New Balance Realrun (10km)
Sun, 17 Oct 2010
Changi Exhibition Centre
5 years on, 168685643++ long runs later, I return to Changi to race the Realrun route once again.
It’s always windy on weekends here, at the end of the known world, facing east, where the tarmac at Changi Exhibition Centre runs away past the Northop Grumman house and into the messy trail. The runway, which everyone complains about, has 89 lamp-posts. The beach, which everyone dreads, is longer this year.
I’ve ran this route – or some combination of trail, road, runway and beach – at least 15 times. And I will continue to do so, every year, until I’m given the order to stop. For me and the fifteen others from the Police-KINS running team, running Realrun is so much not just about duty or responsibility. It’s about nostalgia. It’s about the sheer memory of running a route which has, in some way or another, profoundly affected the way we love running.
5 years down from my first Realrun at Sentosa, I still tend to fear the weather. There are clouds hovering over the starting line at 0700 hrs. So, our team captain tells us: “your objective today is to outrun the rain.” And then we perform the customary squeeze to the starting line to get places so we have a headstart over other Police units (Coast Guard, Police HQ, J Division, TRACOM).
But its the other people at the starting line who reassure me that I’m running right: Roy gives me a wave, Benedict says hello, an uncle accepts my offer to share a drink, and I see Madan’s back. After the horn sounds, I pass Nic Tey on the trail. We say hi.
As usual, the trail is tough. I nearly shatter my ankle in soft sand, and my pacer (Firdaus) has gone so far ahead that he is blue smudge against the dust of the runners in front. Then, 2km of runway without shade. A commander from my unit waits at the start of the park trail. And then: beach.
I love the sand at Changi beach park. When the runners ahead of me force me into the waves, I feel like I’m surfing the tide. My shoes get soaked, and the last 2 km of runway back to the exhibition centre is hell. The sun is full in my face. There are no dark clouds in the sky. But I pass people who slow down and reach the finishing line in 44:19.
When my team captain returns, I ask him: “Where’s your rain?”
5 years past, and this is the first Realrun where I’ve not hit a PB. But there’s more to running than excuses, or award ceremonies, or trophies, or cash. As Benedict and I wait for the results, I wish I had the courage to shake hands with all the Gurkhas who have beaten me again and again. There’s more to Sundays than two polar opposites.
Because, as I leave the exhibition centre, the shade-less walk makes me sweat buckets. The runway disappears into a watery mist beneath the noontime sun. The sky is clear. Sometimes the scenery from Changi looks pretty imposing. Sometimes it looks like a mirage. But it always looks beautiful.
5 years gone – and I think I’ve learnt a lot.