On Sunday morning, 29 October 2017, Newton Challenge 2017 was held at Marina Barrage. I participated in 32.195km category, which was flagged off at 4:30 a.m. This is the first time I take part in Newton Challenge, and it’s my first time running 32.195km in a race. I was excited, yet terribly anxious.
Throughout the race, I was worried about meeting the cut-off timing for route diversion (which is 2:45 for 21.3km), and being able to finish with a timing that I’m proud of.
Race Entry Pack Collection
The Race Entry Pack Collection was held the week prior to the race, on 21 and 22 October 2017, at Velocity@Novena Square. The collection process was smooth despite the short queue. I received a race singlet, race bib, timing chip, sponsors’ goodies as well a pair of Newton socks. I wore the socks on the race day and loved it.
Getting to the Race Village
I opted to go to race venue with shuttle bus. The ticket costs $7 per person. I honestly love that the pick-up time is scheduled at 1 hour before flag off time, so I don’t need to arrive at the race venue too early and I could sleep longer.
For my area, the boarding time is scheduled at 3:25 a.m. and I was glad the bus arrived exactly at 3:25 a.m. Most, if not all, passengers submitted a printed confirmation slip to the bus driver when boarding. I didn’t print my slip and I was worried I’ll be denied entry. But thankfully the driver allowed me to board after I showed him the confirmation email.
I arrived at race village at around 4 a.m. After going to toilet and drinking water from the water fountain in Marina Barrage, I walked to the start line at Gardens by the Bay (East).
By the time I arrived at Gardens by the Bay (East), it was 4:30 a.m. and I heard the horn for flag off. It was 4:35 a.m. when I crossed the start line. I started my watch and Runkeeper, and set off on the challenging race. The first quest that I needed to conquer was to complete the first 21.3km by 7:15 a.m. (that is, 2 hours 45 minutes gun time). Runners who don’t meet the COT would be diverted to a shorter route and will be disqualified in terms of ranking, but will still receive medal and finisher’s tee.
I didn’t want to be diverted. However, completing an HM in such a tight COT is a very daunting task for me. The fact that I crossed the start line 5 minutes after flag off and I completed an HM in 2:52:42 (net time) at CSC Run last month didn’t help to ease my anxiety.
I tried to run at a steady pace. I stopped at every hydration station to drink. I heard a soothing song of “More Than I Can Say” blasted from probably a portable speaker in the waist pack of an uncle. I loved the song so much, I told uncle, “Good song!” In turn, uncle cheered for me, and I felt a sudden boost of energy.
Running before sunrise at the East Coast Park gave me the chance to see a couple of things I didn’t notice before. I saw a plane flying so low, I could see its windows. I saw a huge group of people at a camping site, eating barbecue food and chit-chatting before the dawn. I witnessed the sky changed its colour, from pitch dark to dark blue, to the blue hour with a hint of orange and light blue, then the golden hour, and eventually to bright blue sky.
I took the first energy gel at 11.8km just before the U-Turn at East Coast Park. I crossed 17km distance marker at 6:45 a.m., and I had 30 minutes to run 4km before the dreaded COT at 21.3km. I took my second energy gel just before 18km and pushed myself to pick up the pace.
When I arrived at 20km at 7:07 a.m., I could already see the 21km distance marker at the opposite lane. I didn’t run this far to be diverted, I had to make it. I crossed 21km at 7:14 a.m. and continued running until 22km before I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief for meeting the cut-off-time.
After 22km, my pace went south. My thigh muscles were in pain, so were my knees, feet and stomach. At 23km, I felt hungry, but I had run out of energy gels. I guessed at that moment, I hit the wall.
Soon, I was back at Marina Bay Golf Course, where I saw captivating view at CSC Run 4 weeks before. The view was still as amazing as before, but this time, Spider-Man ran with us. I alternated between running and walking for the rest of the race. The weather was hot when I ran at Gardens by the Bay (East), but thankfully, it got better.
At 27km, I was back at Marina Barrage. It was hard to see other runners had completed their races but I still had 5 more kilometres to go. As I climbed the ramp of Marina Barrage, I tried to keep a positive mindset by singing along Glee songs performed by the live band at race village.
The final stretch through Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade was not fun for me but it was made easy by the cloudy weather and Spider-Man who gave hi-fives to motivate runners, including me.
Finally, I crossed the finish line at 9 a.m. I finished the 32.195km race at a net time of 4:25:44. It was certainly not a timing I’m proud of. But I’m proud of not giving up, and I’m especially proud of completing the first 21km in less than 2:45. You can also check your Newton Challenge 2017 race result too.
At the finish line, I received a medal, finisher’s tee, a bottle of Pocari Sweat and a wet towel. I joined the queue for food and was thrilled to receive a box of fried bee hoon, banana, ice-cream and pudding. I didn’t expect a free meal after a run, it was such a surprise.
I sat down and ate the food before heading home. I was too tired that I forgot to take a photo of myself with the medal.
Positive Notes and Room for Improvement
There are a lot of things I love about Newton Challenge, such as the shuttle bus timing, the early flag-off time, the scenic route, the speedy top-up at hydration points, the availability of portable toilets along the route, distance marker at every kilometre, the free massage as well as free meal after the race.
There are certain parts that I think the organiser could be better in the future editions of Newton Challenge. Firstly, I hope the organiser could prepare more small-sized singlets and finisher’s shirts because when I registered, my preferred sizes of singlet and shirt have run out.
Secondly, I hope organiser would offer bananas or energy gels halfway through the race to help runners fuel. Lastly, I hope that diverted runners would not be disqualified from rankings.
Overall, I really like Newton Challenge and I think the organiser has done a really great job for such a huge event.
- Three categories for runners to choose from: 32.195km, 21.1km and 10km.
- A race with a scenic route that starts from Marina Barrage to East Coast, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade and ends at Marina Barrage.
- Free meal and massage for runners at the end of the run.
- Proper direction signage; distance markers available at every kilometre; water station well-stocked.