Freshies Blog Competition Entries (4)

(This competition has already ended)

Contest details:

In the past weeks since school started, you’ve all had fond and unforgettable memories of being in the team so far (:
Let us hear your experiences and share with us what you like most about the team 😀

You can talk about anything from the Cross Country Camp (if you attended it!), to trainings, the outings, the events and the experience of running/supporting for our team in our races!
I’m sure most of you have seen the blog ( Your entries will be posted on the blog and every entry will have the chance to win a Sony Walkman W252 😀



o   Just one-piece, with no wire, allowing you to be hands-free & wire-free


o   Withstand sweat from hardcore workouts

o   Easy to clean


o   Easy to load songs, simply by dragging and dropping music files


o   90 mins playback time, with just 3 mins charge

o   Up to 11 hours of music playback with total battery life


So what are you waiting for!!! 😀
Write to us about your experiences in NUS Cross Country and we’ll like to hear from you guys how much you love the team ❤

The dateline for this contest was 31st October 2010.
All entries were sent to my email (myscribblenotes_zak@hotmail). We’ve vet through them and the winner has been decided (:

We’ll announce it probably after exams when everyone comes back for training 😀

In the meantime, do enjoy reading the 4 entries!

p.s. it is very heart-warming to read their posts ❤


Entry 1 by BHAVESH

I disrupted from National Service on August 2nd, 2010. The day university officially started.

I was so pumped to be back in the world of Academia, I had signed up for I think about 15 CCAs, at the Matric fair, and that’s not counting the martial arts (pretty much every one I saw)

The same day, I had my medical screening at UHC. The doctor attending to me was quite chatty, and made me feel completely at ease. He even had some advice to offer on my choice of co-curricular activity.

“Pick something you will do, regardless of what happens. Pick something you want to do anyway. If you have a burning passion to excel at Nam Wah Pai, go ahead.  You won’t get these years back”

So I decided to play safe, and try everything out first.

My first encounter with the team was the RUNNUS Clinic, hosted by them, and sponsored by Nike. I didn’t know what to expect, and just came to see what it was about.

The team was wearing the blue and grey Nike singlets. That was the first time I was meeting them, and I wondered if this was their uniform.

We were sitting in the front row, and the room hadn’t filled up yet. Mok Ying Ren was there, ready to address us all, but we didn’t know who he was. He did seem vaguely familiar though.

My friend, unfortunately, kept falling asleep. He did sit up and take notice, though, when Mok introduced himself.

“Hunh? Oh, that’s the guy from the Brands Chicken Essence ad! Wah…”

The short run after that was quite welcome. I had never seen the campus, and there probably is no better way. I got to meet much of the team as well, and some of the freshmen we currently have. I still remember Nick in particular being really enthusiastic and cheerful; he came and said hi, etc. to the newbies.

My next meeting with the team was the Sunday MacRitchie run. I had never run there before, and I didn’t know what to expect. Run on trail. How hard could it be?

I don’t think I’ve ever had to push as hard, as I did that day. I wasn’t expecting the pace, I had no idea of how experienced the team was; heck, I didn’t even know the connotations ‘Cross Country” has among the general populace. Before NS, a ‘workout’ was climbing up to the seventh floor.

But after 10 odd minutes of trying to follow the team, and simultaneously dodging trees, branches, rocks, and geriatric fitness enthusiasts, I had to stop. I was shaking so hard I couldn’t stand at first. Damn.

And it was only 8 am.

The remaining 7 km were long and slow. There was enough time for me to ponder the prospect of joining carefully – and life in general.

But as I ran, I began to enjoy the experience. For some reason, when you’re running, and pushing yourself to run harder, you tune out all the distractions. You focus on the rhythm, on your breathing. Things are much simpler.

Maybe its because it’s a getaway from planning and thinking ALL the time. When you run, there’s only one way to go. Maybe that’s where they got the term ‘one-track mind’.

And while all these random thoughts floated into my head on a humid Sunday morning, I suddenly realized how serene it was.

How nice. Of all the places to, I was having revelations in a…

I was on the golf course. Ah. That explained why the men in polo tees were shouting.

Over the next couple of weeks, I went for other CCAs. But I found I kept coming back.

