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River Jungle Marathon

Well, well. What a route, what a run. It’s official that the River Jungle Marathon is one of the toughest marathon, if not THE toughest, in this country. But what made this worth it, even though there’s no finisher medal to be had, was the sights, the runners, the crew and volunteers, and the location. To marathon organizers out there, know this: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

It drizzled nearly everywhere early in the morning but stopped an hour or so before the 5am start. The air was cool and everyone (quite international with Singaporeans and German) was just looking forward to the start. Before that, a short briefing by Race Director, James Wong, on safety, route and support cars. Runners being runners, there was much enthusiasm and we could’ve woken this sleepy town up. The highlight of the start had to be the surprise cake and memento presentation to Mohan who recently completed his 100th marathon.

Pre-run briefing

Pre-run briefing

Mohans big cake and memento

Mohan's big cake and memento

5 minutes later after a mandatory group photo, the 5-hour group were let off. Everyone was so pumped and immediately took off like it was a time trial! Pretty soon, I was the last runner of the 5-hour group. The roads were very dark and I was glad for the company of the support car who kept a close watch over me. The trouble with town roads is the presence of small pebbles, sand and rocks, which caused me some problems and I had to stop twice to empty out my shoes for fear of blisters.

Hey, you guys are going the wrong way! Actually nope, this was the 6-hour group before the u-turn

Hey, you guys are going the wrong way! Actually nope, this was the 6-hour group before the u-turn

My guardian angels!

My guardian angels!

The 5-hour refreshment vehicle. Thanks for your support guys!

The 5-hour refreshment vehicle. Thanks for your support guys!

Distribution and coordination of the water stops were near perfect by the crew and police. Nothing else. It was handled that well. The early stages were rather uneventful other than a local (who was probably drunk) who let loose a tirade of well-constructed expletives in Cantonese aimed at the darkness and no one, and I continued to run mostly solo, with not a single person in front of me and with only the support car for company. With no mileage this week, I was running very conservatively. There was the matter of the 3K climb you know, which I got to after that.

Hi-fiving the village kids. Photo courtesy of Tey.

Hi-fiving the village kids. Photo courtesy of Tey.

Just before encountering the area drunkard.

Just before encountering the area drunkard. Photo courtesy of Tey

The section of climb is smack in the middle of the run. The road leading toward the climb was littered with durian shells. I was surprised to find Daniel and YS at one of the stops but they took off before you can call out for water. From here, do let my amateurish videos take over. Forgive the rambling and shaky presentation – no steadicam!

Approaching THE 3K Climb

Long lonely climb

Long lonely climb. Photo courtesy of Tey.

This is the vista that you greets you 1K into THE climb. If you think this is beautiful, continue reading.

Nice or not? Click to enlarge!

Nice or not? Click to enlarge!

Daniel vs YS. They ran together all the way. I walked nearly all the way up. It was impossible for me to shuffle up without panting. It was a loud and clear warning on my fitness level as TNF draws near.

Is it finally downhill?

Hell, yeah! Definitely downhill! I bounded down like a mad man here trying to catch up on lost time, and paid the price. The pain on my lower legs was bad enough to reduce me to several long walks.

Misty. It was beautiful. The videos don’t do the scenery justice.

THE view! Soon after this, a black Porsche and a red Ferrari zoomed past! There were quite a few cyclists too.

Worth it? You bet!

Worth it? You bet!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The stretch of road leading to the finish was about 12K long. It was mind numbing. Only the village scenery, rushing river of the left, and secondary jungle on the right made the slog barely bearable. Then there was an obstruction on the road I had to navigate past.

The last 70 metres. You can tell how glad I was from my voice!

Relaxing on the bridge. Photo courtesy of Yim.

Relaxing on the bridge. Photo courtesy of Yim.

A butterfly lapping up the salt from one of the runners hand.

A butterfly lapping up the salt from one of the runner's hand.

With Dr Pui San, runner extraordinaire.

Oldest Finisher, enjoying and lapping up the applause. If he can do it, I don’t see why some people say they can’t before even starting!

Till the next run!

Till the next run!

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