Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Eugene : MR25 UltraMarathon Singapore Race Report

Team Principle, Eugene Teoh, went to Singapore with Team 2ndSkin Athlete, Roy Yeow for some fun in the (Singapore) Trail. Usually known as MR25 or MacRitchie Runners 25, this UltraMarathon calls for runners to run the MacRitchie Reservoir in loops. One Loop is about 10.2km. Having done the race the year before, this race was an obvious "to do" both for personal reasons and to improve on mileage that can be completed within 12hours cut off. Eugene were wearing the Skechers GoTrail, It was an interesting take on the shoe over this ultra distance. Must say that he was more than just happy with his performance and of the gears he was wearing. Naturally, it was the 2ndSkin UltraMarathon T-shirt in Vaporlite material. This, is Eugene's report. Don't sweat over it, he certainly did not.
MR25 ULTRAMARATHON SINGAPORE – 30th Dec 2012 (7am – 7pm) 

My love affair with the MR25 Ultramarathon (will just call it MR25) started in 2010 when I ran this event for the 1st time. It is a relatively low key event with a small participation (~700 this year if I got it correctly) and excellent camaraderie amongst the runners, organizers and volunteers. After skipping it last year due to the arrival of my daughter, I had to do this race this year.
Fast forward to event morning. I kinda underestimated the time needed to get to MR from JB (where I was staying with my aunt) and got to the event site with only about 20 mins to spare. Thankfully Roy had collected my bib and all I had to do was change my shoes and put on my number and throw my stuff into the rental locker. Amidst the preparations, I caught sight of my friend Deo and he introduced me to a group of runners from KL who were all wearing 2ndskin’s Legendary tshirt. Imagine my surprise and exhilaration. I just had to ask them all for a photoshot!
Passionate runners. Just Legendary
I took this opportunity to try out a long distance event without my customary compression tights and calf sleeves. I have never run a marathon distance or more without them, and I was hoping my muscles would hold up to the challenge. Nevertheless, I brought them in my bag just to be sure. As usual, my race apparel is one of my 2ndskin tops and this time around, a pair of Skechers GoTrail by Skechers Performance Division. Team 2ndskin is proudly supported by Skechers Malaysia and MR25 would be the “test” for my pair of Skechers GoTrails.
Lined up at the start line with Deo and had a little chat before we kicked into gear. Along the way, met up with a few friends (Karim, Jeff, Yim, Karen) and ran together with Roy for most of the 1st lap. MR25 is a out and back route with a little detour after the U-turn before linking back to the main route and back to the start line. One loop is approx 10.2km and the route could be summarized as 90% trail:10% tarmac and rolling with some climbs and descents, but nothing spectacular in terms of inclines.
Due to some miscommunication at the end of the 1st loop, I lost sight of Roy for the 2nd loop as he thought I had run off, but in fact I was still happily relieving myself in the loo! The 2 laps were covered in about 2:45 timing and I took a short 10 min break after the 2nd loop for some nutrition. I had brought along 2 packs of gels, a tube of Hammer perpeteum and a pack of chews but none of them made it into my system during the course of the entire event. What fueled me for the 12 hours you ask? OK, here goes…. 7 Oreo cookies, 1 red bean bun, 2 bananas, half a box of fried rice (organizers lunch setup) and 2 handfuls of dried apricots. Not to mention the cups and cups of Pocari sweat. Excellent drink, that.
It had been drizzling for a while and it would continue to be so off and on for the duration of the event for the rest of the day. It didn’t get heavy enough to make the route slippery and “flooded” unlike the last time I ran it, but it was muddy enough for me to be a bit more careful during the descents. I’m glad to say that the Skechers GoTrail was pretty secure in terms of footing and the 4mm drop gave me enough protection from the jagged rocks and stones. I accidentally kicked a tree root / rock twice in my 3rd loop with the same left big toe but the front toe cap protection from the GoTrail was adequate to save me from any toe injury or bruise. I was starting to get a bit tired mid way thru the 3rd loop and I remember mentioning to Roy that “this feels like the 38th km of a marathon” to which he replied “we are at the 38th km”…. LOL. During the course of this event, I tried to reflect on which parts of my run needed more work, needed improvements and which parts of my training should be adjusted to meet the demands of long distance events. I realized my upper body is quite weak and the stress from the event made my shoulders and upper back ache. The back of my neck felt tight and I had to constantly reach my arms high over my head to stretch my upper back muscles.