By this point in time, I’ve been to enough training sessions to know them like the back of my hand. Every training session is different. Sometimes it’s the people you’re running with, sometimes its how you feel when you run.

There are plenty of other experiences I could talk about. But I guess I should cut it short here, and move on.

What do I like most about the team? I’ll try to put it in words.

A major part, I think, is the attitude. Everybody’s there to train, to improve. To run. For two hours every session, we laugh, talk, and generally enjoy being out in the open.

There is the freedom. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I like coming to run because I choose to. Sometimes we  can’t join in training, because we have other responsibilities, and I appreciate that there is no one breathing down my neck, because the seniors understand.  Competitions aside, running is about being free, the way I see it.

Of course, the team spirit. The cheering, the support, from people running with you, behind you, or even lapping you (yep, my first 10 km interval). The positivity, the camaraderie, is what makes training with the team enjoyable.

I had forgotten what it felt like to be a student. But old memories have been rushing back since I’ve started, and they just won’t quit. Just a week ago I was reacquainted with the familiar sensations of fatigue, stress, despair, and inexplicably, hope, all at the same time, as I sat in at a Math lecture and fervently prayed it was April 1st, and the 3 integral signs on the screen were a practical joke.

It’s a release to be able to not think how sad your life must be if you fear a mathematical squiggle, and just get out there and take it all out.

The flip side, of course, is the physical and mental effort required, especially when you’re halfway through and realize there’s still another half to go. But its nice to see that there are a bunch of other people around you, in various different outfits and shoes, doing the same thing, probably experiencing the same thoughts and emotions.

In the middle of interval training sometimes, when I tend to look around. Then I realize “I’m probably an idiot for putting myself through this in my free time. But it can’t be all that bad, can it, when all these guys are with me, doing the same thing?”

Its nice to know you’re not alone.


Entry 2 by PHILIP

“Everybody has to run – you can’t wayang.”

Another Tuesday interval training had just ended, and we were having dinner at PGP when Bhavesh said those words. We were thinking aloud about our experiences training with NUS Cross-Country.

Bhavesh could not have been more right when he said those words – when you run, you cannot wayang. Your competency is laid out in the open, your limitations are exposed. And for that very reason, I secretly dreaded running and exercise since my days in Meridian Junior College (MJC).


With many of my classmates being sportsmen, P.E lessons always made me feel inferior. I would be the one who could not jump, could not pull myself up the chin-up bar, and straggling behind as the floorballers, canoeing jocks, and sailors cleared the 2.4km run in a breeze.

Miraculously making it into Officer Cadet School during National Service in the Army brought me into another world of pain and frustration. Be it combat runs, distance runs, or interval trainings, I would be the one struggling behind – the one with a sub-standard timing as compared to my peers. With the exception of three instructors who constantly encouraged and guided me, most instructors and peers would not know what to say as they saw that I finished my runs with a poor timing. I gradually begin to feel that running and the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) were a curse to my life – taboo matters that I should avoid. I was suspended from training when I reported a sharp chest pain that lasted for days after one interval training session that I did myself during a block leave.

Miraculously again, I cleared some medical examinations and managed to resume training after a three-month break, graduating from Officer Cadet School in March ‘10. Personal choices and circumstance worked in their own way, so much so that I decided to sign-on as a regular with the Army. This allowed me to matriculate in Aug ’10.


With a military career waiting for me upon graduation, I wanted to get my running up and proper. For a start, I wanted to be able to run 2.4km under 9mins 44 secs so that I could get an IPPT Gold reflected on my military performance – IPPT being a key performance indicator for Singapore Armed Forces personnel.

At the matriculation fair, I headed for the Cross-Country booth and eagerly left my particulars with them, expressing interest to join the Orientation Camp. Somehow, there were internal administrative lapses and on a Thursday night before the camp, I was clicking around the NUS CCA website to see how I could contact NUS Cross-Country. I found Azrul’s number, and at the ungodly hour of 11p.m, something like this happened…

Uh, hi. Are you the Captain of NUS Cross-Country?

Uh, yea. Sorry, you are…?”

Oh… I’m Philip, a freshman. I’ve been waiting for someone to contact me about the camp that you guys are having tomorrow night…Is the camp still on?”

And so in a last minute rush, I managed to squeeze myself into the family.


