Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ace Adventure Sunset Race 2010

I was in Singapore over the weekend to team up with two friends in the above race. This also marked my third time in Singapore and my first ever race in the Island Republic. Thanks to Afri and Adeline, i was given first class treatment by the two Malaysians which are Singapore PR and has called the Island a "home away from home".

My adventure started with me driving down at 9pm down to Singapore. I reached Tuas or the Second Link at about 1.30am. I was so worried about not being able to drive over in case my car was too dirty for the island or if i am short of paperwork that was needed.

Valid roadtax. Checked. Car grant. Checked. Petrol. Checked. Passport. Checked.

As i entered the Johor side of the immigration, i did the stupidest thing. I told the Malaysian officer that i do not have Autopass. He looked at me, amazed, and it was only then i realised that i was talking to my own countryman.

Then, i was officially in the brightly lit Singapore complex. Everything just looked...different. It is like...another different country (duh!), but you know what i really meant here, right?

The officers were friendlier and even asked if i won't get enough rest for the race because i arrive so late (they asked me about the two mountain bikes in my car) and i told them i do not have Autopass. I was told where to get it, which i then totally did not know where to stop, but all the way passed the other security checkpoint.

Which gave me a chance to walk about 200m back to the LTA office and took this photo.

Imagine my suprise when the LTA officers asked me where was my car. Apparently, my car grant is not as important as the Roadtax, so, i had to walk back another 200m to the care, which was already on the other side of the complex, snap a picture of the roadtax, and walked back to the LTA office. Along the way, i had the other Auxillary Police asking what am i walking around their complex at 1.45am and the Narcotic Bureau asking if i am lost.

THen i had to spend 15minutes with the auntie officer from LTA while she took the time and effort to explained to me how VEP works - which i appreciate. It was my first time driving into Singapore afterall.

So, after that was sorted, i drove cautiously and very conciously at 80km/h along PIE to Adeline's place. it was close to 2am already by then.

I reached Ade's place and she warmly welcomed me with a whole booklet of parking coupons, which we then spent close to 15minutes how to use them. I then had it lined up along the dashboard to validate my parking from 2am until 10.30am the next morning.

At about 11am, Afri reached Adeline's place and we went to send our bike to Dairy Farm Park, which was the place for bike drop off.

Look, this is a funny race. The bike, The starting point and the Ending point are all at different location. Why?

But who am i to complain, afterall, when in Greek, do as the Greek does.

After the bike drop, we had to find way to Kallang, where the ending point is located. As it was a Saturday and many Singaporean drivers were on the road, with my car number plate sticking out like sorethumb...i somewhat felt harrassed, though i am not. I constantly think the car behind is driving too close for comfort and one car cut right infront of me without signal. I refrained from pressing the horn, i am afterall, a guest.

As the PIE was jammed, we decided not to drive to Kallang but dropped the car near Afri's MIL's house. Free Parking. :D From there, we took a taxi to Ngee Ann Politech.
Trying to get a taxi when all of them are mostly going for their shift change was a challenge. Thanks to quick thinking Afri, we went over the other side of the road and managed to catch one cab to Ngee Ann after waiting for about 15minutes.
I was pretty amazed how well equiped this place is and how it seems to open to public. There was no guards like those local universities in Malaysia taunting the students or visitors. Infact, i felt welcome. The track was a Beautiful Blue rubberised track that was well maintained and used. You see people running at 2pm in the afternoon and even 2am in the morning (i saw one running the day before at 2am). Truly a running nation.

The race did not start until about 3pm and between those time and start time, myself, Afri and Adeline just sat around, looking at the map, trying to figure out where to go and how to go. We can't help but to noticed that everyone was lean and mean. The only part we won was fat content.
It was also then Afri noticed that we will be crossing the same place at least twice. We were also told during the final briefing that the total distance would be 45km and "you are required to run around the track or you will fall short of 400m and only do 44.6km".


Sharp at 3pm, the mix team then all gathered at the starting point (the all men and women already flagged off at 2.30pm).
To the first CP, we were supposed to be running on the road towards Bukit Timah Park. That was an easy 4km stroll that did took about 30minutes. I was introduced to the more affluent neighbourhood with bungalows twice as big as those normally found in KL.
Running in town reminds me of the AXN Urban Challenge. Only difference is that it's not familiar to me.

It was both enjoyable and also a leisure race for the three of us. I am still wary and do not want to overdo this and become a baggage to both Afri and Adeline. But somehow, the afternoon hot blistering sun leveled everyone down. I even told myself that this is how it is like for Ironman such as Faris Al-Sultan - to be running a 42.2km at 3pm in Langkawi. I was suddenly inspired.
The terrains was undulating. Which added a bit more fun and unpredictability.
Then, we reached CP1, which marked the start of the "trail" portion. The real race begin, or so I think.
This is Dairy Farm Pass. It is a straight 1.5km route towards the other side of town. The rolling hills was beautiful the first time i saw it. Little did i know, we will be running across this portion not once, but three times. Since I am already in the race, so why complain?