After 4:27 on my feet, I arrived back at the start line for the end of 3 loops. It was about 11:30am and both Roy and myself decided to finish another loop before stopping for lunch. We were mixing in quite a bit of walking with running (ambling along was more like it) and generally walked the climbs and ran the descents. It was also in the 4th loop that I started feeling some cramping sensations in my left calf and soreness in my left shin. At the U-turn of the 4th loop, the volunteers / marshals surprised us when the asked us if we wanted any buns. Being famished, both Roy and myself accepted the offer and lingered around whilst downing the red bean bun they gave us. Believe me or not, either Singapore makes the best red bean buns, or hunger makes anything taste like heaven. I’m not exactly a red bean bun fan (you will not catch me buying red bean buns on any given day) but that had to be the best ever!!
At the end of the 4th loop we decided to take a break and stretched out our legs over a quick lunch of fried rice provided by the organizers. I decided to change into my compression tights and put on my calf sleeves as I knew I’d be walking more than running for the remainder of the day. The compression would probably help in recovery as well as stave off any impending cramps I may have. Noted that my left calf was twitching slightly and feeling a little tight. I wasn’t going to take any chances with cramps derailing my efforts. Slight blisters were forming on my toes, highly likely due to my socks that were wet with sweat. Taped up 3 toes with plasters and changed my socks and off I went with Roy for the 5th loop. The pitstop we just did took about 30 mins and I was on course to finish the minimum required 5 loops of 10.2km below my previous timing of 9:01.
5th loop was kind of like a chatty-walk with interspersed running at downhill intervals. I had a proper conversation going on with Roy, and we time kinda passed by pretty fast. Half way through the 5th loop, Roy decided that I was kinda slowing him down and he decided to take off with gusto. I looked at the timing at that point and 6 loops was very doable so I decided to keep to my pace and not try to keep up with Roy. I touched back to the end of the 5th loop and covering 51km in a shade under 9 hours (8:49), which essentially meant I PB-ed this race by 12 mins. [Hooray!]
A quick refill of my bottle and grabbing my small pack of dried apricots, I headed out for what would be my penultimate loop. I was already having trouble with my left ankle due to the uneven terrain and I was very careful as to where I landed as I didn’t want to get any unnecessary injury. The going was quite slow as my quads were already screaming bloody murder and I noticed the numbers of runners were thinning out. I guessed most have called it a day and on my return leg on the home stretch, I could see that the environment was slowly getting dark, especially out in the trails. Closed out the last lap in 2:07 for a final time of 10 hours 57 mins and 61.2kms.
Had a little “intellectual discourse” with one of the officials at the finish as they only recorded me doing 5 laps instead of 6, but it was all resolved in good manner. Due to the manual timing and recording of laps, the organizers could probably give out ribbons at the U-turn to denote how many laps a runner has done, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Breakdown of timing (including food breaks, toilet breaks and chit-chat breaks):
Lap 1 - 1:21
Lap 2 – 1:25
Lap 3 – 1:40
Lap 4 – 2:15
Lap 5 – 2:07
Lap 6 – 2:07

Post event reflections:
  • Upper body workouts are essential for long events due to overall stress on the body
  • Hydration plans are very important. I carried a small bottle with me after the 4th loop to constantly sip from after I realized I could be dehydrated. Urine was small in volume and dark coloured and I was starting a headache.
  • Food and nutrition intake has to be constant to keep the energy levels up. Even if you don’t feel like it, you have to get some solid food in.
  • I now have confidence to go up to a full marathon distance without compression and I believe that it is about conditioning the muscles to adapt to the stress levels.
  • The right gear for the route is very important. For an event like the Salomon X-Trail I participated in earlier in the year, my zero drop Minimus was capable of handling the terrain, however for a rockier route like MR25, I needed something with a little bit more protection. Enter Skechers GoTrail, lightweight enough for a long day, stable enough on uneven terrain, and protective enough for jagged rocks and loose stones.

Skechers GoTrail. Lightweight. Flexible. Stable. A real performer offroad. 
MR25, I’ll be back next year.


  1. Nice meeting you too Eugene, it's been a while since the last time I saw you. Well done and hopefully I could still start next to you next year :-)

    1. Next start together will be Gunung Nuang 12 Hours Challenge... See ya Deo!

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