Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008
This year's run was a new experience for me and my team. I was once again a marathon pacer for the 4hr Pace Group, just like in SCSM07. However, I assembled a complete team of FatBird Pacers for this year's marathon, and that added a whole new dimension to my race participation.
Team FatBird Pacers assembled at 4.15am at The Esplanade amphitheatre to arm ourselves with coloured balloons, blinkers and placards. I did not sleep the previous night as I was really anxious for our team's performance as pacers. We had come some way after going through a 15-week Marathon Pacers training program, lots of preparation work, and many pacees who were looking towards the team to pace them to their target finish times.
The entire group went to the startline with our balloons attached to our full set of Nike-sponsored FatBird race-day gear. My 4hr group of Ronnie (Raven), Aik Hock (Ultra), Selva (Aero) and myself went to within 50m of the startline, and met up with a number of friends and runners wishing to go for 4hr.
The race started without much fanfare at 5.30am. Our group immediately launced into our Optimum Pace strategy of doing 5:30min/km pace for the first 21km. The balloons and blinkers on us were very clear for the Pacees, and soon we had a sizeable group with us. The weather was nice, and we settled into our targeted pace after 2km. Reached the first 10km near Fort Road, and I saw Ben Pulham shouting cheers to me. I waved back enthusiatically and moved on. The orad along the ECP was a good change this year as we ran mostly on tarmac surfaces instead of the usual hard concrete. The group of Pacees following me was still keeping up with the 5:30min/km pace....along the way, met Lim Teck Heng and a couple of SgRunners.
I closed up the gap with Ultra and Aero by the 18km mark, and soon we reached the 21km U-turn at the Sailing Centre in 1hr50min. It was great to see our Pace groups with all their following on the return, and we waved and cheered for one another. We converged with David Tay and the adidas 4hr group of pacers at the 22km mark, and ran together for the next 8km. Aero and Ultra were enjoying themselves, taking turns to lead in front, and providing advice and directions to the runners. The weather was still cloudy and cooling. We could see large crowds entering the ECP as we ran towards Fort Road.
We continued our 5:30min/km pace, sometimes even dropping to 5:25min/km to our next objective, the pit-stop at the SgRunners 30km support point. Along the way, Siew Lee/Weng Kong from SAFRA MF offered us 100-plus sng-pao...heavenly. Just before the pit-stop, ST called out to ask if I needed anything...really good service....haha. I made a quick toilet break at B1, before going into the pit-stop. Fd and Sotong offered me a iced-cold hydralyte pack....really nice. I continued on with Aero, leaving Ultra at the pit-stop to finish his coffee...hehe. We ran to 32km, and started to encourage all the 4hr runners on the final and most important leg of the marathon.
With 8km to go, we hit a large human 'wall' of 21km runners. We lost a bunch of the 4hr Pacees there. Aero and I had a hard time squeezing through the crowd, not to mention even looking out for Ultra and Ronnie. It was really challenging, and fortunately we had about 5min of time banked in to cater for such emergencies. We lost about 1-2min of time, but managed to squeeze through after 2km. I spotted a few of the Pacees and proceeded to cheer them on again. With 3km to go, I hit another human 'wall'...this time it could have been the 10km and 21km runners together....I wasn't really sure. I had a nasty time in there, and twice had kicks from the runners. Someone who ran across my path, stopped me dead in my tracks, and brought on a bout of cramps for me.
I walked a little to recover from the cramp, and then sped up to regain some lost ground. Saw adidas pacer Benny opening up the way for the runners in the final 1km near the Esplanade. I too urged the marathoners not to be disheartened by the thick crowd, and we squeezed through till I reached the Esplanade Bridge. I waited for Aero to join me, and together we rounded up the final group of 4hr runners to run towards the final 200m of the finish. With some time to spare, we did not cross the finish and continued to run backwards to cheer other finishers aiming for the 4hr mark. The announcer was quite amused and even mentioned my name, and how we the Nike Pacers were cheering on the finishers....it was quite interesting for all of us, and we exchanged hi-fives and hand-shakes about 50m before the finish line.
When most of the runners have crossed the finish, I finally ran across to finish in 3hr57min. It was most heart-warming and satisfying to see a large bunch doing thier sub-4hr marathon. Once across, I stayed on to shake the hands of those who came through the finish chute, including the wheel-chair marathoners. When Aero, Ronnie and Ultra finally came back, we congratulated one another, before moving off to mee and cheer the rest of the Pacers. The 21hr Pace Group and Pacees were already at the Padang shouting for us. They did well in 1hr57min.
Aero and I proceeded to the end point where Kayano was, and I stayed on to cheer the 5hr to 5:30hr pace groups as they finished. After all the Pacers had returned, we proceeded to Tan Kim Seng fountain for the Team FatBird Pacers group photo session, before assembling at Marina Square for some carbo-replenishment.
I am especially heartened that all the Team FatBird Pace Groups have come in within the respective targeted pace timings, with a few even doing spot-on Gun times....well done! We have done it as a team, and Team FatBird’s reputation as a passionate bunch of runners with special qualities to enable run-leading and pacing have gone a notch up. We have definitely delivered on the Team’s marathon mantra of Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race.
It is becoming evident through the many congratulatory messages and words of appreciation from different runners and quarters that our team of new, but dedicated marathon and half-marathon pacers have shone through, and delivered an outstanding performance at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2008.
I am proud of Team FatBird Marathon Pacers' maiden success, and we will surely see a more experienced group of Pacers for next years SCSM09.
My Official RunPix Results : 3hr56min (Nett)
PhotoSlideshow, Courtesy of Kayano