Location: Singapore

Events:5k, 10k, 21.1k, 42.1k

To begin, this Marathon is not for the faint-hearted. Starting a little behind time closer to 0030 on Sunday 26th March with humidity at 88% at gun start and a temperature of 28°; many including myself were sweating before the run began.

Prior to the start queues were lengthy for toilets as marathoners, half marathoners (due to start an hour later) and finishers from the previously ran 5 and 10km events queued. A small expo was located in the days prior held in the evening because of the heat. Stall holders were housed in modified air conditioned shipping containers with glass sliding doors.

Given the conditions, hydration is imperative and I cannot emphasise it enough. The days prior I hydrated well, constantly sipping on my drink of choice like a grazing sheep. If I hadn’t I don’t think I would have finished. I am deadly serious.
 The event started at the Formula 1 pit building. Which in itself was very exciting. Just imagining the roar and intensity of formula 1 race day as we wandered through the pit and lined up on the adjacent track.
A little congested at the start with several thousand runners, I found clean air within the first 7Km. Pacers were clearly visible with not one but at least 5 helium filled balloons attached to them. They wore bright red Tshirts and unfortunately started at 4:00 and half hourly from them, so anyone aiming for a sub 4 was on their own. They also had whistles. Sigh. My ears are still recovering. I attempted to maintain a consistent pace for fear of burning up in the heat. Drink stations were every 2km and every 2km, 4 cups went over my head and a few mouthfuls in.
The course was flat apart from an undulation 5 km from the finish which pulled many up but was suited perfectly for this Tassie girl. We also encountered stairs, timber boards, boggy grass (thanks to an earlier thunderstorm), wayward cyclists, scooters, unidentifiable standing wheel things, and constantly harassed by drones!

The support en-route was great and plentiful especially given the time and it was a real privilege to have them share their time with runners. Despite this, for myself it was a lonely run as once I broke free I was largely running alone. The odd bloke in front who became my next target and the odd bloke behind. No women. They were at the start but where now?

Running to my own little mantra and focusing meditatively on a particular element of my running ensured I maintained good technique and time flowed by relatively quickly.

We ran through beautiful parks lit only by the street lights and serenaded by frogs as we passed. It was fabulous running at night. Beyond the half way mark I realised I was well ahead of the main pack which concerned me that I may have gone out to hard given the conditions that I, unlike most runners were not used to.

By the end I was dripping wet, my feet squelched with every step and crossing the finish line with the many half marathon runners that started an hour later. I was a lonely marathoner. Now I know why. The results came in via  facebook. I crossed the line in 3:45 minutes which is well off my PB, not my worse time either, but I was stoked. I now know why female volunteers and road closure officials were excited when I approached with cheers of “OMG you go girl friend” etc etc. I was the 7th female out of 1037 female marathon runners and 61st overall out of 4638 marathon runners. I am extremely proud of this top 10 achievement, given I cannot run every day due to rupturing my Achilles Tendon in 2013 and have to carefully structure my training accordingly. I feel it a great privilege that my body allows me to run at all.

Now the negatives. Despite hydrating well, the conditions took its toll on me and I was very unwell in the following 12-24 hours. Many runners experience these things from time to time, may have read about them, suffered them or know someone who has. Because some people may not fully understand the intensity of a marathon let alone in extreme conditions, I’m going to mention how my body reacted. And if you are a little sensitive discontinue reading now.

The human body is designed and has many cycles known as negative feedback cycles designed to maintain homeostasis (balanced). When things change like an increase in

temperature, the body sweats allowing air to hit the perspiration and cool. Likewise hydrating allows all cells within the body to be hydrated and prevent blood volume dropping too much as fluid is drawn from the vascular system. Additionally the digestive system shuts down. All energy produced by the cells is required for all functions associated with running, hence sips of water to moisten and lubricate, and gels hold in the mouth for as long as you can before swallowing as carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth by enzymes found in saliva.
Now with all this in mind my pre run hydration was bang on. I held my gel shot Jubes in my mouth and the cups of water went over my head. My body was struggling to maintain a stable body temperature. I was dripping with sweat and not wearing a singlet. As I approached a drink station my face, my head, was on fire. My body was struggling and I had to help it with a drenching. The drenching exacerbated other issues. Feet! Running in wet socks and shoes, blood filled blisters formed under my nails. When I finished I had to have them drained as the pulsing pain was too much. My nails will die and fall off. Additionally moist and damp conditions breed fungus! Now enter athletes foot or tinea. It is itchy and red and yuck and despite the conditions is also a warning that the immune system is struggling to recover and reserves have been exhausted.

Hydration as I mentioned is important, likewise glucose. I take in nutrition every 20 minutes. No fail. However the sugar fuelled drinks offered every 5km equivalent to powerade but doubly sweeter in Singapore style and my personal nutrition, and the heat, dehydration etc enter runners diarrhoea. I’ve had this before and it resolved fairly quickly, but this lasted 12 hours at its most extreme.

Since we are discussing effluent. The monotony of running 42 km with every foot strike placing impact and pressure on the body, trauma occurs, exacerbated by dehydration now enter haematuria (blood in urine) again I have had this before but this was far worse. Drinking to rehydrate and resting, this resolved itself in a few hours.
Finally lactic acid. Normally appropriate training and conditioning, walking back to hotel afterwards cool down then a gentle stretch usually prevents this by allowing to cool down gradually. The heat took its toll and left me feeling nauseous, in a lot of pain and my abdominals and quads feel so stiff and sore it feels like it is consuming the whole body part sending me into spasms of pain. Hydrating, analgesia and gentle movement is all that I can do to bring some relief.

Long and the short of it. A marathon is an achievement just to finish. Go out and conquer them all, but prepare yourself properly with consideration to the conditions you are likely to encounter.

It’s a great marathon but not for the faint hearted. My husband completed the half marathon and tells me at 2km in he had a few very expletive words to say about the temperature and me! This marathon had a cut off time of 8 hours, so plenty of time.
All in all a great trip, a great marathon and I’m looking forward to the next marathon. Yes it’s booked and entered.

Event profile: Bonnie Davies

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