Sunday, December 26, 2010

MR25 Ultra-Marathon 2010

Photo compliments of SC, Mohan, Tejinda, JacQ, BTing, Jerome, FreddySim, Richard, Tey, Pang

Because of restrictions within the MacRitchie area, this year's MR25 UltraMarathon, just like many of its progressive runs, have had to be modified; to do a up-down along Northern Route and then onto Terantang Trail, followed by up and down along rocky Sime Trail.

I have always looked forward to this run in the final Sunday of December to burn off excesses during the festive season, as well as to meet friends and running kakis. As with last year, we have also encouraged many new marathoners (from Sunbird & NightHawk programs) to try their hands at a trail UltraMarathon.

With the high parking charges implemented at MR, I decided to take public transport this year, so the load was light on me....I left the fuel belt and powergels at home. By the time I reached MR, the race was close to starting. It was great to see many FatBirds, SgRunners, MR25 Runners and friends, participating and supporting alike. The JM team went to great lengths to prepare Sng Baos, sandwiches, jellies, and a host of supplementary food items. SC and his photographers placed themselves at strategic points along the route to capture nice photos of the runners and their supporters.

The sponsor and support for MR25 UltraMarathon is much improved this year, with constant flows of non-gassy Pocari Sweat and Mizuno providing the finisher tee. I took the first lap in reasonable time, and could not wait to start the second one, to burn off the accumulated festive goodies in the tummy. In the return of the second lap, Bev called out to me (she was doing a recce for her company's tree-top walk in the vicinity). After some chatting, and a few drinks, I went into Terantang Trail again...I was wondering why there were no runners in front. By the time I reached the Ranger station, I realized I have gone in again a second time...Urgghhh! I had no choice but to run back to the water point at the start of Terantang Trail. By the time I reached back to MR Visitor's Centre, I was set back by 20min at least. The supporters were wondering what happened to me..haha.

The 3rd lap was rather uneventful, other than the fun I was having saying hello to familiar faces and encouraging our runners to keep going. The rocks along Sime Trail were making my soles sore, and it didn't help when the ankles get trapped and rocked about from time to time. When I finished the 3rd lap, Bev was at the Visitor's Centre already. Since lunch was not ready, I decided to just finish the 4th lap first. I was taking it easy throughout as I have just completed the Taipei Marathon a week ago and SCMS 3 weeks back. This would be just a recovery and fun distance run for me.

Lunch was available after I finished the 4th lap. I decided to grab bee-hoon with fish-ball and sausage, althrough there was Nasi Lemak on offer as well. Bev got me a cuppa of warm coffee and I took my time to enjoy a good lunch. I rested for quite a fair bit, and continued to hang around to chat with the supporters. Soon Mohan, Sammi and Winston came in for their 4th lap completion. These new UltraMarathoners were so determined that they did not rest at all. I started with them for the 5th lap.

I didn't walk much this year, not even up most of the slopes. I adopted a much slower pace to get into the fat-burning zone. As what Botak have mentioned, my tummy is evidently larger than his and I had more work cut out for me to continue 'burning' them off haha. The 5th lap was enjoyable as we took turns to cheer on the returning runners and encouraging them to go for additional laps. As I had Bev waiting for me to go to another appointment, I went ahead to finish the 5th lap first. A light drizzle started in the final 3km, which helped to cool things a little.

Bev and I made our leave at about 3pm, leaving the other FatBird Runners to complete their 6 and 7th laps. Many of our friends did very well, especially the ladies. Congrats to Charlotte, YN, Jacqueline and Fia for completing 7 laps to come in podium. Sumiko and Lai Chee did 9 laps to claim the top 2 spots, while Paulina did a respectable 8 laps to claim 3 place. IMD Ben did solidly with 9 laps to claim 5th position for Men's. Henry Yang and Freddy Yeoh secured podium finishes in the Men's as well. Well done to all the runners who completed the minimum 5 laps to qualify for the prestigious MR25 UltraMarathon finisher top and certificate. The support team this year have been marvelous, with the JM and SC teams providing very good TLC to the FatBird and i-Runners participating. From the looks in the eyes of the supporters, it seemed that many were itching to join in for a lap or two. We should be seeing more MR25 UltraMarathon participants this time next year.

Special Idiots presented by Azhar, image captured by Mohan, Spirit & attitude encapsulated in all the MR25 UltraMarathon 2010 participants. To all the special idiots, you guys and gals ROCK!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Fubon Taipei Marathon 2010

It was an incidental marathon that I registered for as I was scheduled to be in Taiwan on a tour with the family. Because of the special registration requirements for Taiwan races (one has to be part of a local running club or association to register), Mohan has helped to get his contacts in Taiwan to register a full marathon slot for myself and a half marathon for Beverly.

