By the 20km mark, we could feel a nice breeze coming on, which turned to stronger winds and red skies by the 25km mark. The water points were quite well managed, given the large crowd of thirsty marathoners. Runners were slowing down by the 21km mark due to the humid conditions. However all that were put to rest when the winds and heavy rains came at around 3:30am (30km mark). The tired marathoners received a good second wind (no pun intended) which gave them the extra perk to get back into sustainable race pace, and soon we were back with a group of runners going for (sub-4Hr in our case). The other Pace Groups and runner followings observed similar pick-ups at about the same time.
By the time we arrived at the Sundown Ambassadors and New Balance-NightHawk’s booth, excitement was already brewing for the Sundown Marathon 10km start. The marathoners (Half and Full) were gearing ourselves up for the mission of the Night – for the Sundown Pacers to bring the Half and Full Marathoners to complete this important night race in their respective target times.
As we moved around, we could see boards and videos of the Sundown Ambassadors and their pace timings on the large screen, adding to the air of excitement for the Sundown Pacer team, the NightHawks and Sundown runners who have gathered at the tent to follow us into the starting Pens.
Time passed very quickly with the coordination briefings and deployment of Signage representatives, along with the many group photo sessions. It was a nice touch by the Sundown Organizer to have large illuminated timing balloons and signage for the Pacers to demarcate the various assembly points.
Due to the modifications in routes 2 weeks prior to the race, there were a lot more measures put in place to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and proper flow guidance for the participants. A key one was a start of the race in 2 waves, allowing the first wave of (sub 2:30hr & 5hr) to start first, followed by wave 2 (2:30h and 5:00h and after). It was all systems planned, and the only thing that might have affected us would be the rather humid weather in the wee hours as expected.
The HM and FM was started at 0030hrs as planned, and with the HM and FM runners alongside one another, it was a new experience. The Pacers had to take care to settle into our Optimal paces, while ensuring the runners were following the correct intended pace groupings. The was not too much jostling about as there seemed to be ample space for the runners to move about. Soon we settled into our steady zones all the way to the 14km mark where the HM and FM took different pathways.
With the very clear instructions from the speakers with lighted directional signs, the Organizer left very little chances for anyone to take the wrong route…bravo! There was more space to manouvre once the 2 groups were split, and we could focus on sustaining our paces to the finish, or for the FM, for the next 1/3 of the race.
The ECP stretch, rather dim at certain areas, was familiar territory for many of us doing the FM, as we have had our Sundown lead-up runs and NightHawk training sessions there. Maintaining our sustainable optimal paces here proved to be a lot more challenging at night due to the low visibility and upset body-clocks, among other reasons. We stood true to our race plan and carried that stretch relatively well, with the regular tweaking of momentum to moderate the boredom that was setting in.
There was a CAT 1 weather warning sent out by Sundown organizer to advise runners to take shelter, just that many were already enroute to the finish and did not have their phones with them to receive the message. Moreover, the spirits were soaring with the cooling-down effect of the rain, as the marathoners picked up their paces with a renewed possibility of hitting their targets. The final 8km was interesting as the runners began to encourage one another to brave the rain and continue on for the final leg of the race. With 5km remaining, a number of marathoners decided to push ahead for their best timing yet, and from there it was just one steady run all the way to the finish.
The Sundown Pacers did very well to bring large groups of runners to complete within their respective finish times of 2:00h, 2:15h and 2:30h Half Marathon, and the 4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h and 6:00h Full Marathon. Whistles were blowing crazy towards the final 500m of the finish as the Pacers encouraged as many of the runners to push for the finish.
There were many congratulatory messages, happy handshakes and words of thanks and praises for the Sundown Pacers, and all these just lifted the spirits of the team so high we felt we could just go for another 10km….haha. It is the sense of satisfaction of having done our pacing job well and getting the recognition and appreciation from the Sundown runners that have made the role of marathon pacing such an enriching and satisfying one, something which we take as a privilege (to serve) rather than as an assigned task we need to accomplish.
As the NightHawks and Sundown runners return from the races, many positive postings and shouts of jubilation at having good results from the run echoed in facebook and the NightHawk’s Nest (a private area for FatBird’s Sundown Marathon trainees). Congratulatory and encouragement messages continue to pour in, lined with words of praise and appreciation for the Pacers and Training Crew continued. We are glad to hear that most of the NightHawk trainees (now you are Operationally-Ready) and FatBird runners have done well, with many achieving their targets and a number more scoring Personal Bests in terms of timings as well as maiden attempts at the distances.
The 15-weeks (SundownPacers/Ambassadors) and 12-weeks (Operation NightHawk) was one exciting journey for the approximately 200 of us, culminating in the successful operations on Sundown Night. We certainly Lit Up The City to convincingly to Beat The
Congratulations to the Sundown Organizer for putting in a good race execution in spite of the challenges of route, terrain and weather, the pro-active participation of the key sponsors like New Balanceand Maxifuel, Polar HRM, and all who have helped and participated in more ways than one in the Sundown Marathon 2012.
We have Done It!
When Dusk Came, The NightHawks Did Emerge!
Photo Contributions From: