I was intrigued when I first chanced upon the Nathan Singapore City Race. Unlike the typical running events, this one has no fixed route. It is a “free form” run where runners are given a map at the start with the checkpoints marked, and it’s up to the individual (or team) to determine how they get there… and nope, you don’t have to do the checkpoints in numerical order! Sounds like great fun, eh?
Great fun it certainly was! *\(^_^)/*
With 3 friends of mine, 2 whom I’ve met while doing the Swissotel Vertical Marathon with a Meetup group last year, we formed [Life is a Beach] and registered for the 15km Short Category.
We reported at 9am at the Marina Barrage as instructed, and each member was given a draw string bag with a map inside. We then joined all the other teams crowded around the starting point and briefly discussed how to tackle our route.
The 5 checkpoints for our category, in no particular order, were: the Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque), the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Fort Canning Park, Shaw House and the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple.
I proposed heading in a sorta anti-clockwise direction starting from the Masjid Sultan at the Arab Street area, followed by Shaw House at Orchard – 2 of the furthest locations. The rest agreed, so off we went, running along the Gardens by the Bay. We didn’t manage to hold the jog for long though… as our team leader felt it was too difficult to be constantly moving at the pace the guys were going.
Approximately half hour since we started, we arrived at our first destination. – Checkpoint 7 on the list: the Masjid Sultan.
Thank goodness it was also a water point, as due to the weather, we had perspired heaps and were thirsty by then. I gulped down a cup of water followed by a cup of Aquarius isotonic.
It was then decided that we head down to Middle road, and then Selegie Road towards Orchard Road. One of the guys decided to pass by the Goddess of Mercy temple for a short prayer, and that is what we did. Gosh, that street where the temple is located was really crowded! Felt much like an obstacle course… and that wasn’t the only clustered stretch we ran into! The next one was along Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road (>.<)
It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Checkpoint 6 was located inside Shaw House… right beside the box office of the Lido Cineplex to be exact. The air-con was a welcome break from the heat outdoors. Yeah, by then it was late morning and getting to midday… and it was one heck of a sunny Sunday!
Next up was what felt like the longest stretch of the race. We had to walk all the way to the Sommerset area, down Killiney Road and then River Valley Road to get to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple. The route had minimal shade, some upslope portions and gahhh the HEAT was omfg. Then again, it might have been worse if it had rained… so /shrug.
Ahhh ~ by then the worst (in terms of distance) was pretty much over. Checkpoint 3, our 4th destination, was Fort Canning Park… a stone’s throw from the Indian Temple. It would have been a walk in the park if it wasn’t for this…
To add insult to injury, we later found out that we did not have to scale the full flight of stairs! The checkpoint was located merely midway on the hill !@*%$#~ that was also pretty much where we wasted the most time, as we went up the ‘wrong’ way and had to circle around looking for the checkpoint. It was also a water point, but there was no isotonic drink there… only water (._.)
The final checkpoint, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown was not too far away from Fort Canning Park. We grabbed our final sticker, and headed down towards Raffles Place, back to the Marina Barrage.
We jogged the final few meters towards the finish line and the goodies that greeted us at the end was a welcome sight! There were baskets of fruit – apples, pears and bananas, volunteers handing out ice cream (I devoured 2 greedily… om nom nom), sandwiches, the usual isotonic drinks and water… and BEER!!! *grins* Yes, it’s alcohol free beer, but heck… that was quite a spread! Most races, only provide water and bananas at the end. Kudos to the organizers!
Of cos, we proceeded to sit down along with other finishers of the race to rest and chomp on our munchies. It was then that I showed the rest what my RunKeeper has tracked. We must have taken the ‘wrong’ route for we went so much further than we were supposed to… 20.3km, in 3hrs 31min.
A friend of mine who took part in the same race reported on fb that her team covered slightly more than 19km in 4hrs+ and that another team she knew, from her company, managed to do it within 16km-ish. Am pretty curious to find out how long it took the top 3 teams, as judging from the route they marked out on the map at the finisher’s area, they pretty much went the same way as us… give and take a few corners.
Well, nonetheless, it was an amazing experience. One that I hope to replicated next year, perhaps in the Mid or Long category this time! *chuckles* the Long distance is insane though… one of the checkpoints being the Old Fort Factory all the way at Upper Bt Timah – wtf. No surprise there that none of the teams in the Long category had made it back by the time we left the race area. So looking forward to finding out how they did 😛