Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #3

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #3

In the 3rd and final installment of the Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run series, we started way early in the morning to avoid the heat of the morning sun – but still ran smack into the challenge as the early heat made this longest LSD in the series one of the toughest training runs in recent memory.

Photo Credit: Official Sundown Marathon

Registrations were open by 5:30am, but the crowd started to trickle in only from 6:00am, most likely due to transport (higher taxi fares and availability of buses) to the Playground @ Big Splash at that wee hour.  Still, a nice group of about 300 managed to arrive by 6:15am for the training briefing for us to be able to flag off at 6:25am.

The 3rd Lead Up Run was to be executed in Optimal Pace (slight faster even pace than Marathon Pace) for the morning’s distances of 21km for the Half Marathoners and 32km for the Full Marathoners.  A number of the Sundown Pacers and NightHawk trainees eventually completed the maximum 35km in that grueling heat.

The Lead Up Runners were highly charged as this was for many the longest run in their training regime, before tapering kicks in three weeks to race night.  The ever reliable Sundown Marathon Pacers led the groups of runners at sustainable Optimal Paces of HM (5:34-2Hr, 6:17-2:15h, 6:49-2:30h) and FM (5:34-4:00h, 6:17-4:30h, 6:49-5:00h, 7:42-5:30h and 8:25-6:00h) groupings.

The first 12km till the Maxinutrition hydration point saw the respective groups of runners maintain very good paces and traveling in close-knit formations.  A quick ‘technical’ pause of 2min were given to each group get to get hydrated before making their way back to the Playground for 21.1km.  

Many of the HMers did well to hit their Optimal Pace with a number able to sustain that pace for about 15-18km, which was commendable given the heat from the sun showing up in the second leg of the run.

By the time the FMers went for their second leg of 11km-14km (after completion of 21km), the overbearing heat from the sun was directly at their faces.  The refuel at the Playground with 100Plus and bananas provided the energy required to maintain Optimal Pace as things got tougher after 25km of running in that heat.

There were occasional stops at the toilets to ‘cool off’ their bodies to prevent overheating, with some of the groups adopting additional walk breaks into their usual routines – the average paces were slipping slightly, but many of the HM lead up runners held on to complete 30-32kkm of the distance.

It had to be one of the toughest training runs we had encountered in recent memory.  Some of the runners cut short the targeted distances but still were able to surpass their past training runs’ performances with the ability to sustain optimal pace for a good way.  

The runners were given a very insightful post-run talk by an experienced phsyio-therapist team from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, touching on the important topics of injury causes (from poor posture, running form, body makeup) and prevention (through stretching, foam roller therapy), strengthening of core and important running muscle groups, with some pre and post run stretching techniques and strengthening routines.  

Overall, it was a very fruitful and successful final lead up run, thanks to the very dedicated setup and support provided by the Sundown Marathon organizer (HiVelocity) with the backing of the event’s sponsors.  The entire Sundown Lead Up Run series concluded on a high note (temperatures not withstanding) which have benefited to the more than 700 participants who have registered and attended one or more of the 3 lead up runs.

Sundown Organizer and Team FatBird have taken in feedback with regards to makeup of the training runs and start times, and will bring them to the drawing board for enhancements to the training run series of Sundown 2015.

With less than a month to go to May 31 race night, we will be focusing on tapering (cutting down on the long run mileage but maintaining Optimal Pace intensity) for the remaining 3 weeks worth of training.  The Sundown Pacers are looking forward to bring as many Sundown Runners as possible to their race objectives and targeted finish timings.

Sundown Pacers – Follow Our Pace & Win Your Race!

Facebook Photos from FatBirds CK Chin, Berno & MK

Gold Coast Marathon: Kookaburra Nestles In

Gold Coast Marathon: Kookaburra Nestles In

Week #3 saw a smaller turnout by The Kookaburras, mainly due to a number of participants having a Run350 HM race early next morning.  The Kookaburras gathered at MacRitchie Reservoir park for their first visit for a 16km and 25km Marathon Pace (MP) long run.

