This was not my first Singapore race: about a month ago, I ran in a 10K (Mizuno Something Or Other). It sucked, but not as badly as I thought it would. Or maybe I was just hallucinating from the heat and blacked out all the bad parts. It's definitely possible that, in my postrace jungle-humidity-drenched fever dreams, I somehow decided that I had won that race and was now invincible. At any rate, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to DO. IT. AGAIN. So I did. Only this time, I upped the ante to 12, count 'em, 12, kilometers. I know. I live on the edge. For the non-metrically inclined, that's 7.45 miles.
This race was held at MacRitchie Reservoir, which was part of the reason why I chose it: an easy way to get to see a part of the island I might not otherwise drag myself to (it is in no way close to our house and I am phenomenally lazy). It was also sponsored by Salomon, which I thought was cool because I think I used to own a pair of their shoes once. Maybe.
The morning of the race dawned: dark, damp, hot. Yes, even at 6:30 am here, it is not cool. I don't care what the locals try to tell you. The temperature here - at all hours - resembles nothing so much as being stuck in a steam room with the door locked. I was sweating before I got to the bus stop.
The following is a list of things I learned, and pithy observations I made, during this race (helpfully recorded on my iPhone on the bus ride back for posterity):
Lesson #1: When the race website says that the race will be a "trail run," this means that there will be an uninterrupted 4K of uphill on a 4-foot wide trail.
Uphill. Please note that I am not an asshole like the one I so eloquently excoriate in Lesson #9; all of these photos were taken by race photographers. So they get all the credit/blame.
Lesson #2: When the race website says that the race will be an "out-and-back," this means the race officials will not have notified hikers that there is a FREAKING RACE on the trail that morning, so in addition to running single file UP, and dodging the super-fast runners coming DOWN, the average runner (read: me and 5,000 of my new best friends) will have to navigate around curious (and delightfully slow!) day-hikers out for a morning stroll. And did I mention the 4-foot-wide trail?
Lesson #3: When the race course is described in the race packet materials as a "difficult hiking trail," it would probably be best to train on hills beforehand. At least a little. In fact, it would probably be advisable to investigate the race packet a bit sooner than the night before the race.
Lesson #4: When the race program says that the men's race starts "promptly at 7:30" and that the women's race starts "promptly at 7:35," with a firm cutoff for both of 9:30 am, what it really means is that the mens's race starts promptly at 7:30 and the women's race starts at 7:55, and oops, I guess you ladies don't have that extra half hour after all, so you'd better move your asses.
Ladies' start. Only a few minutes late...
Lesson #5: Wear a poncho, because there's a lot of close-range spitting going on up in here.
Lesson #6: Bring your own water. Apparently Singaporeans are truly accustomed to running in jungle heat, because there were only 2 water stops.
Lesson #7: When running uphill in a single-file line because the trail is too narrow for more than 1 person to run in each direction, please yield to oncoming traffic. If you do not, I WILL CRUSH YOU.
Lesson #8: When running uphill in a single-file line because the trail is too narrow for more than 1 person to run in each direction, please do not pass someone only to slow down to a walk directly in front of that person. If you do this, I WILL CRUSH YOU.
Lesson #9: When running uphill in a single-file line because the trail is too narrow for more than 1 person to run in each direction, please do not pass someone only to slow down, stop, turn around, and start taking pictures of your friends coming up the trail behind you. If you do this, I WILL CRUSH YOU.
Lesson #10: When running uphill in a single-file line because the trail is too narrow for more than 1 person to run in each direction, and if you are faster than I am, please find a way around or wait for a gap instead of elbowing me out of the way to pass me only to immediately slow down because we just came to another soul-crushing hill. If you do this, I WILL CRUSH YOU.
Lesson #11: If there is a guy with a prosthetic leg in the race with you, it is always best to sprint past him at the finish line.
Lesson #12: Bring your own water (see Lesson #6, above), bananas, energy gels, carbs, etc. for the end of the race, because although the helpful and nice race officials waste no time in handing out finisher's medals, they don't seem to put as much stock in providing sustenance for exhausted racers dragging themselves across the finish line because they pushed themselves too hard at the end sprinting past the one-legged guy. Sure, the medal is awesome, but can it cure heatstroke? If I eat my medal, will it prevent me from stripping off my shirt and wringing droplets of sweat into my mouth in a desperate (and, some might say, humiliating) attempt to replenish my sodium levels? I ask you.
Finish: nary a water bottle in sight.
All that said, however, the race volunteers were lovely and helpful and encouraging, and it was certainly a beautiful course. MacRitchie has some great trails, and I'm hoping to be able to get back there to hike (rather than run) some of them soon. I'd just rather look like THIS at the end:
Middle girl: Yeah, I'm happy and ridiculously fit! That wasn't a run, it was just me turning over in my sleep! (Coincidentally, the guy on the left is the one with the prosthetic leg.)
Ugh. Why? WHY?? Oh, the humanity! Screw it, I'm walking.
Did I mention I got a medal? Yeah, I'm cool. If you're nice to me I'll let you try it on and take inappropriate photos with it.