The Great Relay Singapore: A Short Fun Run with Vlad Ixel and Eti Rodriguez

For the past two weeks, Australian trail runners Vlad Ixel and Eti Rodriguez were in town – to organise The Great Relay, a trail ultra relay which will take place on 13 June.

A group photo before the short run. Credit: Ming Ham

A group photo before the short run.
Credit: Ming Ham

At the same time, they were also interacting with the local running community in Singapore. And after their observations over the previous couple of weeks, Ixel and Rodriguez felt that the Singapore running community is very close-knit and the amount of kinship amongst runners is completely different to anything that they have seen in Hong Kong and Australia – even though there is a far larger running community there.

Both are accomplished trail runners

Both of the organisers are accomplished trail runners and have multiple podium finishes to their name. Ixel, a well-known vegetarian ultra runner around the region, has won events such as the TransLantau 100km in Hong Kong in March this year, as well as The North Face Singapore 100km in 2014.

Rodriguez emerged champion in The North Face Singapore 50km in both 2013 and 2014 as well as the Stampede 50km event in New Zealand in 2014.

The runners are on their way. Credit: Ming Ham

The runners are on their way.
Credit: Ming Ham

Organised a short run for the local running community

Last night, Ixel and Rodriguez , both from Perth, but who are now living in Hong Kong, organised a short fun run, of about six kilometres – to share tips and feedback with local runners. They also used this session to interact with the local running community and help local runners to get to know each other and to make like-minded friends. Not surprisingly, both Ixel and Rodriguez  were hounded by requests for photos and even autographs, before as well as after the fun run!

Scenic running route around Marina Bay

The running route commenced and ended at the Marina Bay City Gallery and took the participants through a scenic waterfront route – past the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and then through the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage – before heading back to the starting point.

This particular route had been familiar to Ixel and Rodriguez as they have been doing scenic runs around the Marina Bay area during their two-week stay in Singapore. Their own runs though, usually commenced around Clarke Quay, (where they were based whilst in Singapore) before they headed off in the direction of Marina Bay.

Running past the beautiful Marina Bay Sands.

Running past the beautiful Marina Bay Sands. Credit: Ming Ham

During the run, Ixel observed that while there were plenty of runners pounding the pavements after work at the Marina Bay area, he felt that many of them appeared to be taking it too easy and staying within their comfort zone – rather than pushing their limits. According to Ixel, if you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re running, you aren’t going to make any improvements.

Ixel thinks Singapore is too flat

Ixel has just one gripe about running in Singapore, and that is, the city is too flat – otherwise, he admitted that he would not mind coming to Singapore to live, as our island nation is always so clean and green. Quipped Ixel jokingly, “They should introduce some hills in Singapore – even man-made ones! Singapore is always building high-rise condos and shopping centres, so why not build some hills too?”

As well, when we were pounding the pavement, we also had the opportunity to talk to Ixel and Rodriguez about running. Here are the main highlights of what they told us.

Ixel needs plenty of calories to supplement his activities

We found out that Ixel can eat about seven to eight bananas with peanut butter – in a single meal, and on top of this, a salad large enough to fill a family of four. And when eating out in Singapore, he can eat up to four main courses within a single sitting. According to Rodriguez , Ixel consumes an average of about 5,000 calories per day. But on the other hand, with the amount of running and training that he does, the runner certainly needs the energy to supplement his highly physically demanding activities – compared to the average office worker.

For vegetarian meals in Singapore, Ixel recommended the Genesis Vegetarian Health Foods Restaurant, which has a branch in the Clarke Quay area. Laughed Ixel, “The food there is so good that Rodriguez  and I have been eating there every day!”

Eti (in black) leading runners past the beautiful Marina Bay waterfront. Credit: Ming Ham

Eti (in black) leading runners past the beautiful Marina Bay waterfront.
Credit: Ming Ham

Ixel tries to stay away from gluten

However that said, he always tries to stay away from gluten, citing it as his No 1 enemy. When Ixel first moved to Hong Kong, he was eating a lot of bread (which contains gluten) as there are so many Asian-style bakeries in the country that he was unable to resist at first. But he said that he often felt tired as a result of this. So he stopped eating the bread – and has felt much better and more energetic as a result of this.

To Ixel, eating gluten is like an addiction to many people. But if you stay away from gluten, you are turning off your gluten gene, and you will start to get a gluten intolerance when you try to eat it again though. And to Ixel, perhaps this might be a good thing after all!

Should cut down on milk

At the same time, he also recommended that everyone should cut down on drinking cow’s milk. This is because cow’s milk contains casein (a type of protein) and lactose, which he feels are not very healthy for the human body. Added Ixel, “Also, humans are the only species that I know, that drinks the milk of another species right into adulthood.”

Instead, Ixel suggests that you should get your calcium intake from non-animal milk versions, such as soya, almond and rice milk. His personal favourite is soya milk because he loves the taste of it.

With Vlad and Eti. Credit: Ming Ham

With Vlad and Eti.
Credit: Ming Ham

Ixel eats after his races, not during them

Despite Ixel’s huge appetites though, he doesn’t consume much food when he is out running on the trails – and especially during his ultra races. At most, he will consume two or three energy gels and some water or isotonic beverages. Said Ixel, “I don’t eat and drink much when I run. But after I am done with the race, I will overload myself with food and water – and eat till I am stuffed – because my body will need the nutrients from the food to recover.” Consuming energy gels are important to him though, because of the caffeine content in them, which will keep him awake during his long races.

“And during my first 100km race, I consumed 20 gels.  I finished the race at 1am in the morning – and could not go to sleep after that, because of the caffeine overdose!” Ixel quipped, laughing.

Goodbye Singapore

Ixel and Rodriguez flew back to Hong Kong this morning at 6am. So with the run and last-minute packing, I’m sure they didn’t get much sleep last night!

Vlad and Eti share a joke between themselves.

Vlad and Eti share a joke

For more information and to sign up for The Great Relay Singapore, which takes place on 13 June, check out the website at

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