In every race, an increase in distance comes with added responsibility, whether it’s safety cover, marshalling, the availability of water points and in this case, transportation. The HomeTeamNS – New Balance REAL Run, formerly a 15-kilometre race, had its distance notched up to 21 kilometres this year, with the inclusion of a supplementary 10-kilometre challenge.
RunSociety hit the grounds of the Changi Exhibition Centre from as early as 5am to avoid heavy traffic – experience gotten from previous races (on the same site) such as the Sundown Marathon. Wise move but kudos to the traffic wardens. It was much less of a nightmare than we expected.
The REAL Run got off to a rousing start with the 21-kilometre flag-off at 6.30am – upon the arrival of Guest-of-Honour, Mr. Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State (Home Affairs & Foreign Affairs). Some 3,000 runners wrangled their way in what looked to be a closely fought affair. Well, RunSociety was expecting a more nonchalant 10-kilometre start at 7am – another 7,000 runners – for which we were proven otherwise. Competition was intense!
If you had a glance at the Race Prelude, we highlighted the latter sand portion of the route (1.5 kilometres) as the ‘killer’ segment. Our “theories” weren’t entirely off tangent.
“The beach portion of the race was definitely one of the most challenging aspects of the race, seeing that it comes in the last few kilometres of the race and the fact that running on sand saps more energy than on hard surfaces such as roads. Whereas one can be sure whatever energy one puts out running on the road is transferred into the propulsion of oneself, the same energy put out on the sand is bound to have some absorbed. So my focus during this portion of the race was just to take small, quick steps and be as efficient as possible. Thankfully, the sand was not too loose as that would have meant a tougher struggle.” explains Colin Tung, 23, an undergraduate.
Perhaps you’re wondering why the fascination with sand? Well, we understand how gruelling it can really get, all the more if it’s toward the end of the race where you’re running on reserves. As insignificant as it may seem, trust us, it really isn’t. That said, we had a particular runner who had other views.
“The beach wasn’t as tough as I expected it to be. To be honest, the surface was pretty solid due to the low tide,” says Aaron Lin, 24, a Group Director in the real estate line, “To me, the trails were more difficult. There were waterlogged sections with soft mud which I had to constantly hop over. It really sucked the energy out of me.”
Down to the results. The 21km Men’s Open was won by Onesmus Muindi (Kenya) with a time of 01hr 08min 09 sec. Qi Hui, a fellow Singaporean, did us proud with a victory in the 21km Women’s Open. Her time was 01hr 21min 51sec.
What really did catch our attention though were the winners of the Women’s Junior 10km category. Nena and Dana Fritz, 16 year old American twins, crossed the FINISH line 1st and 2nd respectively. Talk about family bonds in competition.
“We attended Chestnut Drive Secondary School which did not have an athletics team initially, hence Dana and I started one in 2009. Since then, we have represented our school in inter-school competitions. We’ll be heading back to the States for university soon.” says Nena.
You should know that the twins are also members of the elite MR25 running club in Singapore.
The REAL run has always been special for its x-terrain surfaces – runway, road, trail and sand. It was made even more distinctive with the introduction of the half marathon distance this year. Our verdict? Seamless – from our standpoint at least. Well organised. No hold ups. Excellent runner-service. It’s also one of the few races where we actually witnessed a police escort up front. That’s commitment!
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