Puma Night Run 2016

27 August 2016 at the Seletar Aerospace Park

Since I’ve started to get into semi-competitive running and not just away from my problems, I might as well start jotting down my thoughts on races I’ve run. I imagine these highly-opinionated posts will be more informative than entertaining, but take from them what you will.

Here goes my first attempt at a race review. I should make it a habit to take more photos otherwise these posts are just going to be words. Anyway, if you really want photos, there are plenty of event photos online and I’ll link them here for your benefit:

RunSociety’s Flickr album

Running Shots’ Facebook albums one, two and three

The event

To keep this relevant, I’ll share some observations and my personal experience about the race as an event before commenting on my own race performance for records’ sake.

First things first, I would strongly recommend not joining races held at this venue in the middle of nowhere unless you have a very good idea of how to get there and/or don’t mind walking nearly a mile (~1.6km) from the nearest bus stop to the race village. I get that this was the first time a race has been held at this venue, but the organisers could have done far better to make sure that every runner found their way to the race village. The very limited number of shuttle buses to and from Punggol MRT required early registration and payment, unlike the free shuttle buses for the New Balance Run On but that’s another race review when I get to it.

The distance from the bus stop to the race village is nearly a mile.

I got on a bus 103 from Jalan Kayu, and Google Maps told me to alight after 3 stops at the bus stop titled “Before Baker Street”, but because the nearest bus stop to the race village was so far from the actual race village and there were no indications whatsoever that we should have alighted, the entire busload of neon shirted lemmings stayed on for a trip around the entire Seletar Aerospace Park. We only realised we had made a serious boo-boo when the bus crossed the causeway across the reservoir and the bus driver told us that we were well on our way to Yishun. So the entire busload of neon shirted lemmings hopped off, crossed the road and boarded a bus in the opposite direction. On our way back, we passed many more busloads of clueless runners repeating our mistake. We tried to gesticulate to them through the bus windows and we could only hope they figured out what we were trying to say in broken sign language.

Clearer instructions, signs or planting a marshall at the correct bus stop would have saved a LOT of trouble for I conservatively estimate hundreds of people (the turnout was apparently 6,000).

My bus of merry men and women made it to the correct bus stop with half an hour before the flag off, then fast marched to the race village. I got to the race village at around 5:45pm, some 15 minutes before the flag off time. When I got to the race village, I immediately checked my bag into the baggage deposit, which was well manned by cheerful volunteers who deposited each bag into a big plastic bag secured with a cable tie. It was a very efficient and safe system.

After depositing my bag, I joined the rank and file of plebeians queuing for the privilege of a port-a-potty. There were hundreds of runners queuing for only 18 port-a-potties, a severely insufficient number in my opinion. And when I finally got to empty my bowels, I was fortunate that there were several last squares of TP left. I cannot say the same for the hundreds waiting after me. They could definitely do with more toilets and make sure that those toilets are well stocked.

People mountain people sea, I hope your toilet has TP.

I tried to get a Red Bull before the race but the girls said that they would only be given out after the race. I thought this was silly as it would have been more useful before rather than after a race but I wasn’t in any mood to argue with them. Water was also unavailable (or at least I didn’t see any) and I had to hold my thirst until the first water point.

One more thing about the location of the race village. It was on a weedy and muddy field, which ruined everyone’s mood and fancy racing shoes. The organisers and runners were incredibly lucky that it didn’t rain, or the location and poor logistics would have completely torpedoed the event.

I don’t care for the pre-race warm up and hype so I didn’t pay much attention to the hype men, DJs Sonia Chew and Joakim Gomez, except to roll my eyes when Sonia called the location “awesome”.

There was only one wave each for the 12km and 6km runners, which naturally meant that anyone with shoes fancied themselves with a shot at glory and crowded the starting pen like a herd of inmates excited for yard time. As I had spent nearly half an hour queueing for the toilet, I found myself at the back of the pack twiddling my thumbs like one of those loners who arrive late and alone to a festival.

The race

When the race eventually flagged off at about 6:15pm, I spent the first kilometre jostling, weaving and sidestepping to get past the mass of bodies that would have made the Battle of Helm’s Deep look like a border skirmish. That drained a lot of energy, added a lot of unnecessary distance and was just plain frustrating. But this is a criticism I have for practically all races I take part in. Perhaps they can invite faster runners to the front next time?

After I made it out of the mob, I tried to settle into a steady 4'50" pace. This gradually flagged over the course of the race as I wasn’t used to the distance and had wasted so much energy trying to get out of the pack at the start. I was also a little tired from football the night before but that was my own damn fault.

The water points were more than sufficient, well spaced and well manned. The volunteers at the water points and cheering stations did a great job being on hand with water and encouraging runners as we ran past. One even shouted after me to apologise for missing a high-five because she was looking the other way!

From 3km to 9km, there was a kid who kept attacking, which was annoying as he was just messing up both of our pace. I let him run ahead after I grew tired of constantly braking to stop myself from running into his heels every time he attacked. This led to a very erratic pace, which kept going over and below around 4'50".

Energy wise, other than the fatigue from having played football, my legs felt alright throughout most of the race, but due to the right angled roads and unfamiliarity of the route, it was hard to time the kick properly and I finished with too much energy left in the tank. Lungs felt OK and VO2 Max was recorded at 51. Cadence was recorded at an average of 167 spm, plenty of room for improvement. I love all these stats from my new Garmin FR235!

I don’t look or feel tired enough at the finish. (Photo by Run Society)

Post race

Right after the race, I got a thorough massage from the good people at Vital Motion Fitness. I don’t usually stay for the post race entertainment so I skedaddled the one mile out of the race village to hop on a bus back to civilisation.

Overall, I think I did alright for my longest competitive race. Certainly could have done a lot better if I had started nearer the front and had fresh legs, but I knew coming into the race that I wasn’t going to give up my first Friday night football in over a year.

55:48 over 12km works out to about 4'39" pace. That’s OK for over such a long distance.

My next race will be the 42.195km / 4 Asics City Relay with Team Drexit on 24 September 2016 at the Singapore Sports Hub. I really enjoyed last year’s edition, and I’m hoping we do well again.

I’ll also be starting marathon training with Team FatBird in September to prepare for the 21km Newton Challenge on 30 October 2016. I really need to increase my cadence and endurance over longer distances.