Sunday, December 6, 2009

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2009

Race Report by FatBird Anthony
Photography @ FatBird Gallery by FatBird DO
SPORTS ACTION by Byron fb (Part 1), MaxAng fb, Byron fb (Part 2)

Marathon Pacers & Sunbirds gather before the race

It was a day of reckoning and excitement for the Team FatBird Marathon Pacers, Ops Sunbird participants, and the Marathon Pacees. The SCSM09 full marathon, half marathon and quarter marathon was what we have all been training for the past 10-12 weeks, and this was the day when many maiden marathoners would be born, and records would tumble like ten pins.

Team FatBird, with the support of various sponsors and supporters, have been preparing for this ‘mother of all Singapore Marathons’ and we are glad we delivered, and even exceeded expectations in many aspects of the training and race. A morning assembly of 3.30am had us pumping up balloons and putting up timing bibs and pace bands. When the Sunbirds arrived at 4am, we had some group photos before making final prep to move to the start line. As the Pacers walked into the starting pens with their Pacees, it seemed like we were going in for some ‘big’ fight and we could hear whispers and discussions about ‘these are the pacers….there, follow the 5:00h group’, etc.

As we moved into position, our balloons made us identifiable from afar, and soon more runners approached the various teams to ‘fall in’. Unfortunately, some of the teams’ balloons could not pass through due to communications breakdown, and that made it more difficult for the late comers to spot the Pacers.

The weather was cool and nice, and felt like the sort of race that records would be broken. While waiting and chatting with fellow runners and friends, the horn just started out of the blue. However, all was calm, as we made our way out of the pens and onto the roads. I saw many familiar faces, those that have followed the 4:00h Pace Group in past years, as well as the new runners who have joined us for training in 2009. As it was race time, we avoided chatting too much to conserve energy and instead focused on the goal in front.

The first 10km was covered in an average of 5:35min/km. Like the other Pacer groups, there was a large following for the 4:00h Pace Group. With the many simultaneous footfalls in tandem, it sounded like we were moving at break-neck speed….hehe. The spirits were high and all were sufficiently charged up. FatBirds Keonz, YN, Spencer were leading, with Darren in the middle, and Anthony sweeping and shouting out lap timings at regular intervals. The balloons on us made it easier to spot the group running, and that attracted more to join in.

The 4:00h group of runners were pretty consistent, and most were able to sustain the pace. Those who occasionally slowed down were quick to find their footing and moved up in step. Shouts and encouragement came from groups who were running past, but without the balloons, I couldn’t really make out some of our Pacer Groups. The weather remained cool as we kept up the pace. Keonz and YN were maintaining the pace very well, allowing the body and the rear guard to just support and keep up. We maintained 5:34min/km till 21km, and that played well to our Optimal Pace Strategy. There were some runners who by then decided to slow down a tad, and dropped back to my spot, about 50m behind the lead.

It was pretty smooth going as we exit from Fort Road onto Mountbatten. Then we hit into the human wall of 21km runners converging near the Kallang area. We had to weave our way in and out, and that was when we lost some of the Pacees. A few runners were checking with me if we were still on pace. I told them to try to gain a little speed, albeit difficult in those conditions. Keonz/YN were able to maintain their lead position as we turned in the F1 Pitstop for the final 3km. The crowd was still thick, as we slowed the pace further with jogs and attempts to get at the water stations.

There were various shouts from friends taking photos in the midst of the ‘thick’ wall of runners. The final 2km was spent telling others to move ahead to finish below 4hr, as well as telling the other runners to make way. With 500m to go, it was 3:58h. I urged the remaining runners to push harder towards Parliament House, as I took occasional glances to the side to see if there were others making the final mark. The 4:00h Pace Group finished with the runners from 3:58h – 4:03h gun time. That would have allowed a number of runners to do their sub-4hr (nett time) as was evident by the appreciative hand-shakes and comments at and after the finish line.

We collected our finisher tops and medals, before moving to the New Balance Hospitality Tent for our team massage. I made my way back up to 200m of the finish to cheer the other Pace Groups and runners returning. I was heartened to see that all Team FatBird Marathon Pacers brought runners of their respective timing groups across to the finish with 3min of their target completion. There were indeed many happy Sunbirds (TFB’s Marathon Trainees), and many have done very good sub-5hr and 4hr+ timings for their maiden marathons. Congratulations go out to the 21km and 10km Sunbirds for their very good finishes too. After our massages, we moved on to the Tan Kim Seng Fountain for the gathering of all finishers. Happy chatter and congratulatory messages abound, spiced up with group photos and choreographed moves of the Sunbirds and Pacers.

The day’s event was topped with the completion of Sunbird SC Lim, with the companionship of Pacer Mohan, in an outstanding effort of just 7hours for a first time marathon for a veteran runner with diabetic conditions; simply amazing. The whole Team FatBird and Runners are so proud of SC and Mohan. Lots of handshakes and photos later, all were just happy to go back for a good rub-down and rest, before putting down their plans for the next marathon, and of course, more training runs. Many will wait in anticipation of the Certificate Of Completion to print their completion times on the very nice finisher top.

With the completion of the SCSM09, Team FatBird has accomplished one of its major training for marathoners and special training for marathon pacers. We will definitely be looking at the past 3 months’ of activities to fine tune and develop even better training and preparation programs for races in 2010. In summary, we are glad to have delivered on Team FatBird Marathon Pacers’ philosophy of Follow Our Pace, Win Your Race!


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