Sundown Marathon Singapore 2011

I have been to quite a number of marathon races. But none was as rewarding as this one. The reason? I have come away with friends. Sundown has indeed been very meaningful to me. It was such a blessing to have met all these friends and kindred souls.

In the past, my marathon aim has always been quite singular. Run as fast as possible and finish strong. Time was my only focus. Needless to say, I spend very little time or attention on anyone else but me. The routine before and after races was usually: get there, warm up, race, finish, get back to hotel, rest. Very mechanical. I very rarely mingle after the race.

But this time round, met quite a number of friends while staying at the A Beary Good Hostel in Chinatown. In fact a whole lot of Malaysians were staying there just for the Sundown Marathon. Steve was the only one that I knew. All the rest were new friends.

To my right LKK (set a PB!), and my left Steve
Carin Leong
the only one singled out is Tey wearing the white T (more about him later)

Along the way, met up with more friends. Some I knew from FB and runner's blogs. Two of the travelling companions that I met and followed to get to the starting point (Changi Exhibition Centre) were Karim and Cynthia. Cynthia got off the bus a bit earlier (for reasons that I cannot say here). But suffice to say, we managed to get there in good time despite a massive jam.

Karim (set PB) and Cynthia
During the bus ride, met Lawrence and Carol (her virgin marathon, and definitely her PB!). But Lawrence was not well at all having had Gastrointestinal symptoms. Suffice to say this was not one of his best marathons. But despite that he was in good cheer and was very supportive of Carol.

We got there at 8:30pm and the crowd was already massive. The half marathoners just started off half an hour earlier. I collected my race package and the three of us went in search of the 'Malaysian Booth'. Lo and behold there was one that has a massive Malaysian flag on it. Tey was already there snapping photos. BTW, Tey is a reporter by profession but voluntarily takes loads of photos for most of the local marathons and races that he has time to join in. Talk about Passion! A tremendous effort too!

I then met up with friends whom I met in recent months in Tokyo: YKK, Jenap (or most famously known as the Catwoman), Lee Lee, Alexis and Karen.

Tan Lee Lee and YKK in the cool sport suit

Jenap in the white wig equipped with LED!
Pui San, she did 10km + full: training for Ultra 100km

By the way, most of these faces, if you are in the local scene, you would have easily spotted them. They are practically there in most if not all the races. Some are Marathon Maniacs. You cannot earn that kind of title by running just 1 or 2 races a year. These people do back to back marathons. Some have even signed up for the earlier 10km followed by the full marathon at 10pm! (These hardcore runners are training for the up and coming Sundown 100km Ultra marathon.) I salute you!

As 10pm drew nearer, it was time for a quick photo session before we head off individually for warm up. This year, I was told that the biggest contingent was in fact the Malaysians having a record 1800+ participants. How many of these were full marathoners I am not sure. But 1800+ is a heck of a lot! The organizer announced that there were about 10 thousand participants for the full marathon alone.

THIS, is truly ONE Malaysia
What impressed me the most is that, in this marathon, there is no divide between race and culture. The Malaysians were the 'loudest' and 'most united' of all the participants. We were as one there that night! We were roaring! This is when sport crosses the divide...and it's beautiful!

So, since this is about Sundown, it is only right to mention something about the actual race. We all came with a certain expectations of our race time. But some were just happy to finish it because this was their virgin marathon.

At gun off, it took a good 1 km before the jam started clearing up a bit. The night was hot and humid. Just into the third km, I was already sweating by the buckets! My aim was to do Sundown as my train up towards SCKLM in June 26. Since I just started training 6 weeks ago, there is no way I was in any form to attempt a PB. I knew that very well. Nonetheless, I should still aim for a good finish. This will boost my confidence for SCKLM. I was cruising at 4:45-4:50/km pace when suddenly at 7km, there was a twitch in my right calf warning me of an impending cramp. I was totally caught off guard. I have never had this kind of cramp so early! This must be due to the excessive sweating as the result of the humidity. I was quite put off by that. And I certainly WILL NOT quit so early into the race. Tried to do some stretching but it only exacerbated it further. I was so desperate that I prayed! "God O God, please don't let me go down like this!" What happened next was totally beyond my expectation. The cramp actually eased up over the next few km. Instead of trying to rectify the cramp, I just relaxed myself and kept going. Totally "Bo Chap" and "die die la!".

Overall, the run was NOT very exciting. I remember chasing and overtaking some runners. But the push factor was just not there. (Maybe I should have taken the Naughty G as Steve suggested!). So, at 30km, I was just feeling "Blah!". All I wanted to do at that point was just to finish it. But easier said than done. Every km felt more like 5km. Time seemed to slow down. I was then slowing down too to a 5:30/km pace. At the last few km, I was suddenly overtaken by a Japanese runner. That started my engine a bit and I gave chase for the final 3km as we were heading back to the CEC. I overtook him at a 5:00/km pace. But almost instantly, he swung back and took the lead again. We were chasing each other and that made the race much more interesting. But in the end, he was still about a few seconds faster than me. But I was just happy to finish.

To my amazement, instantly after crossing the finish line, I was directed to the VIP lounge. A tag was given to me that read "Master Men: Potential Winner". I say "What?" But didn't ask until later. I was just happy sipping 2 cans of 100plus in the VIP lounge under the fan. Later, I was informed that I have actually won something. No. 9 position in the Master Men category. I thought, this couldn't be. But only later did I realize that this race does not attract the Elite runners because it is not a recognized race course. Well, it's a bonus for me! But at 3:33 (net time), to be honest, it was hardly a remarkable time for top 10 position.

If you ask me, I can frankly say that it was not really the position or the race time that is memorable to me about Sundown 42. It was in fact the tremendous companionship of friends that made it truly unforgettable. And I will cherish it for a while to come and look forward to seeing them again in SCKLM.

Below are just some more photos of friends I made and ones that I managed to meet up....

Kenny: PB in Sundown with 3:42. Very promising fast runner!
Calls herself Uglysaddy in FB...? She PB also with an impressive 4:18
Ben Swee. Singaporean. Trainer. Ran in Boston twice already! Sooo envious!
Last but not least. Everyone knows Mohan. The official ambassador of Marathon in Asia!


  1. I already promote u kau kau lat as Mr 3:33...Only fame awaits u now...

  2. photo in your blog, wahaha...Thank you very much. I agree with you. This 42km didn't just a race, it was a wonderful trip with new friends and new experience in my life. I was so glad to meet you, a young look runner from Penang...

  3. KK: Thank u Thank u! But no where as famous as u la!
    Annie: Glad to get to know u too. I am sure we will see a lot more of u in the coming races...a new PB too! Keep it up!

  4. well done Francis! super run considering you're "undermileage".

  5. Thanks Jamie. Too bad u weren't running this one. Otherwise it would be great to finally meet u in person!


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