The haze, which has been plaguing Singapore since the beginning of September, had fortunately did a disappearing act early this morning. So on its 10th anniversary, the Great Eastern Women’s Run 2015 managed to take place, with three adult categories – a 21.1km and 10km competitive runs, a 5km Fun Run as well as a brand new category – the 100m Princess Dash for little girls under 12 years old.
The inaugural Princess Dash participants certainly had a whale of a time. Said Ang Siew Hoon, parent of soon-to-be four-year-old Princess Dash participant, Emma Loh, “The Princess theme appealed to the little girls and it was obvious that all the kids had plenty of fun. It’s not every day that girls get to dress up for activities like this, and the smiles as they tore down the first stretch together, was priceless.”
A record number of participants
A record number of 17,000 women altogether, had signed up altogether to participate in this iconic running event – which is Asia’s largest Women’s Only Half Marathon running event.
Said Minister Grace Fu, the Guest of Honour of the event, who flagged off and took part in the 10km category, “I am very happy to see that the scale of the Run has increased tremendously. I think Great Eastern Women’s Run has been a very attractive event for women, and I will like to continue to encourage women to adopt a healthy lifestyle because that will really help build a much better life for them.”
As for myself, I had taken part in the 21.1km race.
Epic Rugby World Cup Final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies before the race
I admit that I didn’t get much sleep at all before the run.
This had been because the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia – an epic classic match that I simply could not miss – had kicked off at midnight prior to the race. As an All Blacks fan, there had been absolutely no chance of being able to sleep right through this match.
So I headed down to a nearby bar with my rugby kakis to catch the Final. And when the game finished – with the All Blacks winning 34-17 to my delight, to be crowned the champions of the world – I went home to grab a quick breakfast. I also managed to get about half an hour of shut-eye before making my way to The Float @ Marina Bay for the early 5.30am race flag-off.
Wasn’t sleepy yet upon reaching the race village
When I reached the race village at 4.30am and deposited my bag, I didn’t feel too sleepy yet though. This was possibly because the earlier rugby game, as well as the pre-race adrenaline had kept me alert. At the same time, the coffee that I had drank in the morning was also working its wonders at keeping me awake.
I had about an hour to kill before flag-off so I queued up to use the ladies and catch my breath before making my way into the starting pen at roughly 5.00am.
While there, I bumped into my friend Carol Cunningham, who used to organise the East Coast Park parkrun. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time, so we took a few selfies and chit-chatted before the starting horn blew.
At this point, the adrenaline and the bubbly emcees were still keeping me alert.
Time for flag-off
Before I knew it though, 5.30am came and it was then time to run. The elite runners were flagged off in the first wave, and the rest of us mortals were subsequently unleashed about five minutes later.
I must say that the first few kilometres of my race went quite well. I was maintaining a good pace and had been on track to break my personal best. At the water stations, I didn’t stop for too long. Instead, at each one, I would grab a cup of either water or isotonic drink and would try to slowly sip it, while running.
At the same time, the scenery was also nice. Though it had been slightly dark, the starting point facing the Singapore Flyer was pretty peaceful and serene. Also, we passed by The Concourse and the Golden Mile shopping centre, as well as the Kallang River during the early stages of the race and this had been pretty awesome.
Bad case of cramps in the lower chest area
I kept up my pace until roughly the 8km mark – when I found myself getting a bad case of cramps in my lower chest area. I decided to stop and tried to catch my breath, in the hope that these cramps would go away.
They didn’t. Though they did appear to go off when I had stopped for a short rest or reduced myself to walking, but they came back when I had started to push the pace again.
I soon realised that when I slowed down to a jog though, I found that the cramps were still there, but were more bearable than before possibly due to the reduction in pace. So for the remaining 13km of the race, I focused on keeping the pace slow and didn’t push too hard. I could see my aspirations of running a personal best flying completely out of the window, but then again, it was more important to complete the race in one piece, rather than to run a good timing.
The only banana station along the 21.1km route was at 14km into the race. I had thought of stopping to munch on one, but I wasn’t sure if that would make things worse, so I decided against it, choosing instead to take some isotonic drinks to give myself energy. It was also here that I took an energy gel, as I had hoped this would energise me for the rest of the race.