Till the second last day of the race, we were not even sure if we could participate as our travel adventure took us from Taipei all the way South to ErLuanPi and then back up North again. It was one hectic itinerary to say the least, but most enjoyable for the family. By the time we reached Taipei again on Saturday evening (7pm), our race packs were collected and delivered to our hotel, courtesy by Mohan and Woon Kong. By the time we finished packing and putting on the bibs, it was midnight. There was nary a chance for any preparations at all, but we were there to just have fun and soak in the local marathon atmosphere.

Woke up at 4am the next day, and took a cab to the race site at 6am. We must have been in a sea of the 100,000 runners who have signed up for 3km, 9km, 21km and 42km. There were majestic stages put up, and lots of music and performances. The flag off was impressive, with the Elites going off 3min earlier. Despite being at the start line by 6.30am, I was pretty far back along the line. Then it was time for all to be flagged off, yes, 9km, 21km and 42km all together. There was congestion for the first 3km at least, although the roads were pretty wide. There were quite a number of angry motorists who argued with the traffic police about the road closures from the small lanes.

The weather at the start was a cool 15C. I had on a raincoat with a buff worn around the neck. I was comfortable, and after 3km, was able to sustain an average pace of 5:05min/km. There were a couple of slopes along the highway and bridges, but they all added on to the grandeur and scenic views of this race. Since I had my iPhone with me, I stopped along the way to capture some scenes (this is the first time I have taken photos along a run...haha). We were running along the highway most of the time, and the sun was rising by 8am. At about the 16km point, I got too comfortable, and took a tumble after my foot caught one of those metal stubs along the highway dividing lines. Save for a few scratches, I was able to recover and proceeded to run along, thankful that my tights were not torn, and my phone was not knocked over.

Hit the 21km mark at about 1:50h. Mohan shouted for me midway and took some photos of me...thanks. Yean from SAFRA MF also spotted me at the beginning of the race and called out. It was nice to see familiar faces in an overseas race. When I reached 30km, I began to slow down to about 5:13min/km. There were still no cramps as I was running conservatively due to my lack of mileage and training.

At the 25km mark, I could feel a blister forming at the soles. It could have been due to the dry weather (just like what I experienced in Korea Marathon 2008). I tried not to be distracted by the pain, and was reminding myself that I will have to do something about this for Gold Coast Marathon in 2011. I just wanted to enjoy the run and complete with some nice memories. The drinks stations were lacking in isotonic drinks, filled mainly with plain water and sponges. There were food stations of cut bananas, chocolate pieces and raisins...they were already peeled and opened, left in the open to be grabbed and flushed down with water....haha.

The Taiwan runspirators and cheer groups were energetic and colorful, something lacking in the Singapore and HongKong races. There were singing, cheering and shouting their voices coarse. They were dressed as school children, nurses, and in all sorts of costumes...very distinctive, with a nice touch. I survived till 35km before feeling the tingling sensations at the calves, signs of cramps brewing. I slowed down to 5:30min/km and then 5:45min/km to avoid any further strain to the overworked legs, having to bear with the slopes and strong winds blowing. Finally hit the 38km mark and saw Mohan again in the reverse direction. One more photo for the road, before I trotted along for the final 4km.

Then I decided to take a video as I cross the finish line, something special to remember this race by. I slowed down more in the final 2km to avoid any cramps, as well as to enjoy the cheers coming from the enthusiastic supporters. The final tunnel reminded me of HK 34km mark, just that this one is near to the end. With 500m to go, I switched on my iPhone video and started to take the finishing shots. As I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by shouts from Beverly....she had finished her half marathon earlier in (a revised) time of 2:07h (not too bad considering the jam-packed crowd she had to contend with for the first 3-5km).

The finish clock showed 3:51h...with the 3min headstart by the elites and a 1-2min delay till I cross the start line. Official Chip Time was 3:46h. It was not my marathon PB, but still a reasonably good race for me, considering the lack of training and non-existent preparations given to this.
More photos were taken at the finish. Renohtaram and IMD spotted and called out to me. We had some nice group photos, before I moved off to collect the after-race goodies. The finisher medal and towel was a nice touch. The full marathoners had a lunch box of roasted meat and vegetarian choice....nice. As I was in a rush to get back to the hotel to leave with the tour group, we did not hang around nor have time to wait for our friends to be back. Thanks to Mohan once again for making all the arrangements to make this race possible for me and Beverly, and it left a good impression of Taiwan marathons in us. We hope to be able to go back to Taiwan to do more races in future, possibly the scenic ones like Taroko Gorge and Cherry Blossoms marathons as recommended by friends.

Photo Slideshow

Sportsnet Results
Official Results
Number Name Run Group Start Time Elapsed Time
SUM YEW WAH ANTHONY 42KM M 40-49 07:02:14 03:46:53
SOON CHUAN HEOK BEVERLY 21KM F 40-49 07:03:07 02:07:25

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