In what proved a bodacious venture, several University of Melbourne graduates donning white MU Sport singlets, took to the streets in the early hours of 2 December to participate in Singapore’s marquee running event— the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore!
Outnumbered by the whitewash of over 50,000 blue singlets bobbing up and down the streets, it still felt special to be decked out in the white MU Sport singlet (a nice cool, dry fabric), which had the University logo clearly emblazoned on the front and back.
For one, I felt a strong association with the University. And two, I felt proud to be a part of the UMAAS’ initiative to bring visibility to our alma mater. *Represent Yo!*
UMAAS, our vibrant and local alumni association, registered about 40 graduates who ran in one of the three race categories—42.195km, 21.1km and 10km. I don’t know why we weren’t represented in the 750m kids dash. I might just swallow my pride and sign up for that category next year! Maybe I might have a winning chance then, then again maybe I should sleep over it… K
I must have slept little more than 4 hours the night before. But it didn’t seem like it when my alarm went off. My body responded quite fluidly as I jumped out of bed and swung into motion… If I could just get it to respond this way during the work week!
Blue bodies poured in at every station on my ½ hour-long train journey. I mused at the sight of runners fiddling with their phones at 5.30am in the morning (far out!), while some leaned back into their seats for a quick snooze and yet others whipped out baby pins, and affixed their Race Bibs to their tops.
We soon shuffled out at various destinations given the three different starting points for the various categories. I soon found the bag deposit area and after off-loading my baggage, I followed the stream of runners with yellow coded bibs to the starting point (the yellow coding helps identify 10km runners).
Along the considerable detour, lo and behold… was the yellow Turbaned Tornado! (as he’s affectionately known, the world over). At apparently 101 years of age, the British Indian was sprightly, walking without any aid and with a slight bounce with every step! As I walked right past the unassuming gentleman, I just couldn’t think of anyone so light on their feet at his age!
The crowd I was in, streamed along One Fullerton and congregated up the bridge. Thankfully, I got to the 10km starting point with enough time to have a quick stretch, catch a glimpse of the hosts groove to ‘Opa Gangnam style’ (all the rage now), watch the wheelies take off and be a part of the first wave of runners to flag off at 7.15am as Robbie Fowler and other VIPs ‘PooOoomed’ the air horn! In case you didn’t know, Rob’s a renowned Liverpool Football Club player. To all the LFC fans—you’ll never runalone!
Like all champion albeit (very) unusual F1 drivers do, I dashed off to the nearest pit stop (aka loo at the Esplanade) to relieve myself! I knew I should have listened to that stab of regret for not having done so earlier, but man… it felt good to finally get the job done!
Moving right along, I kept a steady pace but tripped at one point, catching myself just in time. In that moment, I may have cut into the path of other runners. Thankfully, I believe they evaded me with relative ease, although one of them came up alongside me, nudging her fist into my side, saying “Watch where you’re going!”
Lucky for her she had said that with a smile and run off before I entertained the thought of squirting her silly with water using my trusty but unmentionable chrysanthemum-tea super soaker!
As she soon disappeared out of sight and out of mind, my attention got diverted to the beauty of the necklace of attractions along the Marina Bay Reservoir—including Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer.
The quiet I felt was only mildly troubled by runners panting heavily along the route (some of whom had come to a complete stop while others opted to walk after running out of steam).
My ticker belted out a steady rhythm and I continued to cover the ground, listening as my breathing and footsteps synchronised. It felt like a really long time before I spotted two MU Sport singlets just up the road.
As I came alongside them, I wasted no time and introduced myself to them (Chee Keong was one of them!) and after exchanging quick handshakes, I was off like a bullet, hey (bullet snail that is! At this point, I would have run 8km non-stop-not that it’s a big deal in the grand scheme of marathon running, but to the owner of the 9-11 hour (daily) chair-kissed touché, it’s a big, big deal!).
For some reason, the final kilometre seemed to take forever to conquer. But thankfully, the all-important final stretch was packed with plenty of volunteer cheerleaders and friendly onlookers to spur the runners to the end. Even with no end in sight, I took a gamble and decided to go for it, sprinting what I believed was about 5-600 metres. As I raced past the pool of photographers at the finish line, I felt a rush of achievement and relief!
What made me feel even better, was when I looked up and saw that I’d crossed over in 1:07 hrs in spite of the (awesome) loo-stop at the start and a steady but leisurely-paced run! Not bad, not bad at all! The post-race goodies (muesli bar, iced towel, celebrations kit and medal handout) proved a refreshing treat!
It was a pity, that at the end, I couldn’t locate fellow alumni in the white singlets. But I’m sure they finished strongly, doing themselves and our alma mater proud. It’s not often we get the opportunity to ‘run for a reason’ but this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon gave us the perfect opportunity to do so.
If you’ve yet to try this and are keen to do so, why don’t you join us next year? We can then join the chorus of graduates who say, “Been there. Run that!”
Many thanks to our beloved University and especially to veteran runner —Low Han Keat and UMAAS’ President—Melvin Gwee for organising the registrations, photo opportunities and race pack collection.
By Your Truly,