Clara Wong, one of the runners in our SUniG 2012 girls’ team, shares her experience in a reflective recount of her race.
SUniG Experience by Clara
“I’m not sure if you think this way but, I do not usually like entering competitions with the results in mind. I do not attend race day thinking ‘Okay, from previous competitions, someone came in this position or somebody achieved this time, so I am gonna come in this position.’ Nope. Anything can happen in a race, be it yourself or someone else’s mind or body. You might be feeling a bit better today than someone else is before the race, or in the heat of the competition when you or someone decides to give up, nothing is ever pre-determined. Time-wise, just run from feel during the trainings…that is what trainings are for. So, do your best, do what you can do, and you can determine your results!” – Clara
That Sunday started at 5:15am. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast – my favourite PB and banana sandwich, made some final adjustments before setting off to Bedok Reservoir.
My lovely dad helped to ferry me to the race venue as always. And on the way there we picked up Sarah and we had a wonderful chat in the car that somehow helped to calm the nerves.
As planned, I reached the meeting point in Bedok Reservoir – the Berlin Wall – an hour before the race time. I was pretty happy to see not just my very punctual team-mates, but also the many supporters who turned up. The comm members were all ready to ensure everything run smoothly. Kai Ming and Jia Hao were busy handling out pins and race bibs, and Shan Qi was walking around distributing personalized messages of encouragement to the competitors.
The team warmed up along the reservoir under a very pleasant weather. Indeed, there was no blistering 8am sunshine in sight, just the damp feel of morning dew and light breezes – a sign of a good day. We proceeded with the rest of the stretching and final checks before a perfect race as more supporters streamed in wishing us the best of luck.
I accompanied my team-mates Bee, Xin Qi, Sarah, Bi Qi, Cai Sang and Jennifer to the start line to do some strides. We took a final team photo and within moments we were called to the start. The female event began 5 minutes after the male event. It was a little heart-warming to see some of my friends whom I had not met in a long time representing other universities in this road race, as though their passion for running never let-off. For instance, Wan Zarah from SMU. However it was also a little nerve-wrecking to find them competing with me in a race again, like old-time rivals. Other tough competitors I faced were Renuka, Yvonne and Khai Leng representing NIE/NTU. I would like to add, that there was this NTU German girl from exchange, Vanja—representing NTU as well— participating that day. She even took part in the SUniG Aquathlon, beating most of our NUS aquathletes. In my mind I knew I had to take note of her, because during the Aquathlon her Run leg was done better than the Swim leg.
And we were off!
For the first 1km of the 6km route Vanja took off quite ahead of the pack really early. I did not try to keep up with her speed, perhaps knowing her ability from the Aquathlon, or because Renuka and Yvonne were still with me or perhaps it was just a bit too early in the race. Soon, along the 2km distance, Renuka increased her speed and caught up with Vanja, I took this opportunity to tail both of them. Three of us ran in the pack till the notorious Bedok slope. Just before we attacked the slope, in my mind I was thinking, “let’s test who could outlast the slope”, because usually the fittest would not be fazed by slopes. I could understand that I would not have shaken Renuka by just the slopes alone considering how powerful she was, but I was quite surprised that this slope did not slow down newcomer Vanja a single bit. Fighting for the top ain’t gonna be easy – I thought.
The race was halfway there, after the U-turn and past the pump-station. This was the stage where the rest of the route was covered by gravel, a feature of which only Bedok Reservoir had. The gravel road might be a boon or bane to some runners, and I try not to think so much. Renuka, Vanja and I were still together.
At around 4km, Renuka must be aiming for negative splits or something so she accelerated and left us both behind her. I knew I could not keep up to her level so I stuck with Vanja who was 3m ahead of me. This situation lasted after the straight road and the winding bends, until the last 1km of the race.
My gut feeling telling me that Vanja was slowing down came true when I noticed her panting really hard while keeping up with her. It was confirmed when out of nowhere, on the side-lines, Rui Yong who finished really early in the male race cheered for me to catch up with her. So I used this moment to go all out; it could be now or never.
Last 100m, I successfully overtook Vanja and—oh dear—my finish might not be good enough so Yvonne overtook me from behind, sprinting to the end just 2 seconds before me, to finish second. I had come in third, and Vanja finished 9 seconds after me to finish 4th. The formidable Renuka finished 1st being the only female clocking below 25 minutes.
It’s a thing for crossers who finish early cheering for the rest of their team-mates who are still running! Bi Qi came in 6th with a time of 25:48, Xin Qi came seconds behind her for 7th with a time of 26:08. Bee was close, 9th in 26:47. Cai Sang finished 26:47 for 12th. Sarah Tan 16th in 28:53. I was third in 25:13.
For SUniG, the male team comprised of Rui Yong, Hua Qun, Yen Bing, Adriel, Norman and Wilbert came in 1st, as all the males came in under top 10. And for the female team, we came in 1st Runner-up. We were all exhausted but brimming with content, gulping down the ice-cold 100-plus prepared by the comm while shaking sweaty hands with those who came up to congratulate us. Truly, months of hard work had paid off.