Saturday, February 26, 2011

NTUC U-RUN+Vertical Climb

.OMB Challenge Finisher

Race Report: FatBird Anthony
Race Photos: FatBird DO
Facebook Photos: FatBird AC

The NTUC OMB Challenge, a 10km run, followed by a 31-storey vertical climb up the NTUC Centre (One Marina Boulevard) was what attracted a bunch of 1,000 runners to take up this challenge. Together with another 1,000 10km and 5km runners, we were all excited to try out the unique format on what was a clear, sunny Sunday morning.

When we arrived at the NTUC Centre, the mass warm-up was about to start. It was nice to see many familiar faces from Team FatBird Running, SAFRA Running, SgRunners, U Runners, Fitness Network, MR25 Runners, Ghana & team. Time passed quickly with handshakes and pleasantries being exchanged. The 15min pre-race warm-up began to get the runners to loosen up and start their engines. The crowd was not too large, giving a cozy, relaxed atmosphere and feel....nice.

The OMB Challenge, which many of us were participating in, was started first. The initial pace was conservative as the runners manouvred into space...and there was ample of it. I followed the lady runners a bit, and then traded places with some friends, as we strode along Raffles Avenue though the F1 Pit Building. The first few km at 4:30min/km was a tad fast, and I quickly dropped back to 4:40min/km to conserve...haha. The ladies were doing great as they pulled away further to the front. The Kallang Riverside presented some nice views as we reached the mid-point, with some of the photographers stationed there taking pics of the scenery as well as runners :)

The water points were well spread out and ample, but could do better with some isotonic drinks in some of the stations. They were well manned with the volunteers holding out water for the runners, at the same time cheering for us. There were the small pockets of runspirators (mainly gals) along the way cheering their hearts out....kudos to their encouraging spirits, esp. under the hot morning sun. By the 8km mark, we were back to F1 Pit Building, and pace has averaged at 4:45min/km. The calves were feeling ok, but needed to save the quads for the stairs later on.

Reached the 10km mark in about 46min+, happy that I didn't feel too fatigued at that point. Followed the front runners to take a walk break and drink before going for the 'Ultimate Challenge', the one we all came here for. The first 10 flights were already causing people to pant and climb slowly. The stairwell was ventilated at certain points with small blowers, but the exit doors could be left open for even better ventilation as well as provide a resting place for runners who wish to slow down for others to overtake. The heat in that enclosed space posed an additional challenge. By the 15th storey, I was wasted...haha.

A few of the running friends who had strong quads and were great stair-climbers soon caught up. The top few lady runners were going for the final standings push, and they gave their all in that run up. After allowing a few more runners to overtake, I finally reached the top, quite unexpectedly (since I was not in the right frame of mind to count by then). As I emerged out into the finish line, I felt then that the windy rooftop was the best thing next to sliced bread...heavenly. Many deep breaths and congratulatory handshakes later, we proceeded down the building (using the elevators of course) to collect our well-deserved finisher tees and goodie bags. There were fruits and blue-coloured water (isotonic drinks hehe) provided to the delight of the runners. With time left on our hands, we went to cheer and support the other runners coming in and had a great time photo-taking and chatting about this unique race experience.

Overall, we felt that the race was well organized and provided a cozy and friendly atmosphere, something we do not often get at the larger races. The OMB Run+Vertical Climb was definitely interesting and challenging. Although a few runners mentioned they have had enough of stairs for a while, a few others were hoping for more storeys to be piled on next time...GOSH. I am sure next year's event will attract even more to the OMB Challenge as it did this first time around, and when that happens, more will need to be done to the vertical climb portion to accommodate this growing number of enthusiasts.

We Ran, We Climbed, We Survived!
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