In view of the longer time to be spent on our feet, we started registration at 7:00pm and by 7:30pm, we were flagged off in our respective groups along Thomson Road.  

The Kookaburra Pacers were well represented in the respective pace groups (HM 2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h) and (FM 4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h)  to lead their respective groups of trainees along the winding Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR), and then onto the long stretch of Sembawang and Mandai Roads.

The first half of the run went great for all the pace groups who were keeping close with one another till the U-turn points of the Half Marathoners at the end of OUTR.  The return for the HMers went reasonably well with most completing their 16km within MP.

The Full Marathoners proceeded strongly and on target MP along Mandai Road till the U-Turn at 12.5km.  After a brief ‘technical’ pause for the respective group members  to reconvene and have a refuel, the Kookaburras made their way back along the route, continuing to maintain their target MPs.

The humid weather, especially along the heavy vegetated OUTR and parts of UTR made it a lot more challenging to sustain the pace.  It was only along the straight Mandai Road stretch where there were mild winds, giving the Kookaburras some reprieve.  

The smallish combination of Groups 4:00h and 4:30h marathoners were spread out but were guided along by the experienced Trainers who were familiar with the training area.  There was a smaller Group 3 which did reasonably well to complete their training requirements without much of a hitch.

Some of the newer Kookaburras arrived late, but did their best to follow the training routes sent out earlier in the week.  They were able to catch up with the returning team mates and completed the training LSD together.

All the runners completed their quests by 10:30pm.  Overall it was good base and foundation build up for the Kookaburras, and with more weeks ahead to strengthen  that base at Marathon Pace, the Kookaburras are on track to condition well for their Golden race in Gold Coast, 6-7 July.

Next weekend will see the Kookaburras doing their personal LSD, and some of whom have signed up with the Sundown Lead Up Run will tap on this progressive training run to affirm their foundation for long distances in the morning with the possibility of heat coming on in the later part of the day.

The Kookaburras Are Looking & Feeling Strong!

Photos from FatBird Chin

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #2

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #2

The second Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run saw another capacity crowd arrive early to the Playground @ Big Splash, ECP.  After the overwhelming attendance for the 1st Lead Up Run at night, registrations have filled for the 2nd and final lead up runs, allowing for a more manageable crowd in terms of pace guidance and resource allocation.

Because of the longer distances of 21km for the Half Marathoners and 30km for the Full Marathoners, the Sundown Organizers was at the Playground way before 6am to setup for the early arrival of the enthusiastic Sundown Marathoners.  

The Sundown Marathon Pacers were also out in full force, carrying pace timing Boards to mass the participants into their respected pace groupings of (2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h) for the HM and (4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h, 6:00h for the FM.  There was an air of excitement amidst the cool morning, albeit with humidity rather high in the face of impending late morning rain.

After the route and pace group briefings, the respective groups were flagged off to the sounds of the air horn with the Sundown flag waving proudly in the air.  The objective of this training run was to maintain and sustain Marathon Pace (MP) for the respective distances.  

With the help and guidance of the Sundown Marathon Pacers, the participants were all rev-ed up to do their best to meet their personal targets in terms of pace and distances.

It was a motivating sight to see all the timing groupings led by their respective Pacers (with timing bibs on their backs) moving as one along the straights of the East Coast Parkway.   

There were applause and shouts of encouragement, interjected with the occasional whistles, as the various groups pass one another – that always injected extra energy into the runners, providing additional boosts to their mission of sustaining Marathon Pace.

The first 12km was done with all groups on pace and ever energetic as we took a ‘technical halt’ at the Maxinutrition hydration point set up at NSRCC.  The hydration team comprising of Maxinutrition and FatBird volunteers did a sterling job to manage the constant flow of electrolyte drinks without much of a delay to the runners’ continued advance back to the Playground.

By the 15km, the various groups have thinned somewhat with the faster runners moving ahead at their comfortable paces, whilst the ones who were not able to keep up with their respective paces falling slightly back.  

