Monday, March 29, 2010

NTU Run Round Singapore 2010 218km: Part of History


At the starting point in NTU.

Tobias, Henry Yong

With Lynette..
Janette, Mok, and Kok Chiow

Each core runner has vehicle support...and police escort as well.

Near Kranji way
Mok receiving medical assistance at the first main checkpoint 45km.
The green rubbish can is filled with iced water. You could soak your whole body in there...
The director and Mok having a talk..but he decided to dnf.
Lim Ngee Huat...60 years and still going strong at East Coast park.

Pacing Melvin after Mountbatten..Thank god for flyovers above
Still running happily in the morning sun..
Then it was hell...

PS Sim, Melvin lee..
And the finishing...job done.

NTU ultra run of 218km is organised as part of their alumni celebration this year. Running one marathon is hard. Imagine running 5 marathons. And they would try to do it within 36 hours.

I came with the intention of seeing if I could run the whole thing. I had also looked up google street view of every single checkpoint for route familiarization. I am not so worried about food and hydration at this point. Just need to know which path to take.

Lynette Gan was gracious to provide accomodation at her house near Pasir Ris. The next saturday morning, as usual, had breakfast, and plastered some parts of the feet. Then we took an hour long MRT ride to the nearest station, and then a taxi to NTU. Met with Tobias, Henry Yong, and some new friends as well. Looks like each 9 core runner will have a support car tagging along.

8:30am, and we're off. Since it's the first checkpoint, many NTU students joined in. And as we approached the second, we're relieved from the relay runners (relay runners will run according to set timeline) and we're pretty much left with the core runners and some pacers.

At this point, it's not so hot but humid. We're running all along until Lim Ngee Huat started walking as part of his strategy of running and walking. I told tobias I'll move forward with Adrian Mok, Chua Kok Chiow, with fellow pacer Janette (champion lady of Sundown 84km). The pace was pretty fast. I felt I could keep up but was a bit worried if this is the pace all the way. Had some powerbar for refueling.

Halfway through marathon distance, the temperature went up a few notches. And we're soon drenched with sweat. It was hot, and it reminded me of IM langkawi. Now the amazing thing is, these runners didn't dropped the pace.

By marathon distance around 1pm, I was beginning to wonder if lunch is provided. The first main checkpoint is actually at 45.3km near Evans Road #15. The core runners had cold iced bath to soak their legs into it, as well as massages. Everyone was pretty fine at this time. I tried to have some bread to refuel. Soon, the other runners came along. I think the time spent at the station was half an hour.

Then it was back to running with Mok, Chua KC, and Janette. The temperature was seriously high, and my energy was low. I really felt I needed to eat something solid. Yet these guys were still going fast. I soon dropped the pace and started walking. Tobias who was pacing Ngee Huat came by. In the midst of all that, I decided to stop. I couldn't imagine going through the barren woodlands in this heat. I was also wondering why I came down here to suffer.

So I detour at Sixth Avenue off Bkt Timah Road and tried to have roti prata, and cold herbal tea. The roti tasted horrible, and I could only finish half of it. Then I gave a call to lynette saying I was bailing out. At this point I only did 48km. Then it was a long train ride back to pasir ris. My legs were still ok actually. I just cannot continue because of the heat.

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Had some sleep in the train, then more sleep back home. Now each support car has a GPS device, so we could track them real time online. So, estimated time to reach Pasir Ris station (which is quite near our place) was roughly 2am. Lynette and I headed to Tampines for some dinner. I was thinking if I should running from Pasir Ris to the end. That would be another 89km.

Back home, slept a bit more, then we hauled ourselves up at Pasir Ris drive 3. Yong yuen cheng has already went past. But we're in time for Mok and Chua KC team. And these guys were seriously fatigued, in pain, incoherent. They had just completed 129.3km. I know at this point it's the hardest. Lack of sleep will also affects one mental state.

As they went off again, I decided to paced them again. Mok and Chua KC were having some conversation of asking Chua to go first. Looks like signs of quitting for Mok, and he doesn't want to slow things down for Chua. So Chua went ahead, and I was left pacing with Mok. He told me to go ahead as well, but I mentioned I am ok pacing him. We're the only ones both running now.

From our chat, he seemed bogged down with some other issues at work, and an old injury. Signs of quitting was there. I told him if we can last until morning, we can probably make it. Then we stopped some where near changi village at around 3:40am, and he went for a nap. At 4am, he had trouble standing up cause both his legs muscles were stiff. And his body temperature was hot as well.

After sitting at the bus stop for a few minutes, he decided to call it quits. The director of the run came by for a talk with him. But try as he might, Mok can't go on. He was mentally and physically unable to move on. It was a hard and emotional decision for him.

Now, I was left all alone. Melvin lee and Lim NH already left 1 hour earlier. It was 5am now. So I started running hoping to see if I can catch them. It was night but the humidity still lingers. Running along the 9km straight airport road was tough. My only worry was water because I haven't got enough of it. Luckily I reached east coast park and there were some water. Also did the dawn prayers, before running.

It was now morning. Suddenly I saw some blinking lights ahead, and knew it was one of the support vehicle. Turns up to be Lim's car. So I decided to paced with them until Mountbatten. The pace however was very slow. It was running and walking. I really could go fast, but this was not a race. At this point, it's better to support the core runners.

At Mountbatten 161.8km, Melvin Lee's gang was already there. His feet were wrapped up in bandages for blisters, I suppose. Looks like some parts was swollen. I wondered if he can really run now. It's only another 57km.

So we continue on running. The main pacers are now Freddy and Sim PS. Freddy set us for a pace of running and walking of around 8-10 min/km. The morning turns into afternoon, and it was again hot. Amazingly Melvin could still run. He looked pretty stoked, and not much conversation except for directions and support.

The hardest and hottest part was the west coast highway. The hard part is not the distance, but the heat. This makes IM looks easy. At times I felt I could run faster. We had a stop at the final 31km for rest and food. Lynette came by with some food and drinks, and she would support us in the car until the end.

After the highway, we detour into Boon Lay area, and some parts I can't really remember because it went through housing. The last 3km, Melvin was running more consistent, and it was then back to NTU. The crowd was cheering, and he crossed the line in 33 hr 10 min.

Another 4 runners added to the list of core runners to finish. These folks are truly superb. And I was glad to be a part to witness its' dramas, high and lows, and be a part of history. Total distance for 2 days 136.93km.

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The hardest part of ultra running is putting forth your mental fortitude after your physical is gone. You're in pain, and it's a lot of pain. Blisters, fatigue, digestive system havoc, heat stroke, lack of sleep is what you have to endure to go through this. I think the toughest part is the heat. For 2 days, the same high temperature stayed.

As for myself, I've got some hot spots on the feet, 1 blister but legs are pretty much ok. Pain as usual, but not as bad as MR25 8 loops.


5 comments:

plee said...

Actually I'm speechless!!

Well done! Doing what you did (and without official support) is simply amazing.. Thnsks for sharing the fantastic experience...... my Congratulations to you anl everyone that took part!

Cheers
Paul

K3vski said...

Well done despite officially DNF. It was no easy feat.

Erm... I'll stick to IM hehheh.

yipwt said...

lee...it's the guys who finish who are amazing.

kevin...ultra running is similar to IM, but it can be as tougher as you want it to be. just increase the distance..

PS said...

Steve, hi, great report. Tks for pacing so many of the runners and going that distance! See you @ Kapas.

Melvin said...

Hi Yip, Melvin here.

Thanks for helping me during the last 60km of the event. The company of you guys made it much easier =)