Race Report: Bedok Reservoir Ultramarathon

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Me and my friend Bee Ping participated in last weekend’s Bedok Reservoir Ultramarathon which was organized by Running Guild.

Before signing up for this run I was trying to decide between this run or the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon. I was looking for a run that will help me get prepared for the TMBT Ultra Marathon. After looking into the pros and cons of each race I decided to go for the Bedok Ultramarathon for the following reasons:

  • being a smaller event the race course will not be crowded
  • having a chance to see familiar faces and friendly runners along the race route who give support and motivation to other runners
  • being a volunteer in the past for a couple of races organized by Running Guild, I know that there will be plenty of food and drinks available at the aid station
  • having an opportunity to run with my good friend on her first ultramarathon

I did not run much for the month of August as I was in Africa for almost two weeks. I did a lot of walking though while I was trekking in Mt. Kilimanjaro. My thoughts before the race was just to take it slow and take the race as a training run for TMBT.

Me and Beeping arrived in Bedok Reservoir almost an hour late on race day. The race started at 7am and most runners were already on their way to complete the 2nd loop when we arrived at the starting point. The format for the solo category was to complete as many loops as possible within 12 hours from 7am to 7pm. One loop around the Bedok Reservoir is 4.3Km. One needs to complete a minimum of 12 loops (total 51.6Km) within 12 hours to earn the Finisher medal and shirt.

We collected our race bib and I hurriedly filled up my hydration bladder with water and one of the volunteers helped me put some ice inside. Without any stretching me and Beeping started to run.

Marcus of Running Shots took a photo of me before I started to run

It was first time to run in Bedok Reservoir and I didn’t know that the surface is mostly made up of dirt road. I was glad that I wore the Altra Lone Peak shoes instead of the  Asics DS Trainer 17.

The sun was starting to shine brightly and I was cautious to run slowly as I know I would be having a long day ahead. As the run went on the distance between me and Beeping got wider and wider and soon I was running on my own.

1st loop

1st loop

1st loop

1st loop

I only ate one piece of bread for breakfast and I was getting hungry. After I completed the first loop I stopped at the aid station and ate a few slices of watermelon and half of the banana before continuing for my second loop.

The first three loops went fine but on my 4th loop the heat of the sun was starting to bother me and my legs were feeling heavy. I was running at a much slower pace.

By the time I was going for my fifth loop it was already past 10am and the sun was burning hot! I tried to amuse myself looking at the scenery to distract my mind. Midway I stopped and took a photo of the beautiful scenery.

Kayaks in Bedok Reservoir

Kayaks in Bedok Reservoir

I started to employ run/walk strategy at this stage. Some of the runners who were part of the team category were finishing the race. I remember telling myself that time that it would have been better to just run in the team category as I only need to run for 25.8Km. I didn’t have to torture myself more running under the scorching sun.

I egged myself to continue until I have completed 6 loops as by then I am halfway of completing the ultra.

Running for the 6th loop

Running for the 6th loop

I was somewhat relieved when I finally completed 6 loops. I was feeling very exhausted. I took my time at the aid station to rest and I ate watermelon, banana and some chips. Not long after I saw Beeping arriving to complete her 6th loop. I decided to wait for her so we can run the 7th loop together. Brokie was also at the aid station taking her sweet time chit-chatting with the other runners after she completed the 6th loop.

The heat was taking its toll on most of the runners. The three of us decided to walk the 7th loop together. Along the way the three of us were chit-chatting about the upcoming TMBT race. Brokie was also using this race to prepare for the TMBT. Like me and Beeping she was also wary about the race. She shared to us her preparations which was quite helpful as it gave us an idea what else we needed.

Although we walked the entire loop it was not a relaxed walk as Brokie was walking at a fast pace and we have to catch up with her. I didn’t mind though as we were enjoying talking.

Walking all the way for the 7th loop

Walking all the way for the 7th loop with Beeping and Brokie

It was already past 12noon when we completed the 7th loop. I told Beeping that we only take a brief stop at the aid station to get some drinks and then continue for the 8th loop. Once we have completed the 8th loop we can take a longer break to eat some cup noodles as by then we only have 4 loops to complete and she agreed. Brokie ran in the other direction as she wanted to go to the toilet.

We left the aid station and started to run but after only a short distance the heat was already sucking all our energy. We stopped and decided to walk under some trees. We were mostly walking until we got to a part with some shade and then we ran slowly again towards the aid station.

As soon as I completed the 8th loop I immediately went to the table where the volunteer was serving cup noodles and requested for chicken flavor. I took a chair and sat down while I ate my cup noodles. A couple of minutes after Beeping arrived. She took the vegetable cup noodles and sat beside me. I was craving for a very cold 100Plus but I didn’t get to bring one. Thankfully the watermelon was very nice and I ate a few slices of it. I never ate as much watermelon as I did that day.

After resting for a few minutes I re-applied sunblock, topped-up water and ice then we set off for the 9th loop. I was feeling a bit full so I walked first. The sun was burning hot so we tried to walk under the trees where there was shade. I told Beeping that once we have completed 10 loops the last 2 loops will just be mental.

We completed the 9th loop and continued for the 10th. I had to take a stop at the toilet so I told Beeping to go ahead and I’ll just catch up. Beeping was nowhere in sight when I got out of the toilet so I ran slowly until I was able to see her from a distance. I continued to run until I finally caught up with her. As I was still feeling okay I continued to run but when I got to an open trail I just had to stop and walk.

My feet were aching even if I just walk and my left hip was bothering me again. I waited for Beeping at the aid station before continuing for the 11th loop. We were both very tired and spent. We decided to walk the 11th loop. Midway way we met Angelina and Randall who were running in the opposite directions. They were still looking very strong and they gave us encouragement to continue. Their endurance is just amazing!

The last few kilometers are always the hardest mentally as it always feel like very long. On our 12th loop we were already very drained. The heat was just unforgiving! We marched all the way to the finish line. I asked Beeping if she wanted to run the last few hundred meters however she told me to just go ahead. I decided that we just finish together.

After more than 9 hours we completed 12 loops for a total distance of 51.6Km. It was Beeping’s first ultramarathon. She had never ran an official half marathon or full marathon. Her supposedly first official half marathon in last year’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore did not materialize as she got sick. She signed up for this year’s Standard Chartered KL Marathon however the marathon got postponed from June 29 to September 29 due to the bad haze conditions.  I was very happy that she completed her first ultramarathon.

After the Ultra my shoulders were badly sunburned

After the Ultra my shoulders were badly sunburned

After completing 12 loops

After completing 12 loops we got our Finisher’s medal

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