Sunday, February 26, 2012


U Run + Vertical Climb 2012 Start - Photo Credit Racers' Toolbox

This year’s U Run + Vertical Climb was quite special as we managed to gather quite a large group of FatBirds to participate in all categories of 10km+Vertical Climb, 10km and 5km Runs. Because of a more than doubling of participation, especially for the Vertical Climb Challenge, the organizers planned the start in waves and the end points for the CLIMB to be different than the 10km and 5km. Thus, we had a nice scenic run with nary an obstruction around the Esplanade, Nicholl Highway and Marina Bay areas.

Blast Off! - Photo Credit Run Society

Because of last year’s congestion for the climb up One Marina Boulevard (OMB) Towers, the organizers provided 2 access routes up, which made it a lot less congested this time round. A number of FatBirds for the RUN+CLIMB were early for the 7:00am Wave 1 flagoff, with some cool warmup by Amore Fitness instructors. Ong Ye Kung did the honours of flagging off, and away I went at about 4:30min/km. I was careful not to push the cardio too hard, but still maintain a reasonable pace to be running with a smallish group. Drinks stations of 2km apart was well stocked with Pocari Sweat, and by 4km I was pretty settled down. With the 30-storeys at the end in mind, I maintained some reserves for the finish, taking care not to go below 4:30min/km pace.

getting into the groove - Photo Credit Ng Chee Beng

There were many familiar faces and shouts of encouragement as we returned and met the oncoming runners along Nicholl Highway…the JMs, U Run groupies, FatBirds, SgRunners and other running friends – taking photos on the run. I was with an interesting group of 3, 1 tall Ang Moh, 1 VFF runner and another ‘botak’…we ran pretty much together till the end. By the 8km mark, we were back at start point/Floating Platform, and were ushered to climb the uphill MBS bridge…that pretty much took the final wind out of me, and I dropped the pace to 4:40min/km thereafter. With the OMB Tower in sight, I maintained a slower pace to finish the 10km with some spare.

6km mark along Nicholl Highway - Photo Credit JM BTing

Waving to JMs along Nicholl Highway - Photo Credit JM BTing

When my Garmin buzzed 10km, I started to walk towards the tower.  A few other runners too started to walk to suck in air for the ‘climb’. The cheerleaders were telling us to keep running, but that was the only opportunity for us to recharge before the climb. It was an arduous way up, although the steps were not steep and the stairway was pretty clear. However, the ventilation was not as good, and each time we pass the air vents, it was a pleasure to just suck in. I contemplated taking a breather midway by the side, but there just wasn’t too much space around. I decided to just proceed upwards to end the agony early. However, I was not too winded this time when I reached the top, given that I took single steps most of the time…haha.

Closing in for the finish - Photo Credit AC Leong

Still, it was great to finish at the top with the cool breeze blowing at our faces, and we could suck in deep all the air we were so deprived along the stairwell. I took the first bus back to Floating Platform with Ngee Hung and Gary, both of whom did so well to finish way ahead, and Gary even secured a good podium finish.  Collection of the finisher goodie bag and tee shirt was no hassle. The Finisher Tee was nice, much better than the men's race vest which was quite wierdly-cut.  By the time I got changed, Beverly and Amanda were just coming in for their 5km 8:30am start.

I proceeded to the end point to wait for the runners and had good chats with JJ, Ngee Hung and tekko. It was great to see the 10km runners finishing, and a number of familiar faces and friends with podium finishes and good timings. Swee Heng did a very fast 49min, and the others did well too. Thow Wee secured a 1st placing for corporate…wow!  Congrats also to XiuFang for her podium finish, and Danny, Diana, Erlina on their solid 10km runs.  Soon, Beverly finished her 5km with Amanda.  Met up with them and continued to catch up with old running kakis like Jancy, Vincent and tekko.

2012's Results

  RK    BIB           NAME               10KM              CLIMB            GUN           NETT
   34    1066    Anthony Sum       0:46:36.90        0:08:48.93      0:55:25.83     0:55:11.56
2011's Results

My timing for this year was slower than last year's by 15sec...haha, not bad for an enjoyable run without any run nor climb training at all.

I felt the race experience and organization was much better this year, with less congestion and a more solid-footed end point. There were some queues for the OMB bus-ferry and baggage points, but I guess those would be areas for improvement for next year. I feel it is a good value-for-$$ run, and barring any clashes with other events, we will be back for next year’s race.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brooks Pure Project Series: First Encounters

Brooks Running has become one of the recent major shoe manufacturers to launch a line of ‘Minimalist’ shoes – The Pure Project series in late 2011.  When it came into Singapore just very recently, I found the opportunity to take a pair of the lightest and most minimalist version, The Pure Connect for some trial runs.  As I was new to the new technologies from Brooks, I went in quickly into youtube and found some good information of the philosophy and key features of this new line.

I put on the Flow and Connect to do an initial test, and found the Connect gave me a more snug fit (since I have not too wide feet).  The Flow would have more cushion, weigh slightly heavier and provide a nicer fit for the runner who needs width,  My first few strides with the Connect was quite a pleasure as I loved the ample mid-foot cushion with good responsiveness to boot.  

At 8.7ounces, the shoes felt light yet provided a cushy feeling with very snug feel.  It also gave me a slight forward lean which could be due to the ‘rounded-off’ design of the shoe, including a slight upward tilt at the front (which is good for me as I keep my feet rather close to the ground).  That makes it more propelling and makes me go a tad faster than what I could be comfortable at first, but it will definitely make for some very fast running – just great for racing up to 21km distances.

This shoe comes with 5 key features, integrated quite seamlessly to give that overall feeling of snugness, responsiveness and propulsion.

Heel Wrap
The heel is made to wrap the heel better to prevent the feet from wobbling about, an issue faced by many Asian runners who experience ‘heel slippage’ with conventional shoes.  

Toe Split
The split on the underside of the shoes between the big toe and the rest of the 4 other toes provide that nice touch, which might have given the feeling of better grip and road-holding even on uneven surfaces, as was experienced in my trial run through some trail terrain.

Go Green
The “green” midsole technology incorporates less layers to give a better feel for the road and a responsive ride. The 4mm heel-toe differential (drop) was very comfortable for me as they tax my calves a lot less than zero-drop shoes, and in some ways, help to give than forward tilt and lean.

Elastic Band
The elastic band on the top of the mid-foot helps to wrap the sides of the feet in to give the snug feel.  Because of that, I have had to go ½ size up to US10 for a more comfortable fit.  Asian runners with wider feet might find it a bit too snug for comfort, and that's when they can take a look at the Flow version.

Natural Last
The PureProject line prides itself as having a natural last that follows the shape of the feet. 

Philosophy behind the Brooks Pure Project Line

To the Minimalist or Barefoot purist, the Pure Project line would definitely not qualify to be one.  However, I feel it is sufficiently minimal without sacrificing the mid-foot cushioning, responsiveness and ground holding, which is more similar to racers.  Definitely a good shoe for runners who are new to minimalist running, and are seeking a safer option to train for and transition progressively towards minimalist running.

I would also take the Pure Connect for speedwork, tempo runs and even LSDs for up to 30km.  I have run it in for distances of 10-25km rather comfortably thus far, along road and x-terrain.

I am suitably impressed with the Brooks Pure Project line, especially with the Connect.  A few of my friends have also provided very positive feedback on the Flow and Cadence (structured cushioning) range that they have trialed.  I see the Pure Project line can be a good contender in the Minimalist Running & racing market, and look forward to taking them for even longer runs and more trials.

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