My pre-race ritual consists of drinking a cup of black coffee or two before heading out and repeating a particular track on my iPod titled, ironically, Les Jours Tristes, until I reached the race venue. There were no exceptions today, except for the slight drizzle that greeted me when I left my house in the morning and again when I got off the cab and started walking towards the bag deposit area. As I make my way to the TP track, a hairy guy joined a group of runners gathered further down south of this island and they began making their way to another starting line, getting ready for what they call too, a challenge, which will start ten minutes time. Just not far from them, four athletic sisters are warming up and preparing to swim, blade, cycle and run in this beautiful Sunday morning along the same eastern coast of Singapore.
This was my third time running in the Mizuno Wave Run. Interestingly, all the three editions I ran in were in even year (2006, 2008 and 2010) and all the three editions represents the different mentality I had towards racing.
The edition in 2006 was my first 10km race I ever participated in. That year, I was a student in a neighbourhood junior college cum captain of the college’s track and field team preparing for my final exams which will determine where I will head towards after military service. Back then, running this type of road races was merely for the experience, and of course, the finisher medal and T-Shirt. It was a time where I don’t really understand how people actually race a 10km race…
The edition in 2008 was a bit different. I was fresh from the military and eager to start my tertiary education in a couple of week’s time. By then, I had a couple of experiences in running road races, e.g. Army Half Marathon, Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and Sundown Ultra Marathon. Participating in road races is no longer about chasing finisher medals and event tees but getting a personal best in every single attempt…
The edition in 2010 was special. I’m in my third year of tertiary education, struggling to improve my academic results. By now, I would have countless of running experience in road races, some ups and some downs. Nevertheless, I managed to bring down my personal best in the respective distances over the years. At this point of time, beating a personal best in every single attempt is simply does not suffice. With every single attempt, it comes with a hope that a new personal best is good enough for a podium placing…
I won the race. I won the Mizuno Wave Run 2010, Men’s Open 10km. This victory however comes at the expense of six elite runners who, unfortunately, were disqualified from the race because they made the wrong turning prior to the first three miles. It was fortunate that I did not follow one of them, who was just a few steps in front of me, but rather to listen to the advice of an senior runner from the MacRitchie Runners 25, who will go on to clinch the first position in the 10km Men’s Veteran, that the other way was the right one. Nevertheless, I stumbled and was confused about the orientation for a while before I made what I thought was a risky gamble to follow the ‘right’ people. By then, I was lagging quite behind and suddenly, running became a lone act…
I ran past the first one and a half miles marker and resisted the urged to look at my watch. I felt fatigued. I gasped. I pant. Random thoughts started flooding my mind – “Perhaps, I started too fast. Perhaps, I should slow down. Perhaps, I should stop…” – and before I knew it, I’ve reached the reservoir, a place which I’ve raced more than I could count. It was here where I thought I should try it one more time and stay close to the competitor ahead of me. From the pavement along the main road, we made a left turn into the reservoir and turn left again as guided by the road marshal, making close to a full turn. After the turning, we were supposed to continue heading straight down the path until we past the washrooms which would mark the next turning point and the way back to the finishing line. Suddenly at this point of time, the competitor ahead of me thought that the road marshal directed us towards the wrong way and decides to make things right by making a right turn immediately and head down to the gravel path surrounds the water body of this reservoir through the grass. What should I do…?
After passing the five kilometres mark, I was able to make use of the little distance markers that were lying at the side of the gravel path, which were located at an interval of five hundred metres apart, to gauge my pacing. In an attempt to catch up with the senior runner and the Caucasian runner that were ahead of me, I decided to make a surge at every single kilometre. Within two kilometres, I had overtaken the senior runner, whom I later discovered to be running in a separated category. The chase is now between me and the Caucasian runner, whom appears to be slowing down. By the time I reach the exit of the reservoir, at the benches I always waited before races, he was just a mere hundred metre away. I sped up again on the park connector leading towards the polytechnic, with roughly a about two kilometres left into the race.
I finally caught up with him at the bus stop just outside the polytechnic and we chatted awhile. He asked me about the distance, and I told him it was less than a kilometre. We reached the entrance of the polytechnic and I told him that the finishing line will be just away after turning right at the end of this path, just before I sped up. I ran past the track and saw familiar faces when an acquaintance, who ran a business selling sports equipment and a running group, named the F1 Runners, shouted at me saying that the few runners in front of me were disqualified. I just ran harder and took a peek at my back. Despite the assuring sight, I moved on and cross the finishing line without the slightest bit of slowing down.
After the race, I showered and changed into a fresh set of shoes and attire. While waiting for the results to be finalised, I sat at the grandstand of the track to continue reading my book, On War, occasionally distracted by the crowds still streaming in towards the finishing line, still finishing as a champion in their own rights. And in their red Mizuno singlet, they look like waves of red little apples running. Like how I used to be, like them.
Ang Wee Leong, Patrick
Mizuno Wave Run 2010