Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Riding The Wind With Krupricka

The New Paper article, credit Dennis Quek for the scan

Facebook Photos from AC LeongMohan Marathon
Minimus Zero Launch Photos by Mohan Marathon

It was 2 weeks ago when I received an exciting piece of news from our friends from New Balance Singapore – Anton Krupicka , the Ultra Marathon extraordinare with many accolades and titles to this name in the world of ultra marathon adventure and endurance races, was coming to town.  Even more exciting was that a selected few of us were to personally meet up and run alongside this man, who rides the wind with nary any noise nor fuss.

Straits Times article by Chan U-Gene: Credit Mohan for the scan

There was a buzz in the local community when Anton arrived, and as the hours unfolded with stories about his simple and carefree lifestyle, the local running community got excited about how this ultraman, for all his age of just 28, could live so simply and yet accomplish so much.  The Straits Times and New Paper articles spoke of his living in a truck, waking up in the morning and just running into the Colorado mountains to begin enjoying his trail mileage of 200miles a week…for most of the time, Anton just need a pair of shorts (he runs barebody mostly) and a reliable pair of shoes to protect him from the elements. 

Anton burst onto the minimalist running scene with his invaluable inputs to the New Balance Minimus shoes that eventually set THE LIGHTEST on for new Balance to enter the minimalist running scene in a huge way, getting all the competitive shoe companies out there paying lots more attention to this new area of running shoe development.  The Minimus Trail (MT10) and before that, MT101, were trail shoes that received many rave reviews and recognition from not only the ultra-runners, but also the mainstream running community who were on a prowl for shoes and equipment which can help them achieve better running form as mentioned in the by-now-famous bible of barefoot running “Born To Run”.  Lots more about Anton can be gathered HERE @ Wiki and at his blog – Riding The Wind!

When I arrived to MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) amenities centre, Anton was already there chatting with fellow runners and the media.  I quickly grabbed the opportunity to get an autograph on my newly-minted MT00 (kind courtesy of NB) as well as my TFB Running Tee.  Anton, being the humble guy, not only entertained our requests for autographs, but also took the time for photos as well as talking about his feel of the Singapore weather and running community.  As I continue to engage him at close range, I still cannot absorb the fact that he is only 28, with such a big manner and maturity about him.

Action Photos from Mohan Marathon

Edmund from NB gave a brief of the route and with some light stretches, we headed straight onto the Northern Route.  As Anton was still recovering an injury, and he has a Ultra Marathon race in 2 weeks, we were told not to push him too hard…of course we had fast and experienced local runners like Sham, Ford, Jeri to be around just in case.  As we ‘jogged’ into the trails, we realized that Anton’s recovery pace was faster than many of our race pace for 5-10km…hahaha.  It was sheer fun to see the group of lead pacers running together with Anton, with a few of us deciding to play the role of 'roving' cameramen to take some nice pictures and photos of the team in action.  

Up The Slopes of The Northern Route @ MR

Anton has an effortless-looking stride and very relaxed form, probably explaining why he could go on for 100-150miles at that kind of fast speed through rock mountain terrain.  Because of the earlier rains, the MR trails were rather wet and slippery, but all these were mostly welcomed by Anton, who found the trails a little rocky, but more natural and becoming of a run through nature.  As with riding the wind, the run was speedy, smooth and quick. 

An Exhilarating Run @ MR

It was in no time we were back to the start of the trails, covering 7km within 35min, inclusive of stoppages for photos of course...PANT, PANT, PANT!  The NB MT00 shoes were taken through a good test on the muddy MR terrain that day, and I must say they passed with good grades, esp. in the area of lightness, trail-holding and versatility in uneven terrain.  

Group Photo with NB Runners & Friends: Photo Credit, Jeri Collett

It was an enjoyable experience for me to have run with a Ultra Marathon legend, and I was glad that the distance was short enough for me to at least catch some shots of the man and have a few words in between while sucking in air.  I didn’t spend too much time with my fellow running friends who were there, but I guess we all will understand that it was an opportunity not to be missed to speak and interact with this humble Ultra Marathon legend while we have him at such close proximity.  Check out The New Paper article Picking Up Tips From Krupicka for more of the amazing run with had with Anton.

We heard that Anton is very interested in the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon – often dubbed the toughest mountain race in Asia/World…we certainly hope to see Anton again soon, if he does come for this race.  I would like to thank New Balance for organizing this and more importantly, inviting me and my fellow team mates and friends to meet with and Ride The Wind with Anton Krupicka!

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

2XU Compression Run 2012

 2XU Compression Run Finisher Medal: Photo Credit, Michael Quek

Facebook Photos from AC Leong, Min, Running Shots, Steven Tan

The 2XU Compression Run promised a nice route, with a convenient start point just outside of the Nicholl Highway MRT.  After looking at the surrounding carpark availability, I decided to take the first train (MRT) from my place down to the start point, knowing that I would be quite close to the starting time.  The train ride., packed mostly with 2XU participants, turned out to be rather smooth.  It was only when we alighted at Nicholl Highway that an incident happened – some of the 2XU runners didn’t have time to get out of the train before the doors automatically shut, and the driverless train moved off…just hope that it didn't turn out too bad for the runners.

At The Start Line: Photo Credit, Running Shots

FatBird Runners looking happy

With Newton Running Club @ Start Point: Photo Credit, Soo Kok Meng, Steven Tan

I arrived to the start line at 7:45pm, after bumping into Berno, Kyle, Tejinda, Emily and Clara, and inched my way slowly to the front where the stage was.  Bumped into the energetic bunch of runners from Newton Running Club and we had a good time taking photos while waiting for flagoff.  With a light delay of 10min, we finally started and headed straight towards Suntec City.  

Met many familiar faces like David Shum, Tay, Gary, etc who were going at 4:15min pace.  I decided to pull back to 4:30min just so as not be drawn into overworking myself too early.  The roads were pretty wide for this crowd and we had good access for most of the way.  There were the usual runners whom we always see at races, and some would be snapping photos along the way.  It is always fun to do a race without too much pressure of getting any PBs….I kept telling myself to slow down to a more comfortable pace.
Striding well with Brooks PURE Connect shoes and 2XU compression socks

I settled down from 5km onwards, and started to enjoy the scenery and also to clap for those returning fast runners.  The sun was creeping up, and the heat could be felt, causing beads of perspiration flowing from my eyes, causing irritation no less.  There was scant relief when we turned back, and by 10km, the pace was slowing.  As we entered the Kallang Riverside, some of the earlier front runners were slowing even more than me, as I overtook a few of them.  

Otherwise, we were just happy to maintain about 4:45min pace to the finish.  The distance markers were very clear and pretty accurate, making the countdown that much easier.  The water points, stocked with Pocari was well managed with well-briefed volunteers handing out drinks, making it easy for us to grab, drink and still continue on.  There wasn’t much stoppage at the water stations then, with most of the runners moving on rather smooth.

 Min & Helen, after fulfilling her Pacer duty

With 2km to go, we could see the 10km runners merging in, but they were separated into a broader channel, leaving the 15km runners to run on the right side – very well thought out merge-control (SCMS can take a closer look at such organization).  With 1km to go, we picked up the speed slightly and coasted home feeling rather comfortable – there was no rush and everyone just took their time for a nice photo-finish.  I completed in about 70min, which was not too bad a time for the 15km distance, something which I do once every 1-2years :D Chatted with Robert at the finish chute, and congratulated him for a good race, before catching up with my sports science lecturers (who were also participating).  I then crossed over to go straight back into the MRT, shared the journey with Jacq, and reached home well within my appointment time.  

FatBird Runners basking in the post 2XU race experience

It was a very smooth race for me overall, and I enjoyed the whole experience thoroughly.  The first race experience with the Brooks PURE Connect shoes passed with flying colours.  The matching (with the running vest lah) 2XU Compression socks helped lots to delay the onset of lactate buildup, esp. in the faster initial km.  The finisher medal is nice and feels sufficiently solid, representative of the hard effort we put into the race.  I hope my fellow FatBird colleagues and friends too enjoyed the whole experience.  I will look forward to doing this race again next year, which by then could have a 21km category?  

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