Every year, I look forward to this race – Men’s Health Urbanathlon. Every year, it just gets better and tougher. With new obstacles, the introduction of female runners and improvements to the entire experience, this 14km race with 9 obstacles was truly a humbling and fun experience.
At 5.30am, I was up and making my way to the race site. I missed the race pack collection weekend, so I went extra early to pick up my race pack. The race site was well organised and easy to navigate.
I also appreciate the fact that Aquarius provided drinks for the runners at the starting point – it is important for the runners to be well hydrated!
Since I was there early, I actually made it to the first few starting waves, and that made a huge difference.
I definitely could not keep up with the elite runners at the start but that also meant that they had already cleared the obstacles before I reached the obstacles. I did not have to wait at any of the obstacles.
Of course, credit goes to the organisers for increasing the number of stations at every obstacle – especially the icy mud pool. While some runners complained about queues at the mud pool last year, this year there were some four or five mud pools for you to wade in, which means waiting time reduced!
Surprisingly, the icy mud pool was not the “worst” obstacle. In fact, I found the ice-cold temperature to be extremely refreshing and gave my legs a boost for the final 500 meters.
This year, there were a few new obstacles like the parallel bars, the wet 20kg sandbags and the “maze”.
The parallel bars were quite difficult, particularly the second portion, where you had to use your arms and legs to cross horizontally. Without core muscles, it would be almost impossible to straddle the obstacle.
It sounds easy to carry a soaking wet 20kg sandbag for 100metres. After fighting the super steep hills of Fort Canning, however, the task suddenly becomes very challenging when your thighs are burning from the climb.
The “maze” obstacle was not physically challenging, but it reminded me of the childhood game “lava land”, where you are not supposed to touch the ground, as it is burning hot lava. It is a test of your mental concentration and balance when you are panting for your breath.
The standard feature obstacles like “corporate ladder” still reminded us of the luxuries of the elevator. Today, my legs are greatly thankful for the elevators.
Unlike a typical race, these obstacles break your rhythm and test your upper body strength. I guess it prepares you for urban crises like elevator breakdowns, road closures, or “I-know-a-shortcut-but-we-need-to-jump-over-that-wall”.
The race village has always been one of the best. This year, MINI set up a car-wash booth where the “MINI girls” hosed down your mud-covered body. Then, you proceed to the washing area, and test out the cleaning powers of CLEAR shampoo. Finally, refresh yourself with Lab Series’ facial foam and moisturizer before heading to all the games stations to win some fabulous prizes. Everybody’s a winner for sure.
Last but not least, upload the customary photo with the banner to Facebook to claim your bragging rights.
The addition of female runners balanced out the testosterone levels slightly but it also proved to be very humbling as many of the female participants blazed past me and breezed through the obstacles. I was both impressed and inspired to train harder for next year’s race.
I think having female runners also gave the race a “friendly” touch. I witnessed a few incidents of modern chivalry like giving a little support up or a helping hand across.
The Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013 was marked with a raft of celebrity runners who aimed to raise awareness for various charity causes, most notably Team Latimer, led by FOX Sports presenter Kelly Latimer and Colette Wong, who ran to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Disease Association.
Every year, the race gets tougher and better. Looking forward to the fifth edition already.