GCAM 2014: On Golden Race

GCAM 2014: On Golden Race

Jubilant GCAM Full Marathoners from Team Singapore – Photo (c) RunSociety

Operation Kookaburra, Team FatBird Runners together with the 350 Singaporean runners from Singapore had a Golden Race of their lives at the weekend’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM), Australia 5-6 July 2014.

The GCAM event organizers displayed what the IAAF Gold Label Certification had to offer in terms of outstanding event organization and management, a world-class field of marathoners, and immaculate race experience for the 27,000+ participants (5.7K, 10K, HM, FM) in the event, toppling the long awaited course record including the Australian All-Comers record in the process.

After months of training and preparation for GCAM 2014, the Singapore contingent of runners including Ops Kookaburra runners who started to arrive to Gold Coast from Friday were ready to set some records of our own.  

The 100+ group with Scenic Tours/Team FatBird Scoot-ed off from Changi International on Thursday evening, and arrived Friday morning with a nice visit to GCAM Race Expo, and having the bulk collection of bibs done by the tour operator.

Many of the Kookaburras have trained hard for their maiden GCAM experience, with a significant number running in a cool-weather marathon for the first time.  All were bright eyed and excited with the new surroundings and welcoming weather at Gold Coast.  The hotel check-in was a breeze, which allowed some time for freshening up before our Welcome ‘Carbo-Loading’ seafood dinner for our team.

It was great catching up and chatting with the runners over a spread of seafood, pasta, assortment of meat, dessert over a glass of wine/juice bout gearing up for the big race on Sunday.  Saturday morning saw a group of about 15 from Singapore do the 10k distance, while the main contingent spent the morning with acclimatizing runs and some adventures of our own.  By early Saturday night, all were already in bed for that great awakening early Sunday from 4:00am (HM) and 5:00am (FM).

Once we reached the race precint, our hospitality tents (marked Tourism Events Queensland – TEQ) were all ready to welcome us into its warmth as the early morning temperature was a crisp 6-8C.  After a short briefing, we did some dynamic warm-up and soon were ushered into the respective pens according to our targeted timings.

The Half Marathon started at 6:00am in nice, cool weather which warmed up as the morning drew on.  The Full Marathoners which started at 7:20am had perfect temperatures with little wind, paving the way for fantastic runs by many of our folks.  With the experienced Pat Caroll Pacers showing the way, our Half and Full Marathoners were able to sustain aggressive timings which many had not thought possible (when compared with lesser conditions) before.

The crowd support was superb, especially when we ran through the suburbs and estates lined along the coast, with lots of cheers, encouragement and even offers of food and drinks to the happy golden runners.  Our Kookaburra Colin Chua did a good 1:24h HM PB, and many other of our Singaporean HMers scoring good PBs and fantastic maiden run timings.

The big story of the morning had to be from the Full Marathoners, many of whom scored massive Personal Bests (30min-1.5h range) and a number of Boston Qualifying times (BQ).  Even our Singapore elite marathoners did extremely good timings and outstanding runs to set the tone for more records to be broken for future GCAMs.

Experienced GCAM marathoners (> 3 runs) like Han Chee, Alan Tan, Wen Long (Team Asics) outdid themselves with PBs, while many of the GCAM first-timers like Ngee Hung, Rahul, Alan Foo, Arnel, Victor, Laura, Kim, Gillian, Annie, Yam, Nicole, Matthias, Cherlynn, Lizzy, Nura, Jacqueline, Cheryl, Dani, Kenneth, just to name a few and many many more broke PBs with many minutes off in their respective sub-4h, sub 5h categories.

There were many happy FatBirds, Kookaburras and Singapore marathoners gathered at the TEQ tent basking in the sun, sharing their victories and highlights of tough patches which were overcome, group celebratory photos, selfies and wefies, with some just letting the euphoria slowly sink in and seep into their inner selves.

There were lots of congratulatory messages and well wishes among Team Singapore, and the sense of achieving and celebrating this together with camaraderie could be felt through the GCAM grounds.  As the morning breezed on, more gathered at the Singapore tent with happy stories of PBs and enjoyable runs.  

The media (RunSociety, Shape Magazine) also took time to speak with the Singapore runners about their wonderful race experiences and outstanding achievements.  The culmination of the race came at 12:30pm with the official GCAM media taking a large group shot of our jubilant GCAM marathoners, proudly donning their finisher tees and biting into their finisher medals.