The camp was warm, friendly and fun – and you may ask “Which orientation camp isn’t eh?

But there was something warm and fuzzy about the small-scale twenty-four hour camp, something simply enjoyable about running up to Kent Ridge Park for a picnic in the night, then playing around West Coast Park in the morning, and just… well, running around. There were no ulterior motives to the running we were doing. I was not running around with these new found friends because I wanted to get an IPPT Gold. I was not running because I wanted to be faster, or was afraid of being slower. We just ran. And I liked that.

Of course, that did not prepare for what I now feel is the real deal – Interval Trainings on Tuesdays and Fridays. Things were not very different from when I was running in MJC, or when I was running in OCS – I was still the back of the pack, panting as I struggled to keep up with the rest. But something was different There was encouragement.

It seemed that, in spite of how everyone felt they performed for the training, encouraging each other was the norm. Without fail, the tenth lap would end with claps and words of encouragement.

Nick Tey would jog along, panting gleefully as he said “Hey, good job Philip! That was a good run man!”

My initial thoughts to these encouragements went along the lines of,

“Really meh? You so far ahead how you know I did a good run?”

My ego and pride would be buggered with thoughts such as,

“Wah, cwei! In Army run slower than my buddy neh-mind. But here, I literally chasing girls sia, sian.”

Basket, I first few laps faster than that fella, then in the end kena owned.


The word “encourage” is of French origin, and can be broken down in to “en-courage”. “En” meaning “to make” or “to put in”. If there was any word to describe my ten weeks of experience of training with NUS Cross-Country, the word would be “Encouraged” – the Family put Courage in me.

It seemed ridiculous – automatic claps and cheers after every run. How is that suppoused to help people?

But it was not mindless just smiles and actions. It was family showing support from a sincere heart. These people were not out to be better than me, they were simply out to be better. This spirit of building each other up gave me the courage to honestly face my current standards, and do what needs to be done to get better.

I gradually began to learn that it did not matter whether I am running faster or slower than anyone this week. The real gauge is whether I am better than I was. My eyes were opened to that difference between being better and being relatively better – what truly mattered was that we all made progress in our own way.

I took my mind off the pressure of running 9mins 44secs and began to focus on just running that bit better than I did before. And many bits gradually make a big bit. From being a dreaded chore, running became a fun experience of watching the little bits of improvement snowball into an increasingly bigger bit – and the bit just continues to grow. Perhaps, I’m no IPPT Gold Runner yet, but I now see that with my weekly dose of that bit, 9mins 44secs is not only inevitable – it is shallow.

Because anyone can throw relative standards and comparisons in your face, but only you know in your heart whether you have given your best. NAFA in JC and IPPT in Army taught me that I should run for a Gold Award. Run 9mins 44secs. NUS Cross-Country taught me to run the best I possibly could.

We Are

We youths have the gift of being able to run. Our cardiovascular systems are healthy and our limbs are intact. Yet, running may be no more than just the physical expression of our heart’s desire for making progress in life. We will enter new seasons in life. Things will change. Our bodies will age. And one day, we may not be able to run as fast, or train as hard.

But there is a particular group who have the blessing of experiencing the heart of running in their youth. They know what it is like to be in family building each other up. They downplay individual egos while lifting up team spirit, and together they become better people. They will never forget the lessons that running has taught them, nor will they ever lose the character that running has developed in them.

We are those blessed ones.

We are NUS Cross-Country.


Entry 3 by KELLY

Before I joined NUS cross…


I already loved running, but was slightly intimidated by the red jerseys on the track;

I always had second thoughts running in school;

not wanting friends to who catch me in the act and break into their ‘don’t-know-why-you-like-running-so-much’ pitch

I never knew runners who were so multi-talented;

run & sing, run & soccer, run & bake, run &… surely loadsa things I haven’t yet discovered

I never knew runners who were so running-talented;

After I joined NUS cross…

I met people to share the love with;

although sometimes I am still slightly intimidated

I need no more second thoughts about running in school;

I met people who couldn’t be more different from myself;

I also met people who were similar to me in faith, personality, interests;

I definitely met people who totally-understand-why-I-like-running-so-much;

I also met people who’d listen to incessant whining about how slow I am;

(but now I’m trying to curb that cos I realized that running NUS cross is more than just speed)

And people who became lifesavers when my term paper had to undergo an overhaul in 2 days;


But most important of all, for the first time since I started

Running became a team sport.