Quite shiok to run up the iconic Jubilee Bridge
At the same time, I once again used the scenery to take my mind off my cramps. This pretty much worked when we passed the Gardens by the Bay and the ArtScience Museum.
When I reached the 17km to 18km mark, a group of male runners were waiting there, to cheer us ladies on. This was quite meaningful as it shows that the local running community is really supportive of each other.
Running up the Jubilee Bridge – which was in the final kilometre of the race had also been something that I was particularly looking forward to as this was the first time that runners would get to do so at the Great Eastern Women’s Run. And running up the bridge was a pretty cool feeling – especially when I passed by the iconic Fullerton Merlion spurting out water.
And this was definitely a nice end to my 21.1km run – as I saw the finishing line up ahead, as mere moments later. I knew that it would definitely be a relief to complete the race soon, as it would put an end to my cramps.
Completing the run and enjoying the post-race carnival
Upon completing my run, I received a banana, sparkling water and a can of 100PLUS, in addition to the 21.1km finisher entitlement of a tee and a medal.
I also caught up with other friends and at the same time, got to enjoy the festivities galore at the Great Eastern Women’s Run race carnival. There were plenty of food available for runners, such as hotdogs, muffins and apples, as well as complimentary cactus-flavoured fruit juice and Magnolia milk. I thought this was very generous of the organisers.
The “Look Good, Live Great” powder room was also made available for the runners who wished to freshen themselves up after their run. A perennial crowd favourite each year, this is a nice feature for a women’s race, and showed that the organisers really do think of the female runners, in the planning of this event.
And media participants and guests were able to help themselves to food available at the VIP tent, where there was a catered buffet available. Types of items had included fish fingers, bee hoon and fruit tarts. Coffee, tea and fruit punch was also available to quench our thirst.
For the kids, there was a separate area of fun and games, which included a bouncy castle and a tutu decoration booth, as well as popcorn and candy floss.
Overall, this had really been a wonderful race experience – my cramps aside – and I must say that once again, I had so much fun.
Great Eastern Life is pleased with the record turnout
Said Dr Khoo Kah Siang, CEO (Singapore), Great Eastern Life, “We are extremely pleased with the record turnout of women of all ages for this special milestone year. As a LIFE company, Great Eastern is delighted to empower women through our signature Run and future fuel their zest for life.”
Wearing colourful tutus for a cause
Besides taking part in the run and enjoying the post-race festivities, women also got the chance at this year’s edition of the event, to don colourful tutus, in support of three women-related charities. These were the Breast Cancer Foundation, Community Chest (Children with Special Needs) and the SingHealth Duke-NUS OBIGYN Academic Clinical Programme. To get a tutu, participants had to make a minimum $5 donation to the charity of their choice.
Said Dr Khoo, “We are equally delighted to leverage the Run to raise a record of $120,000 for three laudable causes. I applaud the participants for their commitment for healthy living through running. On Great Eastern’s part, we will continue to make a meaningful difference to the community.”
Winners of Great Eastern Women’s Run 2015
The Half Marathon (21.1km) Elite Open category was won by 18-year-old North Korean Kim Ji Hyang, with a timing of 1 hour 12 minutes and 53 seconds.
On her win, Kim said, “Of course I am happy to win but I didn’t expect to be first. There were stronger competitors today, such as the Japanese athletes. So this win is really unexpected. I am happy to bring home the gold medal for my people and my leader. This is my first time running in Singapore and the route allowed me to see how beautiful Singapore is.”
Coming in a close second was Japanese runner Yuko Watanabe, aged 28, with a timing of 1 hour 16 minutes and 1 second, and rounding off the podium in third place, was Myong Sun Sin from North Korea. She finished in 1 hour 17 minutes and 6 seconds.
In the Local Elite Closed category, Vivian Tang emerged as the winner, with a timing of 1 hour 28 minutes and 37 seconds.
On her win, she said “I wasn’t expecting to win. I thought I would finish either second or third. I am happy with my win! The route was challenging but the weather was great, though. This is my first time running in the 21.1km race and I am happy with this result.”
Coming in second was Rachel See, with a timing of 1 hour 28 minutes and 45 seconds, while Mok Ying Rong emerged third, finishing in 1 hour 31 minutes and 11 seconds.