The celebrations continued into the night with post-race dinners organized by the agent and a few others within  the group.  The endorphine levels stayed high throughout, as all runners were receiving congratulations from friends and family back home, and many interested about doing GCAM 2015 after seeing all the victorious photos with beautiful backdrop of the Gold Coast route and sights.

While the smaller group returned on Monday, the remainder of the marathoners stayed on for a few more days to enjoy the second part of their marathon adventure – all the fun, sights and sounds that Gold Coast is so famous for.

GCAM 2014 has turned out to be one of the best marathon race for many from Team Singapore, enjoying the great climate, the smooth race organization, the wonderful race experience and most importantly, outstanding performances and timings which will stay with us for a long time to come. 

Thanks to all organizers of this highly successful GCAM 2014, Run Gold Coast program & package, and all participants/marathoners who have had to good fortune to enjoy the hospitality and achieving new milestones in their marathon journeys.

Run Kookabura Run Kookaburra, You Have Raced To Gold!

Photo contributions from Kookaburras Nura, Meek, Alan, Dora, Yam, NgeeHung, Annie, Kenneth, Jason, Ratty, TEQ, Scenic Travel, RunSociety.

Favourite Runner Snaps from Official GCAM

Operation Kingfisher 2014: REGISTRATION OPENS!

Operation Kingfisher 2014: REGISTRATION OPENS!

Looking for a speed and strength training program that will help you best your Half Marathon and 10k race timings at the upcoming AHM/Bay Run, ST Run @ Hub races?

Registration Opens!
The Wait Is Over!  Registration for Operation Kingfisher 2014 , 6-week PowerFLIGHTTM Half-Marathon training program to prepare runners for The Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2014 OPENS!

This 6-Week structured training (12 group training sessions) Program brings all together – an integration of the best for 10km and 21km training of  speed, track, hills, trails.

Structured Half-Marathon Training System comprising:

• 6-week Team FatBird PowerFLIGHT Marathon Training Program
       a. Heart-Rate & Pace Training sessions
       b. Strength & Speed tune ups
       c. 1 Wednesday speed/strength & 1 weekend run session
       d. Isotonic/Recovery Drinks/refreshments for weekend (long) runs
       e. Information and tips on Managing & Preventing Running Injuries, Running Performance, Sports Nutrition
• A “OPERATION KINGFISHER” FINISHER singlet to trainees who meet attendance criteria
• Equipping Discounts & Special Promotions on partner products.
• eCertificates/Awards of completion/achievement

Training will begin on 20 July 2014 for successful applicants.
Click HERE for Training Dates/Schedules for your planning purposes.
** Training mainly start/end from East Coast Parkway, Serangoon Stadium, SAFRA Mt. Faber & MacRitchie Reservoir Amenities Cenre.

Click HERE for Frequently Asked Questions.

Please email to training@teamfatbird.com for any clarifications or queries.

Running The Bay? Let FatBirds Show You The Way!

Kookaburras ready for Golden Race

Kookaburras ready for Golden Race

With 2 weeks to Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM), the Kookaburras were all excited as they turned up for their final group run.  The turnout was not too great as quite a number of runners were using the weekend of races both locally and overseas to make up for their run.

As we were about to start, dark clouds loomed in the horizon and our trainers made a good call to run in the opposite direction to minimize the likelihood of us running into the rain – and it turned out a good call as we avoided the short bout of rain closer to the C4 and Playground areas.

Most of the runners were putting in their final tests of equipment and pace, and were trying to sustain a faster Enhanced Pace for distances of 18km and 28km.  After the rains, came the high humidity and heat, which seemed to pose additional challenges for the runners.

Our mantra of ‘Train Hard, Race Easy’ would give the Kookaburras confidence of performing  well on race day, after putting in the hard efforts during training.  In spite of the challenges, most of the Kookaburras returned to the Nest by 10:30am, quite exhausted, at the same time satisfied.

This coming weekend will be the final tapering run before we wrap up Operation Kookaburra and make our way to the Gold Coast.  To date, there are more than 340 Singapore runners going down under, and this would surely be fun as we travel, race and meetup as Team Singapore.

Run Kookaburra Run Kookaburra, Gold Our Race Will Be!

