The Newton Challenge, organised by Pink Apple Events, took place this morning at the Marina Barrage with two distance categories, 32km and 21km.
I took part in the 32km event which had flagged off at the wee hour of 4.30 in the morning.
Getting to the Marina Barrage
Due to the lack of public transport at this time of the morning, I took a cab to the race site and reached the Marina Barrage with plenty of time to spare. As it had been raining the previous night, the weather had been pleasant and cooling in the early morning. Fortunately the predicted pre-dawn thunderstorms did not materialise!
However runners who had driven to the race site had found the carparks to be closed. Said Lars Fischer, 47, a software director, “The thing that had surprised me was that they had closed the carparks at the Marina Barrage. I had no idea why – so everyone had to park quite far away as a result.”
Some runners also felt that the queues at the pre-race baggage deposit had been quite long when they had got there, but for me, I personally did not have any issues with this.
I headed to the start line, at about 4.15am and gingerly made my way past the crowds in order to get a good spot.
Walk up the Barrage slope to reach the start line
However I must admit that I was quite surprised that in order to get to the start line, runners had to make a complete round of the Marina barrage and then had to walk up the slope, and about three quarters of the way down it.
I noted that this had been the first time that we had to actually walk up the slope to get to the start line in any running event in Singapore – but then the organisers may have thought it would have been good to get the muscles of runners moving, in this way!
Other runners who had taken part in the event had felt that the pre-race signage to direct them to the starting line was quite poor; for me I didn’t really think about it though – I had merely followed the crowd.
Added Heather Defreitas, 37, an equity fund accountant, “The start signage wasn’t very good and the sign for the baggage checks was not in the correct location.”
Time to run
After a few announcements and short interviews with a few of the potential podium finishers such as Mok Ying Ren and Jenny Huang, by the organisers, the first wave had started quite promptly at 4.30am.
I later found out that Mok and Huang had subsequently won their respective categories.
The race route was rather simple. It was from the marina barrage, heading through the Gardens by the Bay and the coastal park connector and finally running towards the popular East Coast Park. We headed all the way to the National Sailing club at East Coast Park before making a u-turn and heading all the way back the same way that we had come.
A Good Run
I thought the first few kilometres went by quite well. I maintained a comfortable pace, keeping my heart rate in the easy zone. The plan had been not to make a move till the halfway point.
Running together with many other runners along the coastal park connector linking Marina Barrage to East Coast Park in the wee hours of the morning, this was quite relaxing and coupled with the lovely scenery, this was a part of the race that I had rather enjoyed.
Thankfully the race had not been overly crowded, so the run was manageable and I did not encounter any bottlenecks.
Added Defreitas, “The course was good and not congested.”
East Coast Park is also rather flat, so running through there had been quite manageable, and at the same time, scenic, thanks to the pretty sea views.
Added Celine Fadnes, a 31 year old lawyer who participated in the 21km race – which also shares a rather similar route through the Marina Barrage and East Coast Park, “The scenery at East Coast Park was fantastic and running by Marina Barrage was beautiful too.”
Throughout the race, we were kept well hydrated with plenty of ice cold isotonic drinks and water, so I could be thankful for that.
Some runners however, had felt that there could have been bananas and gels provided to the participants en route, though.
Picking up the pace
At about 20km into the race, I picked up the pace. My legs were not feeling too bad at this point, but it was also around this mark of the race that it seemed as though the kilometre markers were beginning to feel very far apart!
Thankfully though, I managed to keep on going though, despite the fact that I had been tempted to stop several times along the way… including taking a pit stop at the Marine Cove McDonald’s outlet, which I noticed, had been open for breakfast.
The Dreaded Slope
The worst was yet to come though. Upon reaching Marina Barrage again, at the 27km mark of the race, we were required to climb the barrage slope.
Added Fischer, “This was the biggest challenge especially towards the end of the race when you were already worn out and then you have to run uphill for 500 metres.”
Not wanting to lose my momentum and end up walking, I maintained a slow jog during this portion of my run.
Defreitas, however, had begged to differ about the slope. She said, “The slope was ok… but that’s because I knew there was a downhill at the other side.”
I slowly picked the pace up again after conquering the slope and tried to maintain this pace till the end.
Weather was cool
Thankfully the weather had continued to remain rather cool, so that helped me substantially.
Agreed Fischer, “Today there was no sun and that was good because it is the enemy for runners. The route and scenery overall was great though.”
At times I could feel myself slowing down a bit, and I stopped for brief water breaks at the hydration stations, towards the end. It was quite depressing though, to have to loop towards the Flower Dome and the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall for another 5km after reaching the end point, the Marina Barrage, but the thought of the food that was waiting for me at the end point, had kept me going.
The End Point
Soon enough the end point loomed. I increased the pace a bit and headed past the finishing line, completely exhausted but very relieved at the same time.
We were handed an ice-cold bottle of Pocari Sweat isotonic drink, together with our finisher tee shirt and race medal, upon completion. I spent some time downing the hard-earned bottle of drink and caught up with some friends before queueing up for the food.
Queueing for the food
Though the queue was long, at least it moved quite fast. And like all running races organised by Pink Apple Events, there was a variety of food available to runners and these included a main course of either fried rice and bee hoon, as well as snacks such as ice cream, bananas and Tau Foo Fah (soft beancurd dessert).
However unlike the previous years though, runners had to queue up for all of the food items and their bibs would then be marked once they picked up their items. In earlier editions of the Newton Challenge, there was no marking of bibs when collecting snack items.
The fried rice, which had come together with egg and chicken nuggets, tasted quite delicious… but maybe that was because I had been quite hungry after the long run.
Well Organised Run
Overall, runners had thought that the race had been rather well organised. Said Fischer, “It was a great run. The running conditions were good and the organisation was great. We run at Marina Bay area quite often and it is always nice to do a race here.”
Added Defreitas, “The organisation and logistics were good. But if I had to name any improvements, I think that the front guys may have gone the wrong way on the 32km route; but I didn’t have any issues though.”