Close your eyes and imagine this with me. You’re hurtling downhill, surefooted like a mountain goat. Rocks, roots, steps, mud, nothing gets in your way. Suddenly the path ahead curves steeply up, beyond your line of sight. You shorten your stride and bump up your cadence, in effect ‘cycling’ up the hill in front of you. All the while, far removed from the concrete, traffic and pollution of the city. Just you, your feet, and the constant rhythm of your own breathing.
I first met Vlad Ixel, an up and coming Australian trail runner, at a free seminar that he was giving in Singapore, ahead of a series of trail running clinic he was holding here. Though I knew he was a strong and experienced runner, having destroyed the competition in The North Face 100 in Singapore and having placed highly in many races, I did not know he was also soon to be a race director!
If you think running is hard, try doing it in the dark, out in the trails. Back for the 5th time, the Energizer Night Trail is frequently billed as one of the toughest races in Singapore, and it does a lot to earn that honour. Broken up into three distance groups, the full 18km route has a cumulative elevation gain of over 400m (pretty high for Singapore!), while the 12km and 6km are nothing to sniff at themselves. The race also features a very family friendly 3km obstacle course, with many of the participants in the trail races taking part in the obstacle race earlier in the day with their children.