The route then took us into Bukit Timah Forest Reserves, which was pretty cool. It was like FRIM, only less people (well, at 4pm...)

We walked, climbed, joked as we run a little and walk a bit more. The trail was not challenging and navigation was of more importance as there are many ways around the park, which meant a lot of ways to get lost too. We spend a bit more time to ensure we are on the right track, as from experience, going the wrong way is not only energy sapping, but morally draining as well. The rest of the race was pretty much the same scenery over and over again.
 With the same two monkeys, no less. :) My day was so much brighter with those neon bright tops and their cheerfulness. :D

As we make our way to CP3, which is where the bikes were placed, we found out the camwhoring we did and the slow and steady pace we put in placed us as the second last team at the CP. So typical!

But of course, as the race move from CP to CP, we slowly caught up with everyone else and i believe was placed in the middle of the pack by the time we cleared CP6.
We caught up with the all men team which was ahead of us. But from the look of it, they know they will not win, and thus, took it really very easy, infact, i think they bailed out at CP3.

The biking took us through Dairy Farm Pass the second time around.
Then, the most interesting thing happened. Adeline had a tyre puncture. Excitement! Some adventure at last!

Then it was turning right towards Rifle Range Road and Rifle Range Link before ending up at, well, Dairy Farm again. At that point, i was really thinking this race should be called the Dairy Farm Challenge.

From there onwards, CP6 was on the other side of the nature reserve passing Belukar Trail.

It was also at CP6, where the Chestnut Hill trail was placed, we had the first technical rope test. Two team members were made to climb up rope ladder and abseil down from the top of the flyover highway.

Afri was fast on the rope ladder, with me lending my fat heavy weight to keep the ladder stable.
Then, it was Adeline's turn, which she did pretty well going up and coming down. :) I was spared of the ordeal and had to save energy for later tasks.

Checkpoint 6C was closed as it was getting dark and technically speaking, some teams should already been cut off. But the organiser allowed everyone onwards and that was when headlights, lights, bike lights, blinkers all came out. We were all ready to go the last final 5km on bike in total darkness in the trail.

These discovery of trails sort of confirmed where the coming TNF race will take place. I concluded that Bukit Timah is a very big forest/nature reserve. The other trails and percieved parks are just part and parcel of the whole Bukit Timah reserve. The mountain bike trails are so rideable it make FRIM looked like Kiara for any KL MTB riders. I suprised myself when i rode almost all the way, stopping only because i could not get past slightly technical humps/bumps.

That old trusty rusty Fuji 2002 that cost me RM300 (after splitting with Bandit the parts and wheels) was holding on very well. I am impressed!

Then as the night grew darker, more lights from other racers brighten the dark trails.
 And we brighten our own way...passing/crossing Dairy Farm for the third time.
By then, we had caught up with many other teams. We noticed the first men team blazing down the trail towards CP7, which was at the end of Rifle Range, bordering the trail that leads to MacRitchie, we had to leave our bikes and walk/run the next 6 or 7 KM through more trails and exit at err...Pan Island Club.

As we exited the trails, it was then road navigating through the streets of Singapore to locate Bishan Park and find block 219 for CP8. It was a long long walk but we had a bunch of girls to keep us entertained with their endless chattering.
We were just glad to be out of the trail and some civilisation. More so when Dairy Farm is already like my middle name to start with.
Thank you three!

From CP9, we reunited with the bicycles and was asked to get to CP10, the ending point using the Park Connecting Network (PCN), which was one of the more impressive thing i found in Singapore and it comes with a traffic light for BIKE CROSSING!

The total length was 5km through HDB flats area and it was such joy to see all the people out exercising one way or another.

There was a few area where we need to carry the bikes up pedestrian flyovers. Jaywalking highly NOT reccomended.
We cycled and finally reached Shine Centre at Kallang. It took us about 8hours over 45km minimum and finished the race. But the finishing was rather anti-climax la. It looked like you just blend into the crowd...no one would know you finished, or DQ, or anything.

But whatever it is, we were happy that we finally finished the race. Thank you organiser and volunteers!
We had out fun and the most important aspect of this race was for both Afri and Adeline to have their LSD and they now know it will take them 8hours if they WALK all the way in this weekend's TNF race. Both now know what to expect better and for me, it was a good race with better company and most of all, i get to see Singapore not from a tourist perspective!

Thank you Afri and Adeline for making this trip memorable!


  1. Thank you for sharing. It is good for me to read the different perspective racers have about AAC. Our playground is very limited, so you kept seeing the same scene after a while :)

    Thanks for taking that 300m so seriously :P haha


  2. Joanne - :) thanks for dropping by though i should had interacted with you more on race day. :) But i did not want to disturb you la, as they say. :)

    Don't get me wrong, i did enjoyed the race and the sceneries and it is refreshing to see Singapore from a different perspective.

    Only thing stopping me from racing in Singapore is really the exchange rates, which is by no fault of Singapore! :)

    See you soon. maybe the Safra race.