The Sundown Pacers were immaculate with the main body keeping the target MP in check, while there was a lead and sweeper in each pace group to help with the ones in front and at the rear.  It was also good practice and experience for the Sundown Pacers as they got to feel for some of the runners’ management issues they may encounter on actual race night.

The HM groups reached the Playground with 21.1km completed with 2min to spare in each of their respective pace timings.  If this plays out to plan on race night, the Half Marathoners would have no problems hitting their race timing objectives at all.  


As the HM rested in the cool shade of the trees nearby, the FM runners came back within the MP timings, but the weariness and fatigue brought upon by the heat of the morning sun could be seen in many of the runners.  

With 9km remaining and in wanting to meet their training objectives, the Sundown Pacers rallied their respective groups to continue with their sustained paces – kudos to their mental strength and resolve to complete the mission at hand.

The second loop after the hydration stop at Playground was tough, especially with the overbearing  heat of the sun testing the steadfastness of the pace groups.  It was a lot harder to keep up with Marathon Pace (MP) as the kilometres drew on, but the Sundown Pacers were giving their all to encourage and motivate the tiring troops to avoid dropping off the MP trail.

After 3 hours, the first of the FM groups streamed in to loud cheers and applause as they complete the full 30km in target paces.  Handshakes and warm words of congratulations went around the group members and Pacers for a job so well done.  

The rest of the groups came back in about 15min intervals, and as they drew near, lots of shouts and whistles could be heard.  The weary but satisfied smiles of the runners when they crossed the finish line were ‘invaluable’ and that in itself was the just reward for accomplishing what they set out to do in the morning.

Some of the participants did not complete the intended distances, but still felt accomplished and happy that they were able to maintain the targeted MP for 70-90% of the prescribed distances, before slowing slightly to complete the full distances at a slightly slower pace.

It was the great organization and support from Sundown Organizer and Maxinutrition, coupled with the professionalism and dedication of the Sundown Pacers, along with the commitment and positive attitude of the Sundown Runners that made this Lead Up Run a huge success – Congratulations to all who have contributed to make this run so happening!

Here They Come, Sundown Runners…
Here They Run, Sundown Runners…
Oh Yeah, The Sundown Runners!

Facebook Photos from FatBirds CK Chin, Meng Kiat

Gold Coast Marathon Training 2014

Gold Coast Marathon Training 2014

Operation KookaburraGold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) 12-week training program got off to a smooth start at Changi Beach which saw close to 50 participants joining in for its kickoff session.

On a cool night, buzzing with activity by Changi Beach point, the Kookaburra trainers/pacers met with the trainees for the first time, and quickly melded into their respective target training groupings.  

A quick briefing was conducted to inform participants of the Team FatBird FlightZONES structure of the 12-week program, and how we would be proceeding to build up our foundation and long run endurance for a good showing at GCAM 2014.

The Kookaburras started off alongside the Ops NightHawk participants (who were in their sixth session in the run up to Sundown Marathon) and soon were settling in to enjoy the night’s training run of 13km-21km.  For a first session, the enthusiastic Kookaburras did reasonably well, although more work will need to be done to help find their sustained paces in the weeks of training that will follow.

The quiet of the cool night was abuzz with the Kookaburras and NightHawks’s footsteps and the regular chatter amongst pace group members as they strode along the ‘mentally draining’ Coastal Road stretch.  Running parallel to the Changi Airport, this 14km stretch (7km each way) offers the runners very good training for pace and building up their mental strength for long distance running.

The good mix of Groups 1 & 2 Full Marathon trainees along with Group 3 FM and HM trainees provided the Kookaburra trainers/pacers with plenty to do, stretching their pace management boundaries wide to reign in the well strung-on runners – a commendable effort from the trainers/pacers who did a great job.
The night ended rather young for the Kookaburras as most had no problems meeting the training objectives and returned ‘home’ within the set paces for their respective distances.  Bananas and isotonic drinks greeted and rewarded the happy Kookaburras for the good effort and enthusiasm for training displayed.

We look forward to the next face-face session with the Kookaburras in a fortnight, where we will do another night flight, this time longer and along the mystic trail road and park connectors of the Reservoir/Mandai Reserves.

