I had signed up (impulsively) with Alvin after we were informed of a discount code ($25!), a substantial reduction from the original $60. I had varying intentions at that point - either run a good trail race (I was expecting a largely road race, based on some reviews of previous editions) or run it with him.
Having had some shin issues in the preceding few weeks, I had given up my race slot to Lester. However, I reclaimed it after the doctor assured me I could run. No need for any rest. At all.
Come race day, I met Alvin (late!) and we headed off to the race venue. Definitely a small event but there were recognisable speedy runners. We also met Chuan Heng at the site. I was confident he would secure a podium finish.
Upon flag-off, it was quite a shock. We were running through a muddy construction region (not made any better with the torrential, continual downpour the day before). I suspected we were in for quite a trail.
The route didn't get much better. I definitely have to credit the organisers for delivering such a thrilling experience across the route. While we could have easily been running on tarmac, we were directed to run parallel - along the ditches, gravel, grass and mud. It was truly maximising any trail that runners could come across.
Around the 2km-3km mark, the route took us to a pretty wet grass field. I was having some fun (genuine fun, having decided my shoes - thankfully I had the foresight to wear an old pair just in case - couldn't get much dirtier than they already were). With all this terrain around and Alvin alongside breathing noticeably, I knew the initial plan of securing a PB for him was highly unlikely.
I really have to commend the organisers on their choice of the route. As I reflect upon it, I really think it was very creative. Finding a trail to run across where roads were abounding.
Nonetheless, there were some more hazardous areas. Towards the 7-8km mark, after spending some time in Coney Island and exiting thereafter, we were directed along a "breakwater" just beside the sea (yes, amazingly). This portion was pretty rocky and we were running diagonally. Perhaps that's where the term rock and roll comes from. Seems like Alvin's ankle rolled a little and got a little shocked there. While that was taking some time manifest, we were still weaving and dodging overlying branches as we scampered through a portion of foliage.
Outside, as the shock caught up with the ankle, we decided it was best to walk (he insisted that he could complete the route - I was prepared to DNF if necessary). No running at all. Now that takes some discipline. Imagine photographers along the way - you have to walk. 1km to the finish - you choose to walk. With the finish line in sight - you still force yourself to walk. After the finish, I got ice for him.
Well this certainly wasn't the most satisfying race. Nonetheless, it was pretty fun (and I was glad to hear the day after that Alvin's ankle was fine). What a thrill. What a trail.
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