Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Energizer Night Trail Singapore 2012

This was my second local race in 2012, after the 2XU Compression Run 2012 earlier this month.  And it was my first trail race for the year too!  I did not know of any friends who had signed up for this race so there was no need to make arrangement to meet up.  :p  Due to a need to settle my dad's admission to hospital prior to the race, I didn't have time to nap and I barely reach home in time at 5pm to re-charge my cellphone and to get my running gears ready.  Bib number - checked.  Head lamp - checked.  Hydration bag - checked.  (The hydration bag was more for putting my keys, EZLink Card, camera, cellphone, etc).  EZLink Card - checked.  Camera with battery & SD card - checked.  Cellphone with emergency number saved in contacts - checked.  Event map - checked.  And lastly, cash - checked.  I was set!

I took the MRT to Paya Lebar Station and changed to Circle Line to stop at Bishan Station.  I saw other runners wearing the bright lime event tee.  The train came quickly but we were then told to change train at Bishan although it was supposed to go to Jurong East Station.  Luckily, there was an empty train waiting at Ang Mo Kio Station when the incoming train pulled into the station.  Phew!  Not a case of train breakdown.  After switching train, I decided to stop at Khatib Station as I didn't have enough time (it was 6.55pm) to take the free shuttle bus provided at Woodlands MRT as it was still 4 stations away and shuttle bus would only leave every 15mins.  I bought a drink before taking a cab down to Lorong Asrama in Mandai, which was about 6km away.  Due to the  heavy traffic during peak hours, I managed to reach there around 7.20pm.

There were already many people at Lorong Asrama as other categories of event started since 3pm.  The events included the Parent-Child Obstacle Race of various distances (1.5km and 3km).  Runners could also signed up for the 3km Open Obstacle Race started at 6pm before the main races flagged off at 7.30pm.  There were also a carnival and food stalls but I didn't have much time to check them out as the announcer asked the 18km runners to gather at the start.  After checking in my baggage, I walked towards the start point and saw a walking skeleton with bright christmas lights all over the body!  She was Jenap!  I went up to her to say hello before she urged me not to miss my start.  I wished her all the best and just before I went into the starting pent, the race started.

As it was dark, most runners started slow.  Most, if not all, had head lamp secured over their head.  And since the path was well lighted due to the many head lamps, I need not turn on mine.  :p  Not even 500m into the race, I reached the first aid station.  I carried on but felt it kind of difficult.  This continued until I reached the next aid station which was also the 2km mark.  It was a uphill stretch - wicked!  Sometimes, the good thing about running in the dark was because you couldn't see the terrain, especially if it was a slight uphill or downhill.  The only thing you felt was, if the effort seemed harder or easier.  I drank up a cup of Pocari Sweat, thanked the volunteers and continued.  Soon, I had to turn on my head lamp.   But I held it in my hand as doing so allow me to shine the light closer to the path as compared to wearing over your head.  Also, if you happened to meet someone, you might blind the person who called out to you since you would be turning your head to see who's that.  The other problem I faced was the "tunnel" vision (not sure if it is the right term) when I wore it over my head.  My vision would be some how be constricted.

The next aid station was at the 4km mark.  It was very humid and I was sweating a great deal.  I focused on the lights which organiser laid on the ground.  They were very  prominent.  Next came .265 hill, which was rather steep!  The organiser put up a rope for runners to use it to pull themselves up.  I didn't need that.  At the top of the hill, there were 2 volunteers helping runners to get over the last hurdle, which I accepted gladly.  The aid station right at the top was a great welcome.  I rest a while before crossing the timing mat on the way down.  For those doing 18km, we had to keep right.  By then, the fast runners for the 12km category already zoomed past me.  At around 6km, I looked at my watch, which showed 8.35pm!  I guess I was having too much fun.  The next section of the route was kind of hazy to me - there was a right turn, then a left turn.  There was also a portion which runners would get their feet muddy unless they were able to jump very far.  I tried to walk over but still found my left feet sank into the mud.  :(  I had to wash my TNF Double Track again.  Sigh.  I reached another aid station just before 10km and requested the volunteer to help me top up my bottle, which he did - thanks!  :)  Soon, I heard noises from the carnival from a distance.  I should be turning for my 2nd loop soon.  I checked my watch which showed 9.31pm.

Soon, I was directed to turn left while most runners continue running straight.  From then on, it was just me.  Once in a while a runner would run past me or I would run past a marshaller.  I would thank the marshallers but some of them had no response.  It certainly felt eerie.  Luckily, some replied and or even gave words of encouragement, which was nice.  The feeling of standing by yourself in the dark, not knowing if there was anyone else coming to your direction was definitely much worse than the runner.  Perhaps it would be good for the organiser to pair them up in future.  I dreaded the 12km to 14.5km section as it was the same slight uphill.  At the aid station after 15km, I requested the volunteers at the aid station to sing a song and they obliged!  After thanking the girls, I continued running to the 16km marker, which I had to climb up the steep .265 hill again.  I didn't use the rope although I was getting tired.  After I reached the top, I heard someone calling out to me.  She's Alexandra.  We took a picture before continuing separately.  I told myself it was just less than 2km now!  Soon, I saw the 5km/17km marker.  Although elated, I thought the previous km was kind of short.  The last km was never-ending.  I could hear the announcer but I couldn't see any lights.  I managed to cross the finishing point after 12mins of jogging (which means the distance was longer than 1km since I could easily walk 1km within 12mins) and completed the tough but fun Energizer Trail Run in 2hrs 55mins!

I was presented with my hard-earned finisher medal in the shape of the Energizer man and a bottle of Pocari Sweat.  Picking up my baggage was a breeze.  I heard the announcer saying about the shuttle bus leaving at 10.45pm to Woodlands MRT!  I quickened my steps but heard someone else asking if anyone want the last of the few Walls Ice Cream available!  I took one and board the bus to Woodlands.  Overall, it was a well organised race.  There were sufficient aid stations with very enthusiastic volunteers serving ice cold water and Pocari Sweat.  There were also sufficient marshallers deployed along the route though some were probably more worried about standing in the dark than talking to the runners.  :p  The organiser should be applauded for leaving small lights on the ground throughout the route to guide the runners.  There were also barriers erected to stop runners from going to the wrong direction or danger/prohibited areas as well as rope up .265 hill to help the runners.  While I didn't know what food stalls were available at the carnival, I saw Old Chang Kee still operating while walking out to take the shuttle bus.  To top it off, there were plenty of free ice-cream for everyone!  Cool!  The $50 early bird registration fee ($60 for normal period) for 18km was definitely value-for-money!  Was there any area for improvement?  Perhaps.  But it was good enough for me.  Race Ratings: 9.5/10.

Additional Info: Terrain: 2 (rolling; total climb up to 50 feet per miles. Surface: 2.5 (in between mostly groomed trail or dirt roads and trail or dirt road with some rocks, roots and/or ruts).

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