Run Kookaburra, Run Kookaburra,
You Have Got What It Takes!

Photos by FatBirds Meng Kiat, CK Chin
Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #1

Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run #1

The Sundown Marathon Training (Lead Up) Runs series is an integral part of the Sundown Marathon program to help Sundown Runners build up for a good race on May 31.

Two weeks before Lead Run Run #1 on Mar29, registrations already busted the maximum allowable being closed…and that happened to Lead Up Runs #2 and #3 as well – registrations for all 3 Lead Ups maxed out even before we got underway with Lead Up Run #1.

In anticipation of a large crowd, the Sundown Organizer (HiVelocity) together with the Sundown Pacers worked closely with the hydration sponsors 100Plus & Maxinutrition to put together what turned out to be an eventful and exciting night for the 400+ Sundown Runners who came.  The first ones started to drift in from 7pm, and by 8pm, the Playground @ Big Splash, ECP was buzzing with the heat of excitement.

The Sundown Pacers were on hand to welcome the runners into their respective pace groupings of Half Marathon (2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h) & Full Marathon (4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h, 6:00h), stamped them with the Sundown Marathon chop, and assimilated them into the team.  

A warm welcome from HiVelocity was given before Team FatBird briefed the runners on the evening’s routes, training paces, safety instructions, and introducing the Sundown Marathon Pacers to the public for the very first time.

Then there were the futile attempts to fit everyone into the group photo to shouts of “Sundown, Sundown, Bring On The Night!” – everyone was so highly charged that there was not really a need for flashes, but cameras with telescopic lens 😀  

The respective Pace Groups were then flagged off to the sound of the blaring horn, and with the lighted wrist bands provided and the blinking lights on their bodies, the Sundown Runners & Pacers strode down ECP towards Fort Road, looking like a flock of lighted, blinking birds – a sight to behold.

The night flight then went along Mountbatten road before turning into the serene Geylang & Tanjong Rhu Park Connectors.  The run along the quiet riverside on the ride with greenery on the left, interspersed by occupied park benches made for quite a relaxing and therapeutic run, and the occasional light breeze in what was a humid evening helped stoke the already high spirits of the runners – song and laughter broke out midway as the runners approached the Viper water point at the entrance to Gardens By The Bay – East.

The Maxinutrition drinks station, stocked with iced cold Viper isotonic & electrolyte drinks was a welcomed sight for the thirsty flock as they shouted with joys of “Sundown, Sundown, Bring On The Night!”.  

After a regroup, the runners continued across the Marina Barrage, and when they saw a crowd gathered, joyful choruses of “Ehh-Oh Sundown Runners Ahh…I Wanna Be A Sundown Runner Ahh…HOOhh-HAHhh” broke out to applause and appreciation from the public, who were amused and impressed by these groups of runners maintaining steady paces and yet looking and feeling so happy and relaxed.

The Half Marathon groups took their cues from their Sundown Pacers and turned back for their return back to Big Splash for a 17km BaseBuild pace run completion.  The Full Marathoners proceeded towards Marina Bay Sands, which was choc-a-block with many people and activities around the bay.  

The Sundown Runners broke into song a few more times as they cleared the way for a relatively smooth passage to Fullerton Bay Hotel before making their U-turn back to Big Splash.

The Lead Up Runners were having so much fun as a group that they did not feel too bad in spite of the clock closing in on their ‘sleepy’ bodies and having to contend with humidity.  The group energies and the motivation by the Sundown Pacers went a good way in ensuring that the groups stayed close together and in pace all the way back.

The Half Marathoners completed their joyful journey from 10.30pm onwards while the Full Marathoners reached back to Big Splash at 11pm, leaving them with ample time for another 2km-4km to complete the 26km distance prescribed. 

The beeline for the iced cold 100Plus was well managed by HiVelocity and the tired runners were just happy to relax on the floor, sipping their iced cold drinks and maxi milk for recovery, while listening in to the debrief and instructions for Lead Up Run #2.

