Saturday, June 18, 2011

TNF Trail Run Series @ Pulau Ubin

This was the 4th TNF Trail Run Series that I participated (as lead runner), having missed the 1st one due to my overseas race.  I thought the weather was great before I left the house although I did notice the howling wind.  It rained after I stepped out of my house at 6.00am and I had to go back to take an umbrella.  Luckily, the rain stopped by the time I got into John's car at Tanah Merah MRT.  It stayed this way until we reached Changi Village's Ferry Terminal at around 6.45am, where the rain suddenly poured heavily.  The rest of my Ocean 9 gang were already there together with TNF's 2 staff, less Francis, who was training hard for his Sundown Ultramarathon one week after.  Tekko suggested that we wait-out till 7.30am.  The sky must have heard him and stopped almost as suddenly as it started!  At around 7.00am, John and I led the first group of runners over to Ubin.  By 7.30am, the rest of the runners and Ocean 9 arrived safely, and we took a leisure walk towards the basketball court direction for Tekko's briefing on the run.

Basically, the Ubin Run would be around 17km, with 60% trail and 40% road/pavement.  There would be 2 scenic points for gathering cum photo-taking and water in Ubin was not portable.  Hence, one should run with own hydration.  If anyone ran out of water, there would be available drink stalls along the course, operated by the residents of Ubin.  Tekko also highlighted the section where everyone had to look out for - an area where there were loads of rubbish around with swamp on one side and open water on the other side.  I added that the ground around the area was uneven and rocky, so one really had to pay attention to where they land their feet.  Otherwise, they might end up falling flat, which happened to me one week earlier when we came for our recce run.

Once everyone was clear of the route, we set off.  As usual, it was supposed to be an easy pace run and not a training run.  But somehow, the fast runners and the TNF lead runners (Alvin and Terence) of the fast group were miles ahead.  Tekko, Molly and I covered the rear and stayed with the slower runners or runners who stopped for photo shoot.  Ubin was a really nice place to run.  It was hard to find such a habitat in the Singapore main island to run and enjoy being so close to the nature.  Although we did have MacRitchie, Pierce, Mandai etc, it was easily accessible and personally, I felt too crowded at times.  Ubin was totally different.  You could feel the pace of living being slower.  Besides, on an rainy, early Sat morning, there weren't many other visitors yet. :)

On the way to our first photo-taking scenic point,  we picked up a small durian just underneath the tree.  (We would see more durians along the way later).  After taken some photos, our group of about 5 runners (Singapore Blade Runner aka Shariff, Agus, Tekko, another runner whom I forgotten his name and me) reached the entrance to the look-out point.  Luckily, the gate was already open at 8.05am although it was supposed to open only at 8.30am.  We took a break even though we had only cover a very short 3km and admired the scenery laid in front of our eyes.  Due to the low tide, we could see large boulders, which would otherwise be covered by the sea, being exposed.  We took our group photos before returning to assemble near the toilet.

I decided to run ahead (since I was slow and I wanted photos of the front runners).  I had wanted to wait for the group at a potential photo-taking point but was caught up less than 1km later when I saw Alvin!  Good that I had enough time to stop and snapped away some pictures but unfortunately, the photos didn't turn out well as the lighting was too dark.  :(  Terence did stop at that unofficial photo-taking point for those who want to take photos, before leading the group on to our next photo taking destination - the beach.  By then, I was more at the back of the mid pack than at the rear.  In fact, I didn't know who was running at the back.  I then saw Molly who was standing just before we were supposed to turn right.  Luckily she was around or else, I would have led the group to an unexplored route.  We ran past the dumping ground.  The ground further up was muddy and oily but we were quickly out of it.  Soon, we passed by the NPCC training centre, towards the beach direction.

By the time we reached the beach, it was 9.00am!  We waited for the rest to join us at the beach before Jancy, in her usual RSM's voice, i.e. stern, decisive yet friendly, directed us to get in position for our photos taken.  We had covered around 10km by then.  The next section of the run would see those running the shorter loop taking a left turn towards the ferry terminal for a total of 11~12km, while the rest of us would turn left, past the chalet, towards the bike section, for a total of 17km.  We passed by a junction with many durians laid on the ground but apparently, they were all rotton.  John was directing at that critical junction when I reached.  He quickly caught up with me after directing the back-of-the-pack runners to the respective routes.  About 1km after the chalet, there was a Y junction and again John was there earlier to direct the traffic.

I then saw Jancy and 2 more runners at the end of the road barrier.  Jancy didn't come for the 2nd recce run and didn't know the route.  I told them to turn left into the trail and follow the check point numbering.  And if they saw more than one check point markers, to take the one that looked easier.  :p  After I turned into the trail, I saw John coming up from behind and Shu Ming cutting in from the road!  And soon, both young men were ahead of me again and out of sight.  In fact, by then Tekko and a few more runners had also caught up with me.  As we came out from the trail onto the open grassy section of the route, Tekko instructed me to gather all runners before we ran back to the ferry terminal.  Unfortunately, the fast runners were so far ahead that only the mid and back pack runners were there.  It was then own-time own-target for every runner since the route was straight forward and there were directional signs to point visitors to Ubin the way towards the ferry terminal.  It was 10.20am when I reached the basketball.  The 2 TNF staff were distributing product samples (GU CHOMPS) while John and Terence were helping to acknowledge the TNF card for the runners.  It was a great workout for me and I hope to go back to explore the rest of Ubin before it gets further commercialised.  :)

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