The inaugural Singapore Green Race Ultra Challenge was hot but scenic

The inaugural Singapore edition of the Green Race Ultra Challenge took place today.

Organised in conjunction with “The Green Race Hong Kong”, the race had been billed as one of the most toughest and gruelling races in Singapore and was meant to test runners both physically and mentally.

Ready... Steady... Go!

Ready… Steady… Go!

Scenic trails amidst a challenging 9.3km route

Beginning at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the race required runners to complete as many rounds of the 9.3km trail route as they could, within a time frame of eight hours. However, for those who preferred not to tackle ultra distances, there were One Loop and Two Loop categories available as well.

The running route took runners through the most scenic trails of Singapore, and this had included portions of the Green Corridor, Berlukar Hills and Kampong Trails. About 350 runners took part in the race altogether.

Runners strike a pose for the camera.

Organisers strike a pose for the camera.

Said Farhan Hamdi, 25, from the race organising committee, “Though NParks had a restriction of 400 runners due to space constraints, we thought we would still go ahead as we loved the route. We want people to explore Bukit Timah. When you mention trails in Singapore, most people think of MacRitchie Reservoir. They do not usually venture to Bukit Timah.”

He added, “But this area has some of the finest and most well maintained trails in Singapore and as trail runners ourselves, we felt that the onus is on us, to get more Singaporeans to come and experience this natural beauty for themselves, by coming to run or hike at the Bukit Timah trails.”

Heading past the iconic Bukit Timah railway tracks.

A runner heading past the iconic Bukit Timah railway tracks.

Runners found the race challenging

Runners taking part in the event, found the race quite challenging. Said Joe Ryan Casuga, 37, an Engineering Manager in the SemiConductor Industry who had just completed his fifth loop, “The toughest part of this run was definitely the Singapore heat and humidity. There was no shade or anything during some areas of the route.”

No matter how tired I am... I must strike a pose for the camera!

“No matter how tired I am… I must strike a pose for the camera!”

Agreed Sam Gibbins, 30, a General Manager at a Training and Consulting Company, “The most challenging part was definitely the first 3km of the 9.3km loop, where it was very hot and there had been no shade even though it was very flat. The humidity was OK though.”

Added Gibbins, who had just been about to call it a day after completing his fifth loop, “The logistics and hydration was great – there was plenty of water and 100Plus, as well as watermelons and bananas to eat. The volunteer point was also well manned and the volunteers were extremely helpful. I also brought my own hydration so that was fine, despite the heat.”

Cooling down with ice water in between loops.

Cooling down with ice water in between loops.

And Gibbins, who usually runs at East Coast Park, admitted that it was much more interesting to run on the trails – as compared to the park connectors, which he usually frequents for his morning runs. He said, “It is really good to run around here – usually I run at East Coast Park, so coming here for a run makes it so much more interesting despite the challenges.”

The route was interesting

Watermelons were just one of the many food items available onsite.

Watermelons were just one of the many food items available onsite.

50-year-old Eustaquio Santinamo, a Software Developer in the IT industry who had finished his third loop, felt that the race route itself had been very interesting. He said “The route had been put together in a decent way which made it interesting and they did not have a lot of boring and mundane stretches which I liked.”

At the same time, Santinamo also liked the idea of runners being encouraged to bring their own bottles to the race. He said, “This is a good thing because it means that you do not have a lot of waste left behind at the race site.”

A runner and her baby.

A young supporter and his mummy having fun at the race.

Agreeing with him was 59-year-old Michael Parker, working in Finance Media. Said Parker, who had completed his third loop and was aiming to do a couple more, “This was just a run to me and I came down to have fun, rather than treating it like a race. But I must admit that the scenery was really good – when I was running I missed half of it, but then I walked the third loop, it took me ages to complete it because I was stopping to take photos the whole time.”

He added, “I also thought the organisation and logistics were fabulous – the checkpoint was fully stocked with water and the volunteers were still there to help even though it was quite late into the afternoon. The organisation may be quite low-tech, but it worked, and it is obvious they had put a lot of thought into putting this race together.”

Running excites them.

Running excites them.

Agreed Linus Leong, 37, a Business Director at a digital media firm, “I have done marathons before but this was the first time that I was doing an ultra race – and I thought the going had been tough, but I was impressed with the organisation and logistics though, and the Bukit Timah trails were also a nice place to come to.”

He added, “The medal is quite interesting too and I really liked the ‘green’ touch when I saw it – how often do you get a wooden medal?”

A runner wears the race medal around his neck.

Top runner, Marcus Ong (right), taking a photo break with one of the organisers, Farhan Hamdi.

The organisers are pleased with the race

The organisers were quite pleased with how the race went. Said Hamdi, “We were happy with the event and have been pretty amazed with the reception from the runners. Think that the main highlight for many of the runners, was crossing the finishing line and seeing all their friends waiting for them at the end point. For them to take time off on a Saturday morning to support this event essentially sums up the spirt of running an ultra race.”

The Green Corridor trails are scenic and beautiful.

The Green Corridor trails are scenic and beautiful.

He continued, “In the future though, we would love to have zero waste generated from this whole event. This would mean recycling and reusing everything so that we can truly live up to the event’s name of The Green Race. Even the discarded banana peels from the runners can be recycled and used as organic waste fertiliser.”

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