Sundown Marathon 2018 Race Review: No Sleep, No Problem
A huge improvement in this year's Sundown Marathon to reamend last year's mistake!
Sundown Marathon started in 2008 with an objective of providing running enthusiasts with an exceptional experience of running through the night! The first edition was held in Changi Park opposite Changi Village, attracted a total of about 6,000 runners. This year, Sundown Marathon is celebrating its 11th edition and attracting a total of 25,500 runners, making it Asia's largest night marathon once again!
The race was held on 19 May 2018 at F1 Pit Building with 7 categories for runners to choose from: 5KM Fun Run (Kids), 5KM (Youth), 5KM (Adult), 10KM Challenge, 10KM Challenge - Team of 4m 21.1 KM Half Marathon, 42.195 KM Full Marathon.
I participated in the 42.195KM Full Marathon category, and the flag off time was set at 1 a.m. in waves. Faster runners would be gathered at Pen A, followed by Pen B and Pen C respectively depending on your estimated finishing time indicated upon registration.
Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC)
The REPC was held from 10 - 13 May 2018 (Thursday to Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Suntec City Mall (North Wing) Level 1. There were 2 steps in collecting the race packs. Runners had to collect their race bibs outside Pasarbella (outdoor) and then proceed to collect the race singlets and goodie bags inside Tower 1 (indoor) by presenting the bibs.
I was one of the first few to collect on the first day at 11 a.m. There were more than 20 service counters and enough manpower to cater to the runners. I only had to show my soft copy email confirmation that comes with a QR code to collect my bib.
The collection was quick and the queue was moving fast. However, I would prefer to collect everything at one go rather than having to go through step 1 and step 2. Some who arrived at Suntec City would join in the queue inside the mall to collect their race packs but were told to go outside the mall to collect their race bibs first before coming in to queue for the goodie bags. To me, this was a bit of a hassle and created confusion for some people. I realised the bibs have no participants' names printed.
The race pack consists of running singlet, a special Sundown Marathon 2018 edition magazine by Run Singapore, a thick booklet of discount vouchers from the title sponsor Osim and a few other promotional leaflets. All these were accompanied by a drawstring backpack.
I was asked to participate in a survey by Prudential Insurance and there was a free gift given after the survey. I also purchased a muscle spray and some energy gels from the exhibitor booths.
I did not take a nap on Saturday due to busy family commitment. So it meant no sleep for more than 24 hours for me, perhaps for many others too. I reached the race village at around 11.30 p.m. and it was time for the half marathon runners to enter the start pen. I could see many latecomers were rushing at the last minute.
The race village had a large screen for movie-screening as usual. Runners could arrive early to relax and watch some movie before entering the start pen.
There were various food and drink booths, Osim massage tent, first aid station, late-race entry pack collection tent and so on. There was also a large moving signage to bring awareness not to litter. "Bin it. It's the right thing to do".
42.195KM Full Marathon
After doing some stretching, I entered the start pen at around 12.30 a.m. I really appreciate that the Full and Half marathon was flag off at least 1-hour apart to ease congestion.
As Pen C was quite far from the start line, I could barely see the front and just waited patiently for flag off. The emcee was saying it's not going to be easy, but not impossible. He said we were all insane people to run at 1 a.m., forsaking our sleep. I agree. I have been suffering from Plantar Fasciitis (PF) for quite some time and I was just hoping to finish this race and not chasing for any Personal Bests.
Pen A was flagged off at 1.02 a.m., followed by Pen B, and Pen C was flagged off at around 1.12 a.m.
The running route brought us through Golden Mile Complex, Singapore National Stadium, turning to the long stretch at East Coast Park, U-turn near National Sailing Centre, heading back towards Gardens By The Bay East, crossing Marina Barrage bridge to Gardens By The Bay Flower Dome, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands and back to Singapore Flyer.
At the beginning of the race, I experienced narrow path and difficulty running among the sheer number of people. This condition eased off after a while and soon there was no more bottleneck. The first hydration point was stationed close to the 3KM marker.
The volunteers were busy filling every cup with cold Pocari Sweat and Ice Mountain mineral water. At the hydration points late into the race though the Ice Mountain Water was not cold. The cup disposing areas were not enough, about 2 locations only, resulting in many cups being thrown along the race route and on the grass patches on the roadside in piles. I hope this issue can be improved in the future.
There was a part somewhere at East Coast Park that runners had to run on grass due to some construction work around the area. I stepped onto some tree roots and almost lost my balance due to the darkness.
Bananas and Salonpas muscle sprays were made available around the 10KM and 20KM hydration points. As well as at the hydration point somewhere along 35 - 40KM route. Energy gels were available somewhere late into the race, but I did not take it as I brought my own.
The markers placed along the route were quite accurate, I consumed my first energy gel after 10KM and soon my PF started to get worse. I slowed down but carried on running. I made a few stops to take off my shoe and sock (I wore a double sock on the right foot for that PF) and sprayed lots of muscle spray on it. However, the pain was so intense that muscle spray couldn't ease the pain. I continued despite the extreme stabbing pain and told myself not to give up.
I was feeling so sleepy and running with my eyes half-opened. Sleepwalking most of the time. I was wondering is it possible to fall asleep while running a marathon. I guess the pain on my foot was kind of helping to "wake" me up every time I wanted to doze off. I also experienced chafing at my underarm area, which made me very uncomfortable and I had to lift up my arm many times to ease the pain.
I really appreciate those young volunteers who were so upbeat and encouraged runners along the way to give them a high-five. Although many others were sleeping either crossed-legged or on the benches, I did not blame them. They looked so young and I understand it was hard for them to stay awake in the middle of the night. Thank you very much for volunteering for all the crazy marathon runners out there.
The direction signages to turn left or right were huge and clear, I doubt anyone could have missed it. Organiser has done a great job at making sure nobody gets lost.
The last 3KM was the toughest for me, as I had spent too much time on my screaming foot. I motivated myself by saying: "keep going, never give up", "no matter how painful, I will finish this damn thing that I started." I almost cried when I realised I had made it this far. I did not want to "DNF" the race and regret it later on.
Finally, I saw the marker "Last 500 meters". I was so happy as I jogged towards the finished arc, limping. I checked my watch and surprised that the distance was extremely accurate. I crossed the line at 42.2KM exactly. From the many races that I participated in the past, the distances were either slightly shorter or longer.
I was given a bottled water, a can of cold Pocari Sweat and a banana. I heard someone asking, "where to collect the medal?", and the volunteer said to walk up ahead. I had to walk about 150 meters to collect the medal and finisher shirt. I was asked what size for the shirt, but I have forgotten what size did I choose during registration and took a glance at my bib, there was no indication of size. So in the end, I took XS. Fortunately, it was the right size for me. The signboard said no exchange of finisher t-shirt". I hope organiser does not omit the finisher T size on our bibs next time.
The medal was huge and it was a stunning gold colour. I love it. Last year's medal was so tiny. Although I am disappointed and ashamed of my lousy timing, I am glad I completed what I have started and did not give up. The feeling of giving up is far more painful and regretful than my screaming foot.
- Organiser Hivelocity had really learned from last year's mistake and did a huge improvement this year. The event was well-organised and well-managed.
- Race Pack collection was smooth although runners had to collect bibs and goodie bags separately.
- Race route was good except during early part of the race where runners were in a bottleneck for a while.
- Sufficient isotonic drinks and water at each hydration station. Volunteers did a great job in filling the cups in a fast manner.
- Distance markers were accurate, direction markers were big and clear.
How was your Sundown Marathon experience?