It is a yearly ritual for us MR25 Runners, as well as friends from the running community. With all the festive feasting and revelry, the MR25 Ultra-Marathon which allows us to run 10.5km laps around the MacRitchie trails from Dawn (7am) to Dusk (7pm), offers the perfect setting to burn off those excesses during Christmas and New Year. I have participated in this annual race since 2005, save for the 2007 edition when I was away for the Chiangmai Marathon.
Beverly and quite a number of maiden Ultra-Runners joined us for the first time this year. The renovated MR Visitor Centre offered a good registration/lap point for the 250+ registered runners. There were a few new rules put out to make the race a much better experience, such as the 2hr per lap rule, and not taking short cuts via the Golf Course. My plan this year was to run in the FatBird BaseBuild Zone, aiming to complete 70min 10.5km laps. I advised Beverly to go with a 90min lap time as pace, and to take it easy the first 3 laps.
It was great meeting up with friend and runners from Team FatBird, Punggol Runners, SgRunners, MR25, SAFRA Runners, Pacesetters from Malaysia, and all the photographers who were on location. There were so many photographers this year, and it was a pleasure to pose for them as we ran by. I did the first lap in 1hr13min, and felt good. Had a quick chat with Joe and Charlene, before proceeding for lap 2. There was more space by then, as the runners have dispersed along the trails. The weather was cool, and the ground was a tad muddy with the early dawn showers.
Lap 2 was done in 1hr10min to rousing cheers of supporting friends. I took a banana and some 100plus, and then saw senza coming with her camera....one more photographer. As I passed Nancy, we exchanged X'Mas greetings and some words of encouragement. CK Chin was running well too. Had a nice chat with ex MR25 Club President, Steven Lee, and happy to know he has been very consistent with his running, coming off a strong marathon at SCSM09. Lap 3 was completed in 1hr10min as well. My legs were still feeling fine, just that I was a little hungry. I grabbed a Powergel and banana before proceeding to the next lap.
The 4th lap was quite uneventful. I was spending more of the time focusing on my running form, and taking care not to overstride. I could feel my calves tightening with each steep upslope along the trails. I took care not to push too hard, and just wanted to complete. The sun was rather strong along the Golf Course area, but I was feeling cool about it. I was wondering where Bev was along the course, and met Steven Ho at the water point. He was looking good, and was determined to finish the 5 laps in good time. I completed lap 4 in 1hr11min, and was happy to see the Sunbird trainees out in full force to support...Rose, SC, Amy, Cathelin, Hock Chye and the gang. We took some nice photos before I set off for my final lap. Then mentioned that Bev was on her 4th lap, so I was hoping to catch up.
Vincent told me that lunch was ready, and I was quite tempted to take something as I was quite hungry...decided against taking the oily and messy stuff, but chose to take a banana and Powergel. The 5th lap saw me walking a little up the Northern Trails, but generally I was still running. I wanted to conserve to see if I have reserves for a 6th lap. Gave ham some encouragement as well as telling Jason to push on for the finish. It felt a lot better once I was out of Northern Trails, as the upslopes were decreasing. I was pretty sure that the Cheese cakes, log cakes, fruit cake, kueh lapis I had consumed during the Christmas season gave me good energy to push on....haha.
With just 2.5km left along the Lornie Trails, it got easy as my spirits remained high. Saw XP on the final 1km stretch and we ran along for a bit, before I finished lap number 5 in 1hr15min. The total time was 6hr21min, including rests and stops for food and drinks. I was satisfied since I had the chance to 'burn' and didn't have to work too hard for it..hehe. YN and Darren were just going for their 6th lap...well done. YN should have a good chance for Podium if she does 7 laps like last year.
While waiting for Bev, we had fun taking group photos and talking about the experience. Those who did the Ultra for the first time found the course to be tough, and going in loops of 10.5km made some of them feel like hamsters...haha. It is no wonder that most wanted to stop at 5 laps. However the ladies were generally stronger in the 'mental' department, and a lot more of them were going for the 6th lap. PS was very strong, and looked to be in contention for Podium. I went for a quick wash-up and soon, people were shouting that Bev was coming back. We all cheered and clapped for her maiden Ultra-Marathon finish...well done....no mean feat at all.
We had a chance to sample the lunch, which was not bad. The 100Plus were ample, and the finisher's top looked very nice. Clutching the certificate of completion, signed by Mark Dyson, MR25 Club President, the finishers went to collect their finisher tops with pride and joy. The beaming smiles and congratulatory hand-shakes added to the already touching scenes of completion of the MR25 trail Ultra-Marathon, a run that is respected by even the toughest trail runners and marathoners.
Beverly was very happy and proud of her accomplishment, as she secured a treat from the boy for her feat. As I sit on my sofa typing, she has slipped on her Compression Tights, and is doing her leg drains in the air-conditioned comfort of her room. I look forward to doing Mr25 Ultra-Marathon 2010 with an even bigger group of runners. Till then, A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all! .