Tan Wei Jie

weijie (at) tanwj.com

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  • 26Jun

    This morning, I completed the 2011 Sundown Ultramarathon. Spanning a total of 100 kilometres, the entire journey took me a net duration of 16:39:58. It was definitely challenging both physically and mentally. Starting from Marina Barrage, runners were brought through East Coast Park, Changi Village, Pasir Ris Park and Bedok Reservoir Park, then back to Marina Barrage via the same route. In fact, this was the first time I preferred an out and back route, as I could expect what to go through for the second half.

    The race was flagged off at 6 pm on 25 June atop the Marina Barrage building, where I followed Alvin on his 4-minute run 1-minute walk strategy. After crossing the Barrage, we ran past the Indoor Stadium and towards East Coast Park, crossing an overhead bridge along the way. After 7.5 kilometres, we emerged from an underpass and started the East Coast Park leg. The East Coast Park stretch was some 11 kilometres long. Soon, massive dark clouds started appearing, signifying the threat of a downpour. Nearing the 20-kilometre pit stop (which was located just after the 19-kilometre mark), it started to drizzle. Luckily, the drizzle did not transmogrify itself into a thunderstorm.

    The next 6 kilometres was a straight along Changi Coastal Road, and we soon arrived at the 30-kilometre pit stop (located at the 29-kilometre mark) just across the bridge from Changi Village. The next stretch was similar to the 2009 Sundown Marathon route, bringing runners up a hill and towards Loyang estate. However, I could not keep up with Alvin’s pace just before the 32-kilometre marker and continued running at a slower pace. By 36 kilometres, I had to walk in the middle of Pasir Ris Park due to a slight strain on the knee. By then, the time elapsed was 4:47. In order to have enough time to complete the ultramarathon, I had to reach the halfway mark by 7:30. The 40-kilometre pit stop was located just before entering the housing estate. There was another overhead bridge at Ikea Tampines which brought us across the expressway. We ran down a relatively straight stretch of Tampines Avenue 10 and entered Bedok Reservoir Park. With just three more kilometres to go, I gave myself 11 minutes per kilometre to reach the pit stop.

    At the pit stop, I collected my Special Needs Bag and changed into a fresh set of running attire. I also managed to do some stretching and grab half a hot dog bun. After spending close to 28 minutes at the pit stop, I deposited my bag and embarked on the next half of the journey. As my legs started to hurt, I decided to walk. A few minutes later, Kelly appeared and encouraged me not to give up. By taking small steps, I was able to run for short distances and complete each kilometre in 9.5 minutes. At 72 kilometres, I decided to walk for the rest of the journey due to the strain on my knee. Indeed, I felt a sense of loneliness as the Changi Coastal Road stretch. However, volunteers cheered on as they rode their bicycles up and down the course. By the 80-kilometre mark, it was already past 7 am.

    Upon entering East Coast Park, I could feel the heat from the sun. It was indeed a long and tiring stretch, and I aimed to leave the place by 9.30 am by walking at 11 minutes per kilometre. I had to consume lots of water in order to keep myself hydrated. For the last 7.5 kilometres, there was an underpass and an overhead bridge to conquer. Although my knees started to ache further, I increased my pace slightly and managed to overtake a few people. At the 98-kilometre mark, Marina Barrage was in sight. While it appeared near, it took me 18:36 to reach the end point.

    After crossing the barrage, we had to run up the slope before crossing the finish line, where we were presented with a finisher T-shirt, medal and towel. Also, runners were given a bottle of mineral water and isotonic drink.

    Throughout the entire route, supporters were constantly cheering. For the 100-kilometre ultramarathon, runners were encouraged to bring their own source of hydration as pit stops were located at every 10 kilometre or so. At each pit stop, I refilled my water bottle with mineral water and grabbed some food such as muffins, cookies and raisins. And I was glad I chose a 1-litre bottle instead of a 600 ml bottle, given that the last 20-kilometre stretch was somewhat hot.

    Many thanks to Alvin and Kelly for pacing me, as well as to friends who gave words of encouragement during the run!

  • 29May

    This morning marks the completion of my third full marathon, with a net timing of 4 hours 52 minutes. This time, the organisers decided to bring forward the starting time by two hours to 10 pm, making it inconvenient for participants to leave the event venue after the race. Getting to the event site at Changi Exhibition Centre took quite some time, as the traffic congestion started building up all the way to Changi Village. Earlier editions of the Sundown marathon started at Changi Village instead.

    Before the flag off, participants were dazzled by colourful strobe lights at the starting point. However, I would probably end up dizzy if these flashes continued! The race started in front of Changi Exhibition Centre, and brought participants through a relatively flat Changi Coastal Road and East Coast Park. Other than the first and last three kilometres, the scenery mainly comprised trees and cyclists. This made the route somewhat boring, especially in comparison with Sundown Marathon 2009 – which included urban and physical obstacles such as overhead bridges in the second half and undulating terrain near the end.

    The weather was somewhat warm and humid, which can be felt along Changi Coastal Road. Water points were conveniently located every two kilometres apart, with signs reading ‘Hydration Station Ahead’ placed some 200 metres before the station. This time, participants may miss the energy gel station as it was located in a dark zone after a bend without any sponsor banners. Towards the end of the route, some volunteers (who reported to the site as early as 4 pm) were already sitting down or lying flat on the ground to catch some rest after standing for more than ten hours. However, as the starting times for the different categories were staggered, there was no congestion encountered.