Entry 4 by JUSTIN SIM

The story of my SUniG experience goes back way before the starting line.

When I joined NUS cross-country about 2 months ago, it was not without some degree of reluctance. During my army days, I had a good friend who himself used to be a runner. Very often we would reminiscence of the days when we used to represent our schools at nationals, and lament about how tough trainings were. When we took part in the SAFSA track and field meet in March last year, we joked about how that was going to be one of our last races – we were both tired of competitive running, and the sacrifices it took to bring out the best in ourselves.

Fast forward a few months to last December, when I took part in my first ever full marathon. Initially I signed up with a friend just for the fun of it, but as we trained progressively and I saw myself gaining back some of my old fitness, I began to rediscover some of the joy of running that I had earlier dismissed. Unfortunately, I was involved in an overseas military training exercise from end-Oct to mid-Nov that severely disrupted my training. To make things worse, there was an incident involving a serviceman who died during a routine run, and as a result there was a blanket ban on unsupervised running across the whole SAF; in other words, I could not run for a whole month. In the end, I was unable to catch up on my fitness, and the marathon proved to be one of the most painful running experiences ever. I recall my entire left leg going numb with cramp, and I had to slowly struggle along in embarrassment as people of all ages, sizes (and genders) overtook me. It was perhaps the lowest point in my running experience.

Hence when I joined the team in August, I had to overcome my fear of no longer being good enough. I knew that there were many, many talented runners in NUS, and that joining the team would be at the risk of being demoralised further. To be honest, I do not know how I ended up coming down for training, but I guess part of me believed that I deserved at least one more chance. So I told myself to commit to the training, to work hard, and to be modest in my expectations. I had heard many good things about Mr Quek, and I knew that if there was one chance to improve myself, this was it. The team was very warm and welcoming, and this allowed me to let down my guard, and just really enjoy the whole experience of running. There were no distinctions between the fast and the not-so-fast runners, even the coach treated each person with equal regard, and it was in this very comfortable setting that I found myself assured and relaxed. (Special shout-out to Zakiyah and Madan, my OG seniors during Cross Country Camp, who made me feel so welcome; also to seniors like Azrul, Eric, Nick Tey, Roy, Jovian, who took the effort to talk to me one-on-one and encourage me)

Back to the starting line. To be honest, being able to represent the school just 2 months after I started training was something way beyond all my expectations. I guess the hard work put in, as well as the strong support from all my teammates, and of course the guidance of Mr Quek, somehow all came together and worked out well. Just before the race, Norman came and asked me “Are you nervous?” My reply to him was “No man, I’m damn excited. It has been so long since I last raced.” In my heart I was just really happy and grateful for this opportunity, and I told myself that since I’ve already made it this far, why not push it a little further, and give this run all I’ve got.

I can’t quite recall the details of the entire race. I remember starting slow, building up momentum, and then chasing Norman down to the finish. In the end, I managed to shave off 16 seconds from my time trial. On one hand I was pleased to have completed the race, and set a new PB for myself. I think a lot of credit goes to all the supporters who woke up early and went all the way down to Bedok just to cheer us on. THANK YOU ALL so much for your support, it really made a difference in our run =) At the same time, though, I must honestly admit that I was a little disappointed to have finished so far behind NTU, despite the fact that they may have sent their strongest runners. In retrospect, I will take this as a reminder of how much room there still is for improvement, to remain humble and to keep working hard during trainings.

Reflecting on my experiences over the past one and a half years, it is really heartening to see where I am today, despite all the events that occurred. To this end, I would like to extend my utmost gratitude to every single person in NUS Cross Country for sharing the joy of running with me, and for really being a big part of my life. Thank you to all those who encouraged me to believe in myself, who pushed me during training, and who balanced all the hard work with genuine friendship and camaraderie. With IVP coming up, I really do hope that as a team, we can strive together for greater heights. May all those representing the team set new PBs, top the podium, and just simply blaze the track. I hope to do my part in supporting all of you, just as you have been such a pillar of support for me since the day I first stepped into NUS Cross Country. NUSXC FTW!! 😀


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