As Lead Up Run #1 came to a close at 11.30pm, the high levels of endorphins kept the runners, especially the Sundown Pacers buzzing as more group photos were taken, coupled with excited chatter and sharing of tips and information.  

It was a very successful and immensely enjoyable lead up run, which would not have been possible without the outstanding organization of HiVelocity, the professionalism and commitment of the Sundown Pacers, as well as the enthusiastic participation and engaged cooperation of the Lead Up Runners – you all ROCKED THE NIGHT!

Sundown, Sundown, Who’s The Best!
Sundown Runners, We’re The Best!
Sundown Runners, Bring On The Night!  HOOhh-HAHhhh

Photos from FatBirds CK Chin, Meng Kiat

Ops NightHawk 2014: Maiden Night Mission

Ops NightHawk 2014: Maiden Night Mission

It was moderately hazy in the later part of the week till the afternoon of the first night Long Run session, where light showers across the island cleared the skies and made for a crisp low-PSI night, just the kind that makes the more than 100 NightHawks turn up at Macritchie Reservoir (MR) Amenities Centre by 7:45pm.

For many, it was their maiden training session specifically for a night marathon, while others have not experienced running long distances in the green lung of Singapore in the night.  It was an adventure of sorts that many had been anticipating for the whole week, all eager to get in their first night long training run.

There was a buzz of activity at MR Amenities Centre, which normally see lower human traffic by 8:00pm.  The enthusiastic chatter of the of the NightHawks more than drowned the mic system we were using for briefings, not to mention the breaking of the quiet of the night – but then, it was a good thing as the adrenalin rush soon got all of us through our very first night run of 15km-23km.  It was not quite as easy as it seemed, as running in the night is really quite a different kettle of fish than daytime running.

After the usual training brief and group photos, the respective pace groups of trainers, pacers and trainees, many armed with lights and blinkers got off to a smooth start through the dark and onto the brightly lit Thomson Road, before turning into the quieter Lower Peirce Reservoir (LPR) Road, skirting Casuarina Road and then onto the Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR).  

As we ran along OUTR, we could almost imagine how it was like in the old days where this place was a Grand Prix track and how the fast cars were zooming past to loud cheering fans.

As we enjoyed the serenity and peace of the night, we found enjoyment and unison running as groups with a purpose, in steps and paces at times, with the occasional commands of the NightHawk Pacers giving guidance on direction and safety.  

We found time to share our experiences as well as tips on night running, and for many of us, it was an interesting experience of learning about our own capacities and abilities to sustain good paces at night.

 While the Half Marathoners almost reached the end of OUTR before U-turning and heading back to base, the Full Marathoners moved towards Mandai Road and then onto Seletar Reservoir Park.  It was quite and beautiful at night as we ran past the brightly-lit driving range with the row of cars parked along the roadside, accompanied by the moonlit sky smiling upon us as we ran in groups to the toilet point at the top.

After a good break and filling up of water bottles, we made our way back via the slip-road by the Observation Tower.  The paces were still well maintained at BaseBuild effort when we entered back onto OUTR, which were sustained all the way back to MR.  

Because of the poor lighting at certain spots, coupled with the effects of tiring legs, there were a few tumbles and thankfully, there weren’t any serious injuries other than a few cuts and bruises.  All these incidents do make night running more interesting, but at the same time serve as reminders that running at night do require extra doses of concentration, coupled with good proprioception abilities.

All the NightHawks returned by 11:15pm, which allowed the training to end sufficiently early for all to have a good wash-up before taking public transport back for home by the ‘witching hour’.  As we looked back at this first session of night training, we were all smiles that we were able to complete with strength, although it turned out to be quite a challenge for some of us towards the end.  

The terrain and effects of the night did present obstacles, and we were glad that the NightHawks completed the Challenge in good form and high spirits.  The adrenalin rush post-run kept many wide-awake as they went their separate ways for supper or just a nice soak with R.I.C.E. treatment at home.

Dusk Came And The NightHawks Have Emerged!

Facebook photos by NightHawks CK ChinMeng Kiat

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