    This year, the race pack – coupled with the increase in race fees – made the entire event rather disappointing. It also made it seemingly and excessively profit-orientated. Other than a running singlet, the drawing block-sized bag was filled with promotional leaflets. On the website, it states that ’42KM Marathon Participants will receive a race kit bag containing an exclusive New Balance Event Singlet and other goodies.’ It seems that other goodies refer to the pieces of paper. Clearly, the organiser was cutting costs in order to maximise their profits as far as possible. Compared to the Standard Chartered Marathon series, the quality of the Sundown Marathon could be improved upon.

  • 10Apr

    The 2XU Compression Run 2011 was held on 10 April in Singapore’s Central Business District. The 12-kilometre run brought participants to places such as the Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands. The race was flagged off at the F1 track next to the Singapore Flyer at 6:55 am.

    Participants first headed north towards Republic Avenue and into Kallang Road, making a turn into Kallang Riverside Park at the 3-kilometre mark and back to the Singapore Flyer. Up next was a right turn to the Floating Platform and subsequently the Esplanade. Yes, the bright red Merlion Hotel was also spotted along the route. This is followed by a left turn into Marina Boulevard and towards the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

    Before realising it, there was a flight of steps ahead leading up to the Helix Bridge. At the 10-kilometre mark under the Helix Bridge, participants were running in both directions along a narrow path – and with a number of them cutting across to the other lane – for an entire kilometre. This left many runners on the return route to run across a rough path filled with pebbles. The race officials should have used barricades instead of orange cones.

    There were a total of six water points along the route. Despite the slight drizzle midway through the run, participants continued running towards the finish point, which was at the Singapore Flyer. My timing for this run was approximately 1:01.

  • 05Dec

    I have completed the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 held this morning, with a net time of 4:21:55. This is my second full marathon, with the previous being the Adidas Sundown Marathon 2009.

    To give an overview of the full marathon route, I would divide it into four sections.

    Starting in front of Wisma Atria, we ran down Orchard Road and Penang Road, then into Fort Canning Tunnel. This first stretch was rather comfortable as not much overtaking was required. The runners were grouped into pens, based on their estimated completion time. Next, we headed south towards Maxwell Food Court via New Bridge Road, which was the four-kilometre mark. We proceeded to cross the Esplanade Bridge, towards the Marina Bay Floating Platform, the Singapore Flyer and the F1 Pit Building. The eight-kilometre mark was at the end of the F1 Pit Building. This was followed by a straight run down Republic Avenue, Nicoll Highway, Mountbatten Road and Fort Road. For this 12-kilometre stretch, there were as many as five water points.

    The next section is a run through East Coast Park, one of the favourite places where local races are held. This was a long 18-kilometre stretch nevertheless. When I entered, the sky was still dark, but when I left, the sun was already up in the sky. After a left turn into East Coast Park, we ran past Amber Beacon, Playground @ Big Splash, East Coast Lagoon and Bedok Jetty. Due to the width of the cycling and running tracks, there was little overcrowding. The turning point was somewhere in Area G. Just to add, I almost collided with a big dog which abruptly changed its course of movement.

    For the next stretch, we ran alongside the construction site for the Marina Coastal Expressway. As this area was less shady due to the lack of trees, together with the possible effect of aches and cramps, many runners around me were brisk-walking, or simply walking. We ran past the Marina Bay Golf Course. One of the highlight of the marathon route was running across the Marina Barrage, which was rather scenic. We then proceeded towards Marina Mall, which gave a slight reprieve of the scorching heat from the sun.

    The last stretch was probably one of the most challenging parts of the full marathon route. First, runners from the 10-kilometre category merged into one lane, where many of them were walking, talking on their mobile phones, eating sandwich, chatting with the person next to them and forming a barricade, blocking the way. After a right turn, we made a slight ascent up the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, where the two leftmost lanes were cordoned off. To make things worse, runners from the half marathon category joined the human jam just before the 38-kilometre mark. Honestly, it was rather difficult, or near impossible, to overtake. One suggestion would be to separate the three different categories, or at the least have race marshals directing those who are not running to both sides. It was similar for the last few kilometres, but things changed for the better after a left turn at the Esplanade. We continued to run towards The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and across Anderson Bridge. The final sprint was alongside the Padang, similar to the Safra Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon.

    On the whole, the marathon was well-planned. Of course, the congestion problem for the last four kilometres can be improved. Just a side note, the distance markers seemed to be quite different from that as indicated on the map. For example, the 21-kilometre mark was after the turning point on the map, but before the turning point in reality. Also, it reads 34 kilometres on the map while a 35 kilometre sign stands at the end of Marina Barrage.

    Next year, I will be participating in the Sundown Marathon 2011 full marathon and 100-kilometre Sundown Ultramarathon 2011.

  • 21Nov

    This morning, I participated in Run for Hope Singapore 2010, which is a charity run in support of National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS). The 10-kilometre run was held at East Coast Park, Angsana Green near Carpark E2. As the flag-off timing was at 7:45 am, the second half of the route was rather hot.

    Today’s route was rather congested as many started out slowly. As no official timing is given, my watch recorded a timing of 48 minutes 19 seconds. However, the estimated distance for the route was 9.2 kilometres. Nevertheless, this was certainly a meaningful run, since it is in support of cancer research.

    Up next on my list would be the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2010, which would start from the popular shopping district Orchard. The 42-kilometre route passes through the Marina Bay area, Mountbatten Road and East Coast Park.

    Map Illustration by Run for Hope Singapore