Photos from FatBird Meng Kiat

Sundown Marathon  2014 – Sundown Runners Rocked The Night!

Sundown Marathon 2014 – Sundown Runners Rocked The Night!

In spite of being one of the most challenging Sundown Marathon to date (with the high humidity and the Sheares Bridge slope), the Sundown Marathon Pacers accomplished our mission of bringing the Sundown Marathoners to their target timings.  

This year’s Sundown Marathon, Asia’s premier night race, brought with it some new enhancements which provided more excitement and ‘glow’ to an already established and ‘must-do’ marathon.  After months of training in both day and night conditions, the Sundown Pacers who have sacrificed their personal race timings in a bid to help the many Sundown Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) runners fulfill their race objectives.

The Sundown Race Village (set up a few days prior) was abuzz with busy chatter and an air of excitement as we gathered at the Sundown Ambassadors’ booth at 8:45pm.  The nearby New Balance, Maxinutrition and sponsor booths were also kept busy with lines of runners capturing photos and trying out products.  

The Sundown Pacers @ Ambassadors’ (Pacers) booth were gearing up with their timing bibs and colorful pace balloons, and of course, lots of group photos with Sundown Runners and Team FatBird trainees who have met up to get final advice and to give support with words of encouragement.  

By 10:45pm, the Sundown FM Pacers were ushered into the race start to take up positions in their respective starting pens, according to target finish timings.  There was a warm welcome from the MC and with loud blasts of music, and the Pacers were pumped up and ready for our Mission Finale.  The runners were let in 10min later, and soon the Pens were filled to the brim – and the show to ‘Bring On The Night’ began.  

After a good warm up routine and some high energy entertainment from the band, the FMers were flagged off promptly at 11:30pm along with the Hand Cyclists right in front.  The run through the specially designed stage (with bright neon colours at all the sides) gave us the feeling of running through a rock concert opening for a very special performance indeed.

The Sundown Pacers with our colored balloons soon settled into Optimal Pace (a slightly faster pace with a little buffer for contingencies and PB performances) which eventually proved to be useful when we slowed to tackle certain dim areas of the course, encountered the hill climb at the 34km mark and punching through the crowd near the end of the race.  

The first 10-12km was one of high humidity where runners were dripping in perspiration and yet could not dissipate heat fast enough for an easier cruise.  Many of the Sundowners were seen to be affected by the humidity as their pace slackened from the 12km mark onwards.  The ECP portion saw a few unofficial support stations with cheering supporters, that brought the morale of the ‘tiring’ runners up a notch.  

Meanwhile, the HM Pacers and Runners went into their respective start pens at 11:45pm and were treated to the same delightful starting line activities as the FMers had gone through earlier.  The slightly larger HM contingent flagged off at 12:30am to very humid conditions and a thick crowd in the first 5-8km of the race.

After the FMers sustained 2 hours of what seemed like a long road to eternity, the winds came as the weather took a turn for the better (at least for the Sundown Runners).  That allowed the runners to keep up with the pace, and a number found new strength to push on for the middle miles (15km-28km).  The Sundown Pacers who have been maintaining Optimal Pace all this while also found some respite form the humidity and were able to cruise through this section and encouraged more runners to follow on.

The real challenge of any full marathon really comes at the 30-32km mark, where mentally and physically sapped marathoners start to see the proverbial ‘marathon wall’ and normally are looking to slow down.  Things were made even more challenging at the 34km mark (14km for the HM) where there was a long slope climb over Sheares Bridge where many runners were slowed to a slow walk, losing precious minutes unwillingly.  The Sundown Pacers dug deep to continue maintaining pace and urging the runners to keep going and not to give up at that crucial juncture.

It was sheer relief when we were greeted at the top of the climb with an equally long descent which helped us to make up for some of the lost time.  However, the 4hr-5hr bound marathoners had to contend with a crowd of walking HMers with lots of weaving around and slowing down for the crowd.  We sure were glad we had some buffer built up with our Optimal Paces to last up till the final 5km.

From then on, it was a push to the finish.  The Sundown Pacers were shouting timings to all who were close to meeting the target timings, as well as to the slower ones in front to clear to the sides for a better passageway for the ‘rush’ to the finish line.  With pain in the legs and the tired bodies of the marathoners who would just want to sit down and rest, the finish line in sight with strong encouragement from the Pacers were what kept them ‘pushing’ for a strong finish.

