More than 1,200 runners took to the trails at the first ever MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 ultra-marathon on Saturday, 25 July 2015. Competing in 10 km, 21 km and 50 km distances along some of the island’s most beautiful green areas, runners took the off-beaten track through the lush Green Corridor, a historical nature trail. Other highlights of the scenic course included running to MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore’s oldest Reservoir, and across the newly built bridge on the Durian Loop.
Guest-of-Honour and Tampines GRC Member of Parliament, Baey Yam Keng flagged off the 10 km race at 7:00 a.m. and joined runners in the same leg. He was joined by the eldest participant 85-year-old Singaporean, Chan Meng Hui, who has completed 100 marathons across the globe in the last 30 years. In fact, more than one in 10 runners were in the over-50 age category, proving age is just a number.
I started running at age 56 as I wanted to look after my health. I’ve seen a lot of seniors end up in wheelchairs and I didn’t want to end up that way. I was born and raised around the MacRitchie area, so I regularly run around the reservoir to keep fit.
—Chan Meng Hui, Singapore, most senior participant
Jackson Chirchir from Kenya took home the top prize upon completing the race in 3 hours and 55 minutes, while his compatriot Rebecca Nakuwa led the women’s race with a time of 4 hours and 50 minutes. For both, it was their first time running 50 km.
I’ve raced all over the world, and three times in Singapore, but this is the first 50 km I’ve ever run. It’s very hard – not easy at all. I found the first 5-20 km and the last 10 km the toughest to get through.
—Jackson Chirchir, Kenya, winner of the men’s 50 km
The race was hard and complicated because I didn’t know the route very well, but I enjoyed it very much, it was in nature and there was some shade. This is my first time running 50 km. I usually run 10 km (or) 21 km so it feels good to complete the 50 km in a good time and be the fastest in my category. I wish to come back to Singapore again to compete.
—Rebecca Nakuwa, Kenya, winner of the women’s 50 km
The MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 drew participants from all over the world, including elite runners Salameh Al Aqra (Jordan), Marie McNaughton (Australia), Nora Senn (Switzerland) and Vanja Cnops (Belgium), alongside Singapore’s very own ultramarathon runners Lexxus Tan, Thaddeus Lawrence and Paviter Singh.
Rio Elijah Chua was the fastest Singaporean male ultra-runner coming in at 4: 47: 49, followed by Alex Ang with a timing of 5: 2: 17. Jasmine Goh was the fastest Singaporean woman, finishing in 5: 24: 12, while Seivland Poh became the second fastest Singaporean female at 5: 53: 40.
These aren’t easy feats considering the terrain and climate.
It was both physically and mentally challenging, especially along the Green Corridor. It was probably harder than other races in Singapore because it mixes up flat and trail routes. I’d love to do it again; there was a really nice vibe as it brought together the trail running community.
—Paviter Singh, Singaporean ultra-runner, completed the race in 5: 48: 48
In a bid to preserve the historical route, the MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 operated a strict ‘No Cup Policy’. To minimise waste, participants are encouraged to bring their own refillable hydration packs. The event organisers also clamped down with race regulations and disqualified runners if they were found to have littered on the track. These measures helped to save over 6,000 paper cups and thousands of plastic bottles that could have ended up in the landfill sites.
The race was good, I enjoyed the route very much especially when there aren’t many trails in Singapore. MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50 stood out for me as am environmentally friendly race and with really friendly runners. The toughest part was having to deal with the heat. The route was challenging enough but the heat made it even more difficult.
—Alex Ang, second fastest Singaporean male 50 km finisher
Overall, the energy and camaraderie of nature trail lovers and supporters was evident.
Running on home ground, people and friends say hi when they ran past me and even clapped to spur me on which was a great energy booster. When you are running in a foreign country the experience is different and you don’t get the same support. It is great that MSIG organised a race in Singapore and I hope they keep this race in Singapore for next year as well.
—Jasmine Goh, fastest Singaporean female 50 km finisher
Were you at the very first MSIG Singapore Action Asia 50? Or are you looking forward to more nature trail runs here? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!