Sunday, December 26, 2010
Let's Take A Walk (LTAW) - 100km Power Walk
What's the difference between running a full 42km marathon and a 100km walk, which one is actually tougher? I experienced both recently. Most runners will hit the wall at 30km mark (for some even earlier) and at that point cramps around the calves and thighs will start to build up. Much as I would like to run, I had to pull to a complete halt to stretch my muscle for it to loosen up, to apply ointment, whatever it took to relieve the pain and cramps, period. I had to walk, then ran some distance and then stopped to stretch and repeat the whole process again & again to the finishing. The last 10km was always torturous to the point of no return and this is marathon as far as I am concerned.
Walk could be a piece of cake, but to walk 100km, it is not a piece of cake no more. The 100km LTAW event on 18 Dec was by far the longest walk I had ever attempted in my entire 48 years, another first for me if I could complete the route, i.e. Our adventurous group, HTTB sent two teams to participate in this LTAW event, a charity walk event in their 3rd consecutive year. Proceeds this year are pledged to the Boys' Town cause.
The 50km team was led by SP and the 100km team where I was part of it was led by Eric. We had 6 members for each team and the rule requires minimum 3 members of the team to complete the whole journey, failing which, the team will have to join other team to make up the minimum number. Nonetheless, it was a non-competitive event and I believe everyone was in for an experience, to test one's endurance level.
The 100km event started at 8am near Tampines Station whereas, the 50km was scheduled 13 hours later at 9pm at Turf Club. I was up early, 6.30am and was already at Aljunied train station before 7am heading to Tampines. Slowly all my 5 team members made their way to the flag-off venue, Angela, Susa, Ashok, Kwan and Eric and we were raring to go. In this 100km power walk, I was told there some 150 participants but the fall-out rate could be as high as 60%, that gruelling if it did not damper our spirit. Before the flag-off, all of us gathered on the open ground, did our warm-up exercise together. And at 8.15am, we were finally flagged-off. Kwan had 2 friends and Eric had 1 friend who joined us in the walk, all 9 of us then walked together.
In all there were 10 checkpoints along the way, average 10km at each point and the finishing was at Liang Court, some 24 hours later. We had to report as a complete team at each check point to earn a sticker to be placed on our bib. Therefore, anyone walked faster still have to wait for the rest before the team can move out. Hey, this was a team event and team spirit must remain strong, if we were to last to the end. Alas, it was not to be when true colour of one member in our team showed as we progressed further.
We walked along Bedok Reservoir Road, past Kaki Bukit to the direction of Hougang Mall. The first 10km was a breeze for all, we were in high spirit. Along the way, we made friends with other teams, walked with them and joked with them. Piece of cake, we got our stickers at CP 1 at Hougang Mall. Shortly later, we moved out to CP 2 at Yio Chu Kang Stadium. We walked along the long stretch of Yio Chu Kang Road. We had covered 10km and another 10km to CP 2, no sweat lah! When we reached Yio Chu Kang Stadium, SP and Kiat Sing who brought along her nephew were waiting for us. SP was so nice to buy us 'chee cheong fun' and I gobbled all down swiftly. It was around 11am, we were still 'fresh' and energetic.
After a short breather at CP 2, we bid farewell to our supporters and off we go again. We had to walk along Sembawang Road to Chong Pang and to the PCN to CP 3 at the northeastern tip in Sembawang, the water plant. Along Chong Pang, there was a heavy downpour, otherwise the weather was excellent the whole morning. The rain stopped when we reached CP 3 but we were drenched. We took longer rest, to dry our shoes, socks and clothes. We had covered more than 30km at that juncture. It was already way past lunch time but we didn't have our lunch yet and nobody in our group requested for lunch break either, funny.
CP 4 was at Republic Poly in Woodlands. Susa was holding well despite the left knee problem, so too for Ashok who did not actually train much with us prior to this. I asked Eric, our team leader whether we were on schedule at each checkpoint so far and boy, we were actually ahead of our schedule. Going at this rate, we should complete before 9.30am on Sunday morning. Our pace was quite fast and consistent, around 5km an hour and we were among the early groups to clock in.
Before arriving at CP 4, TS and supporters were supposed to meet us for dinner at Admiralty MRT station. We were supposed to arrive at Admiralty station by 6pm and half an hour before our arrival, I made a call to TS to pre-empt him. Dora who was also about to leave to meet her 50km team at Causeway Point for dinner before heading to Turf City for their 50km flag-off, decided to wait for us at the Admiralty station too. Esther joined us shortly. I took a quick bite at Mac's as I was too hungry, having missed lunch earlier. TS and Esther walked with us to CP 4 at Republic Poly. We had finished almost half of our journey, evidently fatigue began to take a toll on some of us.
Our next CP was at Turf Club, also the start-off venue of the 50km walkers. We were walking along the fringe near the causeway where Johor was just opposite us and we cut into Marsiling estate to the direction of Turf Club in Kranji. As usual, Kwan, Angela and I were in the front but we shot past Turf Club, only to turn back when we realised our mistake. Each step forward was 'precious' to us, we tried not to walk the wrong way (if we could) as we needed to conserve as much energy to last the distance. Hooray, we had reached our half way mark, 50km! But Asok decided not to push on, he had exceeded his own mark with this distance - kudos to him.