Crossing the Sundown Finish Line never felt sweeter, and the beautiful finisher medal and tee shirt will be treasured for many years to come.  Congratulations & Consolation were shared among all who have put in their best, and everyone who participated and completed was a Winner!  

There was a sense of deep satisfaction in many of the runners’ visibly tired faces, with ‘shagged’ bodies just sitting around and resting their sore legs, clutching their hard-earned finisher medals and reflecting on just how they have managed to ‘survive’ one of the toughest marathons in a long time.

A big shout out to the Sundown Race Organizer for Bringing On Such An Exciting Night with new sights, sounds and challenges, many of which were nice surprises for the Sundown Runners.  Although the weather (which could hardly be controlled) threatened the race with initial forecasts of thunderstorms, it turned out to be fine for most parts of the course, but not without exacting some serious damage on the runners with the high humidity levels in the first 2 hours.  

Overall, it was a highly successful race which many have enjoyed (even though some did not get PBs or their desired timings) thanks in part to the strong support of the sponsors and partners, and most importantly to the committed bunch of event managers, coordinators, volunteers, Pacers, along with the encouraging participation of all the Sundown Runners who shared this eventful night with us.  

Sundown Marathon Brought Us The Night!
Sundown Runners Rocked The Night!

Facebook Photos from MK, CK, RonnieBerno, Joshua, Cherlynn

NightHawks & Kookaburras @ Optimal Pace

NightHawks & Kookaburras @ Optimal Pace

This morning saw the 2 training groups from Ops NightHawk (Sundown Marathon) and Ops Kookaburra (Gold Coast Marathon) gathered at the Playground @ ECP for their respective group training long runs.

While the NightHawks were into their final 2 weekends of long runs, the Kookaburras were just about entering the mid-way of their training program, with 7 weeks of training remaining.  Both training groups were early as the NightHawks collected their finisher race singlet, while the Kookaburras collected their bright-red race singlet for qualifiers based on attendance requirements.

The group briefings and photos were kept short to achieve a nice start time of 7:15am.  The respective pace groups soon settled in with familiar faces amongst each of the groups, chatting and catching up on events and training of the past few weeks.  

The NightHawks were in cheery mood and high spirits as they have only 15km (HM) and 25km (FM) to cover during this tapering phase.  The Sundown Pacers were also putting their final race night plans into practice, with some fine-tuning and tweaking to even out any creases in their teamwork and formations.

The Kookaburras were in for a longer buildup with 21km (HM) and 30km (FM) @ Optimal Pace, requiring an extra effort from the participants.  

The air was humid and felt heavy. With the sun creeping up in the early part of the morning, the first 10-15km felt laboured although the pace were still being maintained fairly well.  The showers at 9:00am were a welcomed relief for the tiring runners, giving an immediate boost to motivation to sustain targeted Optimal Pace.

We have not run in the rain for some time before this, and it sure felt cool and refreshing with the sweats of perspiration being washed away and the rain droplets helping to cool off the runners to bring heart rates to sustainable levels.

The spirits of the runners also improved with the rain, as fellow NightHawks and Kookaburras cheered and Hi-5 one another whenever they see pace groups coming from either operations.  The entire workout completed slightly ahead of time – by 10:15am, every runner was back and accounted for.  

This was a very useful session where the final kinks were being ironed out, and we had a few runners who sacrificed their 10km Green Corridor or Real Run just to be able to do the 25km-30km LSD.  By the time the runners were leaving home, the rain has stopped and the skies cleared up – such a nice timing.

The Kookaburras will have the next 2 weeks as self training.  A number of them are participating in the Sundown Marathon on 31 May, using that as a time trial of sorts to gauge their chances and any improvement areas for the GCAM on 5-6 July.  

The NightHawks will continue into their final week of tapering with reduced long run mileage, but maintaining respective intensities and paces for their weekday tempos/fartleks and weekend LSD.  Final preparations and tests of race night gear, race/hydration/fuel plans will be locked and loaded next weekend before the Race.

With the consistent and smooth buildup of the NightHawks, and the reasonable base established by the Kookaburras, we are confident that all trainees and Sundown Pacers will perform to expectations and achieve race timings or Pace Group targets on Sundown Race Night.

The Sundown Runners Are Ready!  Bring On The Night!

Facebook Photos by Meng Kiat