Thursday, June 18, 2015

SEA Games 2015 Marathon

5am! The alarm sounds and it's time to wake up after hitting the sack at midnight. We had attended the wedding dinner of a close friend the night before and had difficulty getting out of bed. Duty calls, however and this morning, we're going to support the marathoners at the SEA Games! Uncle Ashley was going to lay it all out on the line for Singapore, and we hoped our light-sticks, pom-poms and hearty cheers would help to send him quickly to the finish.

We overcome the initial sluggishness, donned our 'Ash in a Flash' limited edition T-shirts, and caught a predawn cab to reach Parkland Green around 6.00 am. We did not encounter much difficulty with road-closures, but was surprised to see how empty the park was. East Coast Park was the venue for a number of sports, and the men's triathlon was flagging off later in the morning too. After some navigation, we found ourselves at the u-turn, and waited in anticipation for the leaders to appear.

"Gimme an 'A'!" No prizes for guessing who we're cheering for this morning!

The sky was overcast red and a there were intermittent drizzles. We had strayed too far from the shelters at Parkland Green, but there was a shed nearby in which we planned to take cover in if the heavens opened. Mummy had also packed along our raincoats and umbrellas.

The marathoners made their first u-turn on time a little past 6.20 am. At first it was difficult to see who was who, and we shouted general cheers for everyone. As they ran past us, it was apparent that everyone was keeping it close, which was expected at this point in the race.

The men's marathon staying tight after the first turn. It's still early in the race, and anything can happen.

The leading women followed shortly after and they seemed to be a little more spread out than the men with a handful of women in a lead pack. It must be difficult running a marathon with so few competitors as the trailers soon found themselves alone without anyone to feed off. There were sections of the course that were very quiet, and many of them must have realised that they had to dig deep to find sources of motivation within themselves instead of relying on external sources.

"Ash in a Flash!"

In between cheering, we have the opportunity to chat with and make new friends with the other supporters. There were many park users who where surprised by the extensive road and pathway closures, and those who stopped their morning routines momentarily to appreciate the race.

At about the third loop, it began to rain heavily. Daddy and K got drenched as they were on the way to the toilet. For the final loops, we got into our raincoats and cheered on the runners as we slowly made our way back to the facilities at Parkland Green.

Supporters have gathered at Parkland Green despite the downpour.

After the final runners completed the loops at East Coast Park, we headed indoors for breakfast at a café. It's been a long cold morning and it was nice to have hot chocolate and some warm food as we kept our eyes peeled on social media for the results.

Warming up after a job well done!

Time to make new friends...

The Singapore course was expected to be unkind with its intermittent rains, surprising humidity and lonely stretches.  Singapore took home the gold in a historic race on home-soil, but everyone who toed the starting line was a winner in our hearts. Distance running is a metaphor for the long journey in life. It is about giving it all, leaving nothing on the course, and finishing strong. Some of the gutsiest performances were witnessed in the runners who had a bad day. After the lead packs had passed by the course became quiet, and the trailing runners marched on with resolve and national-pride that went beyond the glories of winning. Watching them was a chance to appreciate sportsmanship at its finest.

We agreed that despite the early wake-up call and the rain, it was a morning well spent together as a family, generating conversations about sportsmanship and hard work. While we have been able to catch some of the sporting action online, nothing beats being on site. The emotions, feelings and intensity of the sport literally plays out in front of you and you feel drawn into the action.

It's just across the causeway in two years time, so maybe......

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