Sunday, March 01, 2015

Men's Health Urbanathlon 2015

This morning was the 5th edition of Men's Health Urbanathlon run event.  It was my second and my first was in 2010, their inaugural then.  I did not sign up for the subsequent events as I did not like to crawl in mud water which we did in our first edition.  My new Nike shoes were total soaked in mud and was never the same anymore.  After checking all the obstacles listed except the mystery obstacle which was to be revealed on race day, there was no mention of mud obstacle and I then decided to sign up for it to test my endurance.  It was a 14 km run and there were 9 obstacles to clear along the way.

I got up at 0530 hrs and in ten minutes, I was really out.  The start up venue was at the Kallang Practise Track near Sports Hub which is not too far from my house.  Originally I was thinking to take the bus but the first bus was to arrive at 0605 hrs, I decided to walk to the venue instead.  It was a three km walk and it was still dark.  I arrived well before 0630 hrs, more than an hour to the first flag-off at 0730 hrs.  There were already many runners waiting, mostly men.  I did a little warm up and also looked around for some familiar faces.  I didn't find anyone I know.

The pen was opened at 0700 to allow runners in.  I was in the third wave among the early arrival.  By my reckoning, there should have at least 4,000 runners.  Not that bad and since it was third 5th edition, they should have built up a a pool of staunch supporters by now.

The first wave was flagged off at 0730 hrs and in between 2 minutes, another wave was flagged.  Very soon, I was flagged off too.  From Kallang Practise Track, we ran to Tanjung Rhu direction and onto Gardens By The East where the first obstacle was waiting for us.  It was about 3 km mark.  The obstacle was named "Bottom Line".  We had to hold on to the two dangling ropes above and walk gingerly on narrow plank.  I did it quite fast while holding on the two ropes for balance.  At the end I kind of misjudged the distance when I jumped off  but one foot slipped.  I quickly got up but had sustained a little bruise on my ankle.  I ignored the pain to my ankle and continued on.

We ran up the ramp at Marina Barrage and to the direction of MBS.  The second obstacle was set up just after we ran down from the ramp.  It was named "Balance Sheet".  This one was not easy as balancing is key.  We had to steady ourselves on the sloping beams and walk gingerly on the beams.  At mid way I thought I was going to fall off but managed to steady myself - close call indeed.  

The third obstacle was stationed near MBS.  It was named "Lateral Move".  This one called for some arm power.  We had to make our way across a 6 metres long parallel bars using both hands. Admittedly, I had to use much of my arm strength to move over and at mid-point, my arms weakened a little but I managed to press on to the end.  The second set of parallel bars were much easier.  We just used two hands on one bar and the legs on another to move along.  No sweat for this one, I was on my way to the third obstacle.  We had already covered more than 8 km and have less than half the distance to go.  But there were six more obstacles yet to be cleared.

I was still not getting into my strides, still feeling quite lethargic.  I did not take anything in the morning before the run and therefore, I found my pace was slower than my usual.  The obstacles did consume big part of my energy too.  I decided to slow down as I needed to preserve energy for the remaining obstacles.  Some runners from the later waves ran past me.  We were running past Fullerton Hotel and to the floating platform.  The night before there was Chingay Parade and many props and stalls are still there.  We ran along the PCN and after Singapore Flier, the fourth obstacle awaited for us. It was named "Tipping Point".  The one was no sweat.  We just need to climb up the narrow plank, balance ourselves properly which will then drop to the other side like a see-saw.  We then jumped off and continued our run.

We were running on the PCN alongside Nicoll Highway to The Sports Hub.  We had already covered more than 10 km, another 4 km to the finish.  There were 4 more obstacles to clear.  After running past Singapore Flier & F1 pit and not long later the fifth obstacle awaited for us.  We had to carry 10 kg cement block on each hand and run 100 metres.  It was no small task.  Wasted no time, I quickly picked up two cement blocks and started to run.  At 50 metres, the blocks got heavier and heavier.  When I crossed over, a Caucasian man gave me a pat on my shoulder and sped off before me.  I returned with a thumbs-up to him for the kind gesture.  At that time, the weather started to get hot.

There were 2 km to the finish but 3 more obstacles yet to be cleared.  The sixth obstacle was named "Wheel & Deal".  3 big tyres were hanging up at different heights and we had to maneuver through each tyre.  One big man in front of me had some difficulty getting through the tyre.  It was a breeze for me, given my smaller size.  I managed to squeeze through each tyre without wasting much time.

The end was near.  The seventh obstacle "the Network".  We had to climb on a 3.2 metres rope web which was mounted on a truck.  One man in front was moving quite slowly.  I believe he must be afraid of the height.  I can't pass him when he was on top of the truck and seemed hesitant to come down.  I told him to just hold on to the ropes and then move down.  I did not look back how he did it when I went ahead of him.

The eight obstacle was named "Leap of Faith".  We climbed up a 2 metres high tower and grabbed a 1.2 metre rope to get down.  That one was not that tough though.  A short run ahead was the final obstacle.    

The mystery obstacle was the final one.  Many had no idea about it though the MC did hint to us that we will have to jump off from a three-storey height but something might await us below - mud or powder? Gosh, when I heard that I was hoping it was not mud.  When we reached the last obstacle, we had to crawl below and then climb up the pillars.  And when we were at the highest point, everyone had to jump down.  There were mattresses below.  So it was safe to land.  Some jumped off from a standing position, some sitting.  I decided to do it differently.  I went down holding my hands on the edge of the platform and jumped off.  It was a nice landing for me.  Then, it was a short final dash to the finish.  I looked up, the gun time was showing 1 hour 36 minutes and taking 4 minutes away, my net time should be 1 hour 32 minutes plus I hope.  It was not an easy run, the obstacles did sap some of the energy from me but I enjoyed it thoroughly though.  Thumbs up to organisers of Men's Health Urbanathlon for a good job!        

Updated: For the record, I clocked 1 hr 32 mins 38 secs and placed 234th position out of 3,3737 runners.

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