Operation Kookaburra, the 12-week marathon training program to prepare runners for the July Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) got underway from the eastern Changi Beach area.  A good group of enthusiastic runners were already registering their attendance and having a couple of group pics to warm things up.  As the weather was not looking too good earlier (although it did turn out to be cool and dry by start time), a number of Kookaburras might not have turned up for their first training session.

With the arrival of the NightHawks, the other larger group of runners training for the Sundown Marathon in May/June, there were lots of happy chatter and din, bringing to live the otherwise ‘evening winding down’ beach area.  With some effort, we managed to get the large group for the training and route briefing, at the same time providing intelligence updates of the group of Infantry ‘patrolling’ along the main Changi Coastal axis for their advance into the Floating Platform for their POP mission.

The Kookaburras, being new to the game but with their own trainers/marshals, ran alongside the NightHawks for what would be an interesting training format for them.  The run alongside the serene Changi Beach was rather refreshing, and a sight to behold with all the flashing and blinking of headlights and other light sources coming off the Pacers and trainees.

The target was to hold a sustainable target Marathon Pace (MP) for the 13km, 21km and 28km distances for the various pace groupings, and to build up a good foundation and base to eventually tackle the entire Half or Full Marathon distances at the GCAM or Sundown.  

When we reached the Changi Coastal axis after about 3km, we ran smack into the long lines of Infantry POPers (Passing Out Paraders) executing their mission finale.  They were organized to afford a narrow, but passable access for our runners…as we ran pass the lines, there were lots of encouragement for our runners from the friendly troopers.  It was quite entertaining to listen to the troops singing along to keep motivation levels high, and that perked our own flock to fly at very good paces as we headed towards the NSRCC.

The Trainers and Pacers were working overtime to lead and guide the flocks of Kookaburras and NightHawks along the mentally-challenging Changi Coastal route all the way to their respective U-turn points at Changi Coastal mid (13km), NSRCC (21km) and ECP F2 (28km).  Because of the dark areas of our advance routes, the extra lighting and observance of night running protocols helped us to attain the smooth paces we were targeting.

The return onto the Changi Coastal axis provided the final ‘killer’ touch to the training as the mentally-drained runners were fighting the zzz-monsters as well as fatigue along that LONG and LONELY stretch.  There was just too much temptation to slow down, and even walk.  If not for the groups running together, it would be difficult for many of the runners to keep up with their target paces.

There were delightful faces at the Changi Beach toilet point where the runners finally got out from that ‘challenging’ stretch to get a good breather in that humid weather.  It was close to 11pm, and with 3km to the end point, the runners had to make one final mental push to get their machinery moving towards completion.  TRAIN HARD, RACE EASY is what we always hope for our trainees to attain – overcoming the different challenges during training will put us in good stead for an easier but fruitful race day.  

Everyone received cheers at the end as they crossed the finish of the night’s training, and recorded with pride their distances and timings covered.  It was definitely a hard day at the office, but it brought a sense of satisfaction to many of the trainees and trainers as well, knowing that we put in our best efforts to prepare for and eventually complete well the training.

The Kookaburras have done a great job and cleared their initiation with the team.  They will now look forward to steady progression in building their bases and paces up for July.  A number of the Kookaburras are already training with the NightHawk program, and will be using the Sundown Marathon as their final long run/test trials before their GCAM race a month later.  Some element of periodization have been built to ensure smooth overlap and sustainable progression.

Run Kookaburras, Run Kookaburras,
Gold Your Race Will Be!

The NightHawks will advance into week #7 with the Sundown Lead Up Run #2 (21km, 30km) as an intermediate trials of sorts, and it will be interesting to see how their foundation will take them to sustain MP for 30km (a point where the ‘wall’ will be seen for many runners in a marathon).  The Kookaburras are encouraged to join in the Lead Up Run (albeit for a shorter distance as they are still base-building) for a good trial of where they stand in in terms of ability to tackle their target distances.  

NightHawks, NightHawks, Cleared The Test!
NightHawks, NightHawks, You’re The Best!

Operation Kookaburra Facebook Photos
Operation NightHawk Facebook Photos