Sunday, January 27, 2013

Green Corridor Run

We're all winners
This morning, I got up early for the inaugural Green Corridor Run in Singapore.

The race is on what used to be the railway track from Singapore to Malaysia. The course starts at the Tanjong Pagar railway station, which is suspiciously well-maintained for a building that hasn't been used for years. Well, I suppose that's because I'm British, so the assumption is that any railway station that hasn't been used for a year will be full of broken glass, heroin addicts and graffiti, all of which are too untidy for Singapore. It felt more like we were standing in the set of a tropical Harry Potter story, and at any moment a spectral locomotive would roll over the freshly-cut grass and crush all the runners.

Sensibly, the race started at 7:15 in the morning. Only a masochist or an idiot would go out running when the sun was fully up. However, that meant that at the start the organisers couldn't play any music to encourage everyone, for fear of disturbing the residents.

I found that a bit ridiculous. If Singapore's residents are really that bothered about noise in the morning, how come every morning for the first six months we were woken up at six a.m. by a woman screaming the same phrase over and over again? Or kept up at night by nocturnal building work, or the blasts of music from the Hindu temples? I've got used to all this noise and I don't really mind if somebody wants to get out of bed early for trumpet practise, but it seems a bit wierd to think the people near Tanjong Pagar (and the expressway adjacent) would really be that bothered by a bit of noise.

In any case, at 7 a.m. they gave the microphone to somebody to cajole the runners at full volume, so perhaps they weren't sincere about disturbing the locals either.

The race went off in three waves. Because I'd got up at 6 and walked down to the start on time, I was in the first wave, for the people who could run the 10 km course in under an hour. Unfortunately, either some people radically underestimated the distance, overestimated their speed, or just got there much too early, because I started just behind a gang of yellow-t-shirted sexagenerians, who started walking as soon as the start flag was waved. The first kilometre was thus pretty hard going, as you spent nearly as much time veering sideways to get past people as you did to going forwards.

The course had threatened to be very hilly - the course profile published on the organisers' website promised big climbs, but then I should have realised that Singapore's lack of mountains meant they'd never be that big. It had also promised to be very muddy, but disappointingly, all the muddy sections had been covered over with large plywood boards. I've got a pair of Salomon shoes with a deep tread and secure fastenings, and as such I'd been looking forward to overtaking people who'd ended up suddenly barefoot when the quagmire had sucked their shoes away, or who were sliding across the mud without control. Ah well, next time. I did get to the finish line with red clay caked on my shoes, but I'd been prepared for arriving covered in mud from waist to toe. Damn that lack of rain.

After the first kilometre, I settled into a pretty level pace, doing about 4:45 per k. That was much slower than the 10k I did in Seattle last week, but then it was nice and cold there, rather than wet and hot, and instead of being the fourth fastest guy on the trail, I had a lot more people to negotiate. I had a bit of a battle with a guy dressed all in black from the third k until about 7 k, and then hit my stride going downhill and lost him. By the ninth kilometre I was ready to step up a gear, and I really hammered the last k: my watch told me it took me 4 minutes to clear it. If only I could have run that pace throughout, but that would probably have been brave rather than sensible.

Coming into the finish line, I almost overtook one last runner, but I think he heard the roar of me trying to breath through my every orifice and upped his pace in the last 100 metres. I must try to be more stealthy in future.

47:48 isn't my fastest 10k time ever (or even this month) but, given this wasn't a race I was training for seriously (it's a warm up for the 5k time trial at the MacRitchie Reservoir next Sunday) I'm not unhappy about that. I just wanted to come in at under 50 minutes and I managed that comfortably. A nice, easy week is ahead of me and then I want to crack 22 minutes for the 5k (which I think should be doable, based on doing 22:09 on the 6th).


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