This weekend, the ninth edition of the OSIM Sundown Marathon took place. Organised by HiVelocity, the race had attracted more than 27,600 runners in the four race categories – the 5km fun run, 10km competitive run, 21.1km half marathon and 42.195km full marathon.
I took part in the 42.195km full marathon, and the first wave was flagged off at 12.40am, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, at the F1 Pit Building.
Heading to the race village, meeting friends and soaking up the atmosphere
I reached the race village at about 11.00pm and since it was still early, I took a quick look around the race carnival in action, before depositing my bag at the counter.
One of the first things that I had noticed on-site, was the cage where other sporting activities, such as Basketball and Dodgeball were being played, as part of the Sundown Sports Zone, a new feature at this year’s race for both the participants and spectators.
Also, I bumped into a few friends at the race village and noticed that there was plenty of food for sale, such as buns, crackers and ice cream, as well as free candy floss and popcorn for the runners.
To conquer the sleep bug during the race, I had a coffee earlier in the evening – and it seemed to have worked. I managed to stay awake during the whole race.
Other runners also had their own ideas on how to prevent themselves falling asleep while running. Said Fraser Thompson, 37, Management Consultant, “I had a Red Bull before the run to fight sleep – it helped, and gave me wings!”
Time to Flag-Off
Soon enough, it was time for flag-off and I headed into the starting pen with a few of my friends.
We were in the fourth wave, so we were flagged off probably close to 1.00am in the morning.
Beginning was enjoyable
The beginning of the run felt quite enjoyable, with the cool night breeze blowing through, and I started at a very conservative pace, trying not to think of the sheer number of kilometres ahead of me.
Eiji Kasutani, 43, an Engineer in the IT industry, also liked the first part of the race. He said, “The start of the run was the best because that was when I was full of energy and adrenaline.”
However that said, I must also point out that the start of the race had felt a little bit overcrowded though, with quite a few people walking in front of me, from as early as the first kilometre into the marathon.
At the third kilometre marker, we had to run up the Sheares Bridge. Due to my conservative start and the fact that this was quite early on in the race, this wasn’t too bad and I found that I was still able to keep my heart rate down, by slowing my pace slightly during this climb.
The Night got more humid
However, I felt that the the night began to feel more and more humid, as the race wore on and began to perspire a lot more.
Kacutani also added, “It was very humid.”
However Thompson had begged to differ. He said, “The weather was pretty good and I thought the humidity was not too bad. I think we got lucky.”
Running through East Coast Park
We reached East Coast Park quite early on in the marathon, at the 6km mark. I run and cycle through this park quite often for training, so this had been quite a familiar part of the route for me.
The breeze and scenery at East Coast Park is also always quite nice, and I find that it’s never a place that I can get completely sick of. Even though there were so many other people running the marathon together with me early this morning, I was able to tune out and listen to my music.
This park had been Arnaud Despierre’s favourite part of the marathon too. Said the 43-year-old Headhunting Consultant, “East Coast Park was quiet and the lighting was good. It’s a place that I train at often, so I am used to it there.”
Begging to differ through was Vincent Kerbarh, 40, a Logistics Manager. He said, “East Coast Park was a challenge to me. It was boring and I had to keep focusing on going straight, and then come all the way back. I had also thought this part of the race was quite messy, with the narrow pathways and the constant U-turns around the park.”
At about 21km into the marathon, I was still feeling quite good and so I decided to pick up the pace a little, in an attempt to clock a negative splits race strategy.
The Champions League Final
A few kilometres later, I saw a large crowd gathered in a coffee shop at East Coast Park watching the live telecast of the Champions League final taking place between Spanish football rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
For a fleeting moment, I was tempted to abandon the marathon, to join the crowd and watch European football’s biggest club showpiece taking place. But then again, I knew that I would never get back to completing the marathon, if I had done so!
Furthermore, with the relatively close proximity of this place to my house, it would have been much too tempting to go home to sleep, after catching the football action…
And subsequently when I had checked the final score, Real Madrid had predictably won – on penalties, so I suppose that I had made the right decision, and didn’t really miss out on that much football, in the end!
Leaving East Coast Park
Running through East Coast Park had been more than half of the race. So when we exited the park, we were about 29km into the marathon and would now be heading back towards the F1 Pit Building.
The next few kilometres felt pretty okay, running through the Marina Bay Golf Course and I was still able to keep up my pace. This at least was an improvement from my previous marathons, when I would typically hit the wall around 27km to 30km into the race.
