap 4, and was looking forward to some solid food at the finish point. Managed to finish the 4th lap to complete the 42km trail in 4hr53min. Heard from DO that the cooked food and Pizza had not arrived, and so I had to down more bananas...haha. I rested and chatted for a bit. Although I was still feeling hungry, I decided to just finish the last 10.5km loop to be back for lunch. I had allowed about 1hr30min for the final lap.

I started the final lap behind cfred and Charmane. This time, I had to resort to walk breaks as my legs were weighing a ton. I had loosened the shoelaces as it was causing me lots of discomfort for the past 3 laps. I decided against changing another pair of shoes since I was going to finish the race soon. The pressure against my left foot was giving me a stinging sensation, and I knew I did not want to endure for too long. Charmane had an unfortunate fall in Northern Route. It didn't look too bad, and she could endure till she reach the water point at SICC junction for a wash up.

I carried on jogging to Sime Trails, and saw Matthew walking. He mentioned he had cramps and had walked for quite a bit. I too was taking walk breaks to avoid tripping over the rocky area. Met half-timer along the wooden bridge towards the golf course, and from there, it was me and a few other runners, including Matthew trading places. When I reached the 'tree roots' area, I was overcome with an eruption of cramps to my inner thighs...that was so painful....I had never had cramps in that area before, and I was just rooted to the ground. I did not know how to stretch, and just stood still for the cramps to subside.

The final 3km was almost non-runnable for me, as the cramps would erupt whenever I tried to jog. I walked most of the way, and Matthew overtook me with 1km to go. I finally made it out of Lornie Trails, and it was sheer pleasure to see Shirlyn, Divey and Benson, the SAFRA support group. I took a cold orange squash and had a pic with Shirlyn. Finished the race in 6hr45min, just behind Charmane and cfred. DO welcomed me with news of Sarpinos' Pizza (thanks to Max for sponsoring this for Team FatBird). It was the most heavenly piece of pizza I had taken in a long time...hehe.

While resting, my calves and sides of the stomach threatened to cramp up on numerous occasions. I had to walk about and had some good chats with SC5 and Teacher Lee. SC5 and his aniMILES team did well for their maiden MR25 Ultra-Marathon. I went to wash-up and don the finisher T immediately. I stayed at the finish point for about 2 hours cheering the runners in, especially Team FatBird, SgRunners and SAFRA RC. RoadRunner3 looked so strong when he finished 6laps. Melvin How was superb after doing 7laps, and went for 8. YN, acidburn and a few others went for 6laps or more. Rosalind and Ultraman finally came back with their five rounds, famished but happy.

Happy to have completed the 5laps :)

When I left at 4pm, there were quite a number of ultra runners still inside the trails *kudos*. I am sure a few of them will go up the podium. I am happy to have completed the minimum 5laps without sustaining too much pain or injury, and more importantly, to witness many of the new runners achieve their Ultra-Marathon dream. Just received news from FatBird terry that FatBird YN and Charmane came in 3rd and 5th respectively for the women's open. RoadRunner came in 5th for the men's open. Eunice topped the women's category. Melvin How from SAFRA MF finished 9 laps and just missed the pole position by minutes. *kudos* Congratulations to all winners.

Photo Slideshows from SteveChoo (official photographer), jjchng (#1), jjchng (#2), Brokie, byron, Bose, wend88, Shutehelup, la_senza

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