CP 6 was at Rail Mall, a punishing 15km away. It was getting dark, by my reckoning (didn't check my watch though), it should be past 7pm. Much to my delight again, we were ahead of our schedule. TS and Esther left us at Turf Club - thanks to their support for walking with us.
We were walking along the Kranji Industrial area and I realised Susa was nowhere to be seen. She was lagging way behind. I signalled to Kwan (Eric and Angela were already way ahead) that I will wait for Susa to catch up. Kwan and Eric's friend (she joined us at Turf City) waited too. Finally, I saw Susa and we walked together. She was fighting pain in her left knee and at one point, she remarked to me (with some tinge of sadness in her voice though) that she might not be able to complete and most probably will drop out at Rail Mall, CP 6. We had scheduled to take a break at Bukit Panjang Shopping Plaza where some supporters including my running mate, Chua and his family were waiting for us. When we reached Bukit Panjang Shopping Plaza, it was easily over 60km. Chua bought some paus and isotonic drinks for us. A while later, the 50km team led by SP arrived too. One of SP's supporters bought isotonic can drinks too. Suddenly, there was an oversupply of drinks and food from our kind-hearted supporters. We took longer rest. Before I moved off, I gave each of Chua's kids a big bearhug. Susa decided to listen to her body not to press further, she dropped out at Bukit Panjang. I gave her a hug (would have hoped she could press on, sad) to bid her farewell.
When we reached Rail Mall at around midnight, Siti, Kiat Sing and Yosuke were waiting for us. They too readied a package comprising isotonic drinks and food for each of us too. It was so heartwarming to receive tremendous supports from them, only to inspire us to push on. Two had dropped off, there were four of us in the team now and more so, we should finish. We had covered more than 70km by now. Blisters had already seeped in, damn. To worsen matter, both my ankles started to ache too. Sign of old age, sigh!
CP 7 was at Trade Hub, Mac's. We walked past Bukit Batok and to the PCN. Every step taken was quite painful but still bearable. At Trade Hub, it started drizzling. After a short rest, we put on our raincoats and when I was about to move off, I saw Marcus, Dora's son with his two cousins. I told him his mother will be arriving shortly and then moved on with the team. Eric's car was parked near Buona Vista station and we were scheduled to arrive at the station to get some refreshment from his car and then, to take some rest. We walked along the PCN to the direction of Ulu Pandan and Clementi. Around 3am, we arrived at Buona Vista station. Surprise, surprise, Siew Hoon and her friend turned up at that hour too. She brought along paus, coffee and even toothbrushes for us. I told her no one was likely to eat, we were simply too tired & sleepy but the coffee was certainly a 'go-send' to me. She had not fully settled down, Angela decided to move on. At that point, I felt it was rude of Angela to insist to move on when Siew Hoon and her friend took all the trouble to bring us water and food at 3am, should we be more appreciative? I was simply put off by Angela's behaviour, to say the least. Eric, always the obliging chap decided that we should move on though we were ahead of our schedule. I knew Eric needed longer rest to recuperate but...for the team's sake, he acceded to her demand.
CP 8 was at Kent Ridge Park, up on the hill top. We reached in good time and I even joked to the volunteers to consider having that CP 8 at the foot of the hill instead of on the highest point, as if we were not 'punished' enough. We didn't rest much, registered our team and off, we left. Siew Hoon and friend were walking with us too. I was chatting, joking with Siew Hoon most time whereas Eric was behind us, quietly throughout. At Hort Park, I turned back and realised Eric was way behind. He wanted us to move first while he will take a short nap. Kwan and Angela were already way infront. He told me he needed sleep, even for that precious 5 mins. As we lied on the ground to catch few winks but I jumped up, deciding not to do so fearing we will doze off completely. I kept waking up Eric and finally, he decided to move on too. I knew he was fighting real hard to stay awake, poor Eric. Siew Hoon and friend were with us, to pep up our spirit too.
CP 9 was at Tiong Bahru Plaza and it was first light when we reached there. The volunteers told us we were the first 100km team to arrive, much to our surprise. Kwan and Angela had arrived earlier, they were having their breakfast at Starbuck by the time we arrived. I skipped breakfast, was on high spirit to finish the last 10km and very quickly, we moved on. My legs, especially the ankles were aching like hell and my back too, from carrying the backpack. Our pace were fast in the 5km but slowed somewhat at the last 5km. It was a long long last 10km as if never ending. We walked past Liang Court but we had to move further to Singapore Flyer, another 5km and then made a U-turn back. We pushed and pushed, everyone was quiet and not talking much to each other knowing the end was near. Finally, we reached CP 10 at Liang Court clocking some 24 hours 30 mins. We had arrived one hour ahead of our own schedule, it was 8.30am on Sunday morning. Tired I was but I was gleeing with satisfaction knowing I have achieved another first. Hip, hip, hip...hooray! (3x)