K5 Runners Support Station
Also, we got a pleasant surprise around the 37km point of the race. The K5 Runners had set up a support station there, with plenty of food, hydration and cheerleaders to fuel and motivate the runners. I was unable to eat much, for fear of stomach cramps, but I took some Coca-Cola and I thought this was probably the best cup of Coke that I had ever tasted.
I also had some muscle spray applied to my legs here, in an attempt to keep the leg cramps away. Though I did feel some slight cramps coming on then, they were still bearable at this stage in terms of maintaining my pace.
The Marina Barrage Slope
But there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for me, just around the corner though.
This came in the form of the infamous Marina Barrage slope and it completely destroyed my momentum.
When I saw that we were supposed to run up the slope, I was cursing to myself. It was really tough on us runners, to have to complete this part of the race after having clocked so many kilometres.
Said Kerbarh, “I did not know that we had to do the Barrage loop even though I had read the map. So this had been a rather unpleasant shock for me.”
I also think that it was this slope that completely destroyed my pacing strategies. I walked up the slope, to conserve the little amount of energy that I still had remaining, and found that it was at this stage that the leg cramps also hit me quite hard. I had been taking salt tablets and energy gels throughout the marathon and they had been a great help to me, up until this point of the race.
Agreed Kacutani, “Keeping the motivation for the last 7km of the run was really tough, especially when we had to climb up the Marina Barrage. I almost lost the motivation there.”
Scenic views of the Singapore Flyer and Gardens by the bay
After conquering Marina Barrage, I found myself walking for the next couple of kilometres though I tried to use the scenic views of Gardens by the bay and the Singapore Flyer, to take my mind off the pain and cramps that I was feeling.
Agreed Kerbarh, “It is always good to see Marina bay and to go through Gardens by the Bay in a Singapore race.”
Volunteers were great throughout the marathon
All the way throughout the marathon, I must add that the volunteers had been really great in terms of motivating us runners and they were constantly full of energy and cheering us on – despite the fact that this was supposed to be their sleeping hours.
Agreed Thompson, “The volunteers at the race were really enthusiastic and it was the best support that I have had in a Singapore race.”
He added “The logistics were also fantastic. There were lots of water stops and I thought that the race was really well organised.”
However Despierre had begged to differ though. He said, “I think that more frequent hydration stops would have been nicer. They were located 3.5km apart. Maybe 2.5km would be better because after some time, runners can get very thirsty and dry. But the cheerleaders were good, and the race was well-organised overall.”
To be honest, I also shared his sentiments, that there could have been a few more hydration stations along the route. But at least the water and 100PLUS being offered had been ice-cold though, and were able to quench my thirst.
Completing the Run
I was able to pick the pace up again in the final two kilometres by thinking about the finishing line just up ahead.
And coming back to the F1 Pit Building, which was also where the race would finish, and seeing the finish arch looming right in front of me, was probably the best feeling that I had felt, during this entire 42.195km run.
After completing the run, and collecting my finisher tee and medal, the first thing that I had wanted to do was simply to stretch out, have a good bath and go to sleep.
There was also a Grohe shower truck at the race, which runners could use upon their race completion. But in my opinion though, nothing beats having a shower at home in familiar comforts.
After catching up with some friends post-race, I headed straight home, feeling completely exhausted but fulfilled at the same time. Sleep was finally starting to catch up with me now.
And though it had threatened to, fortunately it had not actually rained during the run – though there had been a brief downpour upon my finishing. It was as though the heavens were crying with joy at seeing all of the happy marathon finishers congregating together at the F1 Pit Building.
Race Organiser was pleased with the outcome
Race organiser HiVelocity was pleased with how the race turned out. Said Adrian Mok, Director of HiVelocity Events, “We are extremely pleased with how OSIM Sundown Marathon has evolved to become one of the signature sports events in the local running scene.”
He added, “This year, we have seen a positive surge not only in numbers, but a greater outreach from the overseas communities that have expressed interest in our event. This is an indication that we are poised for regional expansion and the event will only get bigger and better in years to come.”
The 2016 edition of Sundown Marathon had seen 43 per cent of the race entrants from other countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and China, with some of the furthest participating countries being runners from the United Kingdom, Guatemala and The Netherlands.
Click Here for my interviews with the Sundown Marathon winners.