The Singapore Sheares bridge/Singapore bay run/Army half marathon was on this morning. The promise of the new route across the Marina Barrage is well, promising as it sounds and I believe the key selling point of this year’s race. I believe with so many new developments sprouting up around the Marina bay area, it’s just pleasing to know that every annual race from now on will be bolstered with something new.
The race conduct
The race generally started smoothly, with the waiting pens dedicated to their respective categories. In other words, only after the 21km runners are off, the place is not swarming with the 10km participants, allowing the 21km latecomers to join the race fast and smoothly. So as I come to know after starting the race late myself. Though the staggered race timings have something to do about it, I remembered a different situation last year, with many runners from other categories taking up the waiting pen area. I started off slowly at about 8km/hr on my calibrated watch (update: this is on a Polar RS400SD, thanks Sean for the heads-up I missed on this part) as I felt a stitch from breakfast not too long ago and bumped by to 10km/hr when it cleared upon touching the ECP.
First time ever, with the new widened ECP highway, especially the stretch by the Sands resort, it’s now it’s possible to have up to 3 lanes opened up for runners, with up two 2 lanes only opened to traffic. The result? A large and open overtaking area for runners alike and there was no crowd of choke zones even leading up towards the Sheares bridge, with 2 lanes open to last year’s one.
Things are not so picture-perfect given the confines of the east coast park, especially when runners start walking on the pavement, that proved to be quite of an obstacle for many runners- you can often see the whole group of runners slow to a jogging crawl especially on the return stretch after the U-turn. Runners have to squeeze through the walking pavement or go on the muddy grass to overtake, orange barricaded lined along the 2-way route evident near the U-turn point made overtaking harder in the crowd. On the contrary, the street side festivals were nice, I think CSSOM has the nicest booth, with the MPs taking the next best. Interesting to see many units using pressurized water jet guns set on sprinkle who serve as shower/mist points now, beats the used of the pump action bottle canisters many times over.
Is that an off-road trail I see?
Fort road will usually greet you again after east coast park, thereafter comes the route pointing into the usual “out of bounds” construction area which was opened for the event. This route is a gravel laid service road which serves as an entry point for construction vehicles serving the barrage construction and future developments. The trail area was very unexpected though, I saw the combat engineer’s banner on the top stating about a challenge route, but never know the trail conditions would be so bad- it was uneven and muddy, especially from the rain the night before.
There were many puddles and caked mud (which reminds you much of the Mizuno wave run at Bedok Reservoir). You can almost call it will a prelude’s prelude of the NBRR (New balance real run) trail run! Apart from the new route, what I can say is that overcoming this trail area would be the deciding factor for those looking to beat their 21km PB, especially if you are looking for a clean level race throughout, you will be quite out of luck with this new route.
Noticeable were the many marshals stationed on many points throughout the route, not to mention demarcated meeting points for casualty extrication, even on hard to reach areas like the Sheares bridge and the trail route, this is definitely an improvement of safety coverage from the organizers this year.
A brief highlight of the race was the run on the marina barrage which not only links the reclaimed lands of marina east and marina south, but damming it and turning the Marina Bay and Kallang Basin into a new downtown freshwater reservoir. The Marina barrage goes very much in line that anything we built here in Singapore as an icon should have it’s own building and visitor center attached to it. The barrage is no option either is a the plaza area is huge- a perfect place to complement the upcoming gardens by the bay attraction.
In all the race went on rather well for me, I finished on an estimate of about 2hr 40mins for this year’s race, (about 40mins longer than last year) with a bulk of the time on the barrage itself. Anyway I was not running for a PB this year and was shutter happy on the barrage. Nevertheless, took some good pictures on the views from the barrage, I even got a photostitich treat (and possibility a first) of the barrage, check it out!
A 360 degree paranomic photo was shot at mid-span of the pedestrian bridge which sits ontop of the barrage itself, showing the view of the central business district and the out lying open waters of the southern straits. Note that the ends of the picture overlap by a little.
So far the race had been quite flawless, with regular water points and no considerable shortage of water or 100 plus (unless if you are a runner who started late). Striking distance markers are evidently at placed at 1km intervals throughout the route, with the last km split into 2x500m intervals towards the finish.
Contrary to many, the event do not end after you’ve crossed the line, there is still alot to do before you are done with he event. Noticeably is the ramp at the finishing line, because of the concrete F1 barriers in place, a ramp platform have to be erected to bring runners over it into the padang which is sadly very much a mud bath itself, but that’s something beyond the organizer’s control either. Maybe getting the various NSFs to gather out of the Padang will help much in the crowd management. There were ample drinks to go around, even after all the 100 plus were exhausted. There were plenty of seating areas within the runner’s pens for de-chipping, though many of use would have already got it off right after the finishing line.
This year, there are no tents stating clearly the baggage points as well as the runner’s post race admin and medal collection area, you will be quite lost if you do not know the padang floor plan of the event beforehand, but there were many army helpers you can always reach out for queries.
Speedy baggage collection
An army-manned locker area is a new introduction this year, but I went for the baggage deposit as such services usually come standard and can either make or break a runner’s race experience. Even when I knew where the baggage collection was, I actually spent sometime getting to it from the padang- the 21km competitive collection points are located far right on one end of Connaught Drive, which not only made my deposit quite a pain to walk from the Padang entry point where everyone came from, but after the race through the mud pool as well.
Thankfully when you finally reach the point, baggage service was a breeze, not only there was no queue, I got both my bag deposited and retrieved in less than a minute. Jokingly, I remembered asking the baggage handler before the race what are their plans when it rains (as there is also no visible shelter over the baggage area besides the locker area), they said “just let it rain” (presumably as the items are already all cable-tied and water tight, or say, ground sheets will do the trick as well).
The only area for baggage I see can be improved is the location but nevertheless still a good thumbs up for the organization, this definitely beats the “dump in tonner” baggage collection back in the 2005 race. I can’t deny that AHM baggage collection are getting better and better each year.
Met up with SGrunners, saw Sotong, IMD, brokenrunner (brokie) and few new faces, as usual for the 2nd year running, I missed the photo taking again haha. Didn’t know it was so long till we last met, even brokie mentioned that it was a long time since she met Sotong, for me, it was even longer! Elrick my SP track and field senior who was in the Commando’s half-marathon team ran about 1 hours 40mins for his race, with his team coming in champions with their fastest runner at clocking in at about 1 hour 20mins.