The 10.5km Green Corridor Run on Sunday was my first race since the 8km Mediacorp Hongbao Run in February. Fourth place overall (and first Singaporean) with a time of 37 minutes 53 seconds on a muddy and uneven course, behind two Kenyans and an Australian (Fraser Thompson, listed on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s website with a 14:16.04 5000m personal best), was an encouraging return to racing on the back of seven weeks of training. (Fraser finished second to split the two Kenyans.)
I left home in the morning for Tanjong Pagar Railway station where the first wave of runners was to be flagged off at 9am. With overcast skies, it soon started raining and I was hoping that the race wouldn’t be cancelled. The rain soon eased and then stopped but caused the start to be delayed by 10 minutes as organisers checked the course for safety. When the race finally got underway, the first kilometre was an exercise in finding one’s footing amidst the grass that hid the undulations of the ground. Nursing a right ankle that has been aching for some weeks, I was cautious not to twist it.
With the two Kenyans — Geoffrey Bergen and Samson Tenai — and Fraser disappearing off into the distance and another two runners in pursuit after them, the pack of four I found myself in, which included Melvin Wong (third at the recent 5.6km JP Morgan Corporate Challenge just days after running a 2:58 marathon in Nagano, Japan), formed a second chase pack. I was mostly running off the back of this pack, which was led by Patrick Coles, in the first five kilometres of the race, getting splashed mud and rainwater by the back lift of the legs ahead. I have only ever once run the Green Corridor before this race and I was not familiar with every pothole, sink, and rock that dotted the trail. I knew running directly in the wake of the other runners in the pack with an obscured view of the trail ahead would have been an ill-advised decision so I sought paths off to the sides (sometimes on the grass flanking a worn trail).
The terrain, as with most trails, required alertness to find and ensure a good footing, and prevent from tripping or falling. With the dampness of the trail resulting in less traction underfoot, and gravelled sections rendering big strides inefficient, the course was providing quite a challenge on its own without the competition. After about halfway into the race, still tucked behind the four-man pack, I felt the pace was waning and, still feeling good, decided to head to the front where I could enjoy having the initiative and charting my route without an obstructed view of the trail. While Melvin covered the move and ran with me, the two others in the pack — Patrick and Andreas Wenger — fell behind.
When Melvin and I pulled away, the two runners who were in pursuit of the three leading runners were already in sight. It was not long before we reeled them in and overtook them for fourth and fifth positions in the race. The last four kilometres was simply a race between Melvin and me for fourth position as the leading three were simply too far ahead, beyond sight, for us to catch. (Third-place finisher Samson Tenai clocked 34:33.) I was happy to have an extra gear in the final kilometres to pull away to finish just before rain poured down again.
While I didn’t escape being drenched after the race, the rain was no dampener to the encouragement I am taking from the strength and energy I felt during the race and from the training I have been putting in recently towards the 2015 Dream, which will see me next racing in the 10km at the New Balance Sundown Marathon with my New Balance teammates in two weekends’ time and where I will be looking to test myself against a deeper field of competition.